Archives For church planting

From the outside, Church Planting seems sexy.

You don’t have to deal with stuffy old churches. You can be creative and share the gospel with people who might otherwise be ignored.

Every week I hear about a new church planting conference or training organization. More and more individuals are considering “church planting” a realistic and important direction for their life. More churches and denominations are getting into the game.

I believe that Church Planting is so vitally important that in 10 years, it may be the only thing we have left. It’s also hard work. In fact, I can’t think of a single book, resource or speaker who doesn’t say “this is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” The fact is that forming a community of Jesus followers in a certain time and place is full of normal, day-in and day-out realities, just like any other vocation.


Church Planting is also a long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Those of us who embrace this vocation need to be prepared for five unsexy details. Continue Reading…

There’s nothing quite like the sadness of being a part of a dying church.

There’s the burden of maintaining a big, empty and often very dated looking building. There’s the ghost of happier days that seem constantly to haunt their memories and gatherings. There are the aging saints who struggle to make it out on Sundays, who seldom find friendship or support throughout the week.

Many churches feel stuck. This can be due to a lack of ideas or energized leadership. Sadly, it is often due to specific individuals, committed to maintaining their power or preferences.

Why do we sit around asking “why is my church dying?”

We need to remember that we serve a God of resurrection! If we are willing to die to ourselves, including our fond memories of the church that used to be, we can be resurrected to become something new.

Here’s are six bold moves I’ve seen or studied that  can be used by God to resurrect your church.


Continue Reading…

Over 10 years ago, I decided that church planting was where the action was. I joined a young church, read books, listened to podcasts and hung out with planters.

Six months ago, we launched Austin Mustard Seed. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. This isn’t it.

It’s better.


An encyclopedia could be written about the difficulties of church planting. What gets lost is the unexpected joys along the way. Such as:

1. People who “Get it”

Recently I heard the term “church planter” defined as “the people who are willing to go where no one else wants to go and do what no one else wants to do.” It’s shockingly true. When we were recruiting for our launch team, it seemed like we heard an endless stream of “go, be warm and well fed.” Continue Reading…

The No Pants Gospel

Chris —  February 28, 2014

Perhaps we should have titled the Ecclesia National Gathering “The No Pants Gospel.”

Kingdom Pants

Scot McKnight is on a tirade right now, trying to get people to slow down and think through what they mean when they say “Kingdom.” He pointed out two, somewhat generational definitions of the word.

For the “Skinny Jeans” crowd, there is “kingdom work” which more or less means doing social justice (ie – Tom’s Shoes, wells in Africa).

For the Pleated Pants crowd there are “kingdom moments” where something miraculous happens (ie – healings, reconciliation, victory over evil systems)

This can be pretty offensive to people giving their life for their definition of the Kingdom. But Scot has a point. Skinny jeans leave the church for their wells. Pleated pants use the church to manufacture experiences.

No Rule Book

McKnight went on to team up with Bill Webb (of Slaves, Women and Homosexuals infamy) to radically reenvision how we read the BIble.

Looking at the “divorce texts” they showed how the gospel writers and Paul each framed Jesus teaching a little differently. They made three points:

  1. There is no “ultimate ethic” reflected in a single verse of scripture.
  2. The Bible is full of stories of discernment, applying ethics to culturally bound circumstances.
  3. You can see incremental movement throughout scripture toward a redemptive ethic, found most clearly in the teachings of Jesus and embodied in the Church.

In other words, the Bible is a great story, but it makes for a lousy rule book.

The No Pants Gospel

Mandy Smith answered the lingering question, “how then do we read the Bible?” Mandy’s answer: “let the Bible read you.”

If the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing bones and marrow, we should treat God’s Word like a surgical tool.

We cannot approach the Bible to justify our personal need to be involved in social justice.

We cannot approach the Bible to justify our personal need for an exciting, life-changing experience.

We must approach the Bible as the Word of God, carrying the authority of God. We must set aside our own agendas and approach it naked of our hopes and dreams.

How do we read the Bible? Only with the expectation that learning to live in the Kingdom where God reigns will hurt.

A few years back my friend J.R. Briggs had the dream of creating a space for “gutsy, hopeful, courageous and vulnerable for pastors to let go of the burden to be a Super Pastor?”  He asked questions like:

  • What if we could hold an event that was free from the thrills and frills of other pastors conferences?
  • What if we came together as epic failures instead of how-tos?
  • What if we were reminded that we’re not responsible for being ‘successful’ in ministry?
  • What if we had a conference that was led not by household names, but by scandalously ordinary ministers and leaders?


If you are a church leader you need this.  You need a space to be yourself, and hear from others in your situation.  If you are in the Chicagoland area, mark your calendar for a road trip to Northern Seminary on April 26-27.  If not drop J.R. a line.  He might bring Epic Fail to your neighborhood.  If that won’t work, he is also available as a personal coach.