Sunday Tunes – John Coltrane “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”

Since we don’t have anyone scheduled to post on Sundays, I figured that I would share a tune with you.

 

Initial Leadership For Your New Church – Part II

INITIAL LEADERSHIP FOR YOUR NEW CHURCH PLANT (Part II)

 LOOKING FOR A LEADERSHIP TEAM?

            Hopefully at this point you’re convinced from part one of this series that it would be a good idea to pray about the possibility of gathering an accountability board to help you as you plant your new church.  But maybe at this point you’re wondering what to look for in potential board members.  In part two of this series let me give you some points of practical wisdom in this area that I’ve gleaned through trial and error:

 MEN WHO’VE GONE BEFORE YOU

First of all, you want to pray for at least one if not a couple seasoned men who can guide you who have planted a church before.  Guys who have been through the gauntlet of church planting uniquely understand the challenges you’ll face.  That’s not to say anything negative about pastors who haven’t planted the churches they pastor.  I know that the church climate in the west today tends to treat pastors who haven’t specifically planted a church as sort of second rate pastors.  That is stupid, to put it bluntly.  There are good men who pastor churches who have never planted a church.  These guys can help you a ton when the church is planted. But in some ways not all of them may be able to fully relate to the unique battles of actually planting a church from the ground up.  Pray for the Lord to give you humble and helpful men who can serve you who have actually done the specific kind of work you are going to attempt.

 

I have transitioned into pastoring an existing church as well as planted a church from the ground up.  While pastoring an existing church helped prepare me for some things I encountered in the process of planting, there were other challenges I faced that were totally new to me in planting a church.  For one example, in the church I assumed leadership over, by-laws for the ministry were already written and the church had 501c3 status before I began leading.  As a result, when I went out to plant a church I really didn’t know where to start in getting those things in place.  I was glad to have a brother like Daniel Fusco in my advice corner who’d worked through those issues in his process of planting who could point me in the right direction.

 

A lot of guys who haven’t planted a church from scratch are like I was before planting.  They haven’t thought about how the systems and infrastructure that exist in the churches they lead actually got put into place through the pastor who planted their church.  Some will, but they seem to be the exception.  So the point is, it is a good idea to pray for help from at least one or two guys who have gone through all the nuts and bolts of specifically starting churches who can help you out with good advice and direction.

“The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.” –Ecclesiastes 12:11 NKJV

 MEN WITH WISDOM IN DIFFERENT KEY AREAS

Second, pray for men who have wisdom in different key areas of ministry according to your context.  Planting churches isn’t just about preaching the Word.  That’s the main thing, but there are many other practical things with which you may need helpful wisdom when it comes to establishing local churches.  I’d encourage you to seek elders who can serve as advisors in main areas.

 

If I had it to do over again, as someone who planted in the west I’d look for one guy that is great with business oversight, another who is good with systems for things like discipleship and ministry structure, a guy who is great on the pastoral shepherding side of ministry, and another guy who is great at preaching.  A team like that could really give you some rounded encouragement, direction, and accountability for planting in a context like mine.

 

The specific areas in which you need insight will vary culture to culture. So the key is to determine what shape a local church needs to take to fit your culture, and then look for wisdom from others who are familiar with the practical needs you’ll have and the challenges you’ll face in that context who can advise you in how to bring that church shape to fruition as Jesus plants the church through you.  Pray about it.

“Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.” –Proverbs 20:18 NKJV

 MEN WITH SIMILAR MISSIOLOGICAL VISION

Third, pray for men who share a similar missiological vision to yours.  This way counsel you receive from your board will be moving down the same stream you’ve been called to float.   You won’t find yourself hung up with them over missional strategy and amoral issues.  For example, if you want to plant a church that is urban and nontraditional you may not want to have a guy on your board who leads a church that is rural and traditional.  This isn’t always the case if you both think like contextualizing missionaries.  You just want to make sure that the prospective accountability elder in such a case isn’t going to make a certain form or style of church an issue of right and wrong.  If you partner with them and this type of thing happens you’ll end up either having to fire a friend for causing more barriers than being helpful, or you will end up with a guy who is a constant thorn in your side because you don’t have the guts to make the hard choice and take him off the team.  Neither situation is desirable.  Pray for guys who have a missionary vision similar to yours.

 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” –Amos 3:3 NKJV

 MEN WHO ARE ACCESSIBLE

Fourth, pray for men to whom you will generally have easy access.  You want these guys to want to make time for you.  You don’t want to have to bang down their door anytime you need to get some help.  You will want guys who prayerfully agree upfront to conference with you in person at least once a month for a board meeting.  It’s easy to include guys on your leadership team who live far away from you in prayer and discussions by way of media tools like Skype and other social network resources.  No matter how it shakes out practically you mainly need to know that you’ll have appropriate access to your guys for help when you need it.  Of course, never forget that even though all human advice be cut off from you, Jesus is with you always even to the end of the age.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17 NKJV

MEN WHO PRAY

The true source of wisdom is the heart of God.  We access His wisdom through His Word, and through prayer.  It’s really tempting in church planting to only focus on “how-to’s” and practical stuff.  We must never forget that sometimes the Spirit wants to do something that is beyond our logic and resources.  So you want to first be a man who defaults to prayer over every mission decision, even if the thing to do seems obvious from a practical standpoint in a given situation.  Likewise, you want men who will seek wisdom from God on how to advise you, not just their own logic.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” –Proverbs 1:7 NKJV

“…Men always ought to pray, and not lose heart…” –Luke 18:1 NKJV

 

Kellen Criswell

Lead Pastor, Refuge Church

www.refugeutah.org

www.refugeutah.tumblr.com

www.calvarychurchplanting.org

 

 

Initial Leadership For Your New Church – Part I

INITIAL LEADERSHIP FOR YOUR NEW CHURCH Part I

“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”
(Acts 13:1-3)

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
(Proverbs 11:14)

THE SINFUL SELF-AUTONOMY OF THE CHURCH PLANTER
Having a prayerfully selected pastoral leadership team to which you are accountable going into a new church plant is plainly a good idea in most cases. Most church planters, including myself, tend to be do-it-your-self types. And so in an entrepreneurial spirit we set out to accomplish what’s on our hearts, our way, convinced the plan we have is the one that will establish the new church we dream to plant successfully.

This kind of self-autonomy can be American and western, but it isn’t always very New Testament and Christian. When Jesus sent out disciples He did so two-by-two. When Paul and Barnabas went on their first missionary journey they went together under the Holy Spirit unified decision of the other leaders who served the church in Antioch. In Paul’s later missionary journeys he always had at least a few good men with him whom he was benefiting from, and also training for leadership.

What’s the point? The point is that, biblically speaking, leadership teams are incredibly valuable. Having a leadership team doesn’t mean you aren’t the lead planter or senior pastor. It means you value the godly wisdom of others, you recognize that you have inherent flaws and a sinners’ heart that can wander, and that you need to benefit from what God is doing and has done in other Christians if you want to realize your full potential in Christ.

Practical Reasons to Prayerfully Seek a Team

Before I set out to plant a church in northern Utah I felt clearly convicted by the Holy Spirit that I needed to find some men He had in mind who would serve as the initial leadership team over the new church. Prayerfully following His leadership over me as the lead planter proved to be wise, as following the Holy Spirit and the example of Scripture always is. The Lord connected me with three men from different places and ministry experiences who all agreed to serve as an outside elder accountability board to me until local elders could be raised up. Let me share some of the benefits I experienced through having the support of a board of pastors to whom I was accountable as I started a new church:

A POOL OF KNOWLEDGE
Number one, the elder team provided a pool of knowledge beyond my own from which I could glean. Particularly if you’re a young planter with a lot of passion, you probably don’t know as much as you think you do. That is definitely true of me. Being able to bounce ideas off of guys I trusted who could affirm or challenge what I was thinking has been great. Sometimes I’ve stepped back from what would have been poor decisions through their counsel. Sometimes I’ve gone forward with their support. Sometimes I’ve taken their counsel and ended up doing something different than what was suggested knowing I had heard from the Lord. In every case I have had counsel and accountability and a group of good Christian men praying for me. That, my friends, is invaluable.

GOOD MISSIONAL STRATEGY
Number two, having the accountability of an elder team proved to be good missional strategy where I planted. If you’re from a culture used to hierarchical religious leadership structures similar to the LDS cultures where I’ve planted and served churches, you know that many people will be apprehensive if you appear to have gone rogue without any form of human authority or accountability in your life. Many people will actually think you are the cult in the area if you appear to be going it alone. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with committed Mormons who display skepticism about lone-ranger church planters. On the other hand, when I share with these same people that I have an outside accountability board of men who counsel me and help with oversight there’s always a sense of disarming in the conversation. I can tell that they get almost automatically less skeptical, and take me and the work Jesus has called me to do more seriously. So for some people, having an accountability board may remove obstacles to them hearing the gospel.

A GOOD SUPPORT GROUP
Number three, having an outside accountability elder board provided me with a sometimes much needed support group! Now, I agree that there can be no crying in church planting when you’re the lead pastor! On the other hand, I know from experience that church planting is generally hard work. Most of us aren’t planting in a time of revival where we’re seeing mass conversions. It isn’t like the hippy days of old for Calvary Chapel where, from the stories you hear, you can sometimes get the impression that all one had to do was go out on the street corner and yell Jesus’ name and five-hundred people would get saved on the spot.
If that happens for you, great! But more than likely, barring a sovereign revival sparked afresh by the Holy Spirit, planting a church is going to feel grueling! There might be times when you feel like giving up. There might be times when you wish the few people you do have coming to your new church would simply leave because of how they treat you and your family. There might be times when you begin to doubt your call. In times like these you need men to whom you can turn for exhortation, prayer, and sometimes flat out rebuke.

PERSONAL ACCOUNTABIILITY
Number four, an outside elder board has provided a source of not only ministerial accountability for me, but personal accountability. You and I are still sinners even though we are called to the ministry. Paul told Timothy, “God…saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace.” What he is saying to Timothy is that not only are we saved by grace, but pastors are in the ministry by grace!

Sometimes when I listen to my own heart and the words of other planters I get the sense that we think we’re saved by grace, but that God put us in the ministry because of our works. We think He saved us in spite of our ugliness, but that He uses us because of our awesomeness. No, brothers! We are in the ministry by grace just as much as we are saved by grace.

As sinners who are in the ministry by grace we are going to need the grace of God often. We are going to deal with temptation. We are going to deal with failure. We are going to deal with the weight of the sin of those we serve. All of this is good cause to gather a good board of accountability elders who can restore us and encourage us in the grace of God from time to time. Don’t go it alone!

*In parts two and three of this series we will look at the kind of men you should look for when establishing your initial leadership team, as well as things to consider when transitioning to a local board of elders. Stay tuned.

Kellen Criswell
Lead Pastor, Refuge Church
www.refugeutah.org
www.refugeutah.tumblr.com
www.calvarychurchplanting.org