When I came back six months later, I was surprised to hear the results. More than half of these volunteer leaders in this new church met every 3-4 weeks to practice Gospel coaching together. One man hitchhiked from an hour away to meet with his group. They said things like,
- I knew a lot before from previous classes, but Gospel Coaching brought all the things I’ve learned all together.
- This is a brand new way to approach discipleship.
- Gospel coaching has changed our marriage.
- I’ve never shared some of the things that I’ve shared with anyone before. And Iam still loved.
- This is changing the culture of our leadership.
Thought this was interesting in light of recent conversations. Hope denominations that stress the importance of the biblical doctrines of grace continue to develop in diversity. Why?
The goal is not multi-cultural churches. The goal is churches with one gospel culture.
From the Pew Research Center 2014 Religious Landscape Study
…thinking of work mainly as a means to self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person… and undermines society itself.*
Do planters and pastors drink the Kool-aid that says, “I have to plant a successful church or I’m a nobody. I’ll have failed. I can’t fail.” Do I as a coach who wants to succeed at language school and serve in Cuba? Yes.
What do you feel about your job?
Is your job ultimately for you or for others? Is it crushing you?
A calling is something that is from the outside of you. From someone else, for others. Not for yourself. It is a mission. A service to Someone. It’s not for your sake. When you and I think “my job is for me and mine” we miss the freedom and purpose of a calling
Maybe that’s one reason church planters struggle so fiercely when attendance is low, or someone critiques you or you aren’t getting everything done that you think you should.
Maybe we all should consider our jobs as a calling. Look at it in light of this: Jesus answered the call to be crushed in our place and in doing so he grants to us God’s plan for our lives for others’ sake.
*Page 2 of Every Good Endeavor by Keller and Alsdorf, quoting Bellah’s Habits of the Heart.
My bride Elizabeth and I celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary today.
I am deeply grateful for her. She is my best friend, a most excellent mother to our children and a godly woman who points me and many to Jesus through her music, teaching, serving and example.
Much has changed in this short time and will continue to change. Children, weddings, gospel maturity, pain, poverty, wealth, homes, churches planted, new vocations, languages, technologies and new friends. Amazing how the events of these last two weeks underscore how the world changes quickly and slowly at the same time. But one thing has only increased.
I want her more than ever before.
Being married to Elizabeth is an increasingly beautiful foreshadowing of The Wedding of Eternity for which Christ is preparing His Bride (Revelation 19:6-9). Truth and Grace prepare the Bride of Christ for Final Judgment that ushers in the New Heavens and the New Earth where His people are WITH Him. This is the greatest good. We live in such gratitude that He would chose us for each other and for Himself. It is so good it is hard to imagine. That He would grant us a joy for which we were made, redeemed and celebrate daily? It is a Joy that we could never earn. Intimacy and love that proves His worth and glory. Being married to you Elizabeth as followers of Jesus is an honor. Anticipating eternity.
Happy Anniversary my love. Living with you is like heaven on earth.
Yesterday at our monthly Church Planting Network meeting in Atlanta, the-one-and-only Dr. Bob Burns led our training on Resilient Ministry. If you are a church planter (or go to a church plant) and there is a desire to survive and flourish in ministry, this book has some great data and insight. And as a church planter coach, I have a suggestion.
It makes the case for gospel coaching for church planters with just two insights.
1. Church planting is non-stop. Being a pastor is “taxing, fast-paced and unrelenting” according to Dr. Bob and his research. Unrelenting resonates. I’ve been in pastoral ministry for over 25 years in a variety of roles. As a pastor, your “job” is never done. As a planter? There is always more to do. Times ten.
More. To. Do. Now. Faster.
It’s a job without any boundaries. Unlike other jobs, where you get to go home, life and ministry blur together and overlap and go really fast.
2. Church planters live in “GO” mode. The research showed that pastors “rarely re-charge and reflect”. Dr. Bob said that pastors do less self-care than every single profession except one. I’ll let you guess which one is worse.
As a planter, I was ON all the time. All the time. If I hadn’t had a coach who pointed me to Christ and challenged me kindly and firmly, I would have run myself ragged, ignored my wife and sacrificed my children to succeed in planting a church.
Care about a church planter? Encourage him to talk to one of our gospel coaches at CMM who can help him learn how to manage and thrive in a non-stop calling.
Then offer to pay. It will multiply benefits to his soul, his family and the church.
In Atlanta, I help lead a Church Planting Network (or CPN) that meets monthly with men who are starting new churches to encourage, train, coach and pray together. This past Tuesday, I posed this question to our church planters, ‘Why do we start new churches?’ To which I got a few snarky answers, ‘To build my kingdom.’ and ‘Because we’ll do it right.’ and ‘Because God doesn’t have spiritual grandchildren.’
After the laughter died down, we dove into the ‘spiritual grandchildren’ remark (nobody gets into heaven because of their parents or grandparents faith) which turned the corner on this basic motivation: more people need to hear about Jesus and His awesome work of salvation.
That is the reason we plant churches. So more people will hear about Jesus.
It’s our experience that unchurched people tend to visit new churches more readily than established churches. In the first two years of our church plant over 1,200 visitors attend one or more worship services and filled out a response card. And each one heard the gospel.
The USA has the third largest number of unchurched people in the world. Fact check it. So that means I live in the third largest mission field. In the world.
Justin Taylor posted this info filled blog about actual church attendance. What about where you live? What percentage of people do you think actually go to church? (I realize church attendance does not equal evangelism but they are related.)
C.S. Lewis puts the significance of evangelism in perspective for me so well:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
There are no ordinary people. No mere mortals. Everlasting souls are at stake. That is why we church plant.
I’m a Gospel Coach for Church Planters, Pastors and Ministry Leaders asking Jesus to multiply more Gospel Coaches to reach the lost in North and South America.
We planted a transcultural, bi-lingual church in the Atlanta area and pray for God to give us opportunity to help reproduce in other churches, networks and denominations. I’m a recovering work-aholic. Without the help of a Gospel Coach and a Church Planter Network, I would have flamed out in ministry and sacrificed my family in the process.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I’m learning to be Holy Spirit-dependent, Christ-centered and to live in gospel-saturated community.
My wife Elizabeth and I have three grown children and are overjoyed that they love Jesus and serve in other church planting churches despite growing up as church planters’ kids. That ought to be the new normal.