Some Of My Favorite Quotes From Replant Lab

The past few days I have had the privilege of attending an event in Atlanta for church replanters and revitalizers called "Replant Lab." So much gold in this conference for pastors and church leaders. Nuggets of wisdom and encouragement all over the place. Here are some of my favorite quotes... Shepherds are called to care for the Bride of Christ, not become her accuser. – Nathan Rose Replanter be assured that where revitalization is taking place, there will be many adversaries waiting for you. - Brian Croft Replanting is a sanctifying work for both the Church and the Replanter. - Brad O’Brien What about a dying church says "our God is Great and His Gospel is Powerful?" – Mark Clifton All ch

Church Organization in the Church-Planting Age

Having only been in ministry, officially, for a little over a year, there are many things I have yet to learn. Therefore, I am thankful for blogs like preach-lead-love that can provide helpful wisdom from pastors from various stages of life and ministry. But there is one pattern I have noticed over the years in various internships and now in my first year of vocational ministry that I feel I can speak to: the majority of pastors are not organizationally-minded. This is not foreign to many. If you are a lead pastor or church planter you are probably nodding your head. If you are the “#2” in your church, like myself, then you may be nodding your head as the one who is organized. This, of cours

Biblical Pastors Know Their People

If there is one image that we see throughout all of Scripture to describe the role of a pastor, it is that of shepherd. As pastors, we are called to shepherd the flock of God. Period. The most basic function and responsibility of a biblical pastor and shepherd is to KNOW their people, to know their sheep. In the words of Timothy Witmer, before a pastor can “provide proper care he must know the identification of the sheep for whom he is responsible. Jesus not only identifies himself as the good shepherd, but also says, ‘I know my sheep and my sheep know me’ (Jn. 10:14).”[1] In the same way, biblical shepherds must know and identify their sheep. David Dickson captures the heart of knowing the

Growth on the Long Path

Just after Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt, we find this verse in Exodus 13:17: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’” Scholars believe that while the shorter route would have taken the Israelites about two weeks to arrive in the Promised Land, the longer route took them nearly a year. Yet, God was not as concerned with time as he was with the destination. He wanted His people to eventually dwell in the Promised Land, not be quickly frightened back into slavery. Thus, in His great wisdom, God led the Israel

The Glory of God and the Messy Church

The book of Acts is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it gives the account of one of my favorite things to study, the early church. What I have found is that it has become trendy to look at the first three chapters or so of Acts and say, "Look at how awesome the early church was, how come my church isn't like this?" This is a valid question. Our churches should be proclaiming the gospel boldly, serving one another, and worshiping together. But we must not forget that as great as the Apostles were they were simply men whom were saved by grace and were not free from hardships and leadership oversights. This becomes obvious in Acts chapters 4-6 and really throughout the rest of the

Pastors Must Be Visionary Shepherds

The Lord has called pastors to lead with a heart like his. Just as our Heavenly Father is indeed the ultimate Shepherd of His flock, so churches are in desperate need of under-shepherds who capture and flesh out this same vision of shepherd leadership. For this reason, it is critical to understand the Scripture’s clear instruction that congregations are to be led by qualified, faithful visionary shepherds; Pastors called by God to shepherd the souls of His people as they lead a congregation with humble and hopeful visionary leadership into the future the Lord has for them. The idea of a pastor as shepherd originates not with man, but with God himself. Throughout the Scriptures, the Lord call

EXODUS: Engaging and Enduring Culture Change in Church Revitalization

On the exterior, everything looked great. The church Jesus called me to shepherd under Him was growing in width and in depth, in witness and in work. We were making deliberate inroads to greater Gospel-centeredness in our worship and greater community impact in our mission. Our church attendance had grown from an average of 35 people to 250 people in five years and we had baptized over 75 new believers! This is no small task in the secular bastion that is my northeastern home state. Many of my colleagues in pastoral circles would look at our growth, our momentum, and confess to feelings of envy. Yet when they asked me what was the secret to our church revitalization? I would tell them two th

Two Couples, Four Cultures, Three Filters

Two years ago, I took on a pastoral role at a very diverse church. I knew then that I would need to learn a lot to shepherd a church of mostly 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation global expatriates in Brooklyn, New York. I am learning new things about Jesus through other’s perspectives and am even more inspired by his love for all peoples. Also, I vastly underestimated what I will need to learn. Yesterday, I counseled a couple who had a difficult encounter with another couple at our church. Of the four individuals involved, there were four unique cultures of origin, three unique native languages and birth countries, and of course four unique personalities. In the midst of the conversation, I was

How does a pastor respond to: "When is my child ready for baptism?"

This is a great question and one that I have been asked many times over the years in ministry. The bottom line is that everywhere Jesus went, He was preaching the Gospel and calling individuals to, "repent, believe, and be baptized." This is the proper response of one (adult or child) whose heart and mind has been made new by grace, through Christ and His Spirit. Repent, believe, be baptized. The question is: How do we know if a child is ready? How do we know if a child is truly regenerated, has genuinely surrendered to Christ in heart, mind, and will, and is therefore now ready to be baptized? Practically, we as pastors, along with a child's parents, need to do all that we can to discern wh

Planting and Replanting Lessons from Wyoming...

River of Life Baptist Church in Cokeville, Wyoming was a small, but vibrant church doing solid Kingdom ministry in a community of 550 people, that is predominately influenced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church had an average attendance of 15 to 25 people over the course of its existence and touched many lives through their faithful Gospel witness. In 2005 their pastor resigned and the church struggled to find a new pastor who would lead them to fulfill their Kingdom purpose. Without pastoral leadership, over a period of several years, the membership dwindled to the point that in the fall of 2014, the church closed and locked the doors of the building. A Gospel

Leading Churches in Various Phases, Part 3: Esther Phase

One of the primary sources of frustration for church leaders, boards, and especially young leaders, is the inability to recognize who, and where, they really are. I believe church planters and church leaders experience growth, pain, and opportunities through different phases. While it is not an exact model, I often think the nation of Israel’s return from exile and development as a nation as described in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther mirrors the stages of growth that a church plant goes through. I am using these as teaching metaphors, and not as precise categories, in a theological construct. We have already seen in our blog on the Ezra phase that a primary concern for any church m

Leading Churches in Various Phases, Part 2: Nehemiah Phase

One of the primary sources of frustration for leaders, boards, and especially young leaders is the inability to recognize who, and where, they really are. I believe church planters and church leaders experience growth, pain, and opportunities through different phases. While it is not an exact model, I often think the nation of Israel’s return from exile and development as a nation mirrors the stages of growth that a church plant goes through. I am using these as teaching metaphors, and not as precise categories, in a theological construct. If the Ezra stage, which we discussed in the previous blog, is one of momentum and excitement, the Nehemiah stage is often one of painful progress. Part o

Leading Churches in Various Phases, Part 1: Ezra Phase

Most churches don’t experience explosive growth or seasons of massive multiplication. In fact, usually when churches do grow in that way, it is marked by a great deal of transfer growth, or/and a highly gifted leader which is rarely reproducible. I am extremely grateful for both those types of churches and leaders. However, I also realize studying them for healthy steps for the church/ministry God has entrusted us to lead, while inspiring, may not often be practically helpful. We need to realize some realities: We are in a different context We are differently wired We have a different leadership capacity. While the gospel transcends all cultures, your personal DISC inventory will create a

Middle Of Nowhere Ministry

As soon as my wife (Elizabeth) and I got married we were called to serve in full time ministry at a small church in a tiny town called Grover, Colorado. Grover is a town made up of 130 people and could be described as a desert town. If you were to drive to see just a sliver of civilization, 40 miles would be your closet drive to the city of Cheyenne, WY. Gravel roads, limited services and rodeos quickly became our friends as we were pursuing people, mostly ranchers, for the sake of the gospel. Some of these people proved to be some of the most generous and caring people we had ever met and we would never take back the time we spent among them and their culture. Doing ministry in this type of

The Importance of Clarity in Preaching

“A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew…” A lack of clarity might be the most common failure in preaching; but thankfully, it’s fairly easy to remedy. As a preacher, your job is to be as clear as possible. It is not the job of your listeners to figure out what you are saying. Clarity is essential. There are few things more frustrating than a teacher who isn’t clear. It confuses people. It frustrates people. People want to know where you’re going. People want to know what you are you trying to say. In terms of increasing clarity, having a clear outline is the single greatest thing you can do. It’s imperative that you organize your material and your message into a logical, easy-to-f

Finding God's Vision Through a Hunting Trip

Listen to an incredible story about a friend of mine named Dennis… Dennis is a retired man who served as a Marine, a law enforcement officer, and worked as a truck driver. He was antelope hunting last fall and drove through the community of Lysite, Wyoming. Dennis felt a burden for this town. One day, he stopped at the local store and spoke to a young man named Lucas. During their conversation, Dennis asked him about his interest in Jesus. Lucas told Dennis that he was intrigued by Jesus, and would like to know more about Him. However, the sad reality was that there was no church in Lysite where Lucas could hear the Gospel and become a disciple. In March, Dennis and his wife Rosilyn d

Why You Should Consider Replanting A Church

Why? Why in the world would I ever want to do that? That was my first thought when I first heard about replanting and revitalizing churches. I was hearing stories of pastors going into dysfunctional, dying churches and my mind started racing about what it would be like to do that myself. My internal dialogue went something like this: Replanting sounds hard. I don’t get to plant something new the way I want it. I have to deal with dysfunctional relationships right off the bat. The pay is not very good. Replanting sounds hard, depressing, and incredibly frustrating. So why? Why in the world were these guys jumping into replanting, with that church, with those problems, and who knows what else?

Three Essential Pastoral Priorities

Pastors can't do it all. We might want to do it all, but I have learned the hard way, I can't do it all in the local church. Here is the good news. I am not suppose to do it all. I am learning I need to focus on a few things and with the Lord's help, do them really well. I will never forget the night. I was driving my car down the highway with my beautiful wife in the passenger seat. I asked her to tell me when she could read the sign ahead. She said, "I can read it now." I thought "Oh no" and then ten seconds later said, "Now I can read it." Time to go see the eye doctor. I received my first pair of glasses and the world changed. I did not know there were leaves on trees. I now h

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