Archive for March, 2014

5 Kernels of Advice for Prospective Church Planters

Posted in Church Planting, General Advice on March 24, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

After working with and serving dozens of church plants over the past couple of decades, here are 5 kernels of wisdom I’d share with a church planting prospect AND the way you and your church can be a helpful part of the solution:

Be prepared to do what I call “secondary” fund raising. Nearly every church planter has to raise a good amount of funding before his plant gets under way. On the day his plant finally launches he usually thinks that grinding task is done. Most are surprised when they have to enter a second round of fund raising a year or 18 months into their plant when outside funding begins to taper before internal giving catches up.

If you’re serving in an existing church… be open to supporting a new church financially even if it’s already up and running. Chances are the support you give at this later stage will feel far more significant to the planter and his project than the big chunks of funding he gathered prior to launch.

Be prepared to pay your “relational rent” with the preachers of nearby churches. Many of our church planters don’t make the time to develop relationships with preachers around them, whether from our ‘tribe’ of churches or others. They view this as an expense of their time rather than an investment. It won’t be long, however, before they need help using a baptistry at the last minute, borrowing extra folding chairs for a big event, or using a bounce house or popcorn maker for an outreach event.

If you’re serving in an existing church… be open to loaning resources to your nearby planter like these that you might take for granted. Take the initiative to take the planter out to lunch periodically and ask him what resources he could use for upcoming events. After you’ve helped a time or two you’ll enjoy a developing collaborative relationship.

Don’t hurry to form an Eldership team, but don’t wait too long to start the process either. Most of our church plants follow the wisdom of installing their first class of elders between years 3 and 7 of their plants, most often in years 4 or 5. More critical errors can be made selecting and installing elders too soon than too late. By the same token however, most church planters wait at least a year too long to begin developing an initial, internal leadership team that helps the planter shoulder the load of leadership as difficult decisions are make during years 2-4.

If you’re serving in an existing church… be open to serving on the management team of a church plant to provide the important role of oversight and accountability for the planter until the new church has a godly group of elders to take your place. After about 18 months assertively lead the planter to begin the process of organizing a local leadership team to work in sync with the management team.

Be prepared to lose some of your best people before your church’s 2nd anniversary. Nearly every planter thinks it won’t happen to him, but almost every planter is wounded when one of their closest friends and leaders from the launch team leaves the plant a year or more after launch. Often they’re leading a ministry, hosting a small group, or a close relational supporter of his wife.

If you’re serving in an existing church… take the time to connect with your local planter during these critical stages of a plant after the hoopla of the launch has long worn off. Ask him how he’s doing relationally and how his wife is doing. Ask him if he’s been hurt by any key people leaving. Listen. It’ll mean far more than you know.

Be prepared to lead for the long haul, not just the immediate post-launch phase. Most church planters are what we call “inebriated on vision”, unable to view their church plant past the first few months after launch. Many of our planters who’ve spend even a couple of years as the “lead dog” at a small country church rather than only as an associate at a larger church have a better perspective on what it’s like to lead a church week in and week out through the annual cycles of ministry.

If you’re serving in an existing church… view your nearby planter as a colleague, not a competitor. Let him know you’re just as excited about his church for years 4 and 5 as you were for weeks 4 and 5. Invite him to join you when you go to conferences or other events. Most of our planters need a local mentor in ministry to help them learn the skills not of a planter, but of a pastor.

Tim Cole headshot - circle smTim Cole
Director of Church Planting

Back to School… Again.

Posted in Media Communications on March 18, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

Let me tell you a few things about myself: I’m 28 years old. I already have a good undergraduate degree. I went to Johnson University (back in the old days when it was still JBC) and have a very practical degree in Media Communications. Oh, and a great job with the VEF. So… why on earth would I disrupt my entire life and go back to school now?

If I’m being honest, part of it is just because God opened up the doors necessary to make it easy. My now-husband, Zach, got an entry-level job as an Academic Advisor for Liberty University Online; They are growing like crazy. The job itself was a blessing, but the perks are the real kicker: free school. For him and for me. More than that, though, is that I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the church since I graduated in 2009. Working with the VEF has exposed me to my own strengths and weaknesses, and some of the strengths and weaknesses of the church as a whole.

My 1st day at Johnson in 2004. My, how things have changed.

My very first day at Johnson in 2004.

There are so many churches that are struggling with communicating their message of hope to the younger generation (those in their 20s-30s). These churches desperately want to speak the truth of Christ’s love into their lives, but there is a language barrier… well, of sorts.

With the constant advancement of modern technology, marketing firms, HD video, smartphones, and much more, young adults of today are incredibly visually savvy. Whether or not they personally can draw, code, or produce, they still innately understand concepts like quality, success, and virality through media. In other words, when it comes to the media you use (or don’t use) to promote your church, they instinctively know whether or not you know what you’re doing and they make assumptions about your church all along the way.

Since graduating, my passion has become helping churches connect visually with their target demographic. Creating logos, print materials, branding, building websites… all of those things that the 20-somethings have grown up surrounded by. But for me there is still so much to learn.

That’s why I made the commitment to turn my life upside down for a while to pursue a BFA in Graphic Design – in hopes that the quality of the media I can produce for churches will grow and grow. Because the church needs people that can speak this visual language fluently, and the world needs people who can help translate the message of the gospel into the lives of the lost.

Rachel Woolard headshot - circle smRachel Woolard
Director of Media

Three “Why’s” & Two “How’s”

Posted in Book Review, Fusion Groups, General Advice on March 10, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

Some time ago a person asked me about the mission statement of the VEF;   “Pursue Kingdom Growth” and how we were applying that statement.  Then he pressed more to say, “How does your ministry with the VEF apply the mission statement?”  My reply was that I could best illustrate how the VEF ministers through the Fusion program by pointing out 5 books that we have used recently in our groups to “Pursue Kingdom Growth.”   There are three that tell WHY the church prospered and two to tell HOW to continue “Pursuing Kingdom Growth” :

The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark – This book is written by a sociologist who looks at the impossible feat of Christianity in overcoming the forces of Rome without any of the conventional sources of power.  His assessment of the social pressures used is somewhat up for discussion but are not without merit.

The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi – Read an amazing recounting of the corruptness of culture without the influence of Christianity and compare the advances of man because of the influence of God’s revelation.  The author recounts the clash of the Hindu mindset with the humanity of Christ followers. You can’t read this book as a Christian and not feel a sense of joy and relief in knowing Christ and His Salvation.

7 Men by Eric Metaxas – Eric has chosen to give biographies of seven men from history. They are so very diverse and affected different segments of their culture in profound ways.  Each had a moral compass that pointed to the Life of Christ and submission to His Will.  George Washington gave an example of refusing to allow power to corrupt him, William Wilberfource took on the status quo of slavery and immoral conduct, Eric Liddell set an example of sticking to his principles, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was willing to give his life for those unable to defend themselves, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in American athletics by not retaliating to the slurs and racial attack of those around him.  Pope John Paul II was a man’s man who showed the world how God’s man stood up to oppression.  Chuck Colson was an example of how Christ can change the heart of a man and then use him to reach those in prison with the redemption of our Lord.  These seven men give us great illustrations of the effect Christianity has on our world.

The Lost Art of Disciple Making by LeRoy Eims – This is a book that has been read by millions.  It is a manual to teach individuals how to win others to Christ and then teach them to win others to win others to Christ.  It should be the goal of every Christ follower to reproduce themselves.  If you don’t have a plan, this one is highly recommended.

There is Hope for Your Church by Gary McIntosh – This is the worst title for a book, but one that fully explains its mission.  Many churches in America are in serious trouble, being either plateaued or declining.  McIntosh gives, I think, a plausible strategy to follow to revitalize your church.  His emphasis on leadership and urgency are spot on and will inspire leaders to action.

Well, there they are: Three “WHY’S” we should be active in pursuing Kingdom growth and two “HOW’S” to get it done.  We all know that there is a God who loves us and the rest of the world.  These books will inspire you to feel as though you can make a difference and then give you a strategy to be successful.

Harry Gill headshot - circle smHarry Gill
Director of Church Resources