Category Archives: church planting

Books Available!


I’m parting with several books that I have had in my library.  Rather than sell them online, I thought I would give you the opportunity to ask for one first.  So, if you are interested in any of the following books, let me know.  First come, first serve.  You can message me with your requests at stan.rodda34@gmail.com.  All I ask is that you pay for shipping if you live far away from me.  =)

  1. I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt  –  Antonucci
  2. The Leadership Lessons of Jesus  –  Briner & Pritchard
  3. Blue Like Jazz  –  Donald Miller
  4. Too Small To Ignore  –  Stafford
  5. Jesus Wants To Save The Christians  –  Bell (eBay)
  6. Guerrilla Lovers  –  Antonucci
  7. When Leadership and Discipleship Collide  –  Hybels
  8. The Prodigal Hugging Church  –  Wright
  9. Taking A Stand  –  Knowles
  10. The Purpose Drive Life  –  Warren
  11. If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat  –  Ortberg (eBay)
  12. Planting Growing Church for the 21st Century  –  Malphurs
  13. Faith In The Game  –  Osborne (eBay)
  14. Emerging Churches  –  Gibbs & Bolger (eBay)
  15. In A Pit With A  Lion On A Snowy Day  –  Batterson
  16. Creating Web Sites  –  Crowder & Bailey
  17. Building A Web Site For Dummies  –  Crowder

There you have it.  Let me know.

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What Should I Name My Church Plant!


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.

Passion4Planting

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.

What I Was Waiting To Hear!


Exponential Conference

I really enjoy going to conferences.  There are so many amazing stories to hear and it’s great to see God at work across the nation and world.  I almost always leave refreshed and excited to go and chase all kinds of crazy ideas.  That’s what I love about conferences!

However, there is something that I have been waiting to hear.  It is overlooked at almost every conference (at least the ones I have been to).  It is a topic that goes beyond missional, attractional, traditional, denominational, non-denominational, small-group driven, purpose driven (should I continue?), etc.

My point is this; there is an issue that goes well beyond all of these methods and styles of doing church.  I have been waiting to hear someone at a major conference say, “It’s not about any of this stuff.  It’s more about whether or not you’re Godly.”

Well, I finally got what I was waiting for.

I sat in on a workshop by Matt Chandler, lead Pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas.  It was obvious that God had given him a very specific message to say to me.

His message was this…

Why are you trying to be Francis Chan?  Why do you want to be the next Rick Warren?  Why are you striving to be Matt Carter or Dave Ferguson?  God loves you for who you are right now!  God doesn’t love the future you more because ten years down the road, you will have a big church like some other guy.  God loves you right where you are, right now.  Stop trying to be everyone else!

He basically asked us, “How well do you understand and apply the Gospel to your own life?”  And you know the answer to that question by asking five others (I don’t have all five unfortunately).  Questions like; are you violent towards sin?  Are you utmost in your own affections?  When you screw up, do you run away from or toward God?

The questions were pointed and direct.  He was passionate and animated.  He got off track at times in order to do more than stick with notes and fit into a conference workshop box.  He was preaching.  He was preaching the Word of God and he was bringing the Gospel to a room full of pastors.  And I was so excited that someone was finally saying what I had been wanting to hear.  The difference was that Matt Chandler says it far better than I ever could.

My goal in life should not be to become the next big-church pastor.

My goal in life should not be to be the next main session speaker at a conference.

My goal in life should be to become Godly, holy and more like Christ.

I was so excited to hear someone release me from the pressure of being like one of those guys on the stage.  That’s not what I’m here to do or become.  I am here to do the will of the Father who has given me a task to do and has given me exactly what I need in terms of gifts, talents, background and education to accomplish just that.

Thank you Mr. Chandler, for saying what I have been wanting to hear so desperately.

Thank you for allowing God to use you to preach!

If you haven’t heard Matt yet, I would encourage you to do so.  Beyond a God-given talent to preach, he has such an inspiring story of strength and faith.  God is using him in a big way!

An Anointing!


Exponential Conference

It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011.  Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post).  Exponential ends with a bang each year.  This year was no different.  The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference.  The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.

I stood backstage awaiting instruction.  Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go.  I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team.  As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me.  I wasn’t sure I was ready for this.  Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders.  The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel.  In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me.  It said…

I don’t feel qualified to anoint.  God has much work to do on me still.

His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Up to you.  Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors.  If you decide to pass, no worries.

I decided that I would go for it.  I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.

When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role.  People began to flow forward by the hundreds.  I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out.  I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way.  I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando.  I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada.  I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.

I don’t know how everyone else felt.  I can only speak for myself.  What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them.  I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world.  I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me.  It’s all about God and what He is doing.

I am so thankful that I went for it.  I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it.  Instead, he challenged me to bless others.  God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others.  It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).

If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you.  I want to hear your story.  I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.

God is doing big things my friends.  Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!

Keep it up, church!

Keep it up!

Exponential Conference 2011!


Exponential

Today was an amazing day!  The opportunities to learn were amazing and the chance to meet some very cool people is simply fun.

I sat amazed today.  A large stage filled with speakers who are inspiring in the church world.  Names like; Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, Matt Carter, Neil Cole, Ed Stetzer and more.  There aren’t many things that are obvious to me, but one very clear thing slammed into my face today; God is amazing!

God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and I’m so thankful to Him for all He is allowing me to see, learn and do.  I pray that I will be wise and use His grace to reach as many people for Christ as I possibly can.

As I listened to many speakers today, here are a couple of things that I picked up.

  1. “Everywhere you go, that’s where the church is!”  -Rob Wegner, Granger Community Church
  2. “If you want a disciple making movement, you have to have the Lord’s blessing!”  -Jim Putman, Real Life Ministries
  3. “Don’t plant churches.  Plant Jesus!”  -Neil Cole, CMA Resources

When all was said and done, I developed a challenge for myself.  I’m not going to tell you what that is just yet.  Maybe some day.  For now, it’s a personal challenge that God and I are working on.  I believe that God is up to something big.  And I hope He has in mind to allow me to be even a small part of it.

And today also held a few fun surprises.  It was very cool to sit in a room with 75 church leaders and planters from around the country and world, to listen to Rick Warren share some inspiring vision stuff for the church.  It was also fun to shoot a video with him.  No, really.

I’m very excited about what God is doing through church planting.

I’m very excited that I get to work closely with people who are doing some really cool things.

I am humbled that God even lets me near this stuff.

Typically, I’m scared I’ll just mess it up.  Which is very likely.

Thanks again, God, for being so gracious to me.

And thanks to all those who have made this conference possible.

What are some of your favorite things, that you have learned at different conferences, classes, seminars, books, etc?

What pieces of knowledge have been the most valuable for you in ministry?

I Am Dave Ferguson!


Exponential Conference

I’m here at Exponential 2011 in Orlando, FL.  Our New Life team is volunteering with a ton of cool stuff.  We’re getting to see some pretty cool behind the scenes stuff at the coolest church planters conference on the planet (someone please pass that tid bit along to Todd Wilson for me).  As we were preparing to volunteer today, we were going through some training.  Our fearless leader stood up and inspired us to volunteer like it was our last day on earth.  He was very excited and it was easy to get excited along with him.  I wanted to share a little of what he said.  If you’re a volunteer, apply what was said to your particular area of service.

In order to give this conference the “Wow” experience it deserves, volunteers have to own it like it’s their own.  Our volunteer leader helped us with that.  He told the story of Exponential and how it was the brainchild of so many great people.  One of which he mentioned specifically was Dave Ferguson.

Dave Ferguson

Mr. Dave Ferguson

You are Dave Ferguson…

…he said.  So I left and pretended to be Dave Ferguson today.  That was fun.

The point was well taken though.  If we want this conference to be as successful as it can be, we need to be as excited about it as Dave.  We need to pretend we have invested as much in it as Dave has (and many others, I’m just using Dave because that was the name that was thrown out there today).  I was inspired to, “Be Like Dave.”  He’s cooler than Mike anyway.

Then our leader said, “Every moment is your moment of truth.”  I loved that.  I think that is a great, practical statement that all volunteers in any capacity can grab onto and believe in.  Each moment is the only time you will have that moment.  Your only moment to make a first impression.  Your only moment to make the best impression for Christ that you can.  Every moment is your moment of truth.  I’ll be taking this one home to the volunteers at my Haymarket Campus.

If you are a volunteer at a church (or anywhere else for that matter), I want to encourage you.

Thank you so much for all you do.

I apologize for not telling you as often as I should.

I want to encourage you to view your role as a moment of truth.  Put yourself in the shoes of “the boss” for a minute.  Think about how much they invest in whatever it is you are doing.  You are that person.  Care for it as deeply as they do.  Give it your all.  Especially if you are volunteering in a ministry.  There’s nothing more important than the work you are doing.  View every moment as your moment of truth.  It is your moment to make a huge impact on someone’s life and ultimately for the Kingdom of God.

Do you volunteer?

What do you do?

And, thank you.  Thank you so much for volunteering!

Tomorrow, I’ll be Dave Ferguson again.  Not a bad looking guy I guess.  It could be worse.  I could be….whoa!  About got myself in trouble there.

Exponential Conference 2011!


Exponential Conference

The day started bright and early at 5:10 am today.  Getting ready quickly, I joined the rest of the New Life Christian Church team at the nZone.  From there it was off to the airport, onto a Jet Blue flight and in Orlando, Florida before 11:00 am.

We are here for the Exponential Conference.  It’s an amazing church planters conference that brings together multiple church plant organizations.  This year features Matt Chandler, Francis Chan and Alan Hirsch.

I’m so stoked to be here.  I’ll be posting a lot of my thoughts throughout the day on Facebook & Twitter.  I’ll also try to update this blog with some other thoughts toward the end of each day.  Check back for all the great stuff happening at Exponential 2011.

Risk > Failure!


If I told you that risk was greater than failure (r>f), would you believe me?

Some of you would.  More of you wouldn’t.  For many of us out there, risk is equally associated with the possibility of failure.  And most of us out there want no part of failure.  We are taught and trained to believe that we must succeed and that failure is not an option.

But what if I told you that failure was a great option?  What if you began to believe that your failures were simply steps forward and that they were necessary for you to be successful?

Seth Godin says it this way in his new book, “Poke The Box,”

Seth Godin

Risk, to some, is a bad thing, because risk brings with it the possibility of failure.  It might be only a temporary failure, but that doesn’t matter so much if the very thought of it shuts you down.  So, for some, risk comes to equal failure (take enough risks and sooner or later, you will fail).  Risk is avoided because we’ve been trained to avoid failure.  I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance…and if you have anxiety about initiating a project, then of course you will associate risk with failure.

Honestly, sometimes I get stuck.  I am afraid to fail.  There are probably many reasons for this.  Some linking back to how I was raised.  My beliefs growing up were that when I made mistakes (sinned), that somehow God was then against me and all of the work was on me to make things right with God.  I grew afraid to mess up, paralyzed, afraid to move for fear of getting out of line with my God or my family.  As a result, I fell in line (for the most part) like a good soldier.

My story has lead me to where I am today.  I have been in full-time ministry for 9 years.  The first 8 years of ministry, I took a lot of risks.  I made poor decisions and many of them did not pay off.  Those failures have fed into my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.  My thoughts go something like this, “How could God use such a failure?  How can God use someone who has made so many mistakes?  Surely God will just find a more talented, qualified person to do amazing things.”

Sometimes, my thoughts win.  I fail to risk everything for God.

Other times, my heart for risk wins.  I succeed and risk all I have for God.

Does that make me bi-winning?

I want to risk everything for God.  I hate the status quo.  I despise common.  I abhor same old.

What if Jesus was afraid of movement and collisions in life?  What if Rosa Parks allowed a fear of failure to keep her from sitting right where she belonged?  What if failure prevented Martin Luther King Jr. from having a dream?  What if fear paralyzed our Presidents in times of crisis when we need them to be our fearless leaders the most?

Mr. Godin has nailed me on this point.  I’m tired of being afraid of failure.  It’s not a good feeling.  I want to do more.  I want to risk more.  Why?  Because God created me for risk.

When I “push the envelope”…God sends another box of envelopes.

When I stand on the edge of the cliff…God sees a bigger cliff around the corner.

When I turn over a new leaf…God sends fall.

When I shift a paradigm…God says that’s just the beginning.

Even when I think I have risked as much and gone as far as I can go, God can do more and wants me to accomplish more.  He wants the same for you.

Ephesians 3:20 – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Are you risking everything to make your marriage a success?

Are you risking everything to bring your children up in the right way?

Are you risking everything to make sure you are a good steward of your finances?

Are you risking everything to tell your friend, neighbors, co-workers and family about Jesus?

Are you risking everything to make sure God has your entire heart?

Are you risking everything to love the unlovable?

Are you risking everything to make sure that God’s name is made great?

Are you risking everything for the mission of God and His Kingdom?

Tourist Destinations!


St Martin's Church, Exminster

Church of St. Martin

Our family has gone on a few vacations together.  For the most part, we don’t get too far from home, but we do enjoy getting out of town every now and then.  Have you ever noticed the types of places we plan to go for vacation?  They’re usually tropical, warm destinations.  Disney World.  Disney Land.  Sea World.  Bahamas.  Jamaica.  A cruise.  The beach.  Depending on your vacation, you will look for places to tour.  You might be a family that likes to walk around a historical museum or location.  Seeing a statue that was built in memory of someone can be a lot of fun.  We plan to go somewhere that we can tour and see things that we can’t see at home.

Want to know what one of the tourist stops in the United Kingdom is?  A church like this one near Exminster in Great Britain.  It is the Church of St. Martin and it dates back to the 14th Century.  You can even go online here and research much of the data on the church.  For instance, the history tells us about the Parish registers, dating back to 1562.  They even have published indexes covering baptisms, weddings, burials and christenings.

As our family was driving through one small town in Missouri, we stopped at a little park to have a picnic lunch.  Vacations on a budget is how we roll.  We sat eating our lunch and noticed a cute little building on the park grounds.  It sure looked like a church.  A really old church.  My wife wanted some pictures before we left town.  We started to walk around the building and we saw a sign in the front.  It was the town museum, formerly a church.  It had been remade to show off town history along with much of the history of the church.  It didn’t date back to 1562, but it was still a very old church building.

In terms of “religion,” the western world is following suit with much of that of Europe.  As Europe has moved away from Christianity, much of America is doing the same.  We could answer the question, “Are you a Christian” with the answer, “Yes,” while at the same time answering the question, “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God” with the answer, “No.”  Simply stated, the church in America is dying.  More churches die per year than we replace with new churches.  According to one article I read, we need to plant 2900 more churches a year just to keep up with the population growth.

Let me say it this way, America has decided it no longer needs the church.  The church is no longer the center for spiritual needs to be met.  As Europe left the church behind, America is following close behind.

A very sad possibility is ahead of us.  That possibility is that churches could feasibly become tourist locations in America.

I for one, am not ready to concede.  I for one, am not ready to turn our churches over to the tourist industry.  The question is, how far are we willing to go to stop the bleeding?

How much are we willing to sacrifice to make the church of God thrive again?

Are we willing to engage the culture in new and risky ways?

I would like to share more on that question in a future post.  In the meantime, what are some of your thoughts?

How is your church engaging the culture around you in fresh ways?

What are some of your ideas for engaging the culture so that we don’t become a tourist attraction in America?

What do you think some of the key contributing factors are to this decline in the church in America?

Who’s Building The House?


One of the things I have been praying about recently is that God would show me what He wants to do with His church.  In my specific case, His campus.  My prayer has been simple; “God, who do you want us to be?  What do You want us to accomplish?  What can we do to bring You glory?”Traditional Church Building

As I was doing some reading and studying to try and prepare myself for what God might say, I found my way to 2 Samuel 7.  This was a big deal to me because for so long, I have been making the same mistake as David.  Prior to verse 5, David makes an assumption that he will be the one to build God a big, beautiful house.  He assumes that his plan is right and that God will bless it.  In fact, he was so confident, he told the prophet of God, Nathan, about his plan.  David has decided that because he lives in such a beautiful palace, there’s no reason why God should dwell in a tent.  He wants to build God’s house.

So often I have prayed that way.  Have you?  I have prayed, “God, bless what I’m doing.  We’re doing ‘this’ ministry, bless it.  Make it work for You.  I’ve read the demographics.  I’ve done the research.  I’ve prepped the team.  Please bless our efforts, so that You get the glory.”

We make the same mistake that David made.  He wanted God to bless his plans with the ulterior motive of bringing God glory.  He justified making his own plans by assuming God wanted his plan.  The church as a whole is in the middle of something similar.  Should we be attractional (let’s do a bunch of big events)?  Should we be missional (let’s have church in a coffee house)?  Can attractional and missional be blended?  Maybe we should be more traditional?  Maybe we should start house churches?  The internet and technology are there.  Let’s launch an internet church.  Or should we do video church?  So many questions, so little time.  So many “houses” to build.

Starbucks SpiritualityI believe those questions must be answered.  I believe those questions are legit and shouldn’t be ignored.

Here’s where I believe we get hung up.  2 Samuel 7:5 says, “Go and tell my servant David, `This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in?'”  In other words, we often think we are the ones with the master plan.  We read the books, go to the conferences and even wear the right clothes.  We begin to believe that we have the plan.  We will build God’s house.  We will make His name great.  He will bless our efforts.

That’s when we must hear the voice of God saying to us, “Are you really the one to build a house for me?”  God says, I have this planned out.  I know what I want my house to look like.  And I even know who I want to build the thing.  Our mistake is not that we work hard for God, our mistake is that we look to the wrong source for the plan.

How much different would church be if every single follower of Christ and church leader, went to God to find out what God wanted?

What if we asked God His opinion before we start to build?

How much greater would the effectiveness of the church be if “we” weren’t building God’s house, but we were allowing God to do the building?

How much stronger would the church be if church leaders and pastors were humbling themselves under the hand of God?  Fasting and praying for His lead?  Waiting on God to make the first move?  How much stronger would we be?

The question I want to ask you is this, “Who’s building the house?”

Are you building and hoping God blesses your plans?

Or are you allowing God to lead the way and working where He blesses.

Thoughts?

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