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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Interview with Chicago Church Planter Rick Kuhr

Recently I interviewed Rick Kuhr who planted a church in Chicago and started gathering people in January 2007. Rick is 32, married and has a daughter. Checkout this podcast and learn from Rick's church planting experiences.

You can use the player on the right to listen to the most recent podcast, download the church planting interview or read below.

: How did you know you were called to plant a church in Chicago? Why did you pick Chicago?

Rick: I did a year of mission work in Spain and after that year I knew I wanted to be in a place that was needy spiritually. Chicago is one of those is short on the national average when it comes to churches and there is a lack of witness in that city.

Matt: Were there people that God used or events to help shape your vision for Chicago? Or was it more like, "this place needs God, so lets go." ?

Rick: I had a friend who was planting in Boulder CO and had asked me to come with him. I wasn't sure but I knew wherever I went I would need to be called by God, I wasn't going to move my family if I wasn't called. One day, this friend who had asked me to go with him said, "Rick you need to be unleashed from this. You just got to do what you have to do." And for the guy who had asked me to go to release me, that was huge. He encouraged me to get involved in Chicago. I called the national church director for church planting (for The Vineyard) in Chicago and asked if they were doing in work in the UIC area. That ended up being the only area they were doing work in at that time. So that was a big confirmation. A year before I had been praying and actually asked my wife what she thought about planting in the UIC area and then that was the only area they were planting in. After doing bible studies on the campus for 3-4 years and asking college students what churches were there, I realized that people would travel 4-5 if not 10-12 miles to go to church! I thought that was a little crazy and saw that the need was there. I found out there are smaller churches in the area but none of them are being a strong witness in that area. So we decided to do it!

Matt: When you got on the ground, how did you go about launching the church?

Rick: We did it a little differently. Usually a leader will gather a team and then they will go out. I came in on the middle of everything. The Hyde Park Vineyard had organized it without a leader and I found out about it after it had already started forming. I operate quite relationally so that was different because I didn't have much chance to get to know people I just felt called to the area and that was prodded me to interact with people. It was really the Hyde Park Vineyard who really had gathered some people who would be committed to the plant, so that is how we originally got together. Personally, I did not do much of the gathering. A lot of the people came through the UIC bible study which I had been involved with.

Matt: How many people did you have in that initial group? How did you get the word out amongst non Christians in the area?

Rick: Part of our vision is connecting people to Jesus. We try to focus everything we do to be centered on relationships. So we did kind of everything in the beginning, from doing water giveaways, handing out flowers, door to door prayer. and flyers. Ideally people to come because they know someone. Other people have come because we have been active in the community, being aware of people, talking to people on the streets, really founding that vision of being interactive and aware of what is going on. We have done pizza at a park where there are homeless and different things like that.

Matt: How many people are you gathering right now?

Rick: Well, Chicago is really transient so our numbers can be low because we are in the university area. Last week we had 15 the week before we had 27. So, our average is somewhere in between there.

Matt: You are bi-vocational (working full time job and planting a church) how do you manage your time? How does that affect your life and your ministry?

Rick: A mentor of mine says in church planting you either struggle financially or with your time and if you are bi vocational you typically aren't going to have the financial stress but you will have the time stress. We already lived in the area and I already had a job so for me it really comes down to time stewardship. I have to take advantage of every second I can. So, when I walk to work I talk to people. I usually engage with them using a question that goes along with the theme for the coming Sunday or the time of year. My commute is 15 min so I take advantage of it and talk to people about Jesus. It is doing stuff I already do but incorporating Jesus into it. I try to multi-task and be effective. I make sure that I get time with God, ultimately that is what will effect me, my family and the people I talk to. My second priority is my family, if my family health is not doing well that will effect the overflow of me being able to love other people.

Matt: How do you find time for the church and preparing messages during the week?

Rick: My main gifting is evangelism, so apart from my walking to and from work I would spend an additional 2 hours talking with people on the streets, getting into conversations. I make sure I am consistently in the word because the directly effects everything that we do and I believe it is good to speak on a Sunday what God has been speaking to you, so that is something I make sure to do. Usually, since we have a baby, I study late at night. I don't get the most sleep. It really comes down to time stewardship. I try to utilize every moment I have during the day, from meeting up with people on my lunch breaks to praying or reading the word.

Matt: What do you do for work?

Rick: I am a personal banker. Which is great because I've been able to talk to a lot of people about Jesus. In my work I talk a lot with other people about daily life, so I am able to bring Jesus into the conversation quite easily. The whole idea of being bi-vocational is not appealing to me because I see it more as a way of life. We are all ministers of Jesus.

Matt: What other challenges have you faced? What have been some of your lows and how have you pushed through them?

Rick: I am an off the scale extrovert and have always operated out of relationship with people. So, it has been hard for me is having come into the middle of a plant where I don't know anyone, they don't know me. I had not been around long enough for people to see my actions, because actions speak louder than words. So, it can be hard to speak into people's lives when they haven't had time to really see what you are about. Second difficulty has been we had a lot of individuals who had a lot of great ideas and because I came in later in the process I think that was something that was difficult. It was a situation where the leader wasn't established. People had their own ideas, their own agenda and when that didn't pan out to be the way that the plant was going to be that was very disappointing for them, which was then expressed to me or other individuals, which was hard.

I look at church planting can be a little bit like the bi-polar disorder-everything is magnified. The great things are incredible and the victories are awesome but the defeats are in the valley, they are deep. So where there is a lack of consistency or history there is those real highs and real lows and that is something I have really had to work through. My calling here is something that I am convinced that God has given me. And through human eyes success in a church plant would be getting the church going, getting all the activities and ministries in place and having that fly. In reality, if God calls us to an area, we need to be committed to that. God honors our obedience. We could look at church plants and think, "o they don't have this going or that going." But it is in the process that we are able to love God, that is what is important. I just heard about a guy who is planting out in Montana and things have flopped from a financial standpoint and almost ruined him. It you find your value in how your church then you've missed it. It is about the kingdom of God advancing and being obedient to him. Church planting is so intense and you can be so caught up in your own little world rather than focusing on the big picture and advancing the kingdom.

Matt: What have been some of the highlights/victories for you?

Rick: We have had homeless people come to our gathering, which is cool. About a month ago we had a meeting where 1/2 of the people there were either Latino, African American or Asian. For me to get to a point where we see a diverse group is exciting! My wife and I are both Caucasian, so sometimes it can be difficult to get people to come in a multi-diverse, multi-economic area when you look different to them. It is important to have different ethnicity's on your team because that communicates to people who are different to you that they are welcome. So, that has been really exciting.

Another guy came in off the streets, and we helped him get a place at the YMCA. We helped him a job situation, transportation and he has come and we helped him get established. Talk about social justice and ministering to the heart and spirit of an individual. I have not heard of to many stories of churches seeing someone so broken being redeemed in that type of way. He is helping us with music and serving in the church he is part of the community. It is obviously hard work and a huge investment but really encouraging. A lot of the conversations on the streets have been incredible. One question I have asked is "what makes people selfish?" I had 2 conversations yesterday about this questions and they were incredible. I think people like dealing with that question regardless about where they are on the spiritual spectrum because they realize selfishness is a problem and they want to overcome it. But, touching on those issues that are at the core who we as humans are. People are aggressive about lust and pornography and anger and jealousy, different things in how they live their lives. I believe we can be aggressive about living a life of love. I believe we can be confrontational with love.

Matt: How has God provided for you in terms of finances for the church? How have you covered your costs?

Rick: We have been really blessed in this area! It is pretty simple, I don't get a salary and we don't pay for our location. We are in the same location as another church, which is a huge blessing. They said to us that we could use their place, they want to use their facility for the advancement of the kingdom. I am sure it happens but I have never heard a church receiving a blessing like that. We are incredibly blessed to be the recipient of that. So, we don't have any huge costs. That makes things pretty easy. A lot of our money goes to outreach. We have a different starting time, we start at 4.30pm and we are thinking of that for a long term basis due to people's work schedule. But, anyways, we actually get together afterwards to have a bite to eat. And coming back to community, living life together and the vision to actually see that accomplished we use that as an opportunity to get to know people. And those who come and eat, for the most part, we buy them dinner. So, a lot of the money that we spend is on things like that.

Matt: What is your vision for Chicago? What plans do you have to expand?

Rick: Our vision is to connect people to Jesus, in a general sense. And that looks like, sharing life with people. I think sometimes with churches they can go for social justice but it turns into social gospel...where it is not ministering to the whole of the person, but they just talk about the spiritual aspect. Those things are all connected and we can forget to help out the physical needs. So we want to be a community that is able to merge that. Not neglecting social justice and also addressing the real issue of the spirit being redeemed. So, community, meeting the needs of the whole person, and also being really into the scripture, really understanding it. We want to be expectant for God to speak, for him to guide us and lead us but doing that with the foundation of the word. Having that mix, kind of a double barrel action.

Matt: I am doing a church planting internship, in St. Louis. You are already doing the stuff, out in the field. What would be your advice for me?

Rick: I would encourage and challenge you to have a team. The research that has been done shows that if you don't have a team you are setting yourself up for disaster. So, I would challenge you to bring a team, people that will help you along the way. Make sure you love God and loving Jesus and loving people as the main thing. Also, maintain that balance. We are useless as followers of God if we forget that we are following God. It may sound obvious, but if we are not receiving, others can't receive from us as easy. We need to be able to have a balance with our family, our wives. There is a huge witness in loving our wives and loving our families. That responsibility in the community needs accountability. You need an established overseer. Those would be my advices. Go with where you are strong. My most recent blog is about we as individuals are meant to live in co-dependence with God and others to advance the kingdom.

Matt: Rick, thank you so much for your time, I so appreciate it.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

St. Louis shows the most interest in Church Planting above other cities

What is going on in Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and South Carolina? Well, between 2004 and August 2008 those States have generated the most Google searches for the term "church planting".

On average there are approximately 14,800 Google searches each month for the phrase "church planting". This phrase shows more popularity than "planting a church" which has an average monthly of 480 and "church plant" showing 1,800. Even the phrase "church planting conference" only shows an average volume of 320 searches per month.

This shows a significantly concentrated interest in church planting from the Midwest and the Southeastern regions of the USA. States with the light blue color below show zero data. This means that if any searches have occurred they were two infrequent or small to be recorded.

Regional Interest for Church Planting

The numbers next to the States do not represent the number of searches but a search volume index between 0-100, where the highest volume will always be 100, in this case Tennessee.

In taking a closer look at my State, Missouri, I see that the totality of searches are coming from St. Louis. I guess no one in Kansas City is interested in church planting -- making St. Louis a good choice for us to be trained in starting new churches. A closer look at Texas reveals that Richardson and Dallas alone share the interest in the phrase "church planting". Chicago is the hub for Illinois results.

After looking at the data over the last 12 months I can see that the number one State showing interest is Missouri followed in second place by Georgia and then North Carolina takes third. This focus over the last 12 months shows that St. Louis displays the most online interest in the phrase "church planting". And before anyone makes a comment about this there is no possible way that I am skewing the numbers through my personal searches -- there are just too many searches for any one person to skew it!

One observation from the graphic above is that West Virginia shows no interest but is completely surrounded by those who do. If you are in a surrounding region I suggest you converge on West Virginia as apparently there is no one there yet whose interested in church planting enough to ask Google about it!

This data would seem to suggest that St. Louis is an excellent place to receive focused training on church planting as it shows the most interest and therefore contains the most like-minded people. Does demand equal supply? Well, if you are interested why not look into Newfrontiers Church Planting Internship based in St. Louis and supply your demand!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wentzville Church

On Sunday the Jubilee Wentzville Church launched with weekly services and got off to a great start! Wentzville is Jubilee Churches second campus. The location pastor, Rick Hein, my mentor and friend, communicated this list of highlights:
  • 17 First-time Guests
  • 71 total attendance
  • Great weather (this is actually a very significant thing)
  • A Launch Team that came together and served magnificently
Plus, a few people indicated a fresh faith commitment to Jesus. These results are wonderful because having people connect to Jesus is the ultimate goal!

I personally feel privileged to have seen this new venture come together. It is not a typical church planting model but embodies another form of church planting -- planting new locations of the same church. It seems to be a very helpful way to share resources and therefore move faster. The next phase of growth will be exciting.

Read Rick Heins thoughts about how the launch went.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Can the Bible be trusted?

We constantly place our trust in things that fail us. Companies want to be productive so they buy PCs. Parents want the best for their kids but rob them of the highest level of security -- staying married and in love. People recycle but continue to buy bottled water and the world crumbles. First time home owners get mortgages they can't afford just so they can live the dream. We get the latest gadget only to find it's obsolete in a few weeks. Sound familiar? We think we are smart but we make dumb decisions all the time.

We make all our decisions based on what our desire is for -- nothing controversial there. But, are you smart about the amount of trust you've placed in your views? Have you considered the validity of the conclusions you draw about life? What have you placed your trust in? What we spend our money, time and resources on normally reveals what our hope is in "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Luke 12:34. Do you believe this statement? If you do, then you have some faith in the words of Jesus already.

In tackling this subject it is my desire to give the guy on the street a cross section of nuggets to draw from in handling biblical trustworthiness, the fancy term is "inerrancy" (without errors). This means the Bible contains no historical, moral, scientific, spiritual, cultural or any other type of mistake or contradiction. It is the very words of God himself, divinely communicated through some men throughout history and preserved as a record of his grace towards us prideful humans.

This is an important issue for all Christians but especially for those in the church planting scene wishing to engage doubters in a relevant and well thought out way. After all, church planting is all about reaching people who doubt Jesus and the Bible. These arguments are really a means to disarm hostility and engage with genuine doubt, not as an end to themselves. The end is to show people the real Jesus!

The exclusivity

It is highly suspicious, but very telling, that a society full of religious relativists would so disdain Christians and the Bible. But that is where we are. Diversity is celebrated, Jesus is rejected. Plurality is prized, the Bible is scorned. The rejection of the Bible is really a rejection of diversity. The suppression of Jesus is the denial of religious relativism itself -- it is strangely selective!

The high standard our culture places on religious relativism, that all paths lead to the same God, is a cover up for something else. Someone who TRULY embodies universal inclusiveness would never single out the Bible or Jesus for exclusion. So, what really is spiritual pluralism then? It can only be one thing: an exclusive belief system. To embrace all beliefs naturally excludes those that rely on exclusivity to be true. Uh? (read it again if you need to)

The faith

What then is non-belief? It is by definition a set of alternative views in which one places their absolute trust. It is a collection of faith-filled assumptions and conclusions. Therefore, all viewpoints, even doubts, are leaps of faith. In fact, to say that the Bible is untrustworthy and cannot be from God is an expression of faith. You cannot empirically prove it either way and it is not universally accepted. For example, the most venomous atheists have more faith and belief in their doubts than some Christians have in the Bible. Now that takes a lot of faith especially if you became an atheist at the age of 6 like someone I recently met.

The uniqueness

The Bible is a very unique book. It is made up of 66 individual books with 40 authors spanning thousands of years. You may be surprised to know that it contains one coherent and timeless message. The message is that God made everything, we broke it and Jesus came to fix it. Ultimately the Bible is about the person of Jesus. The theme is something that a bunch of guys over the last few thousand years, who mainly didn't know each other because they lived at different times, could never have created in their wildest dreams.

No other authors have been able to right anything like it. In fact, the very things Jesus said could really not have been thought up by anyone. The original authors were killed for writing it and none of them recanted their faith in it.

There is really no book like it. It has served as the pinnacle of inspiration for human creativity:
"More poems have been written, more stories told, more pictures painted, and more songs sung about Christ than any other person in human history, because through such avenues as these the deepest appreciation of the human heart can be more adequately expressed."
Cynthia Pearl Maus
The probability

There are 300+ prophecies from the Old Testament which were fulfilled in the person of Jesus hundreds and thousands of year later. Peter Stoner, a mathematician and scientist, applied the rules of probability to these prophecies. The chances of just 8 of them being fulfilled are 1 in 10 to the 17th power (1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000)! The chances of 48 being fulfilled are 1 in 10 to the 157th power which is 1 in 10 with 157 zeros1. So, the fact that they were fulfilled in Jesus makes the Bible the most astonishing and accurate book ever written.

Compare that to the mathematical probability of a single celled organism coming about by chance 1/10340,000,000, the fraction 1 divided by 1 followed by 340 million zeros2. By the laws of science the Bible is more probable than evolution.

The quantity

The New Testament documents are better preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writing. There are presently over 24,000 total supporting New Testament manuscripts in existence6. Most scholars agree that these were written before the close of the first century and some just a few years after the actual events. The manuscripts affirm one-another in recording the truth about Jesus.

In comparison we only have 7 copies of writings that Plato authored from between 427-347 B.C., of which the earliest copy we have is 900 A.D., almost 1200 yrs after it was penned7. Yet no one doubts Plato existed? That takes real faith when you consider the quantity of New Testament manuscripts.

The claims

In these sections the Bible claims that it is trustworthy; Psalm 119:24, Psalm 119:130, Proverbs 1:4 & 2 Timothy 3:15. The authors of the Bible also claim that God is speaking to them; Deut 18:17-19, Jeremiah 1:9, 2 Timothy 3:16 & 2 Peter 1:21. It is important to recognize that nearly all other literature does not claim this of itself. Plus the magnitude of Jesus' claims of divinity are too great to be ignored especially considering the quality of his life.

Some might object that this is a circular argument. Surely we need an outside source to verify this? However, any search for a higher authority makes the new source an absolute authority. Absolute truth can therefore only be claimed by itself. This does not mean that all claims are true. For example, David Koresh self claimed that he was the final prophet. His life is not worth studying at all because the guy committed sexual crimes against minors amongst other atrocities.

The contradictions

Some claim that the Bible contains many contradictions which therefore must prove it to be untrustworthy. Wayne Grudem writes "it is surprising how often it turns out that a careful reading just of the English text of the passage in question will bring to light one or more possible solutions to the difficulty"3. Most people who claim these types of mistakes do not know the sections of scripture, nor the context, and are not claiming contradictions because they have honestly explored it, but because their faith in their doubts is stronger.

I'll deal with one common misconception about the time Jesus was crucified. Mark 15:25 states that it was at "the third hour" but John 19:14 states that Jesus trial was still going on at "about the sixth hour". Firstly, you'd think that scribes throughout the centuries or the early church would have changed this apparent error to cover it up, I mean it is so obvious! Unless of course there is a simple explanation. John likely wrote his book in Ephesus, a Roman city, around A.D 90 and therefore likely used the official numbering system of the Roman civil day which would make the time signatures the same4.

The mistakes

In Bart D. Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus he claims that scribes changed the Bible as they copied it over time. On page 10 he also affirms that "Most differences [between manuscripts] are completely immaterial and insignificant". They apparently amount to a difference in spelling. The claims of discrepancy only affect 1-2% of the total Bible5, and it's a big book if you haven't seen it recently! No need to throw the baby out -- many other scholars find plausible explanations for these.

On page 175 Ehrman writes "Christian scribes of the second and third centuries were involved with the debates and disputes of their day, and occasionally these disputes affected the reproduction of the texts over which debates raged". This assumption cannot be empirically proven. This is unfortunately a leap of faith and the theory does not fit. For example, one of the earliest controversies was over circumcision for the Gentile Christians. In light of the great conflict it is remarkable that Jesus says nothing in the Bible about circumcision. Therefore, the early church felt no need to fabricate the text to win an argument as Ehrman claims.

The eyewitnesses

The amount of coherence and testimonials in the Bible concerning Jesus is staggering. Many of his followers were persecuted so strongly for their faith and tortured to death -- yet without denouncing it! It is amazing when we consider how strong and vast the evidence is for people who literally witnessed the events and recorded them. Checkout this amazing resource for a compressive list of eyewitness to Jesus.

The errancy

If Christians claim that some parts of the Bible or all of it are open to claims of error then what is the result of this? In The Battle for the Bible Harold Lindsell points out that groups who claim errancy do not usually survive. As one example he says that the overseas missionary work of the United Presbyterian Church has shrunk by more than 50% and its Sunday school enrollment and membership is in decline. Lindsell explains on page 159:
"But the weight of history and all the evidence it supplies leads me to no other conclusion than that even if these friends [Christian groups who have abandoned inerrancy] are able to stop at this point, those who follow after them will not stop where they have stopped. The second generation will follow through on the implications contained in the abandonment of inerrancy and will make concessions on the questions that pertain to matters of faith and practice as well as to matters of history, science, and chronology."
It's either all true, or all false. Christianity after all is a fundamental belief system. When you take away the earthy dynamic faith in God's divine communication then you become wishy washy and effectively never recover.

The Spirit

Finally it is important to recognize that without the help of the Holy Spirit we cannot fathom the deep wisdom of the Bible. Heck, some people were surprised when Jesus showed up and the prophecies had been staring them in the face for centuries! If you read the Bible and do not understand it in a spiritual way pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you.
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." -- John 14:26
I firmly believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible not because I have studied all the material concerning it, just as the doubters haven't studied it all. But I believe in it's truthfulness in all regards because when I read it I know it is true. When I drink it in my heart is refreshed. The person of scripture is alive and therefore his words are alive -- Jesus!

  3. p98 of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology
  4. p363 -364 of Gleason L. Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties
Additional resources:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century by Aubrey Malphurs

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 just finished reading the book Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Guide for New Churches and Those Desiring Renewal by Aubrey Malphurs. I'd sum it up in this statement: it gives church planters a firm strategy for launching a new church and a plan for avoiding plateau. It is very similar to Ed Stetzer's book in many regards and Malphurs draws from Stetzer's other material throughout.

This book would be extremely helpful for anyone involved in the leadership of a church plant. It starts with a strong explanation of why church planting is necessary and proceeds to cover nearly all aspects of starting a new church. It brought up many considerations I would have never thought up by myself or perhaps even in a team context.

I recently read an article which labeled church planting as an enigma. Malphurs book, among others I am reading, in addition to my church planting internship, has helped put some flesh on the bones. This book helps the picture become clearer. A church planter friend recently told me that it doesn't matter how much training you do, you just have to make it up as you go along. After reading this book the enigma feels smaller, the preparation worthwhile and some of the guess work has gone. Although my friend is right about one thing, unless you do it the training is pointless! This is definitely an equipping book if it can be implemented.

I found myself reading this book incredibly slowly (much like the last book). Each section would spark a million ideas which I scribbled in my page margin. It covers such things as the qualities of the leader, the dynamics of leading a core group, finances, meeting location, membership, roles, giving, assimilation, evaluation, strategy, recruiting, etc ...

Here are some sections I marked that grabbed my attention:
  1. Starting a church is one of the most exciting spiritual ventures a group of Christians may ever undertake, p21.
  2. The bigger the vision, the bigger the investment, p55.
  3. 80% of church growth is through biology or transfer, not salvation, p64. (Note: this presents the need for new churches because the older a church gets the less people it reaches)
  4. We must recognize that facility conditions say a lot about the people who worship there -- namely that our belief doesn't deserve the best. See biblical excellence here Eph 6:5-8 & Col 3:23-24, p70.
  5. It has been conservatively estimated that at this time [by Acts 4] the total number of disciples was between 20-25,000. The sheer size would necessitate a significant number of elders, p108.
    1. There are several passages that indicate that the churches in Acts, unlike the majority of churches in America today, were large, Acts 2:41, Acts 9:31, Acts 14:1 & Acts 18:8, p107.
  6. Church planting involves hours on our knee's in prayer -- prayer is a constant, p118.
  7. By 2050 approximately 79% of the worlds population will live in urban centers. He who wins the city, wins the world, p143.
  8. For churches to grow and improve, they need to conduct regular evaluations, p163.
  9. Within a year or two the initial core group will often leave the church, p169. (this happens for various reasons, some good, some not so good)
  10. The purpose of the first core group meeting is for the leader to get to know people and assess if they are the right match, p169-p170.
  11. Small group and children's ministry are critical, p175.
  12. If you don't add non-believers at the core group stage it wont be in the churches DNA and you'll loose momentum, p182.
  13. With the proper planning a hot start [an existing core with a new leader] can launch in 4-6 months, p186.
  14. Going public with less than 50 increases failure three-fold, p188.
  15. The average response to a telemarketing campaign is one person per one hundred or more calls, p204.
  16. Most spiritually growing churches are growing numerically, p211.
  17. Churches that want to be like a big family and take care of one-another are disobeying the great commission. They are not evangelizing, pursuing and edifying the lost, p216.
  18. The number one reason people join a church is because they felt accepted, p225.
  19. The leader should place administration in the hands of the staff and ministry with lay people, p229.
  20. By focusing on evangelism over edification, you are more likely to reach a biblical balance between the two, p234.
  21. You need at least 50 in the core group to grow larger than 200, p262.
It sounds very easy when starting a new church to focus mainly on the launch. This book helps break through the bubble and prepare a church planter for church growth in addition to the start. It also helps you plan for reproduction -- something all healthy churches should do.

Checkout Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century by Aubrey Malphurs.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A church planting tip:

I came across a few days ago and it looks like it could be a very helpful tool for those involved in church planting -- or any church that is interested in mission for that matter. Perhaps it is even more useful if you live in the Suburbs and find it hard to meet people. You know, it's the old garage door problem!

Wherever you live this is a great website to get connected with focus groups within your community or create a brand new one. If you want to find people with similar interests and build friendships then this site is a great way to do that. Heck, why not even register your church small groups on them and make them open to the community? Isn't that the point anyway?

I love this website for 3 main reasons:
  1. There are almost 50,000 meetup groups. The screen shot on the right is from the homepage and it shows people RSVPing to groups in real-time -- very cool!
  2. When you create an event it will alert people in your area of your event. So, it does the marketing for you!
  3. People who join it know what they are getting into, namely meeting new people in a focus group.
I searched under my zip code and found the following groups that I would be interested in and they are all within a mile. This is a small sample as there are tones:
  • The St. Louis Graphic Design Meetup Group with 510 designers
  • New to the Lou with 296 new friends
  • The Saint Louis Photography Meetup Group with 214 photogs
  • The St. Louis Boardgames Meetup Group with 430 members
  • The Issues You Don't Talk About Cafe with 101 participants
  • The St. Louis Elvis Meetup Group with 74 elvis fans (Ok, so this is real, but I am not going!)
Unfortunately I cannot attend these meetups as they conflict with church events I am participating in. Go figure! But, I may well use this site to start a focus group of my own.

Check out this video below for further explanation. Go to, sign-up and get off-line!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Interview with a Church Planter from Hull England

During our recent trip to Brighton England I took the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend Steve Whittington, who was my youth leader and mentor for a few years. Steve has planted a Newfrontiers church in Hull -- the number one worst ranked city in the United Kingdom.

Steve moved to Hull in May 2006 with 13 other adults to start the church. He now has 100 adults and a donated building in the center of the city -- you don't want to miss this story.

Use the interface above to play the most recent podcast or download the interview with Steve.

Matt: Steve, give me some information about how you launched the church and how you gathered people?

Steve: Great, well it was actually in Brighton, probably about 12 years ago, I heard a talk about church planting and it was at that time I really felt like God telling me to do that. So I went forward at a meeting and said "yeah, I want to be a church planter".

Well, it was a long process actually. I was in a great church in Brighton, a Newfrontiers church (Church of Christ the King), I learned a lot but got to the point I think in being in a large church that I didn't feel stretched any more, which sounds a bit crazy, being in a large church you might think you'd get stretched a bit more, but I wasn't.

Then I felt God call, actually an audible voice, something I'd never heard before, to go to Middlesbrough, which is up in the north east of England. I was very scared when I first heard the word "Middlesbrough" because I realized we didn't have a Newfrontiers church there when I looked on the internet. I thought "oh no, I still want to be a part of this family of churches". But I knew I wasn't ready to church plant.

The great thing was, it was in a region called Teesside, and when I looked again on the internet we did have a church. So I went to join a smaller church, about 60 people at that point, it was a great growing church. I was a full-time pastor when I was in Brighton but there wasn't a job for me so I went there, got a job and just started to serve in the church and after about a year I think, they did employ me and I would say that was my church planting training. Being in a smaller setting, being involved in leadership there and looking how to grow this church.

Matt: You took a real risk. Were you constantly having to come back to that point that God spoke to you?

Steve: Yes, definitely, because it was an audible voice, which I have never heard God like this before, and I don't think I'll ever hear him like it. It was so dramatic that it had to uproot me from Brighton, where my friends and family were. So that was the start of it. It sounds weird but I think the church planting process always took place because it was letting go of a large church were I had a lot of friends, grown up in and discipled in. But, to go to another city, another place where we didn't know anybody. To start from scratch with friendship and that was a great preparation.

So, we served in that church but still there was this inner thing I think God was calling me to church plant. And, different options came up at different points. I considered maybe God was calling me to Australia because I wanted to go were I had relationship.

Matt: How did you test that?

Steve: I tested that by just finding out about it. I went online "how do I get to australia" and what I realized is I needed a degree which I didn't have. So I talked it through with the guy I was leading a church with and we thought about going part-time and I could do a degree part-time. Looked at the options but really felt that it wasn't the way for me.

And also, having spoken to our apostolic team that were involved out in Australia it was like "we are not interested in church planting immediately, we've got to get a base [church] first" and the guy said to me "Steve, you need to do your own thing now". And it was right.

So then we looked at where to go. On the north east coast of England there is a little place called Hartlepool which was about 12 miles from where our church was and we were helping develop a church plant there. Could I go there? I realized immediately it was too small a place I needed a big city with plenty of room.

Matt: So when you said you realized "for me", what did you mean?

Steve: I don't have a small village mentality. I've lived in big cities like Brighton and Middlesbrough and the danger for me was that it was only 12 miles from Teesside, the church I was involved in, and my mission would be I'd want to reach back into where I had already come from. And so it wasn't me. I also felt like we had begun to form and shape the church and I thought "no, I want to put foundations in from the start. I want to be involved in that process". Which is what church planting involves.

So, we looked at different options, prayed about it and as a region of churches we had been praying for this city called Hull. A city of quarter of a million, with quarter of a million on the outskirts. And, a local Newfrontiers York church prayed, holding prayer meetings to pray for the city. I got stirred to think about it by the guy I was working with. My wife and I started to chat about it "is Hull the place to go?". We knew it was the right time, we had got to that place, now where is it?

We just prayed. We were going on holiday (vacation) and thought this is a good time to really reflect, have a great relaxing time, get some thinking time because often as church planters you don't get much time to think. We started watching TV, a program came on "the worst places to live in the United Kingdom", and they had done research on all different statistics and facts and come up with the worst places to go. So it was the 10 worst places. It got to number 5 and it was Middlesbrough, which is where I had already been, where we had moved to in Teesside, and when it came to the number 1 worst place to live in the United Kingdom -- and it was Hull!

It was that point that I felt God say to me "where would Jesus go?". Jesus would go to the places of bad reputation. I actually discovered it is a really nice place with fantastic people, although it does have its problems. So, I knew in that moment that God was calling us. My wife needed convincing by actually going to look at the place. I didn't need to know even before we had gone. We turned up in the city and we both felt at peace "this is the place to come". That is a long way to say how did we start.

Matt: How did you get other people involved?

Steve: What we begun to do, once we realized where we were going, was to ask "who are my best friends?" People I have a relationship with, people I trust. And I want leaders. I don't mind who joins us, who is part of us, but I need to have good leaders to start with. I think the secret of how we've been successful is by starting with a good core group.

What we did is, we spoke to some of our best friends, our small group leaders in our church at Teesside, youth workers, and said "will you come with us?" And they said yes. And I thought, if you are going to start a church plant the key thing is we are going to need worship and it needs to be good. There is nothing worse than starting a church plant with no musicians. A large part of what we want to do together is worship. And it does help having people who can help lead it.

Matt: You were very specific about targeting and approaching someone to help you with worship.

Steve: I thought "who are the best worship people in the country that I am friends with?". So I ran up and old person who used to be in my youth group, called Matt, not you Matt, another Matt, another good friend also involved in my youth group. And he was leading worship at Church of Christ the King in Brighton, leading the worship team, and I thought "he's ideal".

I rang him, totally out of the blue, I hadn't really spoken to him much over the years and just said "would you consider?", and to be honest I thought I didn't have much chance really. But the amazing thing was he had been to the North East and lead worship at one of our conferences and it was at that point they felt God stir them to move. And when I came and said Hull, to them it wasn't out of the blue, it was like "I think God is speaking to us!"

Matt: So God had already gone ahead of you and spoken to these guys about coming -- that's encouraging!

Steve: Yes. There were specific people I targeted and lot who said no. it wasn't the right time for them. In fact I asked your brother and he came up to Hull, to visit, Dan and Adrienne.

Matt: I remember talking to him on the phone when they were going through that process.

Steve: They went through the process but it wasn't the right time. And that is fine and I don't think there is anything wrong in that, to have a look, but in the end we gathered 13 adults to go with us.

There was one couple from Kent, which is down on the south coast of the UK, and he had been an elder in a church who felt like he had been called, firstly through business as a property developer, wanting to develop a house as an investment and they had looked around the country and thought where are the best cheapest properties to buy? One of those was Hull. He'd come to Hull, and as he was coming up decorating they just thought where should we go to church. They had looked around at churches but there was no Newfrontiers church and thought this city is in need of a Newfrontiers church. So they had begun to come themselves and it came to the challenge -- the doing it!

We had 13 adults and my wife and I moved in May 2006. We hit the ground. We were first.

Matt: As people began to move how did you gather people together and what did you do to form that team?

Steve: We had 2 prayer meetings before May in Hull. We said "come to Hull, come to see it" because people we having to find jobs anyway and find accommodation. Let's come and pray together, lets have food together. Some of these people were friends, but some where people I had never met in my life. At that prayer meeting everyone was coming together and I laid out some of the vision of what we are doing and we just prayed.

Right from the beginning in prayer "what are we believing God for?" The prayer was specific. We ate together. I said this is what we are going to do. We are going to pray and eat together as part of our church because I like eating! The people gradually moved up over the summer. And really we just spent a lot of time in our home, we have people around all the time, in fact not much had changed. A lot of food, a lot of gathering, and at the same time we are here for the lost.

So right from the beginning I got funding for the first year from Newfrontiers, to fund my salary, and other Newfrontiers churches in the region have funded us. £10,000 from our sending church. A few thousand from other churches which paid for our PA system. It paid for different things which was great. But I got the finance in May and I thought there is no church people. So, I am looking at venues, thinking about where we are going to meet for a Sunday thinking about when that is going to happen. One day I wake up and think I need to do voluntary work and start meeting people. So that is what I began to do. Also I wanted to get to know Hull and some Hull people.

Matt: You have a particular gift of being able to connect with lots of different types of people very quickly.

Steve: Yes. I am an evangelist. The best church planters are evangelists because you've got to be able to gather people and reach the lost. If you are a pastor, just a pastor, you are in big trouble. You'll love people, which is great, but you are not really out there for the lost. And church planting was about reaching the lost.

The first few weeks I was there, there was a guy who I met, a young guy, and he asked why I was here and I told him what were doing and he told me he was interested in first aid. I said "that is great! When I start on a Sunday I'll need a first aider", which was a load of rubbish!

Matt: So you created an opportunity for him to serve? Here is something you can do in our church.

Steve: He said I'd love to do that! I thought we'll never need him! But I'll come back to that a bit later in terms of the first Sunday.

My wife went to work for the refugee service one day a week voluntarily and she met a refugee from Zaire who had moved to Hull, actually from Democratic Republic of Congo, as they are referred to. He's a Christian church pastor and he said I'd like to come and join you. So, we gradually met people. What we purposefully didn't do is we didn't advertise.

All we did is we had one web page with my phone number on because what I didn't want is anybody turning up at any of our meetings. They didn't know where we were or what we were doing because I wanted to talk to them first. I knew it would be Christians and we needed to start with a sore group of Christians as well to find us on the web and I didn't want a load of fruit-loops because you know in every city, in every town you always get church hoppers, and they come to the latest thing, they have got past issues, they want to suck you dry, they want to take your time and we were there for the lost. We are on a mission. We will pastor on the mission like a field hospital. If people are hurt in battle they set up a tent and the tent moves on with them. You get healed in the process, on the way, we'll help you and care for you.

Matt: So, no formal marketing or mass-communication?

Steve: No because we are there to reach the lost. The lost in the UK don't respond to marketing, or very little. We wanted good relationships with other churches. If we started a mass marketing campaign all the other churches would be suspicious thinking we are trying to steal their people. We have no intension to steal people. We are there to reach the lost. That is our primary calling. And if other people want to join us on that mission that's fine, but we'll connect with them on that level.

Matt: Was there any particular group of people you were purposeful about trying to target?

Steve: Everyone. Everyone who is lost. If they are not a Christian they are our target. So the first week in the end we started with 30 on the first Sunday. It was public in terms of we were coming together. The morning we started, started setting up, we met in a church hall, I got a phone call, we had met a couple of times to pray, we hadn't done anything else.

Matt: So you had a core of 13, then you made connections and grew to about 30 with kids and then you started a corporate gathering on Sundays.

Steve: And, I would lay down a foundational vision every weeks on a Sunday. But the first Sunday I got a phone call while I was setting up from a guy who was a Christian who said "we just found your website and we are looking for a church, where do you meet?" I told him it was our first Sunday and that he was welcome to come.

Over the summer we had done a couple of outreach events. We didn't have any publicity remember. We thought lets go and pray and ask God to lead us to people. I went with a guy who is now my elder, Matt, who is the worship leader who hated doing street evangelism, more than I do, you know cold contacts.

We went up to people and said "would you like prayer?" And now again in the United Kingdom most people are never offended, everybody we asked received prayer which is amazing. It was encouraging but we thought that none of these people are going to come on a Sunday -- we are not going to connect with them. And I said to Matt why don't we just pray, we had a few minutes left before we were going to meet everybody. Why don't we pray that we will meet somebody who is a Christian who has just moved to Hull.

At that point, we hadn't prayed, we literally bumped into somebody and I said "I'm really sorry". And they were looking up on a building in Hull and looking at something written in Latin. And I said "Do you understand what that means?" And she said oh, it means God guides us. Totally cheese-ally I said "Do you think God guides you?" And she said yeah! I said "are you a Christian?" She said yeah! I said "ah, have you just moved to Hull" ... yes! ... "Are you looking for a church?" ... yes! It was a mother and her daughter from Holland.

Matt, who is fairly quiet and not into street evangelism, turned to the woman and said "have you got something wrong with your knee?" And she goes yes! He said "Well, I had a picture of you before I came up this morning of a woman in a floral dress having something wrong with their knee. Can I pray for you?" We prayed for her in the street and God healed her. So guess who turned up on the Sunday? The family with their kids.

We hadn't planned to have kids the first Sunday. I had a friend visiting to support us on the first Sunday and I said "you are running the kids work for me, is that alright". It was our first Sunday and we started kids work. So that was the beginning. It was a bit raw.

The first Sunday somebody came in, we meet on a very rough council estate in the center of Hull, and somebody came in with glass in there head -- they had been bottled. So my first aider dealt with him and we rang 999 and had an ambulance at church on the first Sunday helping him out. This is going on out in the foyer while I was preaching, which was great! Second Sunday, somebody came in with a stab wound. Ha! It was really good, it was great, I love that stuff, that's me!

Matt: So the first aid guy had a calling?

Steve: I don't think he had ever dealt with anything like it. He thought we might have someone with a cut finger.

But what we did from the very first Sunday is that we are going to eat together every Sunday. First we found a place, a church hall, with food. We wanted to build relationships, get to know one another, then the people who come can stay for lunch. And because we were busy setting up, you are always busy being a church planter, you have to transport all your stuff there. You've got to sort it all out. We thought if we tried to go back to some bodies house and be together we didn't have anyone with a big enough house. We thought let's eat!

What began to transpire is that these people coming in being 'bottled' and 'glassed' saw we had food and we said "come in for a meal". What happened is that the whole estate begins to hear about it and we had about 30 people come every week just to come for the dinner. They turned up at the end. They wouldn't come for the service but that's fine, I didn't mind that. So I said, "you come to church, this is church and we are eating here".

Matt: You spent all your money on food?

Steve: Everybody in the church brought pot luck. That's what we did. What began to happen was a couple of them began to come a bit earlier, and a bit earlier, and they started getting saved!

Matt: Now it's 2 years on from the beginnings, what have you seen in terms of conversions?

Steve: We've seen about 20 people saved now. We are up to 100 adults now and 20 are new converts.

Matt: How many kids?

Steve: About 35 kids. We've got quite a diverse thing, the people who are getting saved. Last weekend we had a young guy out of the pub culture who had become a Christian. A daughter of one of our church members who is 74 who became a Christian back in December we baptized her and her daughter came to Christ who is in her 30's.

Then we started a coffee morning. And started inviting people to come for coffee .What we did was we went out to the streets with free tea and coffee and invited people into the building. We invited two people, and they came along, came into the building, one was 76 and the other 82, didn't know Jesus at all and they loved it. Came the second week and asked to come to church and I thought they are never going to enjoy our church. We are quite loud, it's noisy and it's vibrant. It was their first Sunday and we always give a response of salvation.

Matt: Ok, so you are very purposeful about the gospel?

Steve: Every week we share the gospel. We give a good opportunity for people to respond. I gave a call for the response and who came forward? This old lady and gave her life to Jesus! Her husband couldn't walk forward, he's in a motorized wheelchair, he was waving. So I went over to him and he said I want to become a Christian as well. And so we baptized them as well.

We had had people saved from drug addiction. From that kind of background. One of the guys which I didn't refer to, had been in a Newfrontiers church, but had moved to Hull for University and fortunately wanted to stay with Newfrontiers. Please plant a church in Hull, we need a church in Hull! And so when I went to meet him I thought "he's got a vision in his mind" and I sat down with him in a coffee shop in Hull and said tell me what do you want to see in this church plant? He said what I want to see above all is my sister, who lives in Hull with a non-Christian partner, I'd love to see God work in my sisters family.

So I said "that's a good thing we can pray for them". So Warren, the partner who came from a drug addiction background, in fact was originally from Brighton, I made an immediate connection when I met him. We got on really well. He used to live in a place called Hangleton, which is where you are from, but you can't tell by your accent anymore! You used to be like mine!

Matt: Yeah, I'm a missionary!

Steve: You are a missionary, exactly!

We managed to get him (Warren) on Alpha. He was working where I was volunteering, that is how I got to know him. That is why I volunteered at this place to get to know him because he was out of work. Got to know him. Invited him to Alpha and he came along. He enjoyed it. Chatted, got to know people. Brought his kid with him which is a bit of a pain at Alpha but we thought we can put up with young kids at Alpha. He came along but didn't respond to the gospel. And then what began to happen is that he started coming some Sundays, occasionally.

One Sunday we had a guest speaker and again we were having lunches at the end. There was a word on knowledge for somebody with a kidney condition and a few of us who knew about it thought that's him! But we looked around and he wasn't there. I thought I don't understand nobody responded to that word of knowledge.

5 minutes before the end he turned up because it was dinner. They turned up as a family for the food. Somebody grabs him and says about the word of knowledge and says comes forward to the front. He came forward. We laid hands on him and he had never been prayed for in that way. He said there is a heat in my body! Mate, there is a heat! It's really warm, it's really hot! I said "ok, I think that is probably God", we didn't know what was happening. And God just came on him and we said "Warren, do you want to become a Christian?" And he said Yes!

He became a Christian that Sunday and went to the consultant that week for his treatment. They had to do a new scan and couldn't find the condition. It was a condition that couldn't be healed. They could only give him medication to control it. But he was totally healed. Now his partner, we married them, and it was our first church wedding. They have got 2 kids and have been together and we are still praying for his wife to come through.

We have lots of stories like that of individuals coming to Christ.

Matt: That's amazing! Let's wrap this up. It sounds like since you've taken a leap of faith God has been with you in some amazing conversions and miracles. What things, in hindsight, would you do differently, where are you headed now and what would be your advice to me as I prepare to plant out?

Steve: Well, you probably wont like what I have to say. You can have all the training in the world, until you do it you've got no idea. What we found is that we made it up as we went along. We had very little strategy. We knew what our church mission was, we knew what our foundations was, we knew where we were going. But, we had no idea what it looked like or what was going to happen.

And I made decisions, because I was the church leader, every week "how are we going to do it? ... Oh my goodness, we have people like this now we've got these people coming to see! Shall we let them keep coming? Shall we not? Ok, we'd like to start a social outreach project but we already have one! We don't need to create anything we already have. I think we made it up as we go along.

What would I do differently? I don't think I would do anything differently.

Matt: What is your plan for the next couple of years?

Steve: The plan is, we got given a building, by the brethren church , they gave us a facility. They are people of the word. But they were very generous to us. The church was closing down, well I told them to shut down, that's another story, and they gave us the building.

So, our plan now is we are going to meet there. It's in a strategic location in Hull, by the football stadium. Very visible. Everybody knows. We will use that facility more and more. Our vision is to just keep doing outreach. That is our main thing. We don't want to get distracted. And I think that is the key thing I learned from doing a church plant. The one thing is that it's the lost! Everything we do is mission. If it is not about mission then lets not do it. Let's no waist our time.

So for example, some of the girls in the church wanted to start a book group, let's get together an talk about book. I said "that's fantastic, only if you bring friends. If you are only going to do it once a month on a Friday that is fantastic, but only if you are going to bring friends." We need to keep meeting people. I think that is the key thing for me is that it's about mission. When you take your eye of the ball of mission and you get sucked into pastoring and all that as a church leader and that's the key thing, you have got to have people around you that are going to pastor people because you've got to lead. I just pray people in.

I have an older couple with us, in their sixties, he's been a pastor for 15 years, been a Christian for 50 years. Any problem, with any pastoral need that is going to take more than 1 appointment I say you go and see that couple because I don't want to be distracted because I am on a mission. I think Mark Driscoll said it this week at the conference, I have got to work on the church not in the church. If I am always working in the church I have not got thinking to think where are we going next?

Now within a year we became elders, myself and Matt, we became elders of the church which helped bring stability. But now we are looking how are we going to build our leadership. Where is the next elder coming from? It's got to be leadership. And within it, in the beginning, the DNA of the church, has been and will continue to be, where are we going to plant next?

From week one we say It's great you are all here, but in a couple of years you are not going to be here because some of you are going to be planting the next church. We are a church planting church. We don't get settled. And so now we have this small building, it only seats 150.

Matt: If you are 100 adults now, you are going to outgrow that place soon.

Steve: We are. We are going to go with multiple meetings probably -- multi-meetings. I mean, you come to a conference like this and you think, what are we going to do? God speak to us? You have given us this building in a strategic place but it is too small. Let's multiply the service. We are thinking now, maybe from January, let's just do it! Keep going on the mission.

Matt: Well Steve thanks so much for joining me on my podcast and it's been great to catch up with you.

For more info about the Newfrontiers Church in Hull visit:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Community Impact

Another way to measure the success of your church planting efforts is the response you receive from the community. We just received a letter from the American Czech Educational Center thanking us for how we served them.

This is a wonderful example of the mission Jesus has called us on. We are called to bless the nations!

If you cannot see the document below download it here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Church Planting Success

How do you measure the success of your ministry? It's a VERY important question otherwise you don't know if you are doing the right things or how to change them. If you never stop and measure, by asking important questions, then you are living in a delusional, self-absorbed and narrow-minded bubble!

We took the largest survey we've ever conducted at ONEBLAZE this year. We wanted to know what God did during the week in the lives of our youth and we wanted to know if our vision of raising up a new generation of church pioneers is working. So, we had a special communication card created for EVERYONE to complete in the last meeting -- and the results are in! Of our 185 campers we collected the following indications:
  • 4 salvations
  • 24 came back to God
  • 33 received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (never before experience God like this)
  • 44 used a spiritual gift or received a word from the Holy Spirit
  • 56 were set free from fear or a wrong way of thinking
  • 14 shared their faith with someone
  • 20 prayed for at least one person in the community (not in the church)
  • 12 people indicated they received physical healing
  • The most favorite elements of the week in descending order were worship, teaching, being with friends and service projects.
  • We raised $3,864.55 (If you made an IOU please send your gift to Newfrontiers-USA)
Aren't these stats helpful! The biggest negative we had was that people wanted to go back to the dorms on the Saturday to clean up after the Family Fun Day -- that's a good bad point to have.

Here are some encouraging comments made on the communication cards we used:
  1. "I received a powerful word. Camp changed my life around!"
  2. "God took a ton of weight off my shoulders."
  3. "Felt God calling me to San Fransisco."
  4. "I know God is pursuing me!"
  5. "God showed himself REAL and WORKING to me. These meetings also helped me hear his voice more."
  6. "I was Baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. I experienced words/pictures and became 100% positive that I will be a leader and plant churches."
  7. "God brought me back. I prayed for the first time, prayed for someone for the first time and had a picture for someone."
  8. "I was going through a season of feeling like I can't hear God's voice. And with Euan's talk I found I could really hear God's voice."
  9. "God helped me to get over my shyness and fear of what others think of me by filling me with his bold confidence."
  10. "This week got me excited about sharing my faith."
  11. "God told me I would be a leader of one of the 100 cities."
  12. "When can I plant a church? "
I'll leave it up to to decide, but do you think we are creating a missional generation whose desire is to impact the top 100 cities of North America by planting churches? Or, do you think we have a passive, entertainment based youth ministry with no real juice?

ONEBLAZE in St. Louis 2008 will be a camp to remember. I am positive that we have future church planters in the group who will look back to this week and pinpoint it as a time that kick started their future ministry ventures. We have taken at least 2 or 3 additional cities because of this week. We'll see the outworking of it over the next 10-15 years.

Be praying for this generation, they WANT to plant churches, and I consider this event to be a HUGE church planting success!