Pastor Pope suggests contacting Bill Wood. Wood, a former GE executive, is on their staff and his entire job is to help pastors who ask for help. Pope, Wood and others are now trying to make this material available to others.
LIFE LEARNING REGARDING DISCIPLESHIP
1. The importance of investing in faithful followers of Christ.
2. The need to equip apprentice leaders.
3. The advantage of multiplication.
You sign up to go to the Discipleship Group for one year. If your leader finds you faithful, you are allowed to go for a second year (if you agree to do so). It is meant to last three years. After three years, you are done. (And they’ve actually struggled to get the people out of these groups.)
They encourage leaders to start their group with four people. These are all men or all women groups. It is four people + a leader. And then, they tell the leader: “Ask the two more mature folk of the group to agree to sign up for a two-year, rather than a three-year, period.” So:
Two Veterans (the ones you’ve selected)
Next year: the veterans can only come back if they agree to lead a group the next year (could be a group for youth or kids). Hence, they become assistant leaders. If they don’t agree, they are done. If they agree, they ALSO each need to go out and get two rookies.
Two Assistant Leaders (ALs)
Two Rookies – that the leader recruited
Two Rookies – that one assistant leader recruited
Two Rookies – that another assistant leader recruited
And some part of each meeting is spent divided: Namely, the two Assistant Leaders with their four guys/gals.
So that’s how the the group multiplies. Perimeter church has gotten 5,649 people through this cycle in 10 years.
Can a non-Christian join a group? Randy says yes, because it has worked so often.
What if a husband and wife both want to be in a group — they would have to be in separate groups, but how would they swing it family-wise? Some groups meet at lunch, others in the morning, and others in the evening. And they do tell church attenders, “This might not be the right thing for you at every time in your life.”
About 20% of Randy’s groups are really good, and about 20% are basically “small groups on steroids” (i.e., not much more than a small group). They do coaching to try to take them up.
4. The importance of having an excellent curriculum.
Pope went off on a retreat and thought about what things people need to be strong. And he put that into a three year program.
5. The importance of a balance between biblical, systematic and practical theology in one’s curriculum.
6. The necessity of balance between structured and organic discipleship.
7. The advantage of multiple group synergy.
Try to find a place where lots of groups can meet at the same time. (E.g., in a large cafeteria) Pope does this for the groups that meet at night. All the group leaders have dinner together on Monday night. Pope stresses one truth for about 10-15 minutes. All the leaders interact socially. And then they all go off to run their groups. [The groups that meet in the morning or over lunch do not receive this benefit.]
8. The necessity of good theology in the follow-up of new believers.
TFL — Theological Foundation for Leaders. This is material that Pope had developed for elders. They decided to offer it by invitation to any prospective leader, not just prospective elders. You cannot get nominated to be an elder or deacon in their church until you have been through this program.
Perimeter Church now has 225 elders. They have about 50 people ready to become elders.
With respect to their curriculum, over the years they have pulled out three topics:
1. How to share your faith
2. How to discover your gifts
3. How to know the Bible is the Word of God
They found that their discipleship leaders were not strong in teaching this material. So they now receive it en masse from Pope or some other church leader.
Besides taking care of your family, what do you need to be diligent in as a church planter?
1. Be a sincere worshiper.
2. Be faithful at sharing your faith with non-Christians.
3. Be an effective disciple trainer.
For Pope, lunches with non-Christians and a small group on Monday night are his #2 and #3.
Pastor Pope suggests contacting Bill Wood. Wood, a former GE executive, is on their staff and his entire job is to help pastors who ask for help. Pope, Wood and others are now trying to make this material available to others.
Randy Pope is the Founding Pastor, Lead Teacher & Directional Leader of Perimeter Church in Duluth (Atlanta) Georgia, a church of 6000 devoted to reaching the unchurched of North Atlanta and the world. Perimeter has helped plant twenty-four churches in the Atlanta area and has helped start 6 training centers worldwide to facilitate church planting. Perimeter also has partnerships with nationals in 8 countries to help train leaders for the church. Randy is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Reformed Theological Seminary. He moved to Atlanta in 1977 to plant Perimeter Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). His vision and commitment to make and train disciples is known throughout the Christian community. He has recently established Life On Life Ministries, where he will continue to train church leaders both in the United States and throughout the world. He has been a guest lecturer at numerous seminaries throughout the U.S. and is also a frequent guest speaker for college ministries in the Southeast United States. Randy is the author of three books: The Intentional Church: Moving From Church Success to Community Transformation (previously released as The Prevailing Church), Finding Your Million Dollar Mate, and The Answer: Putting an End to the Search for Life Satisfaction. Randy and his wife, Carol, have four children and live in Alpharetta, Georgia.
The subject of Pastor Pope’s message is Birthing Life-on-Life Missional Discipleship Within The Church.
THE PASTOR AS A DISCIPLE TRAINER
1. Our churches must have an effective and intentional plan to make mature and equipped followers of Christ.
What does a mature and equipped Christian look like?
Good stewards of their possessions, responsible, good husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, Bible-saturated, etc.
Are the things that you are doing helping them get there?
Pope went away on a study leave to study the issue of spiritual formation. He was convinced that their church was not as great as people were saying it was. That was about twenty years ago. And today, Pope believes this is the single most important issue: life-on-life missional discipleship
2. The present day church (for the most part) has embraced an ineffective plan for making mature and equipped followers of Christ.
Case study: Let’s say you have a friend whom you think is an alcoholic. They have all the symptoms. But they deny it. Can you help them? No. OK, let’s say they admit it. But they say, “I have decided, right now, to stop immediately.” Do you think they would succeed? Probably not.
OK. So what if he says, “I want to quit, but I don’t know where to start.” What do you say? Maybe AA, or accountability. Pope would say neither. He would say Rehab. Sign up for a serious program. Let’s say he goes, and then gets out. He now says, “I have zero desire for alcohol.” Do you think he’ll stay faithful? If he doesn’t, what would you do? Now we would say AA or something like that.
Every believer has had and/or is presently under great bondage (addiction) to sin. (Eph. 2:1-3)
So can we help someone who says they have zero problem with sin? No. Can you help someone who says, “OK, I quit sinning, effective immediately.” Well, we know that won’t work either. So what else might we suggest? Rehab. Well, what’s that? Not the church, but the cross.
We remind them that we still have a sin nature, the world, the flesh and the devil. We are in a fight. So after rehab, then what? AA. Because (routinely) there will be relapses.
What makes it work: An accountability group with a qualified sponsor.
What many pastors do is they come up with program-based churches.
A church is program-based when its primary method of making mature and equipped followers of Christ centers around the delivery of truth through the vehicles of church programs (i.e., seminars, preaching and classes, etc.).
3. Life-On-Life laboring in the lives of a few is God’s master plan for making mature and equipped followers of Christ.
Life-On-Life discipleship can be defined as:
1. Having a suitable life product.
2. Being intentional about imparting that life product and
3. Doing the right things to impart that life product.
Note that Jesus was intentional about choosing his disciples.
Pope had people at his church think of all the people they knew at the church that had gotten saved. Then he asked them how many of them were in their small groups. He found that most small groups were not reproducing Christians. But people in Pope’s small groups were getting saved. What was Randy doing that was different?
T – truth
Not turning a small group into a Bible study. It does not foster life-changing discipleship. It does give a foundation so that life-change can happen. Randy tells them: Studying the Bible is what the small group should be doing all week long. We get together and do something with it. RATHER than “We do a Bible study, and then we don’t do anything with it the rest of the week.”
E – Equipping
He’ll ask them, “How was your time of personal devotions/worship all week long?” They’ll say “Great.” Pope will say, “OK, so why don’t we just do it right now?” And they’ll do it. And then he will ask them how it went. And they will say, “Amazing.” (In other words, NOT like it was for them all week. As a result of being guided by Pope, they have now been equipped to have devotional times on their own.)
A – Accountability
Theological content without accountability leads to legalism. Asking hard questions, challenging bad behavior.
M – Mission
S – Supplication
A church is TEAMS-Based when:
1. Its primary method of making mature & equipped followers of Christ centers around the use of truth, equipping, accountability, mission & supplication. AND:
2. Its primary outreach, nurture, education, care, discipline and equipping takes place in discipleship teams where the leader is considered the shepherd and a target group is considered the mission field.
Ken Blanchard, a business guru, gives these instructions:
Direction –> Coaching –> Support –> Delegate
That’s the order. Do NOT go from direction –> delegate. Otherwise, you will create disillusioned learners. And that’s what churches do, sadly.
Preaching, sermons, classes — all of it is Directing. And we cannot go immediately from directing to letting them go at it on their own.
4. Without life-on-life discipleship we run the risk of producing immature believers, at best and disillusioned learners at worst.
To church planters, Pope advises: immediately build a second story. (of Christians who can equip others.)
Our version of “Direction –> Coaching –> Support –> Delegate” is:
“Truth – Equipping – Accountability – Mission – Supplication”
If we truly want to develop disciples, this is needed. Truth is still important. The importance of experience does not diminish the importance of truth. People won’t be discipled beyond the truth they know.
LIFE LEARNINGS REGARDING DISCIPLESHIP
The importance of investing in faithful followers of Christ.
Discipling is hard work. A group is only as good as your orientation into the group. Men with men. Women with women. The downside of this model is complexity.
He likens the discipleship process to a physical trainer who meets with a group to exercise a few times a week, with a trainer. That trainer, and those others, are a strong motivation to get up in the morning and go. The group Pastor Pope disciples functions very similarly.
Al Guerra was born in Cuba in 1955 and came to the United States in 1968. He grew up in New York City and attended Southern Connecticut State University. He attended the Emmaus Bible School, and after marrying Mónica, a native of Argentina, began studying at Talbot Theological Seminary in southern California. In 1986 Al began to pastor a Southern Baptist Church made up of only seven families. During the next ten years, the church grew to 350 people. In 1995, Guerra also began teaching part time at a Southern Baptist Seminary. In 1996, the Association of Southern Baptist Churches asked him to serve as a consultant for 84 Hispanic Churches in the Houston area, which he did as part of a denominational team of leaders. Beginning in June of 1998 he became lead pastor of the Hispanic Congregation of Wheaton Bible Church which has grown from 150 people to over 500 people today under his leadership.
Pastor Guerra proposes structuring a Hispanic church along a one body – two arms model. Meaning: One church, with a ministry to Spanish-speaking folk within the church. The children of Hispanics may naturally get enfolded into the English speaking service (or “arm” of this “one body”). Guerra is the senior pastor of the Hispanic arm of Wheaton Bible Church, and another man is the senior pastor of the Anglo branch.
KNOWING THE HISPANIC PHENOMENON
In 2003, Hispanics surpassed African-Americans as the biggest minority in the U.S. It is estimated that about 30% of these are illegal. In Chicago, the birth rate of Hispanics to Caucasians is about 5:1. By 2010 there will be 56 million Hispanic-Americans in the U.S., most of whom will have been born in the U.S.
(Guerra likens the situation to the Israelites in Egypt, “multiplying, and becoming a concern to the Egyptians.”)
Latino Issues: Undocumentation/Illegality, Housing, Education, Law Enforcement, Employment.
So now the looming question: Are we, the Anglo church, going to minister to the illegal immigrants?
Why do Latinos risk the illegal status? They have the same desires as others, which become idols. They are willing to break the law to get their idols (money, freedom). Guerra tells them, “You are here to meet Jesus.”
THE HISPANIC CHALLENGE
“The health of the American Church will depend upon its ability to attract minorities to Jesus Christ, and to equip and activate them for ministry.”
3 Keys: Attract, Equip, Activate.
How: Paving the way for successful minority ministry.
STRUCTURING THE HISPANIC MINISTRY
1. Know your demographics. Don’t plant a Hispanic church unless there is a sizable local Spanish-speaking community. That said, the “one body, two arms” can be extended to “one body, eight arms” (Hispanics, Chinese, Korean, etc..). Can be multiple services inside or outside the church.
2. Lead by Sound Theology Christ has died for sinners from every nation and tribe. Particular redemption is a motivating influence.
3. Assess the Elders’ Hearts
4. Choose a Fitting Model
5. Follow a Strategic Process
6. Secure a Bi-cultural Leader
7. Implement a Plan
8. Encourage the Leader’s Heart
9. Evaluate and Adjust
Next Guerra went into more detail on SOUND THEOLOGY.
1. By whose authority are we seeking a “multi-arm” church? (Matt 28:18-19)
2. What model?
“That they may be one JUST AS the Father and I are one.” (John 17:21-23)
Two purpose (HINA) clauses in the Greek in this passage. “That they might be one IN ORDER THAT the world may know that you sent me.” and “that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
3. What power? (Eph. 2:14-22)
A great passage for Hispanics. Jesus Christ gave Hispanics reconciliation with God. Guerra once told a large group of Hispanics, “Your struggle is the struggle that God had with humanity. We were all illegal and we broke the law. God could have given us justice — expelled all of us and sent us to the back of the line….all the way to hell itself. Or, God could have given us mercy — amnesty. You can stay. But what did God do? He did both. He took the weight of our sin and law-breaking upon himself.”
4. What vision? (Rev. 7:9)
Guerra believes that we will all worship in different languages in heaven, but that we will all understand each other.
5. Culture Counterfeits
*Homogeneous Principle – a true social principle. McGavern recognized that people come to Christ when there are fewer cultural barriers. What that created in the church growth mentality — let’s just create a market, and go after it.
– Prejudice (James 2)
– Earthly wisdom (James 3:13-18)
– Fleshly idols (Gal. 5:19-20)
– National pride (Is. 56:6-7) – when one people doesn’t want to reach another people.
6. Assessing the Heart
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
1. What does my heart say? “O God, and know my heart”
2. What am I afraid of? “anxious thoughts”
Guerra’s church is congregational-led (with elders). It is sometimes hard to get people to come to the annual meeting. Consequently some are concerned that Hispanics could rock the vote at an annual meeting, and pass some measures that the Anglo congregation did not fully support.
3. What do I need to change? “any grievous way in me”
4. Can I trust Him? “lead me”
1. Host (rental) [the minority church rents from the Anglo church]
2. Department (Sunday School for the Hispanic ministry)
3. Multi-cultural (distinct worship)
Bill Hybels came to observe the WBC model, but did not like it. It would break up their people. But the Hispanics loved it, because there would be a service in Spanish with good preaching, and they could still go to the other things they like in the larger Anglo church. Hybels eventually went to Guerra’s model, because video-projecting his sermon (with Spanish translation) was not working very well at engaging Hispanics. Anglos are going for the video, multi-site deal, but Hispanics find it far less winsome. Hybels called a gifted, energetic speaker from Mexico, and now they have about 300 Hispanics in just two years.
A woman asked: Doesn’t this model encourage segregation? However, by having two arms, Spanish-speaking gifted Christians have an ability to lead and serve without the high language barrier. It is not uncommon for former engineers or other professionals to have menial jobs in the US because they never overcame the language barrier. Folks like this can function at a higher level if the language is not a barrier.
4. Multi-ethnic (translation)
5. Multi-church (self-governance)
6. Outreach (church plant)
7. Partnership (existing)
8. Adoption (resource)
For Guerra, the Hispanic church supports the Spanish-speaking portion of the church. The facilities are all shared. The Hispanic body has a $360,000 annual budget and is now self-sustaining. (The overall church budget is about $7MM.)
— First answer Why, then How
How Long do We Proceed?
*Based on Ministry Philosophy (Theology)
*Based on Results — check back in three years and see how the worker is doing
If at 0-50 people — reconsider initiative (termination?)
(Not every guy has the planting gifts; the guy may be a pastor but not a planter)
If at 100-200 — renew ministry
If at 200-300 — invest in the ministry
There are different levels of giftedness.
CELEBRATE THE ONENESS
Ordinances (baptisms or Lord’s supper)
Special Dates (Thanksgiving)
— from the start of the planning, include both groups
Calls for Repentance
Times of Need
KEY ELEMENTS IN COORDINATION
Planning is done with diversity in mind
Diversity is acknowledged; oneness is affirmed
Parts of service can be done in original language (one song/one prayer, translated)
Randy Nabors grew up in the inner-city (housing projects) of Newark in a church that had a strong commitment to the city and its people. During his freshman year in college Randy was involved in urban ministry in the Watts community of Los Angeles, CA. Randy has served as the lead pastor at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tennessee since 1976. He also serves as a U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain. Randy is a graduate of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis (M.Div). He has also done graduate work in urban sociology and urban ministry at the College of Urban Life, Georgia State University and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Randy has taught and trained extensively in the areas of mercy and diaconal ministry.
He opened by explaining that the Lord had a specific calling in his life for urban ministry. His began serving in the church during his college years. That same church called him as a pastor after he finished seminary. In the turbulent 1960s, Nabors was involved in street ministry and was often surrounded by Black Panthers. A book that has strongly influenced Nabors and his wife is by Black and Free by Tom Skinner. Nabors regards Skinner as an excellent preacher.
The church started with Nabor and several others renting an apartment in Chattanooga, TN to reach children. And that’s how New City Fellowship got started. Now there are over a thousand people that gather every Sunday. It is a very diverse church with regard to race and socioeconomic status. Nabors has served there for over thirty years. The New Songs churches that have sprung up here and there are daughter churches of New City Fellowship.
He explained that because they were in the heart of the city, they had to be concerned with mercy ministry. Mercy ministry is personal to Nabors, whose mother was a single mom with two children out of wedlock. She was converted through a special evangelistic meeting by a man named Ken Smart. This man visited Nabors and his mother after the evangelistic meeting and challenged them to put their faith in Christ. Both did. Deacons would later bless the Nabor home with food and other material goods.
Note: This session is introductory in nature. Mr. Nabors will be following it subsequent sessions with a lengthy multi-part series going into mercy ministry in more detail.
WHAT IS MERCY?
The Greek term for mercy refers to “bowels of compassion.” Nabors defined mercy:
“Mercy is compassion toward those who are in need, resulting in action to alleviate that need through acts of charity leading toward self sustainment.”
We need to learn how to define need. Nabors notes that often we care — we feel bad — but we don’t do anything about it, because we are not sure what the right course of action is. And we don’t want to get burned. The reality is: working with the poor, we are going to get burned. There are a lot of con-artists. There are many dysfunctional people. They are going to make the same mistakes over and over again. So there are plenty of reasons NOT to take action. But mercy is not mercy until it ACTS.
Charity and development are different. We’ll get into that. The wealthiest person in the world may need charity. They may have a traffic accident. At that moment, you may be the resource. But they can pay you later. Others cannot.
Leading toward sustainment……we want to help people so that they can help themselves. Nabors’ family was often on welfare growing up. He notes that welfare kept them from starving, but generally maintained them in a cycle of poverty, and that was not right. It is not just the outside leverage that needs to change, it is the internal character of those in poverty that needs to change. And that is where the power of the gospel comes in.
People are in a progression toward self-sustainment. There are some who may never get all the way there. But we should still be moving people in that direction.
SALT & LIGHT
Nabors laments that so many churches are irrelevant because their people don’t love others and make little impact on society. We have done the kingdom of God much damage with the materialistic captivity of the American church. We excuse it time and time again. It has got to change.
Nabors took us to Matthew 5:13-16:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Many churches have lost their salt. Nabors is not talking today about individual acts of mercy; rather, this is about making mercy the DNA of a church.
Nabors mentioned the book The Church of Irresistible Influence: Bridge-Building Stories to Help Reach Your Community. He likes the title. That’s what he wants for his church. Many mega-churches, Nabor notes, are “full service churches.” They take care of their people very well, but they don’t influence those lost around them. It is very hard to take people and convince them to give their life away. We ought to be trained so that we can give our life away. What are our people doing? A lot of knowledge flowing in, and very little flowing out. They need to be making an impact in the world. We need to be careful: Even family can be a very indulgent thing.
The gospel informs us not just about ourselves, but toward a world in need. We often spiritualize Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,..” as if it referred to the spiritually poor. Yes, we should be poor in spirit, but the original context in Isaiah is about the poor, the oppressed.
Those of liberal persuasion often do not understand folks like me, said Nabors. We are ahead of them in racial justice and the poor. We are bringing about transformation in the poor. We want to see the pimps and the drug addicts of today become the next generation of PCA elders and pastors. Those of conservative persuasion like us because we preach the gospel, but they often wish that we only preached the gospel.
MOBILIZING YOUR CHURCH INTO EFFECTIVE MERCY MINISTRIES
You need to weave this into the DNA of the church from Day 1. Your people need to understand that they are in the kingdom of God by sheer mercy. As a church, you are going to have to deal with unplanned pregnancies and many other messy things. You are going to need to train deacons and to encourage them to use that gift. So how do we MOBILIZE our churches into EFFECTIVE mercy ministries?
It requires a lot of wisdom. Beg, borrow and steal ideas from wherever you can. Wisdom in mercy requires the development of principles, methods and skills.
Nabors asked attendees to name Scriptures that illustrated God’s perspective on compassion/mercy. Session attendees mentioned passages such as Micah 6:8, the passage in Deuteronomy when we are commanded to be open-handed, Christ’s teaching about the separation between the sheep and the goats. So do we help the poor only in the church or also those outside the church? Sometimes that question drags us down and we don’t help either. There are passages which teach a priority: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10)
It is a tragedy that we don’t train pastors in seminary about how to develop deacons. How to train them? How to teach them? What about limits in helping people?
“If a man shall not work, neither shall he eat.” How do we reconcile that with Jesus saying, “If someone asks you for something, give it to them.” There is a time when mercy becomes enabling. So then mercy requires that we withhold goods.
A biblical principle teaches us not to be naive about poverty and injustice. There is a myth that if anyone works hard, they can make it. The reality is that there is injustice in the world. So there are some poor folk that are in poverty not because of laziness but because of injustice which they’ve experienced.
Here, you should beg, borrow and steal from others who have had success. There is cultural wisdom to be learned. Not every method will work in every context.
Many white folk don’t grasp culture, so they don’t have cross-cultural skills. They think different is bad. The sharpest and most painful cultural divide we have in this country is between white and black. And we need to communicate across that barrier.
Poor people are God’s gift to us. We cannot give them away to the salvation army. Many churches say, “We don’t have the poor in our church.” Why not evangelize the poor and then you will have the poor in your church?
Nabors seems to disagree with those who teach “homogeneous church planting” — you are depriving your church of having to love people that are different from them.
I’m about half way through the uncopyedited manuscript of Tim Keller’s forthcoming The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. I am finding it to be an excellent read: lucid, engaging, and very fair to skeptics of all stripes who question the veracity and coherence of biblical Christianity. In the first half of the book, he takes on seven tough assertions he has frequently encountered as Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York city:
1. There can’t be just one true religion.
2. A good God could not allow suffering.
3. Christianity is a straitjacket.
4. The church is responsible for so much injustice.
5. A loving God would not send people to hell.
6. Science has disproved Christianity.
7. You can’t take the Bible literally.
Keller articulately and intelligently shows that many of these assertions stem from unwarranted assumptions. But his responses reveal more than a solid, rationale apologetic (as important as that is). Keller displays compassion for the emotional aspect prompting many of the doubters’ concerns while remaining mindful of the noetic effects of sin. That balance, combined with logical cogency, is what makes Keller so worth reading, in particular on this subject.
The Reason for God is scheduled to be released on February 14, but is available for pre-order today. For just a few dollars more, it is available in an abridged audio format.
And his supporters are still producing funny commercials:
CNN Analyst Bill Schneider’s take on tonight’s debate: “Huckabee, I think, stood out in this debate as the one who made sense, talked as ordinary people do, and rose above politics.”
R.C. Sproul introduces the 2008 Ligonier Ministries National Conference (March 13-15) entitled Evangelism According to Jesus:
Nearly half the population of the United States claims to be “born-again.” Self-identified “evangelicals” are a voting bloc courted by our major political parties, and a large percentage of citizens attend church services at least once a week. Yet, as we look at the culture around us, an unmistakable erosion of the Judeo-Christian ethic has taken place. God is regularly blasphemed, professing believers often live no differently from non-Christians, and many churches are captive to the trends of this present age.
Two factors explain this set of contradictory realities. First, the church has failed to preach the biblical Gospel. Instead of preaching about mankind’s depravity and the truth that citizenship in the kingdom of God comes only by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, we hear about a powerless and insipid Creator and the cheap grace He lavishes upon all. Secondly, because the church has failed to preach the biblical Gospel, our evangelism has too often introduced people to the wrong Jesus. We are told that “Jesus can give us our best life now” or that “He wants to be our best friend,” and not that He is our Savior from enslavement to sin and the righteous judgment of God. As such, He demands a life of costly discipleship (Luke 14:25-33).
Pastor Joel Miller is the church planter of Providence Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which is about 4 years old. He was born in Dallas, Texas and has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Berea College, Kentucky and a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He has studied in West Africa and Central America and was commissioned in the United States Air Force Chaplain Corps. Prior to planting Providence Church, he served on the pastoral staff of Briarwood Presbyterian Church. Joel has been married for fourteen years and has four children.
Pastor Miller’s church currently has about 170-200 adult attendees, about 150 of whom are committed. There is no dominant ethnicity in the church; on some occasions, African Americans have been in the majority, and currently Caucasians are in the majority. They also have some Asians and Latinos.
WHO IS AT THIS WORKSHOP
The attendees at this Advanced workshop are about 70% African American, and the others are Caucasian.
A district superintendent for the United Methodist church is here to learn more about developing multi-ethnic churches. Another gentleman here is currently pursuing a D.Min. at RTS and is interested in church planting among various ethnic groups. A woman is here who together with her husband is getting ready to plant in the NY City area. Some gentlemen from a plant in Knoxville, TN and the man coaching them are here as well.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A TARGET AUDIENCE
Miller noted that planting a multi-ethnic church has various challenges. A lot will depend on where you are geographically, and your particular gift set as a planter. Your target audience is who you are trying to reach. You need to know how to define your core constituency so that you can best reach them.
At the beginning, many planters just want to have anyone. But, it is better to have a target group, Miller argued. That said, you are doing well if about 1/3 of your church is from your target group. The rest of the people will resonate with that target group. If you don’t define your new church, and who you are trying to reach, Miller promises that other people who come into your church and will define it for you. They are not necessarily malicious, they just naturally fill a leadership void (and can become an irritant for you).
Miller explains that his church has a target audience of 22-38 year olds. They had a wealthy man whose wife wanted to sing in a certain style every week as a worship leader. But it was a style that was somewhat irritating to Miller’s target audience. So they asked if, out of respect for others, she would do that singing toward the back of the sanctuary, rather than as part of the worship team. The couple decided to leave the church instead. Miller, of course, was not asking them to leave the church, but this is the sort of price he had to pay in order to remain focused on reaching his core constituency.
Age, income, place of origin, neighborhood, language are all things to consider when you determine your core constituency. It is good to target younger families because that will help your church to grow. And generally the best place for a multi-ethnic church is in the center of the city. In some places in the south, there is a “white man = bad” mentality on the part of African Americans. Conversely, the Caucasians may be unaccustomed to relating to African Americans as peers.
The style of preaching, how people dress, the length and style of the service, the music….all these will impact the type of person who will attend the church.
Also, the identity of your target audience will impact the style of your brochure, website, and any marketing media (e.g., book marks, fliers). Do not use the phrase “multi-ethnic” in your official literature/website. It simply does not communicate appealingly to people. But, do use pictures that have people of various races (and relatively young, also).
Do not over-emphasize denominational identity on your website or elsewhere. For example, African American folk will not immediately embrace a PCA church. Miller recounted one of his members saying “I cannot believe I am in a Presbyterian church”–even though she had been there for two years.
Miller quoted Tim Keller about the importance of cities. Cities attract minorities, and people who work in the arts, business, publishing, and media. If you want to influence the world, influence the cities. There is vibrancy and open-mindedness toward interaction. Suburbanites can tend to be more isolated.
Miller contrasts some urban churches which are mainly mercy ministries (e.g., helping the homeless) from those that seek to reach urban professionals. The former tends to be primarily unilateral while the latter engenders a multi-ethnic community of peers.
Your facility has to be relatively neat. Americans crave order. Look for a combination of affordability and being at the geographic center of where various ethnicities reside. That probably means being at the heart of the city.
Miller suggests hiring musicians, especially at the beginning. Because good musicians attract other musicians. Miller would even suggest hiring vocalists. It took him awhile to come to this position. In established churches, everyone will sing along with Aunt Mable—not because she sings well, but because she had made us apple pies and helped us with the rent when we needed it. But if people don’t know Aunt Mable, they won’t feel those warm fuzzies. Instead, they will just say that she sings badly. And they probably won’t want to come to your church.
If you are trying to reach professionals, think of the quality of music that these people are used to hearing. This also applies to the sound quality. Learn to say no to poor musicians. And don’t use people based on their race. Use different styles of hymns and music to reach different kinds of people. But let worship leaders do what feels comfortable/natural to them. Not every Caucasian will be able to lead with gospel-style worship music. Also, be aware that many African American communities are used to having a choir. You may need to make some compromises from time to time.
In your preaching, “Beg, borrow and steal.” Who is ministering to you? Take what is best from multiple preachers who bless you. But don’t steal their sermons verbatim.
Note that it often takes churches or pastors a few years to hit their stride. Often times, pastors are reluctant to talk about a successful church across town because they feel threatened or inferior. But “just because a net is full, doesn’t mean you can’t go over there and get fish.” In other words, observe what they are doing and why. You may be able to catch on to something good. And despite the other church’s success, there are still plenty of non-Christians to reach in your community. On these themes, Miller recommends Breakout Churches: Discover How To Make The Leap by Thomas Random.
As a planting pastor, know your gift set. Some people love to study. Others are better evangelists. Others are natural counselors. So a planting pastor needs a core group, and he needs to empower people quickly (especially if he needs to fill some gaps in his gift set). Develop lay leaders (even small group leaders) relatively quickly and give them specific requirements. And some tasks are vitally essential, like a welcoming ministry — someone with a cheery smile to welcome new visitors, and to help them find the nursery. It can make a big difference in giving someone a good experience.
Whenever you develop people, there may be some betrayal and there will certainly be some who let you down. But bless them when they come and bless them as they go. God will use these experiences to form you as a leader.
Steve Ogne is a nationally known church planter trainer, coach and consultant for Church Resource Ministries & coauthor (with Bob Logan) of several church planter training manuals, including the best selling Church Planter’s Toolkit. He is also the co-author of the popular study kit Empowering Leaders through Coaching (ChurchSmart Resources) with Tom Nebel. Steve’s previous ministry experience includes pastorates at Community Church and Crossroads Community Church, both in California. He is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University, Talbot Seminary and is presently a doctoral candidate at Northwest Graduate School of Ministry. Steve and his wife, Jane, live in Somis, California, and have 3 sons.
This is another Advanced-track workshop.
WORKERS & LEADERS — THEY ARE DIFFERENT
Church planting pastors must mobilize others. To do so, it is important to differentiate between a worker and a leader in the congregation. Simple definition of a leader: Somebody who people follow. In the effort to mobilize everyone, it is easy to forget to develop leaders. By default, we thereby mobilize those who would be leaders into being worker bees. The result is that God-given skill is not properly utilized.
SPOTTING POTENTIAL LEADERS
In a typical congregation, about 10% are capable of leading. Church planters need to spot them. If they are not raised up, people may naturally follow them anyway, potentially leading to division.
How to spot? Look for commitment to the church. Listen for their ministry interests and passions. Look for people who are capable, available, responsible, enthusiastic, and teachable.
ASSESSING POTENTIAL LEADERS
Once you’ve spotted them, you need to evaluate their placement for ministry. What are their spiritual gifts? How will their personality impact their ministry? Are they a leader or a strong player for the team? How strong is their spiritual and ministry commitment?
Ogne noted that if you have HR people in your church, they may already have the gifts to help you assess.
CHALLENGING POTENTIAL LEADERS
Describe the assignment and its value. Give a clear assignment, including a job description. Ask them to pray about it. Follow up.
One man attending the workshop shared that he struggles to get men in his church involved in leadership capacity because they are so busy with their jobs. Ogne noted that the temptation in that case is to give these men nothing more than a small job. But Ogne noted that if they are indeed leaders, you have to give each something big enough and important enough that he feels compelled to re-prioritize his schedule to make it happen.
NEED TO HAVE A CURRENT LIST OF MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CHURCH, AND JOB DESCRIPTIONS TO GO WITH EACH OF THEM
List everything — even the jobs you are only dreaming about. That way, if God brings that person along, they have a job to do.
Job Description: Include who the person is responsible TO, who he/she is responsible FOR, and three to five specific objectives.
Clearly define a pathway for involvement. (Example: I need to be here at least three months before I can apply to be a Sunday School teacher. If my application is accepted, I then need to attend a leader’s training meeting, get interviewed by a pastor, and then I am good to go.)
Part of involving people is making sure that, as a pastor, you teach about spiritual gifts. Make sure you record it. Then you can include the CD in a baggie that you give to potential small group leaders (for example).
Have a person that they can talk to: “You want to get involved in children ministry? Talk to Mary. You want to get on the welcoming committee? Talk to Joe.”
Sometimes we get so busy filling slots, then we don’t empower people to do what they are gifted at and what God has laid on their heart. Ogne once had a nursery coordinator (which he desperately needed), but the woman wasn’t happy in the job. It turned out what she really wanted to do was start a crisis pregnancy center. Ogne replaced her with someone else, and the former nursery coordinator went on to start a CPC, which is still active today (20 years later).
Again, In terms of vetting people for jobs, if you have HR people in your church, they may already have the gifts to help you assess.
“THE BUCK STOPS HERE”
We need to have REAL leadership positions to give out. REAL positions where “the buck stops here” and if they fail, they fail. Leaders learn most by actually leading.
1. Make them responsible for casting a vision and motivating people.
Ogne calls this “buck stops here” leadership. They — the leaders — need to be responsible for casting the vision and recruiting the group. Give THEM the responsibility to cast vision.
2. Make them recruit people and delegate responsibility. (They can’t be a figurehead only.)
3. They need to coach and mentor other leaders.
4. If you want them to become pastors/church planters someday, they need to practice raising money and balancing a budget.
Lots of green pastors are financially unprepared.
So if they are responsible for a particular ministry, make them responsible for the budget for that ministry. If they want to do a retreat, make them responsible for raising the money. If they go over budget, make them go find the money somewhere else. Ogne mentioned that if you have a youth pastor who later wants to plant a church, this could include making him get a part-time job to make up the overage if he goes over budget. The man is very likely to learn his lesson if he is not “bailed out,” and he will be a better church planter later on.
Don’t establish policies that prevent lay leaders from developing the gift of fund-raising (for fear that it will hurt the offering). It limits developing them. Give accountability and guidelines, but avoid the extremes of (a) we’ll give you all the money and (b) you cannot fund-raise.
HAVE A VEHICLE FOR STEWARDSHIP TRAINING
Ogne is a big fan of Crown Financial Ministries. He requires it for certain people in leadership positions.
How to learn fund raising? Ogne recommends People Raising: A Practical Guide to Raising Support.
OTHER BASIC LEADERSHIP SKILLS
1. Developing a budget.
2. Developing an accountability plan.
3. Public speaking (including handling Scripture).
4. Time management.
POSITIONS TO GIVE PEOPLE WITHIN A CHURCH TO GROOM THEM FOR PASTORAL LEADERSHIP
1. Disciple Making – Relational evangelism combined with basic guidance for Christian life and growth (perhaps in specific areas — e.g., biblical home order)
2. Apprenticing – On the job training for specific ministry assignments.
3. Coaching – Helping people develop their God-given potential so that they grow personally and make a valuable contribution to the Kingdom of God. (This can continue once they are in the pastorate.)
4. Mentoring – Holistic investment in the life of an individual to prepare him or her for a new season of life and a new level of ministry.
WHOM DO YOU MENTOR?
The church planting pastor should consider both general and spiritual criteria.
General criteria for evaluating professional leaders:
1. An ability to communicate
2. Managerial skills
3. The absence of scandal
Specifically biblical criteria for evaluating professional leaders:
1. Proven and consistent behavior, recognized by many (I Tim. 3:1)
2. Character which demonstrates the Holy Spirit’s presence (Gal. 5:22-23)
3. Spiritual wisdom and uncommon sense
4. An amassed and an accurate theological knowledge
5. A natural bond of respect toward the mentor
6. Followers (a group to lead)
HOW DO YOU MENTOR?
1. Spend time with them
2. Help them integrate their life, learning and ministry
3. Give them on the job training
4. Allow them to have exposure to a variety of ministry contexts
Ogne sends them to good and bad churches. He has them visit once or twice and contact one of the pastors and ask a few questions. He wants them to see both good and bad, so that they’ll know what both good and bad look like in a church setting.
THE POWER OF APPRENTICING
In many ministries, a leader needs an apprentice. An assistant stays with you forever. An apprentice is expected to move on. First you do it, and they watch. Then you do it together. Then they do it, and you watch. For unpaid positions, let them do it (with you watching) if they can do it 50% as well as you (because if you can move on to do something else, you still have a net gain in overall productivity, and they can learn the rest “on the job”). But for elder/pastor jobs, don’t lay hands too quickly. Don’t make an apprentice a leader until he is demonstrated faithfulness over a period of time. If he is faithful, his skill level goes up as you give him more responsibility. But if he is not faithful, he is not ready.
Make a list of which jobs require Christians to do them, and which jobs don’t. Give some of the latter jobs to pre-Christians. (Ogne knows of cases when worship band members, not leaders, were non-Christians. They got saved by spending time at church and playing the drums or some other instrument.)
EVALUATING YOUR LEADERSHIP FARM SYSTEM
1. Are you evangelizing and making disciples of Christ?
2. Are you mobilizing people to get involved in ministry in some way?
3. Are you engaging rising leaders in ministry?
4. Are you integrating Bible and theological content into your leadership development?
Steve Ogne recommended these books by Paul Ford:
Unleash your church!: A comprehensive strategy to help people discover and use their spiritual gifts
Your Leadership Grip: Assessment Process
This afternoon, I was again asked to attend an Advanced workshop. Montgomery noted “We want to have theologically driven churches.” Our theology must be connected to our methodology and our methodology should be informed by our theology.
Biblical theology is concerned with the big picture. Given that God created something good, what is the hope for renewal? We have a God who is personally involved. Dualism (false dichotomies between sacred and secular, or material and immaterial) is thereby excluded. God created culture, so culture matters.
Describes how life was meant to be lived. It provides us with a glimpse into what holy living (that is, wholeness and holiness) looks like from God’s perspective, according to His intentions.
Explains how life became the distorted mess that it is today. It demonstrates why things are not the way they are supposed to be.
Shows us how we can live life as we find it in the good of the gospel. It explains the way back to holiness and wholeness.
Show us how life will be when Jesus returns.
Three Perspectives on the Gospel (adapted from Tim Keller)
-Focus: Jesus’ substitutionary work
-Call/Articulation: Jesus lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died. Rest.
-By Itself: Leads to a ministry almost strictly of apologetics, evangelism, and discipleship.
The cross is the basis for our ministry of reconciliation and missions.
-Focus: Kingdom now but not yet
-Call/Articulation: Receive the Kingdom. Reverse the world’s values. Salvation came to the world through power; now receive it by surrendering your will and identifying with the poor and powerless. Repent, change Lords.
-By Itself: Leads to a ministry mainly of community-building and social justice.
-Focus: Grace vs. Works (performance)
-Call/Articulation: Accept your acceptance. You are more sinful that you dared to believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than you dared hope. Rely on grace.
-By Itself: Leads to a ministry emphasizing prayer, personal revival, and lots of personal counseling.
A balanced ministry emphasizes all three perspectives on the gospel: the cross, the kingdom, and grace.