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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A theological study

Throughout history there have been many Godly Christians who have held very different beliefs about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This subject has massive impact to the practice of ministry within the church. It impacts prayer, worship, new Christians, teaching and discipleship. So it is important to have a strong theological understanding.

As a church planting intern it is very important to grasp this doctrine from a biblical perspective so that I can effectively and appropriately incorporate it into new church ventures in the future. This study does not cover all aspects of the doctrine, but looks to answer this question: Is Baptism in the Holy Spirit synonymous with conversion or a separate experience available for all believers?

What happens in the Bible?

  1. Redemption is the story of the Bible (John 3:16). The result of redemption is reconnection to God i.e. being in God's presence. This is what God wanted at the beginning and gets at the end. Therefore the Bible is full of people who experience an intimate relationship with God. God's presence is tangibly experienced by people throughout scripture. The New Testament sees this multiplied especially with power-encounters and spiritual gifts.

  2. The Old Testament looks forward to a time when the Holy Spirit will be poured out in a larger measure. Joel 2:28 "I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy".

  3. The gospel's look forward towards what Jesus will do, namely baptism in the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:11 "...He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

  4. The epistles look back assuming it has happened. Eph 1:13 "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit."

  5. The book of Acts shows us how it happened. Acts 8:16 "because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus".

  6. Not one epistle tells a believer to be baptized in water or by the Holy Spirit, yet both occur independently in Acts. This is probably because both forms of baptism are the norm, they are assumed.

  7. How would a first century Jew understand the phrase "receive power"? Simple. From what they knew of when the Spirit came upon characters like Gideon, David, the Judges, the prophets and the priests. Just as these insignificant and fearful people were suddenly transformed, given power gifts and often thrust into leadership roles, so they would be too. Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you".

  8. All four gospels share the same statements by John the Baptist regarding Jesus being the Lamb of God and bringing a baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is also repeated in Acts. This introduction is the primary way Jesus is to be understood, substitution for sin and filling with God's power. John 1:29 "Look, the Lamb of God [Jesus], who takes away the sin of the world!" and John 1:33 "... he [Jesus] who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."

  9. Jesus makes bold statements about his purpose on the earth, a Baptism of fire as John predicted. Luke 12:49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth".

  10. Jesus, being the Son of God, received the Holy Spirit after water Baptism. This shows that having the Holy Spirit descend on you, or poured out on you, has nothing to do with receiving forgiveness of sins, but rather power for ministry -- preaching and healing. Luke 3:22 "the Holy Spirit descended upon Him" Luke 4:14 "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit" v15 "He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all". Luke 5:13 "He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him".

  11. Jesus says to his disciples pre-Pentecost that they already know the Holy Spirit and that he is already with them, but will also be in them as a counselor. This shows a distinction between these two things "know" and "being with", to "being inside a person". John 14:16-17 "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth ... But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

  12. One of Jesus' main purpose, according to John, was to be a Baptizer in the Spirit. However, Jesus did not say much about it especially at the beginning. Jesus had not yet dealt with sin or been seated in the place of all authority and so the Spirit could not be poured out until after that time. John 7:37-39 "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified."

  13. The book of Acts, being narrative, is qualified as being directly inspired by God and beneficial for doctrine. We can therefore discover a practical post-crucifixion first century experience and doctrine of Holy Spirit Baptism. 2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness".

  14. The disciples in Samaria received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit after they were saved. Some label this as a "Samaritan Pentecost" but the Bible does not claim it to be the first out pouring on the Samaritans. During Pentecost in Acts 2, with the vast amount of nations involved, some Samaritans could have theoretically had a direct or indirect experience. This makes a definitive "Samaritan Pentecost" an unstable and unprovable position. Labeling this event a particular Pentecost requires a "Paul Pentecost" label later on in Acts and subsequent labels for each people groups first experience of Gods power -- an "Eskimo Pentecost" for example. Superimposing "labels" where the bible does not would undoubtedly pigeonhole ones theology and potentially conceal biblical truth. Acts 8:14-16 "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus."

  15. Peter explains that the day of Pentecost (the first mass Baptism in the Holy Spirit) and the Samaritans experience (a subsequent mass Baptism in the Holy Spirit) are equally the fulfillment of the same promise in Joel 2:28-19 that Jesus taught about. This shows that the Pentecost experience was not an isolated one-time only event, but it is a one-time event for all believers. Acts 11:15-16 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"

  16. Paul (formerly Saul), a Jew, experienced Baptism in the Holy Spirit separately from conversion, after Pentecost. Ananias refers to Paul as a "Brother" meanings a Christian Brother, one already saved, and as one about to receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 9:17 "Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

  17. The Gentiles at Cornelius's house receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit during conversion, as they were receiving the gospel from Peter. After they exercised spiritual gifts, a common sign of Holy Spirit Baptism, they were baptized in water. This particular sequence shows that it can happen at conversion as well as afterwards. But there is no question of a power encounter in addition to repentance and forgiveness. Acts 10:44-46 "Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God."

  18. The believers at Ephesus received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit after they had believed and after they were baptized in water. Paul asks if they had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit after they had believed. If Baptism in the Spirit and conversion are synonymous then the question could be interpreted "Were you converted when you were converted?" -- which is a mute question. Why would Paul, the primary author of New Testament theology, ask such a ludicrous question? Acts 19:2 "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" v5-6 "As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied."

  19. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is part of the salvation package. Biblical salvation in the New Testament is not just repentance but it encapsulates: repentance, faith, water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. These characteristics are always present in the biblical narrative. Can someone be saved without water baptism? Yes. Can some be saved without Holy Spirit Baptism? Yes. But the Bible expects and assumes that believers will desire to receive all that God has for them. The totality of salvation is still to come and will not fully come until Jesus returns. These verses show that salvation is a process and that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is identified as a separate event. Romans 13:11 "our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed". Titus 3:5-6 "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior". Gal 4:6 "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts". (Note: in this verse sonship had already happened, and because of this the Spirit is sent which indicates a separation of identity and Spirit power).

  20. Positions which emphasize Baptism in the Holy Spirit and conversion being at the same time, or being the same thing, often rely on this scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit". Consider these points:

    1. The context/subject of this passage is the unity of believers within the practice of spiritual gifts. This is not intended to be doctrinal statement that inseparably links Baptism in the Holy Spirit with conversion -- otherwise it would make a stronger case for that. Read the whole chapter to get the point.

    2. The baptism referred to in this passage is actually "into one body" which could easily mean water baptism. It does not say "baptized into the Spirit", but it says that this is by the Spirit. Baptism by the Holy Spirit is not the same as Baptism in the Holy Spirit. For example, we don't get baptized by water. Rather, we get baptized in water by a person. The language that describes Spirit baptism it is usually: pour out, upon, anointed, fall on, promise, filled, receive, gift, given, seal and pledge. These phrases do not appear in conjunction with this section. The Contemporary English Version states it like this "God's Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ". I can't find another translation that puts it like this, and I'm not a bible translator by any means, but I think that either way it is unclear to build a doctrine on this especially when so many other scriptures make it clear.

    3. Also note the word "one" before Spirit. Paul is trying to emphasize that we work for the same boss, unity is the primary theme here.

    4. Again, this affirms that Paul assumes salvation is a whole package. He taught and practiced water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism as a whole deal. There is no separation in his mind. If you are around Paul and you believe in Jesus you will receive water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism.

    5. What does "all made to drink of one Spirit" mean? Well, Paul personally baptized a few of the believers in Corinth and could confidently state that they had been made to drink from the one Spirit from first hand experience. As a church they were very active in spiritual gifts which would make a statement like this fitting for them. Again, drinking of one Spirit, assumes a step in salvation that Paul always took if it does refer to Spirit Baptism. It could also just be a reference to unity "one spirit". The word "spirit" in the original Greek could be taken either way.

    6. Because of these points the Corinthian passage does not contradict the narrative sequence of salvation in the book of Acts: repentance, faith, water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism.

    7. Note: John Piper says "I don't think that what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is the same as what is happening in Acts ... I think the essence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is when a person, who is already a believer, receives extraordinary spiritual power for Christ-exalting ministry." See article here.

  21. Often times those who believe that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is synonymous with conversion deny the activity of power gifts for today. This doctrine is somewhat inconsistent because although all believers are supposed to receive power at conversion they cannot use it for anything. It has no more application -- it's redundant. This would make Baptism in the Holy Spirit at the same time as conversion utterly pointless. Why believe in receiving power from above if the reason the original disciples received it has ceased? Some cessationists now acknowledge the fact that God can sovereignly heal people -- but continue to deny other spiritual gifts. Another inconsistency.

  22. As we have seen from the book of Acts, one can be a disciple of Jesus, having been baptized in water and unified with the Spirit of Christ, but not have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Therefore verses like Romans 8:9 "... if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" do not apply to believers who have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
What does Baptism in the Holy Spirit achieve?

Assurance of Salvation
  1. Because we have been saved by Jesus He sends his Holy Spirit which causes a deep cry within our spirits toward God. This results in a Godward passion from the identity that God is our Father. Gal 4:6 "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."

  2. Receiving the promise of power creates a mark, or a seal, a guarantee for the believer for the totality of salvation. This guarantee is not for God's benefit, as if he would forget, but for ours. It is an inner assurance for us. It is the presence of power within that makes those nagging doubts ("Am I really saved") go away. Again, if we don't have it we are not any less a believer. Salvation is based on faith, not feeling. This is therefore about inner conviction rather than butterflies in your stomach.Eph 1:13-14 "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory"
Power gifts for worship, witnessing and the edifying of believers
  1. A main result of Holy Spirit Baptism is the delivery of Spiritual gifts, boldness for worship, witnessing and the edifying of believers. Acts 19:6 "Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied"

  2. Other references: Lk 4:14-18, 24:48-49; Jn 15:26-27; Acts 1:8, 2:4-12, 2:14, 2:17-18, 4:31-33, 5:32, 6:5-10, 9:17-20, 10:45-46, 13:9-10, 19:6; 1 Ths 1:4-8
The initiation of more "fillings" by the Spirit
  1. At the beginning of the book of Ephesians Paul makes it clear that they have already received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14 and 4:30). In chapter 5 verse 18 he commands them not to be intoxicated with Alcohol but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Urg!? If they have received it how can they receive it again? This phrase literally means "be being filled" with the Spirit. It is an ongoing experience of God. Eph 5:18 "Don't destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life".

  2. Paul continually prays for the Colossian church that they would be "filled" with Spiritual wisdom. This is not a reference to Baptism in the Holy Spirit. We see instruction here to actively engage with the Spirit for "fillings". Again, this is Col 1:9 "we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding"
What does it NOT achieve?
  1. It does not make some Christians better than other Christians. If that is ever taught, communicated or imposed then it is wrong wrong wrong.

  2. It does not necessarily improve your maturity or character. Just as knowledge puffs you up, so power gifts can puff you up. But the solution is not to remove either knowledge or gifts. It is actually far more important to love others more than we love ourselves. However, this does not remove the desirability of Baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts as they are great vehicles for people to see and experience God's love. But, it is a warning to use them for the benefit of others, which is how they are intended. 1 Cor 13:2 "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

  3. Character is developed through experience and walking by the Spirit through each situation. Just simply exercising gifts and having power encounters does not result in Godly wisdom and humility. Being led by the Spirit, following him by walking along side produces fruit. We can live by the Spirit through using His gifts, but if we never walk by the Spirit we never mature through situational opportunities. Gal 5:16, 22 & 25 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh ... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law ... If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit". (It's possible to live, but not walk).

  4. The Corinthian church excelled in Spiritual gifts but lacked wisdom in practice and maturity as disciples -- these things are not synonymous. Paul wrote to them saying "My friends, you are acting like the people of this world. That's why I could not speak to you as spiritual people. You are like babies as far as your faith in Christ is concerned." (1 Corinthians 3:1).
How can this be practiced in the church?
  1. Taught in membership.
  2. Practiced in worship times both corporately in large and small gatherings.
  3. A step in the process of water baptism (not forced but an environment created for explanation and receptivity).
  4. The only biblical qualification to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to be thirsty. It is otherwise open to every believer. If someone is theologically not convinced or not hungry for more of God then attempting to lay on hands and pray is not going to be beneficial. Opportunities for this to happen need to be created: John 7:37 "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink."
  1. Terry Virgo on Baptism in the Holy Spirit from Together on a Mission conference 2007. Download mp3
  2. John Piper on Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
  3. BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT pdf article by Charles Leiter
  4. Wikipedia article on Baptism in the Holy Spirit
  5. Jack Deere: Surprised By the Power of the Spirit/By the Voice of God
  6. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Joy Unspeakable
  7. Baptism In The Holy Spirit (alternative view)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jubilee Church in the news

The local South Side Journal just featured an article about Jubilee Church. They mention about ONEBLAZE and the free kids camp we are running. Exciting stuff ... although it's a really bad photo of Bryan!

Read: Jubilee Church livens up former funeral home

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Interview with Church Planter Matt Payne

Today I interviewed Matt Payne of Church at Bethany in Portland, Oregon. Matt is 18 months into his first church plant and shares his story with us and gives some great insights. You can listen to the podcast using the player on the right. You can also download the mp3 file or read below.

Matt, Give me a super brief summary of who you are?
I grew up in a small town of under a 100 people in Southern Illinois. My Dad is a pastor he has been there for 42 years now. It's a small rural church. I grew up a preachers kids and went to Lincoln Christian College in Illinois. I met my soon to be wife there who was from Portland Oregon and I knew my senior year of college that I was going to be a church planter and knew I had a lot to learn. We pastored for about 6 years in Iowa and in 1999 decided to move to Oregon to start a new a church. We quit the jobs, moved on out, moved all our stuff and it was pretty cool. It took a while longer before I got open doors but we were out here for several years and then in 2006 launched the Church of Bethany.

How did you know God was calling you to plant a church?
Actually it was kinda weird. In my last semester of college I only needed 2 credits and all the classes were 3 credit classes and I didn't want to take the extra credit. They happened to have this week long intensive class that was exactly 2 credits and I thought hey I'll take it and it was on church planting. I grew up in Clay County Southern Illinois there are 15,000 people in the entire county and there were 14 Christian churches not counting Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist -- just our denomination. And I had only thought of church consolidation honestly and had never really thought much about church planting. And during that week my eyes were opened to what God was doing around the world. It just really resonated and I said you know, God has gifted me to do that some day.

How did you develop in that calling? How did you get trained?
At that time I had just started becoming aware of the church planting movement. The Churches of Christ, independent, were pretty prolific in church planting especially for the size of our group and I just started hanging out with them and going to conferences. When I was in Iowa I was familiar with the church planting group and just hung out with church planters anytime I could.

Did those church planters mentor you or was it more loose than that?
It was a loose thing until we moved out to Oregon and then I got very involved with the Northwest Christian Evangelistic Association. I was a part of a church that was just 6 months old and just had some experience going with the Northwest Church Planters group that is up in Vancouver Washington and we met every month and I just kinda hung out with them.

How did you launch the church?
We didn't have any connections out here in Oregon except from my father in-law and mother in-law. So we knew we wouldn't starve! So we moved out here and I started taking little jobs everywhere just to feed the family. I volunteered time with some new churches and visited some other churches and the big thing for me is that the culture in Southern Illinois and Portland Oregon is about as different as you can get. God knew I needed a lot of time to learn about the Northwest before I could ever go start a church here. And so that is a lot of what God is doing in those years. So we moved out in 1999 and launched in 2006 so there was a lot of years there.

Who are you connected with? What is the style of the church?
For a couple of years I was on staff at Our Place Christian Church which was started in 2001. I was the church planting associate. The core group I had initially came out of that church. It was some what of a staff position slash church planting intern position. But I am very connected with them. Also the Northwest Christian Evangelistic Association. They are one of our sponsoring organizations. Then a really unique partnership with Summerset Christian Church who are actually in the same community where we started a church and they are 37 years old. It is kinda a normal traditional congregation reaching a little older demographic. They welcomed us in, gave us an office. We are going to be meeting actually on Sunday nights in July and August in their building. So it's been a really unique partnership and they just really let us use the facility and they gave $21,000 to help us start.

Another thing post launch we've done is partnered up with the New Thing network. Which was started by Community Christian Church in Naperville , Illinois with Dave and John Ferguson. They went to the same college I did and they were a few years older but I got to really hangout with them and really have caught on to their vision of reproducing churches. So I receive coaching from them. I was just back in Chicago last week as we were dreaming of how we as a network could reproduce our network and try to reach a billion people around the world. I love hanging out with guys with such a huge vision for God and so that is a big affiliation right now.

What have been the highlights of starting a new church?
Seeing life change is definitely the biggest. Just to see a group of people who have this dream for a church to see what God has done through them. Especially through the ups and downs we've had some of those downs. But to see their faith increase. To see people who didn't know Christ before come to know him. That has just been a great great highlight. Probably the biggest thing to is seeing some people who don't know Christ coming to a new church and you know they have this preconceived notion of what a church is, especially in the Northwest, they think its all suits and pews and when they come in and they see the casual, we are in a school, they hear the messages that are very practical, and it's just neat to see their eyes open and go wow! I didn't know church could be like this!

What have been the lowest points?
We have had some staff turn over and that's been probably the most difficult thing. One was a financial decision that we had to make with our worship pastor and the other was on staff who I had to ask to leave and it is just the tough things that go along with that. Any time you have staff turn over it definitely creates some conflict and also a lot of concern and confusion. So you have to communicate and that's been pretty tough. Both had been friends for several years.

What would you do differently?
I spent a lot of time working with people but I neglected some of the systems that we didn't really have in place. I don't think I would have spent less time with people but I wish I had spent more time really concentrating on the systems of things. Especially as it was going because once we launched we had the basic systems but we didn't adapt once people actually started coming and things changed and we really kinda left the system there and it was pretty basic. I wish i had done that differently.

Give me a time frame, some numbers and dates from gathering the core in January 2006 until you launched?
In January 2006 we had probably about 25 people and that includes kids, of which we had 12 kids, so 50% of the group was kids back then. We just continued growing to the point where we had about 40 come march (including kids). We then launched 1 Community Group at that point and by September we had gone into 3 Community Groups. We did monthly preview services. Our first service was in July then we had one in August and one in September and then launched October 1st 2006. We had probably about 50 really core people but by the time we launched we had 150 which was pretty consistent for the first 9 months we kept at that number and dropped down a little bit until summer hit! Then the bottom fell out.

In Oregon particular it's when the sun comes out in the summer people just scatter. We didn't do a great job of getting everyone of those 150 connected in and so once the sun came out they left and never really came back. So we had times when we where running 40-50 last summer in a facility that has 200 theater seats. It really was a tough time. That was when one of the staff members left. It was a lot of "are we going to make it" questions that were being asked. We came back strong in the fall. Kinda made it through. We are running this summer somewhere between 85-95. It's a much tighter nit group with almost 95% in Community Groups. We are adjusting our schedule this summer to really make it so that you can go to the beach and you can go to the mountains for the weekend and still come back for church. We are really adapting. We'll see if it works.

We had 9 months of it going great. A honeymoon experience of just excitement and then there were a lot of different things. I blogged recently about some of the biggest surprises. I think for me spiritual warfare, I knew what I had read, that church planting is on the front lines of spiritual warfare. But didn't really know what that meant exactly. I kinda do now. We've just been hit physically. I broke my arm in June last year and did quite a bit of damage and had surgery and stuff. Then I was in a hit and run car accident. Someone hit me and so I just finished physical therapy which I had for several months. There has just been a lot of issues even within the core of people.The last 9 months has been one of a lot of difficulty and yet what has been interesting is that it solidified that group that has remained.

I feel like this summer is going to go better because we've weathered through the good and the bad and are more convinced that God wants us to do this. I've communicated to everyone that I am in this for the long haul. I am very confident and I think we have a good attitude right now as a church.

How did you initially draw that group of 150 for your previews and launch?
We did use direct mail. We sent 28,000 postcards. We did 3 postcards. We did one before each preview service. Our preview services basically had incremental growth. About 70 at the first preview, then about 90, then about 120 and then right at 150 for launch. We also did community activities. They have these concerts in the park and we came and passed out some things and served in that area. The local YMCA had a big family festival and we where there and helped out with that.

What is your philosophy for Community Groups?
That really is the biggest issue. They become such good friends that it is difficult to reproduce that. When we launched we had the expectation that said hey, you know we need 3 or 4 groups by the time we launch. And so everyone knew that. We had identified apprentice leaders to launch those groups. We did a lot of training beforehand on what it would be like. We actually even used the same curriculum for all the groups just so that we have some consistency. They all were basically following my messages and had a discuss on that. They weren't real in-depth. The purpose we told everyone was really to connect people. That worked really well at first.

After about probably a year they kinda came to us and said we want to go deeper. Like, we already know each other well and so at that point we allowed each group to explore different curriculum out there and that really spurred those groups on to grow more. One of them said we need a bible study and one of the guys has a seminary degree and I've known him for a while and so he is teaching straight through the book of Luke. We have another group full of young marrieds who said we need some curriculum on marriage. So each group kinda had it's own focus and that has been going well.

The issue lately for us, which we actually talked about on Sunday, is this summers purpose is not so much the study as it is really connecting with each other, but also inviting new people so that in the fall we will actually stop all our groups and relaunch new ones. The goal is that every group would reproduce and we have identified several people who are apprentices already, maybe we didn't give them that title, but that was the assumption and they are getting ready to do that in the fall.

We talk about, which comes out of the New Thing Network, being a reproducing church and so our goal is 25 campuses in 25 years. We say that's great, but it's way out there. Let focus first of all on reproducing at a smaller level and so the macro level will come but we have to learn how to reproduce our groups and then go from 1 service to 2 services and then once we are used to reproducing then it becomes a natural thing that you just reproduce campuses and churches.

How do you raise up leaders?
We currently are managed by our partners so on our management team is someone from Our Place Christian Church, Summerset and NWCA. We have a 2 year window now where we are beginning to identify some potential leaders and then we'll be meeting weekly in a small group discipleship format. We are still trying to tweak the curriculum and trying to figure out what's going to be best for us and we'll start it in the fall and give it a 2 year window to raise up our own elders from within the church. It's still kinda in flux at this point but it will start in the fall.

How do you manage your time?
I used to believe that you had to be balanced. And I almost viewed it as a daily thing. Like every day I'd go oh wow, I need to have a balanced day and I quickly found out that part of it was having grown up in the church world and seeing my Dad and now I try to view it more like a week by week, rather than a day by day balance. I remember reading that you need to spend 50% of your time out in the community as a church planter. I definitely think that is a minimum when you arepre -launch that you spend 75-80% of your time out in the community doing whatever it is.

Our target is business professionals and their families. And so I immediately joined the chamber of commerce and started doing chamber events and networking and really working in that area, so that was my outlet. Getting to know business leaders and government leaders and so that was what I did. Once you launch I don't think you can keep the 75-80% unless you are blessed to have multiple staff that can handle some of the more internal stuff and while I had some staff part time it wasn't enough I still had to spend quite a bit of time with the people that God was sending so I think that 50-50 is a little bit better opportunity post-launch.

I tried to balance it. At the end of the week I'd say I spent too much time doing work things and I kinda neglected my family and some weeks I'll say wow I spent a lot of time with my family I kinda neglected doing some of this or that. It really is a balancing act trying to do all the things a church planter has to do.

But what is interesting is now after 18 months as things begin to fall into place. One of two things happen, you either have a glaring holes, which typically does happen, and then people will actually see that. And I've been pretty honest about my strengths and my weaknesses. And so God sends people to kinda fill in the areas and so it's been really neat to see that happening. So those areas I am not good at which is primarily administration type things, God has been providing me with people in the church to help out with those areas.

Will you plant again? What is your long term vision?
The dream God has given me is for Portland in particular. You can't go out and buy lots of land. It's 750,000 acre area right now in the Bethany area where we are right now. And you can't go out an buy lots and lots of land so even if you have the money its not available. There is a thing called the urban growth boundary that limits growth to inside the boundary which jacks the prices up and we just couldn't go outside of that into farmland and try to build something even if we wanted to. It's just not available.

And so we knew going in we can't get a church building and continue to grow it and grow it in that way. Our strategy always from the beginning has been to be multi-site. To say where can we find places like schools, like movies theaters. A big passion of mine is going in, like we are now, to an existing church that is kinda in decline and how can we come in and partner with them and use the facility at another time and be able to have some programs and things and do some joint things together to help revitalize that area. We are looking at 25 campuses throughout the Portland metro in the next 25 years.

We are also though not stopping there because I don't think it's just about doing campuses, I think it's more than that, it's actually planting 25 churches around the world. We can't do that on our own so that is another reason we have joined New Thing Network so that together in the network we can plant these churches, but we'll do our part.

What would your advice be for me as I complete my church planting internship?
I remember someone saying once that Church Planting wasn't about the church plant but it was God's way to develop the planter. I remember thinking well, no no it's about this thing that God wants me to do. But I think after 18 months I'm thinking that's probably true. God uses the church plant to accomplish what he wants in other peoples lives but a lot of this is God dealing with me and that's a scary thing but it's also a really good thing. Kinda the refining moments of your life.

My advice is that, and it sounds so cliche, read the Bible and pray. I tell you those 2 things when things have been so chaotic, one of the surprises has been for me that the highs are really high and the lows are really low and they occur sometimes within days. Ministry in general has ups and downs but church planting is compressed, time is compressed, and so we'll have one day when things are an all time high and 2 days later you get news of something that happened and its really the worst thing that's happened.

To handle that roller coaster ride you have to be daily able for just a few minutes be able to get some time alone and time with God reading his word. WayneCordeiro spoke last year at the National New Church conference in Orlando and that was his message which was just great, it was read the bible and pray. He laughed as he said it to all his pastors.

But where I was at that moment was right at the end of the 9 month honeymoon period and I just really left committed to do that and I was just so glad. I am just finishing up now here a year reading through the Bible in a year. And I hadn't done that in years, I mean I had always read but not in a systematic way and I can honestly say that I don't think I would have made it if I wasn't grounded daily getting some word from God. It's amazing, you have something bad happen, and you are reading and think wow, it wasn't as bad as that guy in the Bible! Here is something from God that just says you know I will always be with you, don't give up, be strong and courageous.

Things like that just really make my day and then when things are going good God would have a way then in my Bible reading plan to humble me and go yeah, that's true, I am not all that. I think that is a huge thing. You need that constant in your life in church planting because it is so full of ups and downs. And people you can count on. And so you need someone you can count on.

How do you like to use Twitter? And by the way, why did you start following me on Twitter?
I am one of those tech geeks which is partly why I picked this area to plant a church because Intel has several plants around here and the area is very much a techie area. I always try the new stuff that comes out. I looked and I had signed up for Twitter 420 days ago, way before it was kinda the cool thing to do. I started it and no-one I knew was on it so I kinda didn't really use it for a while but you know I am always trying stuff.

One of our values is high-tech and high-touch. It's not an either or, it's both. And we value the use of technology. Twitter really at first was an experiment and it's been neat to see what's going on. I intentionally follow church planters and church leaders. I follow theinternet superstars just out of curiosity. The other thing I started to do even beyond church planters was follow local people and I really felt that there are mainly techie people on it right now and church planters tend to be kinda on the cutting edge of stuff anyway so they fall into that category.

About 3 weeks ago I got a direct message on Twitter from a guy in Portland saying can we talk, can I call you? And I said sure, so he called me. His wife is going through some stuff and he didn't know anybody to talk to. And yet he saw on my Twitter thing that I am a pastor and lived in the area and we went out to coffee a couple of times and he and his family are probably at some point going to come visit the church at least. So it really was an opportunity and through Twitter we still communicate and direct message that way. So that was really an unexpected use. We are looking for a worship person, we don't have very much money to do it, but I just put out a quick little Twitter thing and had a response and was talking to this one person who said hey, I am in the area and I might be willing to help. Even a job opportunity came through.

I just think it's neat. Everyone asks, what do you do exactly? Pastors only work one day a week right? So what I've done is put it on my blog, but also our church newsletter we send out I put "What's Matt doing?" and I put "Twitter". And so you can click on that and see what I am doing and I try to update it as much as I can and so it is just one way to let the congregation know wow, Matt has a lot of coffee meetings, no wonder he's that way! But anyway, I appreciate the church planters I follow. Some I've know for a while through there blogs and then obviously others like yourself getting acquainted.

I just love how church planting is so different, like I feel far more in common with the small business owner than I do with other churches. That will change I am sure as we get older but that it partly why I love hanging out at the Chambers of Commerce, I like hanging out with other Entrepreneurs learning different things. I think that the church planting community is just a neat community and we share so much. Before I ever started I was blogging and I was following other people who had planted already and since then I have had others like yourself say hey, what was your first budget like? How did you do this? Just sharing resources and encouragement has just been really really a neat thing and technology really makes that easy. I don't have to take a lot of time to follow you or follow others I can just do it in the regular course of the day.

Matt, thanks for your time. That wraps up the interview. I really appreciate it.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Only Transformational Churches Matter

I recently finished reading The Multiplying Church by Bob Roberts.

Bob Roberts is the founding pastor of the 2,500-member NorthWood Church near Fort Worth, Texas and the founder of Glocalnet, a network of leaders who are advancing a glocal (global+local) church multiplication movement. They have planted 100 (and counting) churches and "adopted" nations throughout the world.

This book is a phenomenal guide for anyone at any level of church leadership to learn not just about church planting, but exponential church multiplication. This book challenged my fundamentals, affirmed my deepest convictions and increased my vision and passion for God's master plan -- making a beautifully radiant, eternally perfect and gloriously pure spouse for Himself.

Churches that reproduce and transform the society around them are God's strategy for this hurting world. Only transformational churches really matter so starting anything else is pointless.

Here are some phrases and sections that caught my attention:
  1. Bob Roberts has a high value for both the Kingdom of God and church planting. This seems critical for sustainability -- a healthy balance of why and how. The church will pass away but the Kingdom is here forever!
  2. He has a killer opening paragraph: "I have a vision and a dream. Let's start a thousand churches over the next ten years, each one running a minimum of two thousand members, and in just ten years we will turn America upside down with the gospel! That would work, right? Wrong -- that scenario just happened over the past ten years, and there are fewer people in church today than ever before." This tells me that Mega-churches are not the answer but multiplying churches is.
  3. On Page 29 Roberts states: "It is critical to understand that church planting movements are second-tear movements to Jesus movements." Being in love with Jesus is the foundation to the spread of the Gospel. Doing the church thing comes as a result of love for Jesus.
  4. A global church planting movement has the right environment to emerge because of globalization. Technology, language, immigration, etc...
  5. Without multiplication movements will die. Only something alive can reproduce. What does that say for a church that is not reproducing?
  6. Transformation is really the only reason worth starting a church. Page 72 "What if instead of dreaming of a 7,000-seat worship center, I dreamed of clinics, schools, and community centers in the inner city? What if instead of envisioning a 150-acre campus, I saw orphanages around the world and microenterprises? What if instead of longing for about 100 full-time ministerial staff, we had 1,000 staff located all over the world? What if instead of wishing for half the community to attend our local church, the community threw parties to thank our church for all the things it was doing in the community?"
  7. Local churches must be the ones planting the churches, not the organization or the network.
  8. Every Christian should be a part of at least one new church plant.
  9. Church size is more about the attitude of multiplication than the size of a Sunday meeting.
  10. No vocational ministry requires more self-initiating skills than that of a church planter.
  11. To multiply, a church must focus on the kind of disciple it produces.
  12. When NorthWood "adopted" Vietnam their stateside church planting exploded.
  13. A global church planting movement will likely come from the East. We have the technology but they have the Spirit. We have process, they have hearts. We have money, they have faith. We have plans, they have results.
  14. The more model orientated you are, the more your recruits have to learn to think, read, evaluate, and so on.
  15. If you cant start a small group, how do you think you can start a church?
  16. Anyones job description in ministry is "leadership development".
  17. No single person will have more impact in your ministry than your wife.
  18. You have enough time in the day to get every single thing done that needs to be done.
  19. Any vision that doesn't require your entire life isn't a vision; it's just a thought.
  20. Instead of striving for balance, live by priorities and goals. Don't do everything -- focus.
I have learned that discipleship is the foundation of Kingdom activity, church planting needs a multiplication DNA and it must be about the transformation of individuals and society at large. I have been reminded again that there is no point in starting a church if you are not PASSIONATE for Jesus, leading your family, planning for reproduction, willing to sacrifice everything and more concerned about genuine change than numerical results.

After reading this book I am again reminded how clearly God has placed church planting in my future. He put nations on my heart when I was a kid. He did the same thing with my wife. He gave me direct words from great men of God. He spoke to me directly in moments of surprise and whispered confirmations. My tendencies, skills and yearnings all point to this.

Checkout: The Multiplying Church

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Involving college students in church planting

Special update: I wrote a book for churches to give to first-time guests. It’s had a huge impact at bringing more people back as second-time guests and adding them into the church community. Get the Kindle version of Unforgettable: Your purpose in Christ here and the print version from Those outside the USA may need to order print copies from,, or
I believe that whether a church has been around for 5 minutes or 50 years it should be training leaders. So, if you have 5 people in your church, you, your wife, your 5-month old son, your brother-in-laws dog and your neighbor (who doesn't really know they are in your church because they only hung out at your house one time) then how can you be training leaders?

Answer this: what group of people are readily available, mobile, passionate, hungry to learn, ready to take over the world, looking for community, willing to help, interested in community service projects, asking to do internships and even excited about Jesus? Um, college students?

I know, this might sound REALLY obvious but I'm just starting out on this church planting thing and gathering students to train up is an exciting new concept to me. So I've done some study and called some people on why and how to engage college students in a church plant.

Why target students?

  1. "Many college students will never have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. College students, numbering approximately 16 million, are one of the most significant and unevangelized people groups in North America." Source
  2. 65% of the Builder Generation were evangelical Christians. 35% of the Boomer Generation were evangelical Christians. 16% of Generation X are evangelical Christians. Only 4% ofBridgers are evangelical Christians.
  3. Judges 2:10 "And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel."
  4. 18-22 is a crucial decision making age bracket.
  5. 90% of men stop going to church at age 18.
  6. A recent church planting conference at Liberty University LYNCHBURG, Va., designed to recruit students for real-life church planting opportunities issued a call to more than 5,000 students, several hundred responded, saying they were ready to consider summer missionary and church planting internships across the United States. Source.
  7. College students are impressionable, energetic, idealistic, dare-some, mobile, employable and innovative -- perfect candidates for church planting.
  8. College students are the most likely interns, apprentices, volunteers and part-timers.
  9. Students can usually tap into larger social networks than young couples, the middle-aged or seniors.
  10. These students and student aged Christians changed the world: Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, John Wesley, William Carey, Samuel Mills and the "Haystack Five", Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, C.T. Studd and the "Cambridge Seven", Luther Wishard, Robert Wilder and the "Mount Hermon 100", Grace Wilder and Cameron Townsend.
  11. Dr. Bill Bright founder of Campus Crusade said, "If we can win the university today, we will win the world tomorrow."
What are the different models of church college ministries?

By the church, but not the church

The Northern California and Nevada district of the Assemblies of God suggest 4 models:
  1. Student-Led Bible Studies on Campus: there are tons of resources for releasing students to do this sort of thing and do it well. One or two gifted and committed students are needed to launch this.
  2. Lunch Programs on Community Colleges: begin offering a free meal along with an evangelistic program on campus once a week. Time, money for food and having a core of students to create energy is vital for this to work.
  3. College-Age Sunday School Class: a quality leader and a core of college students is needed to start this.
  4. The Three Hours Model: a college-friendly Sunday morning worship service, a college-specific Sunday school class/small group network, and a college-specific midweek worship service (either on campus or in the church). Multiple staff are required to pull this off. This model ideally needs a full-timer.
Conclusion: I think there are more models than this. These appear to be separate events, divorced from the wider body of believers. The question is: what will this reproduce? Once these students leave college will they have a vision for global church planting?

By the church, kinda the church
University Presbyterian Church in Seattle has put together a PDF manual for church-based college ministry:
  1. The premise of this manual is structured around running separate church programs for college students and then having to work at connecting students back into the wider congregation. The initial draw is a large gathering of students at a weekly celebration service called "The Inn". Then they have discipleship systems and other program based activities. This is not designed to help with church planting but for more established churches. However ,there are some helpful things to learn for church planting.
  2. After hooking students on a big student run meeting and then trying to pull them into the church the manual says on page 19: "We promote to students other [church] functions and opportunities so that they can benefit from the whole of the congregation. We also believe that students have much to offer the church, thus we create ways for their lives to bless the congregation. We are often asked, "how many students go to your church on Sunday?" Our response is, "We don’t really know." Our measurement for connecting students to the church is not based on attendance at a Sunday worship service. Our measurement is how many of our students are in relationship with those who make up what we call the church."
  3. One key ingredient to the success of this church based college ministry is recruiting interns. This has real value for a church plant: "Each year we hire 4-5 college grads to serve full-time for 9.5-12 months as interns. The UMin intern program is designed to give college graduates an opportunity to gain valuable experience and training in both practical and theoretical aspects of ministry as well as have the opportunity to function as part of the larger church staff at UPC. The internship is a training program designed to give interns opportunities to discover and use their spiritual gifts, to develop spiritually and theologically, to work in an atmosphere of personal and professional guidance and support, and to gain practical ministry experience." (Page 17)
Conclusion: discipling college students in a church planting environment, getting them serving in various roles and taking on interns for a summer or an extended period seems like a brilliant way to help the plant and train up some quality leaders. I dislike the idea of separating college students from the church to create a sub-church. But then I'm idealistic and this might be the only feasible way to make it work in a large setting. It seems that the context of a church plant would make this model obsolete until you grew. Logistically a church plant needs everybody highly involved -- meaning students as well.

Simple church, but where's the rest of the church?

A book titled "The Blueprint: A Revolutionary Plan to Plant Missional Communities on Campus" by Jaeson Ma promotes the idea of Simple Churches on campus. Student leaders trained and sent by local congregational churches.
  1. Jaeson Ma is director of Campus Church Networks, a church-planting ministry that has planted over 300 student-led house churches in North America and East Asia. He also co-founded Campus Transformation Network, which has mobilized 24-7 Prayer rooms on 80+ major universities in the US and 100+ in China in partnership with Campus Renewal Ministries (Jeremy Story), 24-7 Prayer (Pete Greig) and Burning Heart Ministries (Becky Tirabassi). Jaeson is a frequent speaker & strategic trainer for student revivals, retreats, outreach events and conferences in the US and around the world.
  2. Jaeson writes that most local churches do not know what to do with college students. Page 199 "... sooner or later they would graduate and find the same problem of not fitting into traditional churches or not finding a church where they could be empowered." Jaeson's strategy formed: start simple churches in campuses that would bring the church to the students instead of students to the church. After much study in missionary church planting models, such as the underground house churches in China, he was convinced that simple relational-based churches would meet the most practical needs of college students. In relationship-based churches, believers can encounter God personally, experience authentic community and be empowered to do God's work. "If an 18-year-old Chinese girl can plant 100 churches in one year in China, why can't a college freshman plant a few simple churches on a college campus?" Essentially, a simple church on campus starts when one student breaks in a social network and sees salvation and baptizm -- this characterizes a church. The "missionary" would identify leaders and train them in shepherding people.
  3. They look to reproduce this model in the hope that one day these leaders become elders. The goal would be to start as many simple churches as possible to cater for the myriad of student clusters. The power in the model is that of students own church as something they do, not a Sunday meeting they attend. He does say "This is not to say that students don't need to go to a congregational church on Sunday, although that may be the case in certain instances; but they need to see church as a lifestyle, not an event. The congregational church should instead act as an apostolic mission base, equipping and sending students out to plant autonomous simple churches. When students graduate, they would be sent out to start simple churches in their communities, in their workplaces and all over the city. Jaeson put this into action his last year of college. Students of peace were saved, who reached their social networks and started simple churches. In turn, simple churches were started through the city, the USA and in East Asia!
Conclusion: The fact that this method reproduced churches outside its own societal domain and in other nations is wonderful evidence that something right is happening. I agree that a lot of churches have no idea how to train and help college students and I am very impressed by the fruitfulness Jaeson has experienced.

I have a few questions about this model. Can a student led simple church really meet the spiritual needs of it's group? Why assume that attendance to a congregational Sunday service will not include serving and therefore owning opportunities? Is the best place to prepare students for Christian faith after graduation to remove them from a body of people who are living a post-graduation lifestyle for Jesus? Can a church be defined by just salvation and baptism -- what is the biblical model? If starting simple student churches is a reaction to traditional churches not knowing what to do with students, is it then acceptable to start churches just for teenagers or the elderly because they don't fit into the simple student model? If the goal is simple churches, then how do you continue to grow and establish the apostolic sending bases?

Maybe I don't understand this model enough which is why I have so many questions about it. Simple churches seem a little disconnected and isolated -- let's do church without everybody else!

Ignore the church, just train students

A book titled "The Fuel And The Flame" by Steve Shadrach addresses the needs and principles required to disciple students.
  1. Steve Shadrachspan loves winning, building and sending college students for Jesus Christ. He was the pastor of students and missions at his church involving over 800 collegians before launching the ministry of Student Mobilization. He's worked with Campus Crusade Navigators and Kanakuk Kamps and writes for Focus on the Family's college webzine Steve and his family reside in Conway Arkansas next to a campus where they live with and minister to students. He's also president of The BodyBuilders providing ministry tools seminars and consulting for churches campus ministries and Christian organizations around the world.
  2. Steve defines college as "a four (or more!) year window in a person's life when God has maximum opportunity to build a foundation into a life lived for Him."
  3. Main points I got out of it is to focus on: prayer, relational networking, global mission, reproducing key students and viewing campuses as sending bases.
Conclusion: The focus is student discipleship which is driven by the premise that collegians are the most valuable group of people in our society because they are learning to shape the future. Again, my question is: what will this reproduce? I couldn't find a significant emphasis on church planting nor the importance of local church.

A new church for students

Jeff Gates, lead elder at Living Hope Church St. Joseph Missouri, has recently gathered some college students and formed a new location in Maryville, about 45 minutes north of St. Joseph. I called Jeff and he gave me the scoop:
  1. Jeff attended some of the college ministry meetings and introduced himself to the leaders immediately. It is very important to gain their trust fast.
  2. He clearly stated he was not there to steal students but wanted to serve in anyway he could. He was clear that he didn't really want to help financially but spiritually.
  3. He found that certain ministries jumped at the chance to have some of their students mentored and cared for my families -- something often lacking in college ministries.
  4. Jeff was on the lookout for students he was drawn to. He then proceeded to meet with them for coffee making sure that the ministry leaders were in the loop the whole time.
  5. Jeff knew that 60-80% of High School students have been in church at some point. He wanted to find kids who have some kind of church background and show them that he was starting a new church that wasn't quite like their parents church.
  6. Jeff ran a "Just Walk Across the Room" series with the navigators and identified more students he connected with.
  7. Jeff affirmed that college ministries often talk about valuing the local church but their programs don't allow students much time to really serve local churches. Plus it didn't seem that many unsaved students were being added -- which is a passion Jeff has for the local church.
  8. After talking with the college ministry leaders it was clear that Jeff's new church location was not in conflict with the campus ministries as it was meeting at a separate time and offered a different context for Christian faith.
  9. Once he gathered a core group he says it went viral and started to grow pretty quick. The small store front they rent has completely filled up a few times.
  10. In future Jeff is going to use the core he's gathered to target freshmen in the first 2 weeks of fall. Doing BBQ's and giving away stuff to draw interest and use it to tell people about the church.
  11. Jeff now has a number of students committed to internships over the summer and next year.
  12. Jeff admitted that to do this properly you have to invest a lot of time into it. There are no short cuts, it has to be authentically relational.
Conclusion: This is an exciting development for Living Hope Church. I have some questions for Jeff. Is this really a church? Could it ever draw locals in addition to students? What is his strategy for training students in church planting? With this success does he still have a good relationship with the ministry leaders? How can he connect these students to other mature Christians?

College bible study? No thanks. I'm part of a local church!
John Privett pastor of Life House Church Franklin, Tennessee has also recently seen success at gathering students into his church plant. I called him and got the scoop:
  1. It started when John's son Greg, with his friends Sean and Byron, started talking with fellow Christians on campus about the local church. They would literally respond to college bible study invitations with "No thanks, I'm part of the local church!" This created a lot of intrigue because it was such a different concept from normal college ministries.
  2. John started meeting with the students and spending a lot of time in coffee houses on the campus. This was critical to connecting and building momentum.
  3. Because students are smart and hungry to learn he started taking them through systematic theology. He built excitement by purposefullymeeting in a smaller room so that as numbers grew people had to get their early to even get in!
  4. Now, in their Sunday morning gathering, almost all their worship band is made up of students. He has students leading life groups which he personally visits once a month.
  5. John did a lot of events which included food and he worked at connecting students to mature and older couples and families. There seemed to be a real desire to be with families. He said it's easy to think that students just want to be together but actually they crave community. Most are from dysfunctional families and so they love being in the context of mature families.
  6. The church is not a recognized group on the campus but most of the students they gather are leaders in their dorms and allow them access for events. They do that on purpose because they want to make it clear that they are not a college ministry but a local church -- they are somehow different.
  7. They are gathering between 35-45 students right now and will have about 18 staying with them over the summer. They have a couple of interns this summer and will plan for a big team next year.
How can you engage college students in a church plant?

Here are some principles I can draw from this study:
  1. Connect with the leaders of campus ministries and build trust. Ask about serving their ministry or mentoring some students on campus. I just left a phone message with the leader of campus crusade offering to mentor young men.
    1. See how to connect with para-church organizations.
  2. As the lead guy be fully involved in the process. Look for people who you connect with.
  3. Involve students in all church events. In worship band, in speaking, in serving. Give them roles and responsibility.
  4. Connect students with families and mature couples who will cook for them and provide a functional family model.
  5. Offer summer internships and extended internships to students.
  6. Make recruitment during the first 2 weeks of fall a priority so you can catch some students and bypass the campus ministry route.
  7. Any other thoughts?
Other Resources:
  1. Getting a Church Started: A Student Manual for the Theological Foundation & Practical Techniques of Planting a Church
  2. Campus Ministry: Identity, Mission and Praxis
  3. The College Chaplain: A Practical Guide to Campus Ministry
  5. Top ten college ministries in the United States

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gospel Neighboring

On Sunday May 4th I spoke at Jubilee Churches city location. My text was the famous story of the good Samaritan.

Christians have a directive from God to love Him with everything and love others as ourselves. I tackled the latter command. Basically, Christians are called to radical social work, towards even our worst enemies, through the motivation of GRACE (not guilt) and as a church we have an excellent opportunity to serve basic human needs through a Ministry called Angel Food.

Checkout the video here:

Friday, May 2, 2008

Video Message to ONEBLAZE North East

I recorded a personal invitation to the youth from Newfrontiers churches in the North East. Note the city skylines in the background. Living with the vision. Check it out: