A different APPROACH for recruiting children’s ministry leaders.

I have the need to be brief.  It’s been a crazy week with some refugee high school boys having serious conflict with a Hispanic gang at two of the public high schools here in Phoenix.  I’ve been interacting with the Phoenix Police, an apartment manager, some leaders from a Burmese Karen Christian church and others.  The police are convinced a major retaliation will take place against one or more of the Burmese kids.  AND, I have to fly out tomorrow morning to California for the birth of my grand daughter, the third child of my oldest daughter and our 5th grand child.  Please keep the gang situation in prayer.  It’s a bit dicey from a number of angles.

A conversation with a young pastor the other day made me realize that my solution for recruiting children’s ministry teachers/leaders is much more unorthodox than I realize.  Here’s my personal history and why I APPROACH this subject so differently:

1.  When I went on staff as the assistant pastor of my church in late 1985, I stepped into the responsibility of managing the children’s ministry.  This meant that I had the job of setting up the schedule, selecting the curriculum, recruiting the teachers/leaders, evaluating those that volunteered, and then training them for service with the children.

2.  Having been raised Catholic, the whole idea of a separate ministry for children during the church service was completely foreign to me until I attended a “born-again” church the first time.  From that first service I attended until the day I became responsible for the children’s ministry of my church four and a half years later, there was one blurb that took up space in every bulletin every Sunday morning that whole time.  It was the blurb that communicated the great need….no, the great OPPORTUNITY that existed in the children’s ministry for servants!  Based on that week-in, week-out, year-in, year-out, perpetual blurb, it was obviously an aspect of the local church that not many people were actually interested in helping with.  It was obvious to me in the various churches that I attended that there were way more than enough people sitting in the services to cover the amount of children that needed to be taught.

3.  When Jesus grabbed my life, I surrendered to Him and joyfully sought to serve Him in any capacity He’d have for me and I was willing to meet whatever need He brought into my path.  The more I understood His Word, looked at the examples of the lives of the people recorded in His Word, and heard other believers talk in awe about some great Christian from history, the common thread was their willingness to serve and the fact that they actually did serve.

4.  Because of these things, I never understood why every church could never seem to find enough people to serve children.  Even with the obvious need laid out so clearly each week, I found it strange that there was a constant famine of teachers/leaders in the area of children’s ministry.  What really bugged me was the fact that I knew most of the people attending those services and if you asked any of them, they would all describe themselves as “servants” of the Lord Jesus Christ.  So apparently, the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t really care about ministry to children or else He surely would order His servants to serve there and they would joyfully do so. Especially they all proclaimed themselves His servants, right?

5.  Now that I was face to face with needing to find servants of Jesus that actually were willing to serve Jesus in a ministry that was was obviously close to His heart, I knew I had an uphill battle.  How do you get people that claim to be servants of Jesus to actually serve Him by serving children?  Obviously, sharing the need and waiting for them to respond–to volunteer, wasn’t working.  In fact, my first few weeks in that role, I had a couple of people volunteer that it was obvious really weren’t cut out for children’s ministry for one reason or another.  And I had to tell them that.  And one of them asked me why we were always asking for volunteers and then when somebody does volunteer, they get rejected.

I knew something was radically wrong with this picture, and from a number of different angles.

6.  After talking with 5 or 6 children’s ministry directors from other churches during my first few weeks in my new role, my thinking was provoked by one of the people I talked to.  As I thought and prayed about this ongoing, apparently insatiable need, the Lord led me to view things from a different perspective and thus to make a change in how we were doing things in this area.

7.  So, I changed my children’s ministry teacher/leader recruitment APPROACH.  I figured since all of these people claimed to be servants of Jesus, I would observe which ones came early to the service and then stood around talking after the service.  I especially zeroed in on those who had their own kids, but I also began observing those who would be talking and when other people’s kids came near by, began interacting with them and so forth….and did so joyfully.

8.  Then I stopped putting a blurb in the bulletin, and started APPROACHING those that I’d been observing.  I would tell them that I’ve seen their faithfulness in attending the church, their willingness to be early and not just head for the parking lot when the service was over.  I told them that I’ve seen them interact with their own kids or other people’s kids, and that I thought they might have a gift with children that God could use.  I told them of the needs in our children’s ministry and since they were obviously a servant of the Lord Jesus, that I would appreciate it if they would begin praying about serving Jesus by serving in the children’s ministry of our church–which always has a great need.  I gave them a brief overview of it would require of them to take this step and then I told them I’d get back with them in two weeks to see what God had shown them.

9.  The response to this APPROACH was amazing.  Literally 80 percent of those I APPROACHED responded positively and went through the process necessary to become a part of the children’s ministy, (application, interview, training, etc.)  I asked them for a 6 month commitment and told them we would see how they felt about things at the end of that time.  I also changed the schedule so that it was a 3 weeks on and one week off, or a one week on and 3 weeks off commitment for a 6 month period.  Many of them chose to start by being the once a month person, but quite a few chose the 3 weeks on commitment.

10.  In the churches I’ve senior pastored since then, our bulletin has been children’s ministry blurb-less.

So, my APPROACH to finding children’s ministry teachers/leaders is to basically APPROACH self-proclaimed servants of Jesus personally and see if they actually mean what they say.

The Leaders Litmus Test

One of the areas that God is really growing me in is how I choose leaders, especially elders in our church. Going into our church plant I thought I had a pretty good handle on 1 Timothy 3:1-7. I had taught on it and understood the exegetical context of the passage. What I didn’t know was the practical implications of the text in an individuals life. I now understand what God said to Samuel when He was choosing David as king over his more appealing brothers. We need to look at the heart of our leaders as opposed to outward appearances.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in picking leaders

  1. They Must Be Above Reproach: I always took this as no one could bring a charge against them and that is true to a point but it goes beyond that. Are they controlled by anything except the Holy Spirit? What I found out is that this takes time to see which is why Paul told Timothy not to raise anyone up too soon. You need to see someone in your church for several seasons to truly see their character.
  2. They Must be Sober-Minded: Beyond being controlled by anything are they dependent upon any substances? I am amazed at how alcoholism is reemerging in the church. This is especially true within the younger generation. So many good people I have known have ended up being closet alcoholics. Paul intimates that Elders should refrain from drinking all together. Leaders are to be under control of their bodies.
  3. They Must Not Be Quarrelsome: I know playing Devil’s Advocate is a popular thing but the name alone insinuates that it isn’t godly. Devil’s Advocates like a good debate and thrive on the argument. I know it is important not to have yes-men as leaders but someone who is continually opposing every idea for the sake of bringing up the other side brings division and quarreling into a leadership team. If you have a prospective leader who tends to have issues with everything then it is only going to get worse when they become an Elder.
  4. They Must Manage Their Money Well: So much emphasis is put on greed in this passage but greed manifests itself in many ways. Most prospective leaders aren’t looking to the church for personal gain like in Paul’s day but it still rears it’s head in other ways. So many leaders need to be disqualified because their financial house isn’t in order. I joke about it but sometimes I want to run a credit check on potential Elders. I have worked with men who look ideal to be an elder only to find out their house is being foreclosed on. In my book the choice to buy more house than you can afford falls in the greed category. A person with this going on in their life then transfers their renewed frugal lifestyle to the church and attacks any excessive expenditure (in their opinion) the church makes.
  5. They Must Manage Their Household Well: A true test of the leadership skills of any potential leader/elder is seen in their children. Are the children rebellious? Do they love Jesus? Go beyond those and look at how the children attend church. Do they come on a consistent basis? What is their disposition when they do attend? If the children are grown adults do they choose to attend the same church as their father (granted the church is one that appeals to that age group)? If you don’t see these in the children then there is a high likelihood that there is some hypocrisy in the home. The parents, and usually the father, are acting one way at church and one way at home.

All of these are signs someone is either not ready or not qualified to be a leader or elder at your church. This doesn’t mean they can’t serve in some capacity but leadership is a special calling and impacts a lot more people than just serving. Do your due diligence in this area. It is much better to go without than to attempt to minister with the wrong leader in place. Be slow to bring on new leaders but be quick to remove them if they are disqualified.

The Preacher and Plagiarism

I recently received a call from someone in another state telling me that their pastor was glued to his sermon notes and read his sermon word for word.  To make a short story even shorter, they learned that the sermons being read were authored by Warren Wiersbe.  The troubling thing beyond the uninspirational delivery style was the lack of attribution – passing off the thing as if it were his own.  The troubling thing was this pastor’s plagiarism.

 There seems to be a wide temperature variation in the ministry when it comes to the issue of plagiarism. Reactions run from hot to cold – from ‘fire the guy’ to ‘so what?’

Craig Groeschel writes this: On LifeChurch.tv Open, we don’t require attribution for resources that people download and use. We don’t need credit nor desire it. We simply want to make anything we create freely available for other pastors and churches to use in ministry.  Sadly, we know of a couple of pastors who have been fired, in part, for “plagiarizing” our work and others whose integrity has been questioned.

  • It isn’t plagiarizing if you’re given permission.
  • Just because it isn’t plagiarizing doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t give credit to others.

Giving credit does several valuable things:

  • It honors the pastor or church who came up with the idea.
  • It demonstrates humility and security.
  • It exposes a church to other great leaders and teachers.
  • It removes any doubt of copying.

Don Carson writes: Taking over another sermon and preaching it as if it were yours is always and unequivocally wrong, and if you do it you should resign or be fired immediately. The wickedness is along at least three axes: (1) You are stealing. (2) You are deceiving the people to whom you are preaching. (3) Perhaps worst, you are not devoting yourself to the study of the Bible to the end that God’s truth captures you, molds you, makes you a man of God and equips you to speak for him.

Tim Keller adds: Plagiarism is a problem for these reasons: Preachers today feel under much more pressure to be spectacular than they used to feel. Christians are much less likely to be loyal to a church of a particular place or a particular theological tradition. What they want is to have a great experience on Sunday, and that means they will travel to get to the most gifted preachers. When you put this pressure together with (a) a busy week in which you haven’t felt able to prepare well, and (b) the accessibility of so much sermon material through the internet—the temptation to simply re-preach someone else’s sermon is very strong.

Nevertheless, we must be careful not to over-react. I don’t think anyone expects oral communication to have the same amount of detailed attribution as we expect in written communication. To cite where you got every allusion or basic idea or general illustration in a sermon would be tedious. A certain amount of leeway must be granted… I think the problem comes in when a minister clearly has not done his own work on the sermon, and lifts almost entire sermons whole cloth from someone else. If he takes some preaching theme word for word from someone else, or if all the headings almost in the same words are taken from someone else’s sermon, or if he reproduces an illustration almost phrase by phrase—then he should give attribution.

Glen Lucke: Does reciting a minority portion of another’s sermon without attribution constitute plagiarism? Without permission, yes (stealing). With permission? No. What about a sermon that is paraphrased and personalized by another? Not as clear. What about the creative framing of a topic or a story or an outline? Do these require attribution? Grey areas, but these don’t require attribution.  Does reciting another’s sermon nearly verbatim without attribution constitute plagiarism? Yes, because even with permission such a practice activates plagiarism’s second concern, cheating. Ask yourself, “Why would a follower of the Truth take credit for the work of another?”

Two more –

Rick Warren: When I was planting Saddleback Church, other pastors’ sermons fed my soul – and eased my preparation! I hope the sermons here will do the same for you. Whether you use the outlines and transcripts for sermon ideas or listen to the preaching to fine-tune your delivery, I’ll be thrilled if your ministry becomes more effective. And if you have a sermon idea that might be helpful to me, feel free to share it! As pastors, we’re all on the same team. Let’s help each other out – and when we get to Heaven, we can rejoice together over the people who were saved as a result!

Adrian Rogers: “If my bullet fits your gun, go ahead and shoot it.”

So, the range of response seems to go from, “If he uses my stuff, fire him!” to “If it fires him up, he can use my stuff.  He don’t need to say that it were me that said it in the first place.”

Many of the men quoted above also made note that if you are in the Word and studying it and soaking in it and meditating on it, you won’t need to use anybody else’s stuff.  I say, “Yes” and “No” to that one.  For me, the pulpit is a matter of study and pray, beg, borrow, and steal.  If the people are only exposed to the fruit of my thoughts, they will be like the seven lean cows of Pharaoh’s dream.

What are your principles of sermon borrowing and attribution?

Christians and Combat

***Written a few days after the killing of Bin Laden***

Ten years ago today I was an active duty Navy SEAL deployed to the Middle East, today I am the Senior Pastor of Valley Baptist Church contemplating the death of Osama Bin Laden. Every now and again I have these moments where my two worlds sort of collide. Today is one of them. The Internet is a furry with news, Facebook status updates, and blogs all reporting on this historical event. The chatter has inspired me to blog on a topic that is near and dear to my heart–The Christian and Combat.

First, let me begin by stating that I am writing this on my own behalf. My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect any group that I represent. These are my thoughts in progress and I do not claim to be an expert…although, I probably could. 🙂

Second, I have had many discussions with Christian pacifists over the years. I love the majority of them dearly. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and we just don’t agree on this one issue. Some have accused me of not being able to see the Scriptures clearly because my background distorts my ability to listen to the Bible’s teaching. I admit that this really bothers me. They are simply wrong and assume my inclination is to hold a “pro war/violence position” because of my military background. In all honesty, the opposite is true. I have had to draw my gun on people (although I have never actually had to kill someone) and I have lost a number of very close friends in battle and have seen the after affects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to take a pacifist position on this subject, but the Scriptures will not allow me to do that (in my humble opinion). Violence of any sort is horrible and I long for the day when God scraps this world and starts a new, but for now I am here living in a sinful fallen world faced with horrible things where there is no simple answer.

“The Christian and Combat” was the title of my Master of Divinity thesis. As a former Navy SEAL who is now a pastor and law enforcement chaplain, I feel I need to get to work and convert it into a user friendly format for publication as I am often asked for my thoughts on this subject. One of these days, one of these days…

My first combat mission was on September 9, 1999–my 25th birthday. At this point in my life, I had spent the last seven years preparing for this moment and had been a Christian for about 3 years. It was dark, pitch black dark, in the Northern Arabian Gulf off the coast of Iraq, my adrenaline was flowing, and I distinctly remember thinking, “Gunnar, how did you get yourself into this one?” I know the feeling that many soldiers and cops experience…my prayer is that I can help those who protect us answer these deep theological questions prior to finding themselves in combat.

There is no way for me to blog about this in its entirety–I need to write that book. But I will attempt to answer a couple of questions: 1) the need for warriors, 2) the authority of the warrior, and 3) the Christians response to violence.

The need for warriors. There is a story in the Old Testament that inspired the writing of my thesis and it is found in 1 Samuel 23:1-5. David and his mighty men are on the run from Saul when David gets word that the Philistines are plundering the people of Keilah. My first point against the pacifist argument is evil is happening all around us. You can be a totally passive person (which I feel like I am) and find yourself witnessing one person or group that is violently attacking another. I love what Dietrich Bonhoeffer says about this reality, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” David and his men were exposed to an evil situation, their initial reaction was not to respond because they weren’t in the best position to help. David asked God a second time if this is what he was to do. God’s desire was for David to proceed onward using violence to stop this evil that was already in progress. Today is no different. Evil is everywhere. Men and women everywhere are doing evil to all sorts of people. Are Christians simply not to intervene? I don’t think so.

The authority of the warrior–military, cop, or individual. The clearest teaching anywhere in the Bible on this subject is found in Romans 12:9-13:4. This passage is pretty intriguing to me this week as it is very similar the Sermon on the Mount which I am preaching on through the month of May. Romans 12:9-17 has all of the verses that pacifists love to quote like: “Bless those who persecute you”, “Never pay back evil for evil”, etc, etc. Yes, I believe this all applies to the Christian and I take these verses literally, but a literal interpretation forces one to look at the whole context–one cannot study Scripture in isolation of the whole.

Romans 12:18-19 begins to shed some light on how we as Christians are able to do this. First, the Bible says we are to be at peace with other people if it is possible and as much as it depends on our own actions. Then it says, “leave room for the wrath of God.” Okay so this is very interesting. We are not to take our own vengeance because God’s wrath is more effective than our own wrath (okay, the text doesn’t say why, that is my opinion). In my Bible I have drawn from “wrath of God” in Romans 12:19 down to Romans 13:4 where the thought carries through. Here the Bible essentially says that “it” (i.e. the authorities or government) “does not bear the sword for nothing” and that it is a “minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”

I have met a number of pacifists that I respect. Concerning these verses in Romans 13 they would agree that the government is responsible to bear the sword, but would say based on Romans 12 that there is no place for the follower of Christ to function in this capacity of authority as the one bearing the sword. Biblically speaking, the wrath of the government is the wrath of God (for the record, I am not defending all government actions, time does not allow me to unpack this, but I do think God judges nations Isaiah 34-35 this will be in the book). So to say that the Christian cannot function in this capacity is in essence to say that they Christian is holier than God and this responsibility should be left the the unregenerate.

Every soldier and cop must understand the concept of being under authority. There was one such soldier who encountered Jesus in Capernaum who understood this concept and expressed it to Jesus (Luke 7:1-10). Jesus’ response to this man was, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” This is a pretty incredible statement if you stop and consider it for a moment. The point is that when life is taken it must be under the proper authority of God and the government and right circumstances–whether you are a soldier, cop, or individual defending yourself or others.

The Christian’s response to violence. Yesterday I started preaching through Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-49). One verse stuck out to me (v.21), “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Am I happy that Osama Bin Laden is dead? Yes and no. Yes because a man who promotes evil and destruction to many people is gone. “Relief” is probably a better word than “happy.” Many of us in the West are not fully aware of the evil this man inflicted in the world. He killed many innocent people brutally. I am sad for what he represented because another will arise in due time…there are many already doing evil to the innocent even as you read this. He is dead, but many died along the way. One peer of mine calculated that some 62 SEALs have died fighting the war against terrorism. I know a few widows and children who are left behind…Osama Bin Laden’s death doesn’t undo this or the attacks that have been committed during his lifetime. But there is pleasure in knowing that the government is following through with God’s command to bring “wrath on the one who practices evil” (Rom. 13:4).

There is so much more I could write on regarding this subject, but I am running out of steam and I would like to post this tonight. Regardless of your theological bent regarding pacifism, I think we all agree on Paul’s instructions to Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

We should be on our knees this day praying as Paul tells us to above. I am thankful for the sacrifice of soldiers, cops, and good Samaritans who put their lives at risk in the calling of restraining evil.

Waiting When God Is Silent

A while back, while reading through the book of Job once again, I found Job speaking these words:

Job 23:8-10 “Look, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He works on the left hand, I cannot beholdHim; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

At the same time, Job complained and trusted. He complained about the fact that God was incomprehensible to him; in spite of all of Job’s pleadings, at this point in the story, the Lord had not shown up. Job still had no answers.

It is remarkable, therefore, that Job still trusted Him.

Job had so little to go on—God did not explain the reasons for his immense suffering. All Job knew was that one day everything was fine, and then everything in his life began tearing apart. He lost his children, livestock, servants, and finally his health. And God said nothing to him about why. It was indeed a test, a very big one. Job wanted to meet with God, he wanted answers. He wanted an audience with the Holy One. He desired a mediator that would go between himself and God.

Yet God remained silent about these matters. In fact, there is no biblical evidence that He ever told Job what had happened.

God did eventually show up. In fact, He showed up in great power and wisdom. He asked Job over 60 direct questions—all of which contrasted God’s immensity with Job’s frail humanness—none of which Job could answer. He was utterly overwhelmed by God.

At the end of all the questioning, Job made his classic statement to the Lord: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5).

That was enough for Job. In reality, he didn’t need to know the why. He didn’t need to know the why because he then had greater revelation of the Who. Caught up with God Himself, there was need of nothing else.

What I’ve been thinking about—and seeking to learn from—is the concept of waiting upon God when He is silent.

Like Paul the apostle, I know I’ll eventually hear His voice and know what to do or where to go (2 Corinthians 4:8b)… but it’s the times when I’m hearing nothing that can be the most difficult for me.

I know the counsel I give to others, because it’s the same counsel I have often given to myself. Do Proverbs 3:5-6. Focus on one day at a time (Matthew 6:34). Remain faithful to what you know to do right now. Continue to renew your mind by the word of God (Romans 12:2).

But I also know that even when I’m doing these things, I get restless. I want action, movement. I want to create my own inertia, to get going. I am tempted to take matters into my own hands; but if I do, I also know that I’m very likely to botch something up. Been there, done that.

So I want to learn to do a better job at waiting. That doesn’t mean I’m inactive, because there are still responsibilities to tend to. (I thank God for responsibility He gives me.) It doesmean that I need to learn more about waiting for God’s solutions and answers to matters in my life. I must not get ahead of the Lord, as it is often stated.

Even when God is speaking loudly, I must wait.

Here’s an old chorus I brought out of the moth balls and began signing again. Some of you may know it. If so, you just dated yourself!

We must wait, wait, wait on the Lord

We must wait, wait, wait on the Lord

And learn our lessons well

In His timing He will tell us

What to do, where to go, what to say

Amen. Thanks for reading.

Becoming Dangerous

Reposted from Peyton Jones @ New Breed Church Planting

Why is it that when a guy graduates seminary the one thing that he’s ill equipped to do is most of the stuff that Paul did in the book of Acts?

Think about it.

If there was one thing that you’d want to train guys to do…

If there was one thing that you’d want guys to be able to do…

Wouldn’t you want to be releasing dangerous delta force teams, or the spiritual equivalent of Navy Seal deployment platoons that were able to infiltrate, accomplish their mission, and then spread out to the next assignment?

Instead, we have generations of guys who can navigate church politics, write blogs, drink coffee, and discuss the finer points of theology.

Our problem is that for too long the church has been content to hold ground instead of take ground. We’ve been content being the army when we should have been rushing the No Man’s Land as bullet stopping Marines. The churches command from Jesus was not to “hold till I return” but to “secure the beachhead” of every distant shore.

The fact is, every time that God has sent His Spirit in power, a wave of pioneering daredevils has charged the gates of hell. The Lollards, Luther’s missionary monks, Zinzendorf and the Moravians, Wesley and Whitefield, the Cambridge Seven, J. Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ?

By the time that Paul lost his head on the Appian Way, he’d set in place a posse of at least 32 pioneering missionaries who were ready to take his place as “sent out ones”. The fact is, they had been trained to pick up where Paul had left off, and they were already doing it when he was sitting in a Roman prison.

Paul’s methodology was not to lock a bunch of guys in a classroom. Paul studied and it did him good. Don’t get me wrong, attending a seminary can have great benefit. I’ve been, and I survived. I learned a bunch. I’m grateful. However, it didn’t prepare, or equip me to plant churches, perform an exorcism, or pray in faith that somebody might actually get healed in the name of Jesus (instead of just praying that the Doctor is given great skill). It didn’t prepare me to help those dealing with heroin addiction, or pornography. It didn’t prepare me to enter a city and spearhead the gospel with covert or public strategy to crash the mainframe of the enemy? Don’t you think it strange that we’re “preparing” guys for ministry, and when they’re done, they’re terrified to leave their offices and take risks for the Kingdom.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury once remarked, “Where ever Paul went, they threw a riot. Where ever I go, they throw a tea party.”

The equivalent would be to ship a handful of commandos to a weapons depot for a couple of years and assign them with memorizing the weapons specs and counting the ammunition. Upon their release from “training” you wouldn’t expect them to storm any terrorist bunkers with any degree of success. The fact is, our men aren’t dangerous.

How then did Paul train train his “sent out ones” in the First Century?

Simple. Paul took them with him. All throughout Asia Minor, Paul planted churches and used them as training grounds to train up future planters like Timothy, Titus, Silvanus, and the other dangerous hombres that Paul tooled around with.

Paul’s methodology was

  1. I do, you watch
  2. You do, I watch
  3. I do, You do

Rinse and repeat with every one of the 32 “fellow workers” that Paul mentions in his epistles, and you’ll see that Paul’s OTJT (On The Job Training) was the most effective practice of preparing guys for ministry.

At least Jesus seemed to think so. He did it with 12 guys for 3 years.

At New Breed Church Planting, we equip guys “on the job” and train up dangerous ministers for the gospel. The stuff that you read about in the book of Acts can only be learnt on the front lines, not behind the desk in an air conditioned office where you hope that nobody will come in and interrupt you from your studies. As we plant a church in one area, we invite you to train with us. Don’t worry about the payback…when you plant, you’ll be training our guys on your turf. It worked in the First Century so much, that Paul was able to say that the Gospel had spread throughout the known world…in one generation!

So, what’ll it be…beat cop, or desk job?


 “Peyton Jones was born in Washington D.C. in 1973.  Raised in Huntington Beach California, he went into the ministry at Refuge Huntington Beach at the age of 19 years old.  After serving on staff for 6 years, Peyton obeyed the call as a missionary to Wales, UK, where he served for 12 years.  During that time he founded and established NEW BREED Church Planting and planted Pillar Community Church, Swansea.  In addition, he served as an evangelist at Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s legendary Bethlehem “Sandfields” in Port Talbot, served on the executive committee for the Evangelical Movement, and was a Contributing Editor to the Evangelical Magazine.  Peyton received his MA Theology: Pastoral Studies from W.E.S.T. (Wales Evangelical School of Theology) in 2011.”

Switching Fish Bowls

For all but one year of my ministry life I’ve served in an area [North San Diego County, CA] that is blessed with an abundance of solid, biblically sound, evangelical churches. Southern California truly is a “Christian Disneyland.” At present the website for our ‘denomination’ lists 329 affiliate churches in California. Our administrative pastor at CCEsco has often joked, “You can’t swing a dead cat in San Diego without hitting a Calvary.”

All kidding aside, I think it is a good thing we have so many [good] churches in this area. Would to God that we had twice as many (or more) bible believing/teaching churches in California, and an exponential increase nationwide. In Escondido there are three Calvary’s (one of them Spanish speaking), which have a combined weekly adult attendance of about 1,000, in a city of 140,000+. There is certainly no lack of opportunity and no room for territorialism. The push for church planting and church revitalization is [to me] greatly encouraging. But I’m bothered by an observation I’m sure many pastors could identify with.

Week after week we have new faces in our fellowship. Rarely does a service go by where no one raises their hand to identify there self as a guest, or does not drop a visitor card in our offering or agape box for more information about the fellowship. The irritation comes when you interact with the newcomer and find that they’re attending your church, having left another solidly biblical church to do so. So, church growth does not always mean CHURCH growth, especially when Barna has, in recent years shown a > 90% increase of unchurched adults in America (approaching 100 million in 2007). (1) (2)

The landscape is filled with a multiplicity of varying sized fishbowls, in which the Christian [fish] swim. They were once caught in the sea of humanity by fishers of men, but now much of the [apparent] growth comes through fishbowl switching and not drawing in the net. Furthermore, much of church growth initiatives I see come across my desk are aimed at casting the net in other fishbowls. When a mailer goes out from a church with words like “rapture,” “sanctification,” or an advertisement for Phil Wickham leading worship, it’s not exactly aimed at non-believers. The fact is, spiritual inbreeding is twisted.

“Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church” said Outreach Magazine in 2006. There’s an awfully big sea of people out there needing to be caught. Jesus’ word’s to (the fisherman who never caught a fish apart from Jesus’ help) Peter, are appropriate…

“Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.”

Luke 5:4

The simplicity of Jesus’ command is striking; it surely went against everything that Peter’s expertise as a fishermen would have said. With all the writing out there on church growth, we sure seem to have a lot of expertise in our day too. Perhaps it’s time to seek the Lord for direction from the shore as to where to go for fish. His ways always seem to yield a draught.

Cutting the Cloth According to the Measure – Daniel Fusco

Money is challenging. No matter how we look at it, it’s challenging.

Money can be especially challenging in a church plant. Unless you are planting a church with the backing of an organized denomination or church planting network, most church planters get a slap on the back and a ‘We’ll pray for you’. Now this is no doubt a viable church planting method (Calvary Chapels have planted over 1200 churches this way in 40 years doing largely that). But how does a church get off the ground with no outside support? The answer is simple. You cut the cloth according to the measure. I’ll explain the concept.

I remember when I planted the church in New Brunswick, NJ. The church that I came out of helped me afford the move cross the country and sent me a few hundred dollars for groceries about three times. That’s all the outside support that we received. So when it was time to start the church. We had almost nothing. We pieced together a sound system with mostly old beat up equipment. We couldn’t afford offering baskets so we bought a wicker basket on sale at the local arts and crafts store. We made some bulletins on some colored paper. We had little so we spent little. I distinctly remember when a church sent us a $500 gift and we were excited to buy ourselves a rack mounted cd burner to write the sermons to disc. We couldn’t afford to rent anything so we launched in the Rutgers University Student Center. It was free of charge as were an affiliated campus ministry. We met there at 2 pm on Sunday afternoons. We couldn’t afford to pay any sort of rent until some 8 months later when we could afford $400 a month to rent out the basement of a church that was built before the Revolutionary War. The church office was my bedroom for the first 2 ½ years of the church. We had to cut the cloth according to the measure. We had little resources so we had to do without.

When I planted the church in Mill Valley, we were blessed with some start up capital. The church in New Brunswick also made sure that we started with communion trays, offering baskets, and Bibles. Some wonderful folks blessed us in different ways and we were able to rent an office and Sunday morning worship space from the very beginning. It was a totally different experience than the church in New Brunswick. We had more resources so we were able to do more. We launched with a fully blown Media Ministry and a laptop with looping video backgrounds.

I know a church planter who was fully funded by a major church planting organization. He moved into a new area with a salaried staff, an office, and resources galore to do numerous types of outreaches. But after a few years, when the outside support started to dry up, the church had to shut down numerous ministries and scale everything back. The church couldn’t afford all that it was doing without the outside support. It was a very challenging season for the planter. Many of the people in the fellowship felt that something was wrong with the church as things were shutting down.

But the key is that the church planter has to be realistic about what resources are available. Don’t get ahead of the Lord. Do the best you can with what the Lord has provided. No matter what, we need to cut the cloth according the measure. God wants us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us.