Monday, June 29, 2009


It seems that one of the unintended opportunities of this economic challenging time is the rise in teen entrepreneurship. Many of the typically summer jobs that have been fertile soil for youth employment are not as plentiful as in the past. The result is that many young men and women are beginning their own businesses.

Laura Petrecca (USA Today, “Teen entrepreneurs offer tips to aspiring peers,” 5.19.09) interviewed some of these young people and garnered tips for their peers. What she discovered can be helpful to aspiring church planters. Church planting is a start up. So if you are considering such an endeavor here are some helpful insights. I will share the tip and offer applications to church planting.

Don’t let shortcomings thwart you: When it comes to church planting don’t look at what you cannot do, but see what you can do. A primary method of uncovering strengths is through an assessment process. Go to as a beginning point.

Expand upon your interests: What do you enjoy? What people do you like to be with? Where do you like to live? This is how, to whom and where you ought to consider planting a church.

Create a formal business plan: Church plants just don’t happen. Get trained in the development of an action plan. Find a coach who will help you implement the plan.

Scour for savings: Dollars are limited in the beginning of a church. Look for places you can get quality items for fair prices. Don’t be afraid to ask for contributions. “If you don’t ask the answer is always no” (Jim Bogear, Church Planter).

Price wisely: This refers to the cost asked for the service or product sold. In church planting this can be applied to what “price” you are asking your launch team to pay with their time, gifts and finances. Be careful you don’t ask the impossible. At the same time don’t sell them, or youself short…people tend to respond to big expectations.

Make taxes less taxing: Bottom line keep excellent financial records. Churches are tax exempt, but planters are not. Keep receipts, develop a sound paper trail. Be above reproach in all financial matters.

Create a sound financial plan: This is an Achilles Heel for many planters. Don’t confuse faith with foolishness. God does provide, but He also instructs us to count the cost.

Don’t overinvest in supplies/equipment: Everything you may think you need before your launch may not be accurate. Begin with good equipment, but resist thinking it has to be the very best. It lots of cases store brand is as good as product brand and at less cost. Allow your church to grow, and then grow your equipment into your church.

Promote your business and yourself: Church planting is a great deal about initiative. Seek out people don’t just expect them to come to you. Be innovative in your promotion. Do not shy from attracting people to you.

Know the rules: What are the expectations of the movement you are connected (denomination, network, association, etc…)? What zoning laws are there in the community you are planting? Are you incorporated correctly as a non-profit?

Carve out personal time: Church planting can be completely consuming. No one will care for you personally, physically, emotionally, relationally or spiritually like you will.

Stick with your dream: If you know that you know that you know that God has called you to planting pursue it relentlessly, hold it firmly, cherish it regularly, care for it lovingly and don’t let it fade!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Today it was the little things I have taken joy. Joni and I went grocery shopping. We used the self-check out scanners. I love those things. We took the groceries home and then we worked on separate projects together.

Simply sharing the same space. Doing our stuff, but together. Didn't need to talk to each other much. We have learned that being in close proximity, doing our things is relationship building. We are accessible to one another if necessary, but we don't have to be holding hands, or sitting next to each other.

I took her to work. Being together talking about our days ahead. I then went to my "office." A neat coffee shop called "It's a Grind." Free Internet. Wonderful work spaces.

I will pick up Joni after work and we will be seeing Brody, our first grandson. Later we will simply end our day together. It is this together that is so very important to us. Currently we spend chunks of time apart due to work. So the together times are that much more appreciated.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Leaders and how they do things have always mesmerized me. I am fascinated by those who have waded into the deep waters, gotten in over their heads and emerged wet, a bit rattled, but better for the experience. I have been intrigued by those whose visions were much bigger than them. I have been drawn to the stories of bold faith, unrelenting passion, the willingness to forge ahead when others have simply fainted from the challenge.

I have noted that leaders cannot be neatly categorized. We want to do this. We want to somehow shoehorn them into a box. We want our leader's somewhat predictable. We tend to want them Teflon. But this is seldom the case. They come in variety of sizes and shapes. They emerge in all kinds of situations. They evolve in different environments. Often their commonality is that they are not very common.

I think, I think this: I think that what they do share is a sense of destiny. They deeply believe they have a mission that must be fulfilled. It is not self-generated, but it has been given to them from beyond. It drives them to continue in the face of most adversity.

It is not so much they can do whatever, it is they cannot not do whatever. They somehow have a sense of something beyond the now. They see, not so much with their eyes, but with their spirit. It is sense more than sight. And because it is something they sense, it compels them. The compulsion is not to see it more clearly, but to fulfill it completely. They are drawn more than directed. They are pulled more than pushed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My wife and I were watching TV. A commercial for Post Shredded Wheat came on. I am not an avid commercial watcher, but every now and then an advertisement, or its tag line, gets my attention. This was the case with this product. The tagline: “We at Post put the no InNOvation!”

I laughed out loud. What a great line! They were attempting to communicate they were a company of tradition, wholesomeness and they could be counted on in these unstable times. At least I think that was it. I really got pretty intrigued by the line.

I commented to my wife how many churches actually have that as their mission statement. Not written out, but in their actions such is the case. The question is why? Why do many churches and church leaders pride themselves in InNOvation? Here are a few thoughts:

We confuse innovation with creativity: Innovation and creativity is not the same thing, although many use them interchangeably. Truth is God is the only genuinely creative being. It was God and God alone who spoke, “Let there be…” and there was. He created something out of nothing. We resist inNOvation simply because we believe we are not creative people. We may not be creative, but this does not mean we can’t be innovative.
Innovation is seen as compromise: For some innovation is connected with change and change is viewed as compromise. How change and compromise got put in the same basket I am not real sure, but for many it has. Is changing the oil in our vehicles compromising the vehicles integrity? Or is it extending its effectiveness?
Innovation is costly: What does it cost? Time? Energy? Frustration? Relationships? Possibly. But as in most things the cost of InNOvation must be weighed against innovation.

I believe churches and people can learn to be innovative. Wikipedia states, “A distinction is typically made between invention, an idea made manifest, and innovation, ideas applied successfully.” Understanding this will hopefully motivate us to be innovative people and churches. Meaning, we can take existing ideas and apply them to our context. Doing this can move us from inNOvation to INnovation. That is, move us from saying “no” to ideas to working “in” ideas we uncover.

I offer the following to develop an INnovation mindset:

Increase your “IA” (idea awareness) quotient: Look in a variety of places for ideas. Do not limit yourselves to what other churches do, but see what businesses are finding effective. An example would be Craig’s list. Many churches are finding this to be an effective tool.
Know your context: It is difficult to apply ideas to your situation if you don’t understand it. Not every idea is for you, nor is it adaptable to your situation.
Sit in a different chair: When I sit in a different chair I gain a different perspective of the room in which it is placed. View ideas from a variety of perspectives. Look at them from various angles. An idea that doesn’t look good from the top may look completely different from the side.
Try stuff: We get too tentative when it comes to trying an idea. An idea that doesn’t work is not an indication of our failure, just that the idea was not the best, or didn’t fit our situation. Melinda Gates when asked about ideas her and husband Bill’s Foundation comes up with said, “We will get out there and try something. If it doesn’t work, we will try something else. And we will keep trying until we find something that works” (Fast Company, June 09, p62).

What is it for you? InNOvation or INnovation? The choice is yours.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The military goes to great lengths to develop effective strategies for battlefield engagement. They research, study, evaluate and re-evaluate all plans. They do not go into battle unprepared. They do all they can to insure the enemy will be effectively engaged, quickly dispatched and the troops carrying out the plan will be as safe as possible. Yet, with all this, I understand that their underlying motto is: When the first shot is fired all strategies change.

I met a gentleman not too long ago who had an extensive military background. I asked him if it was true that war strategist believed that when the first shot was fired all things changed. He affirmed this was absolutely true. And then he said, “That is why all those going into battle has an understanding of the Commander’s Intent.”

This phrase fascinated me, so I asked him to elaborate. He went on to explain that even though everything changes in battle the Commander’s Intent does not. Bullets may be flying, soldiers may be adjusting to the circumstances but everything accommodates the Commander’s Intent. If there is a hill to be taken, regardless of the strategy they went into battle using, they never forget the hill. Everything on the battlefield flows toward the fulfillment of the Commander’s Intent. The goal is not to implement a preconceived strategy; the purpose is to achieve the Commander’s Intent!

We must embrace this concept. It can be applied wonderfully to our mission as movements, local churches and Christ-followers. We tend to neglect the Commander’s Intent. We get caught up in strategy, protectionism of methods, honoring of our created structures and how we want things to be. We forget that we are in a battle! We downplay changing climate. We strive to keep things as they have been. We want the church of yesterday in the world of today.

The shots have been fired, all things have changed and we make feeble attempts of re-implementing the strategies we have developed. What we need is to understand our Commander’s Intent and let that dictate actions, strategies, structure and methodology. Our purpose is to relentlessly pursue our Commander’s Intent, not save our way of doing and being the Church.

What is our Commander’s Intent? It is to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES! This is the hill he wants us to take. Things have changed, but his intent has not. How do we, as leaders, keep the Commander’s Intent in our ministry field?

Keep the intent front and center: When the chaos of battle happens, when crisis begins to nibble at our focus remind those you lead of the intent. Why you exist? What is the ultimate purpose?

The intent must be the filter: All information that flows in, the changing climate of a community, the updating of strategy, all things and everything must be run through the filter of achieving the Commander’s Intent.

Flexibility in implementation: The Commander’s Intent is the guiding principle for carrying out the purpose. There needs to be tremendous latitude in implementation. If a means of fulfilling the Commander’s Intent is discovered and it does not fit neatly into an existing structure than the structure must be discarded or rearranged.

Front line freedom: Once the Commander’s Intent is understood decision making must be given to those closes to the front lines. Those in the trenches (local churches) are the most leveraged to understand the battle and they must be empowered to make choices in implementation.

We live in challenging, yet opportune times. Let’s hold firmly to our Commander’s Intent and allow that to dictate the parameters of the battle.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Spent one and a half days listening to presenters share on a Wesleyan Hermeneutic, or lack thereof. I am never completely clear what is meant when we use hermeneutic? I know of Herman Munster. But it has to be understood that I took German as my High School language elective so I could find out what the Germans were saying on the TV show Combat. I tend to filter way too much through the lens of TV. Can you have a television hermeneutic?

Basically hermeneutics is the study of interpretation theory. For those in pulpits it deals with our handling of the biblical texts. How do we understand them? What do we use to inform our understanding of the bible? How might we effectively communicate our understanding to those who enter our church doors and wish to hear?

It seems to me there is one context in which the texts were written, but there can be a variety of applications of that text. The application often emerges out of the preachers historical, cultural and personal context.

We, I believe, can never completely separate our perspective from the interpretation, application and implementation of the biblical text. To void our cultural, historical and experiential perspective from our exegesis and hermeneutic is to hollow out the power of the applied gospel.

I didn't really have much to say, but did want to say that!

Friday, May 29, 2009


I was aboard a plane waiting to depart to the West Coast. All passengers were on, but the boarding door had yet to be closed. The flight attendant came over the inter-plane sound system and said, “Would the lady with the wheelchair please come to the front?”

My first thought was, `can the lady really make it to the front of the plane?’ After all walking to the front of the plane and being with a wheelchair would not appear to be doable. And if it was, it would get my full attention. Shortly after the request a very able bodied woman made her way up the aisle.

It was then the distinction flashed into my recognition sphere (fancy way of saying I got it). Being WITH a wheelchair and being IN a wheelchair is, necessarily, not the same thing. This lady was with the wheelchair, but not in it herself. She was, obviously, accompanying a person who was in the wheelchair. She was alongside the person, connecting with her and being of what help she could be.

This got me thinking (and I trust I am not making too big a leap), there is a difference of a person being with Christ as opposed to being a person in Christ? Often we think of them simultaneously. The assumption is that if a person is with Christ they are also in Christ. But I think, I think, this is not the correct assumption.

In the Bible we see many people who were with Christ. They hung with him. They enjoyed his presence. They benefited from his miracles. They were able to catch a bit of the overflow from his early popularity. The crowd was with him, but I am not sure they were all in him.

The challenge of being with and not in is the ease in which one might disassociate from who you are with. Lots of those who were with him, were not so “with” when he was arrested. Many of those who were with him, were not so “with” when he was crucified. Quite a few who were with him, were not so “with” when he was taken off the cross. With can support us for a season, but seldom sustain us in the stress times.

It is Paul who tells us that those who are IN Christ are new creations. “In” does make a difference. “In” is fully immersed. “In” is engulfed by. “In” is full throttle. “In” seldom looks back, rarely regrets, minimally wishes to go back and wades through doubt.

“In” is the variable between giving up and going on. “In” is the constant in commitment. “In” is the handle to grasp when afraid, the reminder our choice was correct and the wall to steady ourselves in shaky times.

So what is it for us? When we plant our churches, lead our people, attempt to transform our churches, motivate our movements, connect to our communities, challenge our complacency, repurpose our ministries, fuel our passions and pursue our calls? Are we doing these things with Christ or in Christ? It really does make all the difference.