Friday, December 30, 2011

Leapyear Project

This upcoming year is a leapyear and I came across the leapyearproject this week and it intrigued me because of the idea behind it, which is to see in 2012 what you can do with your dreams and ideas to create something that would make your life, family, industry, and world a better place. In 2013 documentation of what was accomplished in one year will be published to show just what can be done to make a difference in such little time. 

There are very few restrictions and the main point is to take a risk (leap) and make something in your life, community, or world better. The project is not faith-based per se, but the guy behind it, Victor, was a pastor, but wanted to make it open to anyone, anywhere. Personally I hope to see all types of people, everywhere get involved, but believe that the best creativity and ideas are stored within the church, just waiting to be released to make a difference because of the difference that Jesus Christ makes in peoples lives and the world.

2012 is two days away, so now is the time to start the conversation of risk-thinking and take the Big Leap. Although not narrowly defined, my big leap starts on January 1 as I move to church plant in S. Asia. I would love to hear your story of how you will take a leap in 2012 to see change happen in your context.

                 


SO 2012 IS A LEAPYEAR. "What risk will you take to change your life, your community, or your world for the better?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Church's Attempt to Be Cool

I saw this billboard the other day as I was driving that advertised a community church reading, "A church for people who do not like church." My first thought was what is that supposed to even mean? I have come to love the church as I see it being the means in which people will be reached for Jesus and his glory. As it is often said around my own church, the church is God's plan A, there is no plan B.

From what I read in Acts 2:42-47, I do not see why anyone would not want to be a follower of Christ and part of a community of believers (a church):
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day,attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Perhaps the motive behind this church's sign was an attempt to be cool or maybe be different than what many are used to in the Southeast. I understand that somewhat, but to advertise yourself as "the church for people who don't like church" is like saying we are the chicken restaurant for people who don't like chicken. This tells me that they are artificial and full of filler, existing so that you can have it your way, not God's way. 

Maybe I am being too harsh on this church and their attempt to get new people coming to their church, but to me what they are after is not true change and organic growth, but superficiality. I understand getting passed the non-essential reasons that people do not step foot in a church, but to advertise yourself in such a way as this church does is to make it sound as if you are something entirely different from the true definition of a church, which is God's plan A.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Celebrating the Savior Christ the Lord

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:1-14 ESV)

[Below is the full Christmas at the Summit service, which is about the profound simplicity of what God was trying to tell us at Christmas.]
                
Christmas at the Summit from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Born Is The King: It's Christmas

Merry Christmas to all, I hope you enjoy time with your family and celebrate the birth of King Jesus because It's Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is It Hatred to Move My Family to Asia?

Some people have questioned me on moving my family to Asia in order to plant churches as if it is "hatred" towards my wife and son. In this video clip, John Piper discusses God, Manhood & Ministry, touching on this very idea and the lack of understanding. The key that Piper points out here is that those that question my motivation of moving my family to plant churches do not have the mind of Christ and so to them it comes across as a form of hatred or cruelty; but the reality is that in obedience to the calling of God you often have to make these tough choices and sacrifices.

       
Have We Over-Elevated the Family? from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spiritual Rejuvenation


And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
(Mark 6:31-32 ESV)

Taking a sabbath day is probably one of the most broken commands in the Bible by Christians, including myself. We are commanded to take one (Deut. 5:12-13), but we often find ourselves "busy" with ministry as were the apostles in Mark 6, which results in continuing on with ministry.

Most of us, myself included, find this command difficult enough to keep in our culture, so the thought of spiritual retreat never even crosses our mind. What we are really communicating in this neglect of a sabbath is that we think we know better than God and we show our lack of dependence on him. 

Thankfully I have been encouraged and had the opportunity in the last two months to take two separate spiritual retreats that were above and beyond a normal sabbath. The first of these came at a much needed time of exhaustion and frustration. Taking a spiritual retreat with nothing but a Bible, notebook, and pen allowed me to commune with God in a way that I normally do not, express my dependence on him, and allow him to give me the restoration that I needed.

Sometimes it can be easy to overlook the command to take a sabbath, but Jesus himself took a day of rest and told the apostles to Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. In our rest we are offering ourselves up to God and allowing him to do the rest by communicating to him that there is nothing more important in life to us than him.

Now one of my goals for 2012 will be to take an extended spiritual retreat once a month for a time of rejuvenation and communion with God. Ministry and being on mission is important, but obeying God's command and taking a sabbath is also important. So what do you say? How about joining me in this goal and see how it impacts your spiritual life in the new year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas at the Summit

Friends in Raleigh-Durham, I wanted to invite you all to take time out of your busy December schedules to celebrate the center piece of Christmas, Jesus, at the Summit Church. There will be five different opportunities to attend this celebration between December 22-24. For complete details and information please visit ChristmasAtTheSummit.com.


christmas at the summit from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shake The Dust Off Your Feet


But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
(Acts 13:51 ESV)

During the last two months I have been studying through the books of Acts as part of my preparation for church planting in an unfamiliar context. In reading Acts 13:51 I came across this phrase Shake the Dust Off Your Feet. And although reading the book of Acts many times I had never quite paid full attention to the meaning of this verse. 

Note, this same phrase is also used at least three other times before the book of Acts in three of the four gospels (Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). In each context that this phrase is used it is referring to a situation in that you are going to share the gospel with someone, but upon them not receiving you or the message of the gospel to basically move on to another person or place.

This tells me that I don't have to carry the burden of that person not being saved at that moment or feel like they were rejecting me. Many times in the past I have beat myself up over someone rejecting the gospel once presented, but this verse tells me not to be upset, but rather to leave the burden there and move on to the next person that needs to hear the gospel.

Recognizing this has been so freeing to me because it does not give me an excuse not to share the gospel with all people, but it does give me reason to move on after a clear gospel message has been delivered and rejected. It points back to the reality that it is the Holy Spirit that needs to go before you to initiate the relationship and Jesus alone that saves. 

I've personally experienced this in my own life in the last year as I have been preparing to leave the country. Knowing I would be leaving, I wanted to be intentional with my family and friends and although not sharing the gospel with all as I should, I have shared with many and with some I have had to "shake off the dust from my feet" and move on to the next person. 

Now to you I say share the gospel with all people, but don't waste your time too long on those that are not receiving what you are saying. Rather move on to the next person or place because time is getting short and there are many who have  never heard the good news that the Holy Spirit of the almighty God has prepared for you to share with as they are ready to respond.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Disciple Pattern

On yesterday's blog post I mentioned attending the Universal Disciple seminar by Dr. Thom Wolf and discussed some of the insights that he gave into discipleship the way in which we see Paul doing it in the New Testament. Today I wanted to share what Dr. Wolf calls the Universal Disciple Pattern.

Key to The Universal Disciple Pattern:

ROCK:
In one way or another, you introduce people to who Jesus is: the Rock to build your life on. Jesus taught and the apostles developed the 'rock theology' as the foundation for our faith: Matt. 7:24-28; 16:13-20 with Deut. 32:1-3, 15-18, 30; 21:33-46; 1 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 2:19-22.

WORSHIP:
Through whatever process and time, the person must come to a personal commitment and surrender to Jesus as Lord and God. John 20:26-31; Acts 8:26-40; Romans 10:8-15.

WALK:
Personally the new believer must begin to walk worthy of Christ. To do this he/she must put off the old style of living-old vices, and put on the life of Christ-new virtues. Col. 3:5-15; Eph. 4:17-5:17.

WORD/SPIRIT:
Socially, there is a spiritual response or reaction to the new life of the new believer. Some are attracted, some are repelled. Matt. 13:5 and 20-22; 1 Peter 4:1-5; 5:8-9; Acts 14:21-22; 1 Thess. 3:1-5. But the personal transformation impacts the convert's circle of influence.

The core experience here is:
Word: "let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly"  (Colossians 3:16)
Spirit: "be filled with the Spirit"                            (Ephesians 5:18)

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Pattern to Universal Discipleship

This past weekend I had the privilege to sit under the teaching of Dr. Thom Wolf, who is the international president and professor of global studies of University Institute, New Delhi, India. The topic of the seminar that I was part of was on the Universal Discipleship Pattern that Dr. Wolf has been presenting since 1994.

I wanted to briefly share some of the highlights from the seminar with you:

He starts by saying, "It is perplexing that Paul and his church-planting team were often only in a city a few weeks, a few months, or at most a few years. How did they do it?"

Q: How did Paul establish leadership?
  • so quickly
  • so solidly
  • so reproducibly that became the basis for the Christian church? 
A: Paul had a pattern, a standard:

  • that could be remembered easily
  • that could be received personally
  • that could be reproduced strategically

We see from Paul that his discipleship pattern was remembered easily, received personally, and reproduced strategically. Now my question is do most of us or our churches disciple in such a way? I would think not or otherwise I believe that we would see a very different result from our discipleship, but instead 80% of my generation leaves the church once getting to college.

So instead of you or your church seeking the next way to do discipleship that may work, try instead to make it quick, solid, and reproducible. Then it will be remembered easily, received personally, and reproduced strategically that may result in more disciples being made and disciples that make disciples.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Are We Really Here to COEXIST?

I was recently in conversation with a coworker/friend who brought up the topic of the ever popular COEXIST bumper stickers that are seen on cars everywhere. I had an opinion, but told her that I honestly hadn't researched the meaning behind the sticker enough to give a fair evaluation. She then proceeded to tell me how her and her fiancĂ© were going out one night and happened to be behind a car with a Summit Church bumper sticker (My Church) and a "Coexist" sticker right next to it, as to the reason for her question.

For those not aware, the letters that spell coexist make use of totally different religious symbols to characterize the completely different religions. Listed below are the letters used and what religion they really are for:
C – It is a crescent moon that represents Islam
O – It is  the peace symbol or pagan/Wiccan pentacle.
E – It’s the male/female symbolic representation or a scientific formula.
X – This can be  the Star of David and symbolizes Judaism.
I – It’s a pagan/Wiccan symbolic representation used.
S – This can be a Oriental yin-yang symbolic representation.
T – The cross is utilized to represent Christianity.
The word “Coexist” actually means to exist in the same space as anyone else. Indicating that all beliefs plus religions ought to try to live together in peace. The Coexist Foundation aims to increase communication plus cooperation among Jews, Christian believers and Muslims. 

The meaning in and of itself does not sound bad at all and I'm all for increased communication and cooperation. But in order to clearly answer my friends question, I want to say that I personally would not put a "Coexist" bumper sticker on my car. The reason being that we are not here to merely exist with others. 

Rather we are here to proclaim a message (the gospel) and make disciples. We are to be set apart followers of Christ who yes, coexist in the same space with people of all backgrounds and faiths in love, but we do so not in a way to say that all peoples religious paths are equal, but in a way to show that Jesus is the only way to real knowledge and truth.

So we as Christ followers should coexist with all people, but do so in a way to have an opportunity for increased communication and cooperation that quickly leads to the gospel and changed lives. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Missions Offering


This time of year at my local church, the Summit, always proves to be an exciting time with a lot going on. One of my favorite parts about this time of year is that the pastors seem to set higher and higher goals on how much to take up as our Christmas missions offering. This is money that is entirely given away for church planting and local outreach. In other words, none of it is kept internally to benefit the local body of the Summit Church, but it all goes so that the gospel can be spread to many places where the name of Jesus has never been named. 

The few years that I have been around the Summit, we as a church have gone far above the set goal. This blew me away the first couple of years because I had my doubts with such large numbers in the midst of an economic downturn. But year after year I have watched the goal get met and then almost double in its final number. Now, I know it is not about numbers or dollars, but the money taking up at Christmas represents lives changed and churches planted. And those are the kind of numbers that I can get into all of the time!

This year the Christmas Missions Offering means perhaps more to me than it ever has meant before. Why? Because my family and I are now able to plant our lives in S. Asia to be church planters in a large part due to this offering. We will be able to move our lives there, pour into national believers, and send them out to see churches planted.

The goal this year is set at a higher amount than ever before with a goal of $625,000. This amount is broken down into two categories. $468,750 of that amount goes directly to Church Planting, from this amount is how we are able to go and plant churches in S. Asia. The remaining $156,250 will be used locally in RDU with the week of ServeRDU and helping to see things such as i58 come to fruition.  

So if you are a part of the Summit Church then I highly encourage you to be on mission with the church and to live sufficiently, give extravagantly. Give huge amounts to the Christmas missions offering, not so that I can go live in another country, but so that peoples lives can be changed by the gospel and churches can be planted all over the world. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why Pray?


Let me start out by being honest up front in saying that overall I feel as if my prayer life stinks! But it is out of that realization that I have started to sense even more the need for prayer in my life. Aside from that I printed off 2500 prayer cards of my family that I am fully expecting people to pray for us when they see, but I don't think that I should expect that from people if I myself am not praying. 

In my process of realization of the importance of prayer, I came across 19 reasons on "Why Pray" that was given out at one of the orientation sessions I attended recently. These 19 reasons have helped me see even more reasons why to pray, which I hope will also be of help to you. 

WHY PRAY:

1. Prayer discovers the secret of Christ's evangelistic success (Mark 1:14, 35).
2. Prayer follows the example of the early church (Acts 4:31).
3. Prayer acknowledges dependence upon God (Psalm 40:1, 4).
4. Prayer conforms our will to God's (1 John 5:14).
5. Prayer opens closed doors (Colossians 4:2,3)
6. Pray grants victory over Satan (Ephesians 6:12, 18).
7. Prayer unleashes divine power (Ephesians 3:14-16).
8. Prayer begets boldness in witnessing (Ephesians 6:18,19).
9. Prayer brings wisdom about what to say (James 1:5).
10. Prayer replaces anxiety with peace (Philippians 4:6,7).
11. Prayer brings fullness of joy (John 16:24).
12. Prayer produces fruitfulness (John 15:5,7).
13. Prayer causes growth in new believers (Philippians 1:4,6).
14. Prayer raises up new workers (Matthew 9:37, 38).
15. Prayer generates revival (Chronicles 7:14).
16. Prayer impacts the world (Psalms 2:8).
17. Prayer accomplishes amazing results (Jeremiah 33:3).
18. Prayer delights the Lord (Proverbs 15:8b).
19. Prayer glorifies God (John 14:1). 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Going Where the Gospel Has Not Been Heard

 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
Romans 10:14-15

This is a moving video that I came across this week that basically speaks for itself... It is hard to fathom that there are 2100 full time workers for every million people in the Christian world, but only six foreign missionaries for every million people in the unreached world. 


Beautiful Feet Project from AsiaLink HistoryMaker on Vimeo.

I encourage you to pray about how you will respond in light of this video you have just watched. Perhaps God is calling you to go to Asia, be a partner, give, or pray. We each have a part in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth as we see in Acts 1:8, I just hope that you respond with obedience to yours.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Church Planting Movements

I love this clip on Church Planting Movements from the organization Pioneers. They are a very like-minded organization in church planting and I believe that this video clip helps capture the conversation I feel like I have with family and friends everyday who do not quite understand what it is exactly that I am going to be doing over the next couple of years.

Below I have also included some of my favorite quotes from the video that really help capture the essence of what church planting and church planting movements look like in an international context.



"A Church Planting movement is a movement of the Spirit of God."

"We don't want to simply see a church raised up where the missionary becomes the pastor forever and ever, amen. We want to see church planting movements that are indigenous to the people, even from the very beginning, that has as one of its core values the desire to reach out to others and to plant churches that will plant churches."

"So we're not here to Americanize this place or try and stimulate a church planting movement that looks like the US, we want to empower, equip, and involve the local church here... in what God is already doing."


Monday, November 28, 2011

Training for Trainers

This week I spent some time studying the essential elements of Training for Trainers (T4T), which is the primary way in which our team will operate in developing church planters in S. Asia to be sent out. The end goal will not be to only see them plant a church, but also train new leaders that will go on to also plant a church and continue to train more leaders. This training method has in the past and will hopefully continue to lead way into a church planting movement.

Due to its simplicity and its effectiveness, I found it worth sharing some of these essential elements with you here. T4T -- an all inclusive process of evangelism, discipleship, church planting, leadership training, and reproduction.

1. Built on the Word of God.
  • II Timothy 3:16-16
  • Psalms 3:16-17
2. Obedience based Discipleship.
  • Luke 6:46-49
  • Matthew 28:19-20
3. All believers equipped to share their faith.
  • Matthew 28:19-20
  • Acts 1:8
4. Emphasis on training those who will train others.
  • II Timothy 2:2
  • John 15:16
For a more in depth look at T4T check out T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness

It is my favorite time of year again and one of my favorite holidays is tomorrow. Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to me because it allows me to be with my family, eat a lot, watch football, and reflect on the last year of God's provision in my life. This year in particular my family will be spending it with my aunt and uncle in Chesapeake, VA.

This will be my last Thanksgiving in the States for a few years so I look forward to cherishing the day with loved ones and appreciating it for everything that it is. God has really blessed my family in the last year and I wanted to express a few of those here.

On March 9 this year I was given the best gift that I have ever received, aside from my salvation, in the birth of my son Elliot. I was and am a huge proponent of waiting to have children, but I am so thankful for his life and look forward to having him with us for the holidays this year.

I am also extremely thankful that God has opened the doors for my family to move to S. Asia in order to plant churches. The cooperative program of like minded churches have made this possible through their gracious gifts and I am thankful that they all helped make this possible.

Lastly, I am thankful for the support of both of our families in this huge transition in our lives. Goodbyes are never easy, but it has made it easier that we have their support and that they both desire to see our obedience to Christ.

I hope you too can recognize God's perfect provision in your life, even if it has been a difficult year. Be safe if you are traveling this weekend and I encourage you to take some time this over Thanksgiving to reflect on God's provision and express your thankfulness to him!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Message for the Heart of Muslims

For over a year now I have had Breaking the Islam Code by J.D. Greear on my reading list, but just now managed to start reading it this past weekend. It is already promising to be a great starting place in order to understand the soul questions of Muslims and to be able to see them come to Christ. Although I have only read about 25% of the book, I wanted to go ahead and share what J.D. calls "A Message for the Heart" in chapter one.

A Message for the Heart:

1. You most effectively share Christ with Muslims when you are genuinely friends with them.

2. You must learn to listen to Muslims.

3. You must look for the Holy Spirit to do in the heart of your Muslims friends what you cannot do.

In addition Greear offers three preliminary questions that he suggest you constantly be asking:

1. What does my friend actually believe?

2. Why does he believe that?

3. Which of his beliefs, questions, and experiences can I affirm?

I look forward to finishing up the book this week and offering further tools in reaching Muslims, but hopefully this will help get you started in the right direction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rules as Guidelines vs. Rules as Law

Finally at the age of 26 I have come to realize that sometimes rules are just necessary. It is not that it took me 26 years to actually realize that or fully understand that, but I struggled with the rules mentality for so long because I have often experienced rules as a law when in many cases they are not. My main issue with rules over the years has been generally when someone lays down a rule as if it is biblical or the only way.

My issue with rules being presented this way is that it does a couple of things. First, it many times causes something to become sin that was never sin to begin with. A great example of this is alcohol. Often times an institution will prohibit the consumption of alcohol, which often results in turning alcohol now into a temptation and sin when it is consumed. Alcohol is a gift from God, the first recorded miracle of Jesus, and when consumed appropriately and moderately can be a wonderful thing.

Second, by presenting or making rules as law it makes them appear as the only way. This in turn often results in the judgement of others when they may not be following those same given rules. It is important to remember that you can and still should have fellowship with fellow brothers even though their rule following may look different as the body of Christ is unique. What some can do in good conscience, other cannot. So, in some instances an issue or certain behavior maybe a sin issue for some and not for others. We must not make the mistake of making something a sin for all believers that was not clearly given as one in Scripture.

Now, are rules necessary? Absolutely, but I have come to see the freedom in rules as guidelines and not as law. Any organization and institution will have rules and I fully believe that you should follow those as your general guidelines because in most cases you agreed to those in working with them. And following rules as guidelines does not give one an excuse to sin, but rather respect them for what they are by submitting to the authority over them in their lives in a way that is Christ honoring(1Peter 2:13-16).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Obedience Based Discipleship

Starting next year, part of my role as a church planter in an international context will consist of me coming alongside national believers and discipling them. These followers of Christ could be at any level from seasoned Christian to a brand new follower of Christ. The key in my discipleship with them will be to equip and train them to be sent out on mission.

I will not be coming in as if to say that I am the man with the answers, but rather I will walk with them, point them to Jesus, and explore together what the Bible has to teach. This way there is not a dependency created on me in anyway, but rather all dependency is on Christ and what the Bible teaches. In many ways I will be equipped by these believers within my equipping of them. 

A key aspect within my discipling of these brothers in Christ, will be obedience based discipleship. In other words I will initially meet with all whom are interested, but very soon I will look for those that are serious about their faith, on mission, and ready to be sent out to plant churches. This may come across as harsh to some, but the truth is that in the context that I am going, I do not have time to waste on those that are not serious. This does not mean that I will not come back to them later at some point if they express and prove their seriousness, but initially I will move on. 

I am fully on board with this model and often question why we don't do that more within my current context within the American church? I love both the church local and the church universal/glocal, but believe that more of us need to get to a place of obedience based discipleship. We tend to let people play church too much, when the reality is that there are serious needs everywhere in the world.

The U.S. alone now has an unchurched population over more than 120 million. That number is only going to grow larger if we do not get serious about our discipleship within the church. So in order to reach the 120 million plus we need many faithful disciples that are on mission to be sent out. So my challenge for you is to start obedience based discipleship if you are not doing so already. 

Please feel free to comment below on how you have seen discipleship work and fail in the past within your own setting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Propaganda - G.O.S.P.E.L.

I know this video went around on facebook a few months ago, but thought it was still worth sharing for those of you that may have missed it. Artist Propaganda is putting together relevant music and poetry that reaches across the spectrum of youth and pop culture. He is highly respected in the LA hip-hop underground scene, but the key difference between him and many of those within the hip-hop world is that Propaganda is spreading the truth in his message.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chasing Hard after God

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
Psalm 63:8

Chasing hard after God should be our highest goal and first priority in life. I was challenged with this recently in my preparation to move to another country to be a church planter. It struck me how often my highest goal has been to please fellow man in many ways such as coming off as a good communicator, a respected leader, or even at times a good blogger. But the truth is that if I am not chasing hard after God to please him as an audience of one then I have ultimately failed.

Before I go any further I do want to point out that the only way in which one can chase hard after God would be dependent first on a work of enlightenment from God of himself to that individual. In the words of A.W. Tozer, We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. 

Tozer further says, The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: "Thy right hand upholdeth me."

So if God has originated a work in you then your natural response of that work is an impulse of following hard after Him. To do anything less would be to fall short of all that God has for you and your life. Remember that you are created to please an audience of one, God himself, therefore chase hard after that audience. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Nations In the City

Fulfilling the Great Commission and taking the gospel to those people groups that are unreached is no longer about only going to another country because many of the unreached people groups are coming to us in our major cities across the world, including the US. EthneCity is a conference that is focused on just that by looking at ways to reach the unreached in the city.

Nations in the city on Vimeo.

The gathering of ethneCity is designed to do three things:
  • Explore the reality of the urbanization of the world and what it will take to engage the unreached in the urban centers of the world.
  • Equip mission leaders and church-planting strategists in the development of strategies to reach unreached people groups in their indigenous homeland and urban centers, including in the U.S.
  • Provide an environment for mission leaders and international and U.S. church-planting strategists focused in urban centers to network and develop opportunities to work together. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lingering by Failing to Grasp the Situation


As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
(Genesis 19:15-16 ESV)

But he lingered, a simple statement that has huge implications. I had never really paid much attention to this statement in the story of Lot because I always remembered the outcome of him coming out on the other side okay. But what I failed to recognize in that statement is that in lingering over the situation it shows that Lot himself was slow to grasp the seriousness of the situation. 

Thankfully in the case of Lot, although he lingered, the Lord still showed mercy to him and his family. But this got me thinking about how many of us linger over things in our lives, specifically temptations and sins. I would say that it is only by the grace and mercy of the Lord that we ever escape those, but in lingering we too are failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation of sin in our lives. 

In regards to temptations and lingering, the longer one lingers then you are that much closer to go from lingering to sinning. An example of this that is often seen in the life of men is a beautiful woman walks by and in that moment if a man is faced with the temptation to lust after her he is much more likely to do so if he lingers as he looks at her and decides. Instead the better choice in that moment is to abide in Christ and turn from the lingering of your mind, therefore suppressing that temptation and sin in your life through Christ. 

So lingering is almost always failing to recognize the seriousness of the situation.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great Commission Basics

This week I had the privilege to sit in on a two part seminar given by Missiologist and Ethnographer Dr. Jim Slack. He specializes in using a selection of anthropologically-oriented tools that are valuable when planting churches, specifically those among unreached and unengaged ethnic people groups. But in the words of Slack himself, The biblical foundation for embracing, engaging and evangelizing a "panta ta ethne" ethnolinguistic people group as found within Christ's Great Commission precedes all other tools and presentations. 

Here is a helpful summary that Dr. Slack put together on The Basics of Christ's Great Commission:

Matthew 28:19-20
Luke 24 and Acts 1 & 2
  • The Great Commission from Christ was given to each and every believer, not just to apostles, pastors or missionaries. (Matthew 28:19 & Luke 24:47-48)
  • An everyday responsibility - "As you are going"-starting in each person's "Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47 & Acts 1:8)
  • The task of the Great Commission is "making disciples"-Evangelism and Discipleship. (Matthew 28:19)
  • The focus of "making disciples" is very specific-"making disciples within each and every ethnic people group-the panta ta ethne. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • Each believer is responsible for "making disciples" within each and every ethnolinguistic people group beginning in each person's Jerusalem, and moving beyond to each person's Judea, Samaria and uttermost. (Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8)
  • Witnesses and evangelizers are to engage each and every ethnolinguistic people group in their "mother tongue" (heart language) (Acts 2:6 & 8 & 11)

Friday, November 4, 2011

God Doesn't Want Your Flattery


This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me...
(Matthew 15:8 ESV)

This past week I was involved with a seminar dealing with ones relationship with God. We discussed how many things that used to be able to be assumed in the life of a believer can no longer be assumed anymore as the church is constantly allowing the culture to dictate how many view things. This is perhaps seen no greater than in my own generation as it seems like the majority of my "Christian" buddies that I grew up with are no longer identifying themselves as Christ followers. 

In essence I grew up with a bunch of Pharisees for friends, not all, but the ones that I referred to in the above paragraph. Then there is also a group that still honors Christ with their lips, but their heart is far from God. The classic example of this is seen as someone is publicly raising their hands in worship, declaring their honor and worship for Jesus, only to leave and go sleep with their girlfriend or perhaps to have many secret sins in their life. 

This boggled my mind for a long time growing up as I started to wonder when my time would come, my time to profess Christ with my lips, but go and live in whatever way pleased me. The reality is that this no longer boggles my mind, but what it does cause me to do is be saddened for those individuals who are wasting their lives away after hearing and knowing the truth of the gospel. 

The reality is that their hearts are far from God and the worship they professed was merely in vain. They may have fooled man, their parents, and youth pastor, but nobody fools God. The truth is that God doesn't want your flattery, so don't be a stupid pharisee. So if this is you, stop what you are doing and take time to consider what your life is truly like. You are the definition of a hypocrite and in need of true repentance. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Impressions

For over a year now my wife and I have been proudly Wal-Mart free, but occasionally we will venture into Wal-Mart for an exchange on an item such as diapers that nobody else will accept without a receipt.  The other night ended up being one of those nights where we needed to do an exchange. So we fought through the cars to find a parking spot, experienced an unfriendly greeting at the front door, waited in long lines, and walked the store what seemed like fifteen minutes to find the section that I was looking for.

Let's just say that immediately my mind was flooded with the many reasons that we are no longer Wal-Mart shoppers, aside from the ethical implications of shopping there. I finally found the item that I needed to get and proceeded to the checkout line. The checkout clerk was very pleasant and we had some small talk as he overly explained their return policy to me and pointed to a manager about ten feet from us. Since he had pointed to the manager I thought it courteous to walk over to find out the information.

To my surprise her response to me was, "I'm off the clock!" I kindly smiled and left, but immediately thought how that was horrible customer service and a really bad first impression. As a manager of a store it shouldn't matter if you are off the clock as long as you are still wearing the uniform, smiley face name tag, and standing out on the open floor.

This in turn made me think about our first impressions team at the Summit Church and Danny Franks in particular. We go above and beyond to make sure that first time guests have an excellent first impression of not only our church, but Christians and Christianity. It is commonly said around our church that "The sermon starts out in the parking lot."

I find this to be true, but think of the many churches that treat first impressions just like this manager at Wal-Mart. They may be all about doing what it takes to get you there, but if it appears you are interrupting their life or want to talk to them after church then you are mistaken.

As Christians it is important to remember that in a sense we are all leaders and never off the clock. We are always called to be representatives of Christ and ultimately called to do everything in and with love (1 Cor. 13).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Troubled Waters

I wanted to take the time today to introduce you all to one of the worst cases of mass poisoning in the world and the documentary that is filming the process of clean water coming to this town in "Troubled Waters." 

Here is the synopsis taken from their own websiteJim Hill, a seasoned missionary, stumbles on a small town 12,000 feet above sea level in the Puna region of Argentina. He hears San Antonio de los Cobres is being poisoned by the very thing it needs to survive, water.

After extensive research Jim and the team surrounding him discover alarmingly high levels of Arsenic in the town’s drinking water. He wants to install a filter system for San Antonio de los Cobres but when the reality of raising the money, politics, and power stand in his way he is forced to fight for his vision.

Through a mountainous terrain of inner struggle and setbacks Jim and the devoted team of people around him overcome the obstacles thrown in their way and inspire an entire town to stand up for its well being. A series of extraordinary events allow them to install a brand new filtration system; providing clean drinking water for the entire town of San Antonio de Los Cobres.

I have been following this story and the making of this documentary for years now and I am behind it fully as I long to see the vision of this missionary be fulfilled and the story of this town told. The crew is currently raising funds for their post production trip through a kickstarter project with seven more days to raise about $2,000, so if you can help in anyway to make this story come to fruition then please do so  as it deserves to be told while helping bring clean drinking water to other towns just like this one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sharing the Metanarrative of the Gospel

Yesterday's post dealt with how to share your faith, which I have come to realize that many people do not know how to do. One of the best tools that I have ever come across in helping people share their faith is a booklet (not a tract) called the Story. It allows people to share their faith by connecting their story with the larger story of the gospel.
           
                
"The Story" Promotional Video from The Story (ViewTheStory.com) on Vimeo.

I really like that the "The Story," doesn't just cover one aspect of the gospel, but it covers the entire metanarrative: creation, fall, redemption, restoration. This allows people to see the fullness of the gospel for themselves through this tool, which then helps them when in conversation with others. It may seem simple to some, but that is what the church needs in a gospel tool. A tool that is rich with the gospel truth, but simple enough that anyone anywhere can understand it, grasp it, and in turn multiply the amount of people hearing the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Share Your Faith

During the last few years I have come to realize that many Christians do not ever share their faith with others. This means that either people are uncertain of how to share their faith or that they are being disobedient to Scripture in not sharing their faith. I believe that many people are really just not sure where to even start the conversation.

In the video below, Jeff Vanderstelt takes seven minutes to explain how he shares his faith and how he trains others in sharing their faith.

How to Share Your Faith from Acts 29 Network on Vimeo.

I honestly do not struggle that much in sharing my faith as it comes natural for me to have a conversation with someone and in most of those conversations we inevitably get to matters of faith, which gives me an opportunity to share the gospel with them. Just this week I have been placed on a team that is going to set up trainings to help others be able to share their faith at one of the largest colleges in the state of Virginia and then in Washington DC in about a month.

If you find yourself struggling to share your faith then I encourage you to take some of these ideas or concepts that Jeff mentions here and implement them into your own conversations with people. Everyone has a salvation story, we just have to be willing to open our mouths to share it with others.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Good Christians Celebrate Halloween


[Editor's Note: The following is a re-post of George Robinson's Sep. 28, 2010 blog.

October 31st.  For most Americans this date means one thing: **Halloween.**  Costumes, candy and trick-or-treaters spending to the tune of $2.5 billion making this holiday second only to Christmas in marketing revenue.  But good Christians don’t celebrate Halloween.  Or do they?  Some Protestants may prefer to call it Reformation Day, for after all, that is the date that Martin Luther nailed his Theses to the door at Castle Church in Wittenberg back in 1517.  That does pre-date the first usage of the phrase “All Hallows Eve” (commonly known now as Halloween) which didn’t emerge until some 40 years later in 1556.[1]

Ironically, most good Christians that I know won’t be celebrating either Reformation Day or Halloween.  Instead, they will be showing support for their local church by attending a “safe and sanitary” alternative called a Fall Festival.  This alternative allows good Christians to invite their neighbors and friends to come to the church and get candy, play games and have some good, clean Christian fun.  No pagan witches and goblins allowed.  But they can dress up as David or Moses or some other biblical character.  All the fun without the pagan revelry, right?

I would like to propose another alternative – that good Christians should indeed celebrate Halloween.  I think that they should stay home from their church’s alternative Fall Festival and celebrate with their pagan neighbors.  Most of them wouldn’t have come to your Fall Festival anyway.  And those who did would’ve stopped by briefly on their way to “real” trick-or-treating.  I’m sure that some of you reading this blog might be more than a little unhappy with my proposal at this point, but stick with me for a moment.: The reason I propose that good Christians celebrate Halloween and stay home from the “Christian alternatives” is that Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.

Living with missional intentionality means that you approach life as a missionary in your context.  I lived with my family in South Asia and we had to be creative and intentional in engaging our Muslim neighbors.  We now live in the USA and we still need to be creative and intentional.  That’s why for the past 2 years we have chosen to stay at home and celebrate the fact that Halloween gives us a unique opportunity to engage our neighbors.  In fact, last year we had over 300 children and 200 adults come to our doorstep on that one night.  And we were ready for them!

We had a tent set up in the driveway and gave away free coffee and water to the adults who were walking with their children.  Our small group members manned the tent and engaged them in conversation and gave each one of them a gospel booklet (“The Story” gospel booklets are available with a Halloween distribution rate here:  http://story4.us/offer).  The children ran up to our door while the parents were waiting and got their candy, along with gospel booklets (even if they were dressed as witches or goblins!).  In all we gave away more than 500 pieces of literature that night, each with our name, e-mail address, and a website where they could get more info.

I sure wish more good Christians would celebrate Halloween this year by staying home and meeting their pagan neighbors – an option which I believe surely beats the “good Christian” alternative.
__________________
[1] John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary 2d. ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1989).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Journey Ahead

Today starts a new journey for my family as we start eight weeks of training in VA with the organization that we will be planting churches with in South Asia. This promises to be a time where we can focus and prepare spiritually to be on the frontline of darkness. We will also have the opportunity to build some life long friendships with like minded people who are also going out to reach the nations.

The eight week schedule is rigorous as there is something planned everyday with no real time for extra curricular activities. This part will admittedly be a struggle for me as I enjoy my free time or the freedom to make my own schedule (I've already outline every area of free time in our schedule). In some ways, we are already anticipating the other side of training as it means we are one step closer to actually living in South Asia, but at the same time we are trying to go in with open hearts and minds to be humble and learn from many who have gone before us.   

My family would appreciate the prayers of all of you as we enter this time and get ready to leave in January. We also have a family blog so that people can follow our journey of church planting in South Asia and keep up with ways to prayer for us. 

In regards to this blog, I have had many people ask if I plan on continuing to write on here. I have wrestled through this question myself as I have a feeling that most of our family post will be done by me, but I have decided to at least initially attempt to do both. The nature of the blog may change some, perhaps mature and get deeper in many ways, but definitely will continue.  

As far as the next eight weeks I am uncertain on the amount of time and internet access to keep up with posts, but I plan on doing what I can and maybe even taking the month of November to repost some of the most popular post. So please stay in contact, keep reading, and I look forward to some future conversations. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Help Plant a Church in Australia

It is not everyday that you get an opportunity to help plant a church in Australia, but my friend Seth Snider has made that opportunity available. Seth, along with another family are uprooting their lives in December to move to Australia to plant a church where they hope to bring coffee, community, and love to the people.

Seth is also a long time musician so he recorded a seven song album as a way to donate towards the journey to Australia. Of his album release, Seth had this to say, It is an honor to me that you have my CD. I hope it portrays love and a genuine heart. What brought this passion to record"The Presence Of Freedom", outside of my love for music, is to support my move to Australia to bring coffee, community, and love together while using it to reveal the true and authentic gospel to the country of Australia and whoever else hears this CD!

I was able to both attend the release show for the album and purchase a copy myself. It is one of those albums that you want to put on repeat as every song is that good. It doesn't fit into a neat little category of "worship" music like many other artist out there as Seth is just being himself and allowing God to use his gifts and abilities. Although it definitely leads you into worship with songs like "Father God" and "Savior King." The music itself has an indie-rock, folkish sound to it, which I personally like, but believe there is a song or sound for everyone on this album. 

Here is the deal, you can purchase the album either as a digital copy or a hard copy for $7. It is hard to find a album of this quality for that cheap anywhere and the fact that every dollar is going to missions in Australia makes it that much more of a reason to purchase it. So head on over to http://sethsnider.bandcamp.com/ to download or order your copy now and start listening to some good tunes and financially helping plant a church in Australia. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are Our Churches Entertaining or Discipling?

This is a thought provoking video put out by the Foursquare Church that I came across this week on what discipling really looks like in most of our churches. Many churches today are more interested in entertaining people than discipling them. I do not believe that the makers of the video are saying that any of the things listed are inherently bad, but that we should from time to time take a step back and see if our churches are truly focused on making disciples or more on entertaining.



Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. 

Matthew 28:19-20

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ways to Honor Your Wife

During my man's weekend we discussed men as husbands and ways to practically honor your wife. As men it is important to remember that first God is your example. Second that men must love their wives with agape (unconditional) and efficacious (transforming) love (1 Cor. 13:4-8; Eph. 5:25-33).

Men, it is important to remember that, your spouse is a living, breathing, endless book to be read. Dreams and hopes have yet to be realized. Talents and abilities may be discovered like hidden treasure. But the choice to explore them starts with a decision by you.

Here are ways to practical honor your wife: 

  • Honor her maritally. Take a wife honorably. Establish right priorities, and be a one woman man-absolutely faithful to your wife.
  • Honor her physically. Be strong for your wife, not against her. Be protective of her and present with her. 
  • Honor her emotionally. Be emotionally present and intimate Take her on dates.
  • Honor her verbally. Speak honorably to her. Speak honorably of her, when she is present and absent.
  • Honor her financially. Provide for the financial needs of your family, organize your budget, and be generous towards your wife.
  • Honor her practically. Consider her needs and how you can serve her. 
  • Honor her parentally. Be "Pastor Dad" by shepherding your children (praying with them, teaching them about Jesus, reading the Bible with them, etc.). 
  • Honor her spiritually. You initiate and lead prayer, Bible, chats, church attendance, etc. Take responsibility for your church. 
I will be the first to admit or Andrea will be that I am not the best at implementing these ways to honor your wife, but that it is something I am striving towards. Men, God created your wife and gave her to you as a gift, now start honoring that gift!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feminized Men, "Man Up"

This past weekend I went on a man's weekend where we did things that typically speak to a man's heart such as sleep in cabins in the mountains, raft on the river, and play paintball. But entertainment was not our purpose, rather our purpose was to get away from the normal mundane day to day life and search the Scripture to discover how the Bible describes men and masculinity, which I believe that the church has stripped in many ways by creating a culture of feminized men.  We see this displayed in churches all over that are painted with pastel colors, have pictures of Jesus painted like a woman on the wall, and are full of nice feminine guys. No wonder so many men do not even want to walk inside many of our church buildings. 

To be clear, this is not how men and masculinity are portrayed in the Bible. Rather we see that there are key biblical truths about men and their calling that describe men as warriors who put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17, Rev. 19):  

Men must be forward thinkers, defining their life forward and living according to the plan God has prepared for them. Men must have priorities in life that include (in order) 1 - A personal relationship with Christ, 2 - Loving one Wife, 3 - Raising Children, 4 - Providing for your family, 5 - Volunteer Ministry. Men can fail by neglecting one of these priorities OR getting them out of order. Men must continue to refine their lives by working "on" their life, not just working "in" their life. 

Here are some questions that we as men wrestled through during the weekend that I encourage you to wrestle through as our society has started to define what men are including what we are seeing defined as men in the church. Now is time for men in the church to "Man Up."
  • At this stage of your life, what is your great battle? Is it on the surface (making more money, getting the kids to behave, reducing the hassles of life?) or is it deeper?
  • Where is your great adventure? What real risk have you been swept up into? (Is anything in your life more compelling than watching sports, following stocks, or viewing the adventures of others on TV?)
  • Is your church full of masculine men? Where are we missing the mark? Do you see an area of your church that is in desperate need of Biblical men?
  • Look at the men around you. How has Satan perverted society's view of a masculine man? Think about businesses in town, advertisements, tv shows, government. What do guys live for today? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Humility Trumps Arrogance

My wife and I were having lunch recently with a Jewish couple that we have gotten to know over the last seven years. Typically our meetings are the husband drilling me on what I have learned in seminary, discussing differences of faith, and him attempting to make sure that I am not insane for wanting to move my family to South Asia to plant churches.

This man, in his late sixties, is usually open minded in our conversations, but this particular lunch  went different. He immediately started telling me the history of the country I am moving to and their historic interaction with Christianity. He then said a statement that I believe captures the attitude of many people, he was just bold enough to say it, "You are going to a country where they are all born and raised Hindu, therefore they will all die Hindu; you were born and raised a Christian, therefore you will die a Christian."

He then proceeded by saying, "Tell me, do you think that you have something that they don't... that you are better than them?" The next few moments were me and my wife explaining that we do not believe that you are born into a religion and die in that religion, but that it is by God's grace alone that either one of us is a follower of Christ and that we simply want to go to South Asia to allow the people there to have the same opportunity to hear the message of the gospel.

My wife responded with the analogy of a doctor discovering the cure for a disease such as cancer and then keeping it to himself. She said, "Anyone in their right mind would want this doctor to announce to the world the cure for this awful disease and not keep it to themselves." She proceeded to tell this man that in the same way we do not believe we are better than anybody because of following Christ, but that we do believe it is the truth and the only cure for sin, therefore we want to tell everyone that we can this message of salvation. (This is definitely one of those proud moments as a husband)

He thought this over for a moment and although it was obvious that he did not necessarily like what he just heard or agree with the statement, there was at least something that he appreciated in our conversation. He looked up as if finished with the questions and said, "You guys are going to do alright, you know why, because you guys are humble in your message."

Although I pray for the salvation of Jews just as I do for Hindus, but what this man hit on during our lunch was that arrogance will automatically close people off to hearing whatever it is you have to say, especially the gospel. This got me thinking about the numerous conversations that I have had with people that the number one reason they wouldn't even consider Christianity is the intolerance or arrogance that they witness.

It dawned on me at that moment that humility trumps arrogance in the life of a Christian. And perhaps the reason some people won't give a listening ear to the gospel has more to do with you than them because of your arrogance. So if you find yourself being arrogant as a Christian, STOP, repent, and go to the people you have been sharing the gospel with in love and humility. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Minimum - Successful Church Plant

About a week ago I wrote on "Defining a Successful Church Plant," pointing out the assumption that in many cases people would define a successful church plant the same way that one would define a new Starbucks. Mainly based on the amount of people attending, often from other churches (church shoppers), the amount of services, etc.  But I believe if that is the criteria that we place on a successful church plant then I believe that we have missed the mark somewhere.

Rather than a church plant being celebrated as successful based on x amount of consumer Christians or church shoppers attending, there are some things that need to be in place as a minimum that would define a successful church plant. Minimum based on whose criteria, based on the criteria read in the New Testament.

Before I discuss the minimums, I want to mention briefly the things that need to be in place for a healthy church plant to take place. First there needs to be leadership. Second there needs to be discipleship. Third there needs to be a group of people on mission. 

Once those three things are in place, here are the minimums when it comes to defining a successful church plant: 

First a church must be built on Jesus Christ and have the gospel as the focus (1 Cor. 3:11). In the words of Josh Kouri, "The gospel is not entry level Christianity. It is our primary and most important message." The church should have Jesus as the first and last focus, everything should point to him, and be all about his glory. 

Second a church that is built on Jesus must then be filled with the Holy Spirit so that their leading and guiding come from him (1 Cor. 3:16). A key to knowing if a church is truly filled with the Spirit is that everything done in and through the power of the Holy Spirit will ultimately point to Jesus. 

Third a church must have qualified elders to lead the church (1 Cor. 3:10). This is why assessments of church planters is essential because if not then any yahoo out there can pose under the guise of "church planter," which then often will lead people astray and sets up an unhealthy church on the road to disaster. 

Fourth a church will then have a group of people that are on mission (1 Cor. 3:9). This is why teams are key to planting churches, not individuals. I have known many struggling church plants and church planters, and I have no doubt in my mind that one of the number one reasons that they struggled is in part due to them being the "lone ranger" church planter. It is not healthy and has unfortunately proven so to their detriment.

These are what would need to be in place as the bare minimum for a successful church plant, at least one that is going to be healthy, gospel-centered, Spirit-filled, and on mission.