Monthly Archives: July 2011
What I am about to say, I do not say lightly. I have been praying about this for years and I believe that God is leading me down this path. I believe that God wants me to plant churches. I am on a journey where the future is completely unknown and must fall squarely in the hands of God Himself. And there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be. From here, it gets a tad less “heavy.”
When it comes to church planting, there is a lot to ponder. Until I feel the spark to talk about other areas of church planting, I want to go ahead and offer a few tips to church planters and future church planters out there. This post will deal specifically with your church’s name. When it comes right down to it, your church name is going to be the center piece of your marketing, it will reflect who you are, what your values are, everything. You are setting out to change the world for Jesus and chances are the first impression people have of you will be your church name. That’s why the church name is almost as important as financial funding (insert hilarious laughter here).
That being said, I have some very important church names that you should consider for your church plant.
The Lord’s Vineyard
That’s right. You want people to know that there’s only one vineyard in town that God has chosen, and it’s yours. That other church down the street? Forget them. They don’t even have the right name on the door. Surely God isn’t working in their lives. You want everyone to know that if they’re going to be picked in God’s glorious elect, they better be in your vineyard. After all, it is the Lord’s.
Church of the Holy Immaculate Conception
What we’re hoping for here is for people to be confused and think you meant, “immaculate reception.” If that’s the case, they might think you’re talking football. And if you know football, maybe you’re only half-weird. Get them in the door with this brilliant “bait and switch” name.
Holiness Church of ( insert city/town name )
Nothing says, “Our church is more holy than yours, yours, yours and definitely yours,” than a church name with “Holiness” in it. If you’re in an uppity suburb somewhere, this may be the option for you. Everyone should know that while other churches might be holy, they aren’t nearly as holy as yours. The folk who love to keep up with the Jones’ will love that they can rub this one in to their friends. “Oh, you go to First Church of God down the street. Well, we have been members of the Holiness Church of ( insert city/town name ) for 42 generations. Yep, that’s right. We’re holy.”
Anything with “Whispering” in it
Whispering Pines. Whispering Grove. Whispering Creeper. Who’s whispering over my shoulder? This is just getting weird. Still, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper on a mountain side. You want people to know that at your church, they will be hearing God in whispers over their shoulder. Plus, this way you get to get them started in some Old Testament knowledge right away. They’ll be learning Bible and won’t even know it.
The First Holy Faith Tabernacle Church of Peter, Andrew, James and John Founded on the Solid Rock
If your church name is longer than your mission statement, it’s a good one. Because the one thing you don’t want to have happen is for the lost to actually remember your church name. After all, new people means being uncomfortable. So let’s just confuse them with a ridiculously long name on the sign.
Boring ( anything )
Look, I get it. You’ve lived in Boring, (State Name) since you were conceived. You are proud of the 1/2AAA Girls Checkers State Championship your school won in 1903. So go ahead and spit in the face of first impressions. Who cares if people drive by and think your church is boring. It’s worth it because of 1903.
So, there you have it. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I do hope I have helped to ease the burden that is the hard work of church planting. Feel free to use these free of charge for your church plant, or you can create your own variation as well. Now, get out there, start a church and confuse the heck out of the people in your town.
If you have a desire to church plant and you believe God is leading you in that direction, let me know. I would love to pray for you (seriously, no satire here). Also, you may want to click the image above to help you get started on your church planting journey.
If you were to come into my home and listen in on some of our family conversations in the house, you would hear me getting onto my kids periodically for different things. Sometimes it has to do with the way they treat each other. Sometimes it has to do what they are saying about someone else.
But none of those even come close to the one thing I’m always all over them about. It’s a small thing really, but in the long run it’s a big thing. My wife might even tell you that I get onto them so quickly about manners that I sometimes fail to give them the chance to use them. Maybe so. But manners are a big deal to me.
This was only reinforced during my time in North Carolina. It seemed like every where we went, people were only too willing to extend a hand of common courtesy. Letting you pull into a space in front of them. Starting a conversation with you as if you had been friends since birth. The kindness to give us a free sweet tea, not because we ordered one, but because you were just extending a hand of good, old fashioned, southern hospitality.
Granted, some of these examples go beyond manners, but it starts with the basics, “Please,” and, “Thank you.”
I want to help my kids grow to be respectful and kind to people around them. I don’t want them thinking they are above treating people respectfully for the things they do for them. Some days my kids are really on the ball with manners. Other days I go to bed with a sore throat.
Still, being at the beach simply reinforced for me my stand on manners.
What do you think about manners?
Once again this summer I am spending a week, sitting on the sand of Carolina Beach, North Carolina. I’m soaking up a lot of sun and family time. It has been a great week.
Last summer after our trip to the beach, I posted a series of three blogs about the lessons I was learning while at the beach. You can find those here or by searching for posts on, “Beach.”
This year I picked up a couple things as well. For instance, the danger of always saying, “Tomorrow,” or, “Maybe later.”
While swimming in the ocean, my sons said, “Dad, can we boogie board?”
“Of course,” was my reply.
“Hey Dad, can we have soda with our dinner?”
“Absolutely,” I would say.
“Dad, can I tell you about these facts I’m reading about in my book?”
“I’d love to hear them,” I would say.
But at home, too often the answer is, “Maybe tomorrow. I’m tired. I’ll get to you later. Maybe next week we can do that. No, you can’t have soda for supper.”
And before you know it, tomorrow becomes ten years and you aren’t sure where the time went. Then you live in regret because you missed some of your kid’s best moments.
So, yes, there is a danger in too many “tomorrows.”
Do you have a son you should be playing catch with? Do you have a daughter you should be having a tea party or playing Barbies with? Do you have a child you should be listening to because they have questions about something they read?
Did you just tell them, “In a minute,” because you just had to finish reading this blog? (I hope not.)
Try changing your answer and watch their eyes light up.
There is this pretty cool verse over in James 4:2. It says this…
…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
Could life really be that simple? Could it be that so much of our struggle in life is because we simply try to do it on our own and we don’t ask God to intervene?
I was thinking about this in the context of ministry and church life. Instead of complaining that I don’t have enough volunteers, I’m starting to ask people to volunteer. It’s an amazing concept, I know. As a staff at New Life, we are asking God to change people’s lives and that He would lead people to baptism. I know, crazy huh? Ask God to intervene in “our” work. The best part, seeing so many changes in people’s lives the minute we start asking for it. We have seen God do some very cool things. I’ll save some of those stories for another post.
I love how simple this concept really is. My oldest son, Grant, was at a friend’s to hang out. He is nine years old and started a very interesting conversation with the mother of his friend. He simply said, “What religion are you?” She said, “I was raised Buddhist, but my parents never pushed it on me.” So Grant said, “Then what are you?” She replied, “Well, my husband was raised Christian, so I guess we’re just floating right now.” Grant simply said, “Oh, well you should come to my church sometime.”
I don’t know if she will take him up on the offer, but I think sometimes we don’t have, because we simply don’t ask. Are you as a minister taking time to ask God to intervene in people’s lives? Are you as a minister taking time to ask people to get more involved? Are you simply asking the question?
I am striving harder to ask both of these questions. I am asking God to change people’s hearts because I know I can’t. I am also starting to simply ask people to get more involved. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a simple ask.
So who do you need to ask?
Do you need to ask God to do the hard work of changing people’s lives?
Do you need to ask a neighbor to come to church?
Do you need to ask someone in your ministry to step it up?
It is God who is able to do more than we can possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But, at the very least…
It’s time to ask!
Last fall I played in a men’s flag football league in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a blast. One of my teammates was named, Bryan. He and I played defense on the same side of the field (this meant we got to know each other really well). He had a great phrase he would use during crucial moments of a game. He would look at me right in the eyes and say, “Time to do work, Rodda! Do work!” Granted, the grammar isn’t great, but the phrase gets the job
did done. That phrase and his intensity always challenged me to run a little faster, to jump higher and work harder than the guy lined up across from me.
Now jumping to present day life. Our Campus had an awesome Sunday. Our theme was, “Get Right With God.” We had really cool stories lined up for people to tell about how God has impacted their lives. We talked a lot about the Jordan River and water in Scripture. It seems to me that water, especially the Jordan, carries some powerful significance to God. Every time the Jordan is mentioned, it seems there is some transition in life, something leading to victory and hope.
- Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan
- Moses’ passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua
- Elijah passing the mantle of leadership to Elisha
We challenged people to come to the banks of the Jordan. To get their feet wet. To make a commitment. To dive all in for God. To give Him full control of their lives. To immerse themselves in the waters of baptism.
Then, we handed them a card. We challenged them to fill out the card and to tell us about a commitment they might need to make. We also asked them to tell us how we could pray for them. What things in life were holding them back from giving God their all and how we could we be praying for them.
Then it happened. I sat down that afternoon to read the cards. I began to pray for individuals by name who were going through some very serious things in life. And to think they trusted us enough to tell us what was going on behind closed doors. I believe it was a huge moment in the life of our Campus.
One man wrote…
I want to serve as a better example for my family – wife and kids. To live a life with God and Jesus in control.
…the strength to save my family.
And still another said…
My marriage. It is dying.
And this was just the beginning. As I prayed for these people and families, I was overwhelmed with emotion for them. I was blown away by their honesty and their stories. And that’s when it hit me. Do work!
Satan is doing work. He’s working. He’s getting after it. He’s destroying lives. He’s lying to people about what brings fulfillment and purpose. Oh yes, Satan does work!
Am I ready to, ‘Do work?’
The field is there. The people are ready. The hearts and souls of people are open and ready for transformation. As my friend Bryan would say, “It’s time to ‘Do work!'”
Over the course of time, the word “organic” has become a bit confused. Apparently it’s so confused that we have to label fruit as “organic” to distinguish it from non-organic fruit. Don’t jump all over me just yet, I get it, okay. Some fruits, vegetables and other foods have preservatives and fillers added to help keep them more fresh, longer. What’s interesting to me is our culture’s passion to get back to organic.
Organic is natural, fresh, simple, healthy, real. It’s grassroots. There’s nothing else added.
Nothing. It’s simply organic, natural, fresh, simple, healthy.
Our lives are so cluttered with so many things, that we are in a desperate search to get back to what’s organic; simple and natural. As a society, we are desperately craving less fillers and preservatives. And as a follower of Christ, I am finding the same in my relationship with God.
Over time, I have added so many fillers and preservatives to my relationship with God. And eventually, the relationship I truly have with God is simply a “preserved” image of the real thing. It’s not a real, fresh, simple, natural or healthy relationship, it’s one filled with junk to make it appear better and to help it hopefully last a little longer.
And then it happens. I wake up one day and it hits me…my relationship with God is superficial. It’s simply covered up with fillers and preservatives. It’s why I grow tense and uneasy. It’s part of why I become angry and frustrated with life. I try to go through life on the additives of a relationship with God, only to find that the real thing has alluded my grasp. As a result, my life is chaotic and upsetting. Little things bother me. Things just don’t seem right. Then I realize, it’s time to get back to God. And not the god I like to create in my head, but the One, True God, who desires more than anything to know me and have a relationship with me. But it’s going to require cutting out a few additives (Jeremiah 29:13).
I have to cut…
- selfish desires (James 4:2)
- false gods (Exodus 20:3)
- comfortable Christianity (2 Timothy 3:12)
- people pleasing (John 15:18)
- my will (Romans 12:1)
- legalism (Romans 8:3)
- other sources (Psalm 119:9-11)
See, developing an organic relationship with God means cutting out all the additives and fillers. It’s surrendering every fiber of my being and allowing God to lead and rule in every area of my life. Without that, the only relationship I have with God is simply unnatural. It’s full of extras that dilute the purity of the relationship God wants to have with me. It means surrendering my will to God’s. It means aligning myself with what He has revealed in Scripture, not trying to align God with my thoughts and feelings. It even means surrendering all the “laws” of Christianity to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. It means finding the God who is alive and well beneath all the mega-church, post-modern, missional, traditional, denominational conversations out there.
I want to experience God in His purest form. I’m tired of the additives and fillers. They only screw things up.
What do you think it looks like to have an “organic” relationship with God?
What would you add to the list?