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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Church Planting The Next Generation by Kevin W. Mannoia

A while ago I read Church Planting The Next Generation by Kevin W. Mannoia. This book presents an overarching system to foster rapid church planting on a large scale. The sole focus of the book is for churches (specifically the Free Methodist Church) to work together through the predefined Century 21 Church Planting System. Ultimately the purpose is to create a environment or ethos for church planting within networks of churches. It is highly practical and descriptive of how to implement the small steps that make up the larger movement of finding, training and launching successful church planters. 

Ed Stetzer at the very end of his book Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age, references the Century 21 Church Planting System (page 334-335). He writes: "Many groups and denominations have adopted these systems, and they have helped raise church planting capacity. More churches are being started, and more of them are being successful." To get such an endorsement signifies the value of this book and the structure that Mannoia brings to the table.

He writes that the Profile Assessment component "raises the success rate of new churches by focusing on the most important ingredient -- the planter" (p67). The book points out that using a well designed assessment process for potential planters increases the success rate of a new church to 90%. The best way to know how someone will act in the future is to find out how they behaved in the past -- hence the value of assessment. This was illustrated well by a story of an unintentional assessment. One leader, after just being appointed as a church planter, was used as a test subject to help new assessors to be trained. The data from the assessment recommended that he not be deployed as a church planter. He found greater reward in a ministry better suited. The cost and significance of church planting are too great to risk sending the wrong dude.

Mannoia makes a strong case for the intentional funding of church plants. "Fund your church planting efforts, whatever you do. It's your future, to say nothing of the best stewardship of your finances in fulfilling the Great Commission. Planting should have a significant presence in the general operational budget." (p116) Yes! This is music to my ears. Intentional funding of church plants, along with the selection of the right guy, are big strides towards building church planting momentum. As a church planter you either have time or you have money -- you don't have both. But, in the environment being proposed here we see the possibility to be more financially stable earlier on. This shouldn't remove the faith element of starting a new church, but it should allow more fruitfulness at a faster pace. I am praying hard for sufficent funding of our church plant in Chicago. 

The Century 21 Church Planting System works like this:
  • Parent Church Network: A group of local churches start to develop a vision for church planting
  • Profile Assessment System: Objectively measure the skills of potential planters
  • New Church Incubator: A coaching fellowship for planters
  • Pastor Factory: Train laypeople to become founding pastors
  • Church Planters' Summit: An event to initiate new candidates
  • Maturing Church Cluster: Specialized support for new churches over a year old
  • Strategic Planning Network: A network of pastors who focus on strengthening churches and planting new churches
  • Harvest 1000: A fund raising effort for planting churches
  • Meta-Church Network: Clusters of churches helping to train people through small group ministries
This system is indepth and requires some reflection and discussion in order to grasp its true value. Here are some one liners from the book that caught my eye:
  1. Church planting cannot be tagged on -- it must be intentional and planned for. It must be woven into everything, p14.
  2. Church planting is the life-blood of our future, p19.
  3. Prayer is the foundation to church planting, p25.
  4. Church planting can get a bad name because it changes the status, p35. 
  5. Plan for discouragement after church launch, p48.
  6. If you don't constantly recruit leaders, the network will deteriorate, p86.
  7. Mission-driven churches attract mission minded people and produce mission, p90.
  8. The most difficult step is to think differently about church planting, p166.
  9. Anything not connected to the mission should be revamped or stopped, p172.
This book should give a church planter a much broader perspective than just claiming a small patch of ground for himself. This macro-system should produce a vision for city wide church planting that is urgent, faster and more successful. By collaborating with like-minded people we should be able to multiply church planting efforts much more effectively to increase the noise in heaven (See Revelation 7)!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicago Church Planter Mark Willis Interview

Here is my latest interview with Mark Willis, a church planter in Chicago. He moved to Chicago in June and just planted a church a couple of months ago. He is 25, he has works with all types of Christian groups and coaches church planters. Please use the interface on the right to listen to the audio or download the mp3 file.

Matt: First question, how did you get involved in church planting?

Mark: I went to college in Texas, Abilene Christian University, and went through their graduate school of theology, which is sort of their seminary there. One of the tracts that I chose was the Missions Residency for North America. That was in addition to the Master's in Divinity that I got, so it was a specific tract that they let me study with. So, it was sort of a residency, in terms of a medical residency where students are actually doing church planting and doing mission work while they are learning about it, along side mentors and coaches.  

I guess I got involved in church planting in the practical day in, day out experience of what it looked like and felt like and they joys and pains of all that.  The good part was that I had some friends, teachers and mentors to pick me up when I fell.  I had a few scraped knees through the process but really enjoyed it. 

Matt: What is it about Chicago that drew you to start a church there?

Mark: Well, I felt drawn to Chicago.  And I use that word (drawn) specifically because there was no specific call to Chicago from God.  A lot of people say "well, I felt called to this, or called to that," but we kind of walked backwards into it.  We felt drawn by God to Chicago to plant a church.  It was a remarkable series of events that told us this is where we were going to end up going.  It started with us just circling a bunch of cities on a map and asking God to give us some direction.  One by one he started taking cities off the list. 

We had a few things we were looking for-we wanted a global city, a place where the world was coming and being sent from.  We wanted a post-Christian and metropolitan area  where we could spread the gospel in a post modern area, because that is sort of my bend and our passion.  My wife is a portrait artist, so we were also looking for a city with a portrait market.  

Matt:  Which Chicago neighborhood are you in and how did you go about selecting that?

Mark:  We new it would be north somewhere, we loved the neighborhoods along the red line (Chicago transportation system.)   So we ended up choosing Evanston, due to some renting snaphoos that happened. So, we almost ended up here by accident.  We knew we wanted to be near a Christian group here called the Reva Place Fellowship, they are connected with the Mennonite group here in the US.  Part of our vision for church planting is networking with other families of Jesus that believe in a redemptive community, common work and social justice.  Reva Place really embodies those things and have a track record for commitment to the Chicagoland area.  We moved here without full intention of staying here in this neighborhood forever but we wanted to get to know and experience the Reva Place Fellowship and learn more about what it means to be an intentional Christian community.   

Matt: So, you are living in Evanston.  Is that where you are actually planting right now? 

Mark:  Yeah, that is part of our vision, not to see just a church plant but to see the whole region churched.  So we intentionally picked a place that was not at the center of all the commotion.  We didn't want to be the hub of everything.  And all ready there are little groups of Christians popping up in different areas. 

Part of our vision is to  partner with those networks and leaders. Like this afternoon,  I am going to go to the Greenhouse Church Planters Conference, which is a place where you can connect with other organic church planters and regardless of denominational lines you can help serve each other, find ways to collaborate-work together on projects, you know common worship, or service projects for the city.  Part of the reason we chose Evanston is because we knew we would be moving all over the city helping little communities. We have one in Hyde Park that just started a month and a half ago, a little house church there. There is another one in Albany Park that is mostly made up of Somalian refugees.  There is one in Logan Square that is mostly artists and poets.  There is another on the west side that is almost all Hispanic and working class.  

So these groups are very different and our intention in not to try and lump these groups together and make them look like us, but to give them the tools they need to be a vibrant family of Jesus in their neighborhood.  

Matt: Now, how did you identify and get involved with these groups?

Mark: It seems that is has happened differently every time.  The one we are directly involved with is in Hyde Park.  We got connected through a friend, through a friend, through a friend.  So just through indirect, natural relations that we have.  She is a Christian and she has a lot of non Christian friends who are working with her in a very low income public school, here in Chicago. Her desire is to share the gospel with her co-workers, other teachers.  To do it, we feel that sharing the gospel happens in community and as community-that the best evangelism is done in a family of faith verses one person handing out tracts to another.  So, we are directly related to the church in Hyde Park and we have discovered the other ones along the way. 

The big question now is how do we all relate and work together, because it is important that we do not become isolated.  This may bring up a totally different point here, but I think there is some health in small group centered church planting but I think it can get unhealthy if we refuse to allow those groups to mingle and work together.  

Matt:  How did you get people to help you/ is there any type of team that is helping you with that?

Mark: That is a good question and I would recommend a team for those who are looking to plant a church.  In this model, I would not recommend a large, parachute style 20-person team, but I would recommend at least 2 couples-6 couples at the most.  We have 2 couples on the north side and 2 couples on the south side and we meet together once a week.  My wife and I moved here by ourselves and that has been the hardest thing in all of this.  The good news is we have a couple moving here in January and another in the summertime.  So we feel like we are laying the ground work, just planting some simple seeds.  My recommendation would be to do it a little different than we did it.  

Matt:  How are you connecting with non-believers and what are you bringing them into in terms of someone who is interested in the gospel and they are coming along in their faith, what does that look like? 

Mark: Our hope is that we are sending Christians to non-believers.  That these simple churches find there way into their space.  So, rather than inviting some people we met at a bar to our house, lets start regularly attending this bar, and being salt and light in that context.  So that is kinda our mission that we live by. 

You know, we believe that each house church should have a mission that they live by, whether it be teachers, a pub, dance hall, a coffee shop, skaters, or the elderly,  whatever it is, that is the planting process for each house church.  But to say all of that, we are attracting people with an attractive gospel  and so we are asking ourselves constantly what makes the good news good.

The gospel is about reconciliation between God and man and man and man, the gospel is about peace, forgiveness and cleansing.  So we are trying to do that attracts non believers.  We have been inviting them over for a dinner party, the teachers in Hyde Park, and asking them out for coffee. Last weekend we went up to a apple orchard and just spent the day out there with them and just got the chance to share life for a bit.  

Matt:  How do you effectively communicate the gospel to people?

Mark:  I think a big piece of this is to let it be a community that preaches the gospel.  One of the things we've talked about is taking a piece of the gospel and finding a way to communicate that in our lives.  Kind of carnate that to the city of Chicago, to the world.  So, lets say it is peace making, how could we embody peace making?  So, we might stop buying coffee that wasn't fair trade, or maybe we are an advocate for spousal abuse.  At the end of it we hold a coffee night where we invite non believers into a discussion about what it was like for us to embody that piece of the gospel. That is one of the ideas we have had for doing communal evangelism.

Matt:  What is the format right now for what you are doing?

Mark:  It is still evolving.  On the micro level we have a life-transformation group model where we meet together for accountability and prayer.  That is where discipleship and teaching takes place.  We have the women in the house church meet together and the men in the house church meet together.  The key there is that these are brothers and sisters that will be fighting for my heart, they will be helping me through the hard part.  On a mezzo level, we get together once a week, share a meal, pray for each other, share about the week, and talk about it.  We talk strategy for what we feel called to.

Right now our house church is going through some major healing and it is amazing to see what God is doing.  We worship, do art, poetry, kind of depends on the group. On the macro level we have plans for this, this is starting in June,  but we will start to network with other groups in the city.  As we plant more house churches we will hopefully find a way to bring these groups together for worship festivals, kind of a weekend long party.  Maybe there is line dancing, or a big banquet table, similar to the Jewish festivals...that is sort of a long answer...

Matt: How many salvations have you seen or baptisms?  What are your goals?  You talked about these girls groups/guys groups, what kind of numbers are you looking at and how do you know when to multiply a group?

Mark:  We have an idea that this is going to be bigger than just our little group which speaks of the kingdom, which I think is good to instill into every Christian. God is doing something much bigger than what we can see.  As far as our cutoff point...I think it will depend on the specific group. Once it gets beyond 15 it becomes more difficult to have true honest, deep relationships. So, we tell people once the group gets between 12-20 people to start thinking about what the next steps are. Once a group gets to that size a group will start to taper off in their desire to bring in new people anyway, so that is when we start asking people to ask the Lord if they have a burden to do this elsewhere. I am speaking more from my training in my residency here. Almost always when we approach people with this question, there is normally 1-2 that are already thinking that way. So, instead of dividing the groups we ask them to discern in the Spirit who is the 1-2 people to go and start another group, to send out. 

As far as salvations and baptisms, like you said it is a new group, so we have not seen any of that yet in our time so far.  We are working alongside a few non Christians with the Hyde Park group. With the refugee network, the Hispanic network and the poet network, I could not give you specific numbers on those because we are not directly tied to those groups. As far as I can tell every group has about 70% Christian and 30% non Christian.  Our hope it through time and gospel sharing we will see more people come to Christ.  

Matt:  How do you divide your time during the week? 

Mark:  Right now, it is busier because I have picked up a seasonal job to pay some extra expenses and then I have another part time job that I work throughout the year.  I do have some support from individuals and the church planting organization that focuses on the Chicagoland area.  So my time is pretty fluid.  It is in the afternoons and evenings when I really focus on the church plant.

One thing that has been helpful is I have been taking days to walk through different neighborhoods. I feel that every church planter should take some time to do this, where they are fully immersed in the mission field in another context. Chicago is amazing for this. It is none as the "city of neighborhoods" and is made up of about 200 different communities. So, I have this city map on my wall and then go to it. I travel public transit, eat lunch there, and just try and discover what people's needs are. Another big piece of how I spend my time is creating training tools for other church planters. One of those is Pray for Chicago Project. It is using wikipedia style technology and allows people to prayer walk through different parts of Chicago. So, I guess half/half. Half the time I am doing things on my own and the other half is working on website development. 

Matt:  In your groups do you speak every week, do you have a traditional sermon, or is it more of a discussion format?

Mark:  I would say the majority is dialogue.  Sometimes we go through a specific topic and one person decides they are going to research that topic.  Right now it has been more dialogue.

Matt: What would be your advice to me?

Mark:  Don't put the model before the maker.  There are pluses and minuses to every model.  I don't know what your dreams are, but I would say to every church planter to not put your passion for church planting before your intimacy with Father.  Without that deep rooted intimacy you are up the creek without the paddle.  I am talking from experience.  It is easy to forget about what is truly important.  

Matt:  Well, thanks so much Mark.  I really appreciate your time. 

Checkout Mark's site:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Books I have read so far on my Church Planting Training

Here is a list of books I have read and reviewed since I started my Church Planting Training roughly 9 months ago:
  1. Rediscovering Church by Lynn and Bill Hybels
  2. The Multiplying Church by Bob Roberts
  3. Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age by Ed Stetzer
  4. Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Guide for New Churches and Those Desiring Renewal by Aubrey Malphurs
  5. Breaking The Missional Code by Ed Stetzer & David Putman
  6. Staff Your Church for Growth by Gary L. McIntosh
  7. The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
  8. Church Planting the Next Generation by Kevin Mannoia (review coming soon)
  9. Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups by Nelson Searcy (review coming soon)
I'm also reading a church planting manual and have read sections from several books for my theological and theme studies. I am currently reading Simply Strategic Volunteers: Empowering People For Ministry by Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens (review coming soon).

They are all good but if I had to pick one, in terms of church planting, I'd pick Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age by Ed Stetzer. It's comprehensive in that it covers theological and practical aspects of church planting. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interview with the Director of Church Planting for the Vineyard, Steve Nicholson

A couple of months ago I interviewed Steve Nicholson, who is the national director of church planting for the Vineyard. Steve is originally a church planter. He planted in Chicago and from that church there has been more than 17 other churches planted out.  Steve also does training globally with church leaders, so it was huge privilege to learn from him. Use the interface on the right to play the latest podcast or download the audio here.  

Matt: Steve, how do you express your wanderlust for church planting even though you are not planting churches yourself right now?

Steve: For me, mostly it goes into training and coaching church planters.  So I am pretty much always coaching and training church planters all the time. 

Matt: OK, so how does that look on a week to week basis?

Steve: We have phone conversations and exchange emails.  Usually, if I am coaching someone, I visit them from time to time. We start far ahead and keep going until they get the church up and running.

Matt: I see.  Now, have I got that number right about your church planting out 17 other churches? Is that correct?

Steve: I think that is right, yeah.

Matt: Have you been involved in all of those? 

Steve: Yes, to one degree or another, I have been involved in all of them.

Matt: How do you go about finding guys who are church planters and then training them to do so? 

Steve: For me, I tend to start fairly young.  So, with some guys I figure out that they are a church planter when they are still in high school. Even though they may not plant for another 10 years.  But you are looking for people who are leaders, who can articulate themselves, who know how to put a team together, who can break a vision down into steps which they can actually do.  You are looking for catalytic people who tend to start things and lead people everywhere they go.  A good church planter looks like a good business entrepreneur.

Matt: Do you find that you get a lot of guys from the business world who are interested in church planting?

Steve: Sometimes we do, later in life. They spend time in business and then feel like they are ready for a change. They always make good church planters.

Matt: Now, this is your main preoccupation, church planting.  What do you find yourself thinking about the most when it comes to church planting?

Steve: Just to clarify, I am still leading a church.  I spend most of my time leading on my on church. I do spend time thinking about church planting and the biggest default is still about finding the right people. There is a lot of knowledge out there about how to plant, certainly more than there was 30 years ago.  The steps to take our fairly clear.  There are plenty of places to plant.  The bottle neck is finding people to plant.  So, that is where most of my thoughts are.

Matt: What is your strategy for getting the DNA of church planting into the church that you are leading?

Steve: First of all, when you plant 17 churches it kind of gets into the DNA.  A lot of times you get it in the DNA by doing it.  Two, you have to build a church where people have a kingdom mentality, where people know that we are not just here for ourselves...we are not here to be religious consumers, we are here to build the Kingdom of God. When people get that mentality they are going to want to express that in some form.  The third thing, I think if you teach people to listen to the Holy Spirit, He calls them.  He puts it in them.

Matt: What are your plans for increasing your church planting efforts?  Is that in your thoughts? What are your plans for the next 5, 10 years for church planting?

Steve: Church planters are kind of like evangelists.  You know, if 100 people come to Christ an evangelist will celebrate for about 5 min and then they are thinking  I wish it was 1,000.  It is never enough.  The same can be for church planting, you know, it is never enough.  You always want more.  Like I said, I mostly try to make sure that I spot every potential planter I can and help them move in that direction.

Matt: What changes have you seen in the church planting scene?  Are there any concerns yo have about the church planting scene and how have you seen it evolve?

Steve: The thing I would say, no matter where you get it, the training is basically the same.  There are a few magic bullets that everyone has to do it doesn't matter what brand of church you are planting.  The only different situation would be, say a Catholic church moves into a new area where there is already 10,000 catholics and start a new parish...but for everyone is it pretty much looks the same.  It is a function of doing it.  

On the plus side, I think that there does not have to be as many failures as there was 30 years ago.  30 years ago there were many churches being planted and a lot of them did not survive.  Generally, the survival rate is higher than it was even though the general climate is more negative.  My main concern, is that once in a while you get people who don't want to do it the regular way, they want to skip stuff.  Or, they want to plant the "non-church" church.  "We want to plant a church, but we are not going to call it a church, it is not actually going to meet...etc."  Of course, you get nothing.  So, we have seen more of that in the last 5 years, which concerns me because it does not work.

Matt:  Have you seen much of that in the Chicago area?

Steve: No, I haven't. Part of it is that it is the mid-west.  Mid-westerners tend to be more conventional.

Matt: What is your vision for Chicago?  What is your heart for the city you are in?

Steve:  Well, we would like to have 50 Vineyard churches, which would be about the same as the Catholics and Lutherans. It is still pretty modest. Along the way, we want to be a friend and assistance to other churches.  Every once in a while we will help a church that is not planting a Vineyard church, but some other kind of church.  I am always happy to do that too.

Matt: Have you done much with the emerging, multi-site approach to churches?  What is your take on that and what is your experience of that?

Steve:  My take is that it is certainly a way of getting fast, short term results.  If you have a strong church with a lot of momentum and a very strong preacher, you can get a lot of things going very quickly by piping in the preaching and that produces fast, short term rewards. 

My concern is, what happens in 30 years when those guys are not around anymore.  My experience is that it takes many years of experience to train up mature pastors that are capable of leading a large organization.  It takes many years for someone to become a good preacher, and I am thinking that if these gifted people do the multi-site thing and do it all electronically themselves, where are people getting any experience and training.  My question is, "yeah this works now, but what will happen in 30 years when they are gone?"

Matt: My wife and I feel call to plant in Chicago.  Steve, if you were me...I have never planted, I'm 28, married, we will have 2 small kids when we move...where would be a strategic place, in terms of reaching the city, to land...where would you suggest?

Steve:  Usually, I tell people...number one-go somewhere where there are people like you. Unless you have a very strong missionary gifting you need to go to a place where there are people like you.  If you go to a more upper class, intellectual area, then you have to be that yourself.  On the converse, if you are more of an intellectual and you go to a blue-collar area, you will struggle.  The leader and the place need to match. 

Secondly, really big cities like Chicago are a lot harder than medium and smaller size cities.  It is much more difficult to be noticed.  Word-of-mouth does not help you in really big cities.  If you start a new church in a city of 200,000-500,000 and your church grows to 200-300, your church will be noticed.  You could have a church of 2,000 people in Chicago and nobody would know who you were.  You don't get noticed here until you have 10,000 or more people.  It is very hard to create this wide-spread public perception.  And you can't do it using advertising because it is very very expensive, no one has that kind of money.  It is a hard place.  

Thirdly, you need to know that Chicago functions like 3 different cities. There is Nothside, Southside and Westside.  People of one section generally know nothing about the other sections, and never go there at all.  They each have their own culture and ethos and that includes the suburbs.  Not only do you have north, south and west sides of the city, but also the suburbs, so you need to look into that and figure out where you would best fit.  Southside tends to be more blue collar and Westside tends to be more coorporate, middleclass, republican.  Northside tends to be more wealthy, more educated, more democratic, more young professionals.  So, you need to know that is how Chicago works.    

Matt: Do you find that in your church that you have a lot of fruit amongst students? 

Steve:  Yeah, we've always have had a lot of fruit amongst students.

Matt: What do you attribute that to?

Steve: Good music helps.  Our style of preaching appeals to students. Our leadership is more educated people. And then once you have some you get more. So, even though I've been doing this for 30 years and am 30 years older, our median age is still only 32.

Matt: What are some of the idols of Chicago?

Steve: Money is a biggie.  The whole city is really constructed of immigrants who came here to make a better life.  Chicago is very much the immigrant city, it still is and they are coming here to find money.

Matt: Have you had much fruit from other nationalities being added to the church?

Steve:  My church has people from around 35 different countries and is about 42% minority.  So we have a very divers church.

Matt: Do you find that you have leaders, church planters emerging from those people groups, or do you find that is a harder step to take?

Steve: We have some. We have leaders and some church planters also.

Matt: What are some of the contemporary approaches that you have found that help to connect the way people think to the gospel?

Steve:  One of the biggies is ministry to the poor.  People love being apart of giving to the poor.  You have to understand that I am a north side most of the people are democratic, most are more educated and professional and have more of a social consciousness.  SO, they love being apart of a church that is involved in reaching the poor.  I think, the other thing is just talking about spirituality in a non-religious fashion.  People want to experience spirituality.  They do not want religion, or rules.

Matt: On a personal level, what would be your encouragement to know we are on a church planting internship, we are in St. Louis, we are about half way through.  What would you encourage me to really focus on?

Steve: First and most importantly, you have to have your vision as clear as a bell.  You have to work out phrases and ways of describing your vision that you could communicate to someone in a coffee shop again, and again and again.  When church planters struggle, a lot of times it is because their vision is not very clear, or they have not worked it out, how to say it to someone.  Imagine yourself in different settings, describing what we are trying to do and get it worked out precisely.  Meeting someone in a coffee shop and they are asking, "why should I join you?" you have to be able to communicate clearly what the vision is to them .  

One guy I knew, he would start out every church service by saying, "this church started with a dream..." and then he would say something about what that dream was.  You have to be able to answer that question.  Secondly, I would say you always, always, always start with a team.  You need at least 12 people, min 10...but the bigger the team you have, the faster things can go.  But, don't take people who are going to need lots of hand holding.  People who need lots of attention from the pastor because they are not going to get it.  Thirdly, I would say include a prayer team. The Devil is not a sleeper.
Matt: When you say "prayer team" do you mean people locally, or do you mean something broader than that?

Steve: People who don't go on the church plant who pray for you regularly...because there is spiritual warfare.

Matt: Steve, I want to thank you for your time, it has been very beneficial.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bi-vocational Church Planting

During this year of Church Planting Training we receive support from a number of very generous people who really believe in us and what we are doing. Our support covers a lot of what we need but to make up the rest of our income it's been necessary to make extra doing freelance work. This presents a lot of time challenges especially considering the type of work I do. 

I have a number of technical skills including; web site design, email marketing, digital image enhancement and search engine optimization. Through divine intervention work has turned up just at the right moment without having to do any advertising. That's a huge blessing, especially with the economy right now. I have completed a number of email marketing concepts and executions recently as well as a few web sites and a web site redesign. 

On the one hand this type of work allows me to set my own schedule. On the other hand it's directly tied to a businesses success and therefore controlled by the tight deadlines of the marketing industry. Responsiveness and quality are critical to longevity as a freelancer. There is absolutely no loyalty or performance reviews and so the product has to be top notch. Plus, I find that with the myriad of constant online advancements I generally have to learn as I go, on almost every job. Innovation is a constant. 

This is not an excellent setup for a church planter. I recently heard that to be bi-vocational you need a regular job that you can clock out from and be done with it. It can be easily segregated and turned off in your mind. That's not what I find with online marketing. I find that to be innovative and produce something cutting edge you have to pour a good amount of time and energy into it. Let me give you an example. 

I recently re-launched Atlanta Magician Arthur Atsma's website. I really enjoyed redesigning the site and implementing some innovative aspects. Checkout the site and especially the video's at the top of the page, they are a blast. To make this website robust for the various types of clients Arthur has I needed to make it compatible with the ever increasing amount of browsers and browser versions. The site is fully compatible with all versions of Safari, Firefox, IE (version 5 and above, including version 8 beta) and Google Chrome. This is no small task -- it's a LOT of work! 

If anyone reading this has any bi-vocational ideas for me, especially that my skills might fit into, then please let me know. I've always been interested in starting an online company but I realize that to plant a church I'd need a business manger to run a start-up internet business like this for me. When we church plant, I'd like a tent making business that I could give 1-2 days a week to and have someone else managing it. It would be especially cool to be able to use the business to fund church planting efforts. That's my ultimate dream. 

Let me know if anyone else out there thinks the same way!