Unlocking Value for Entrepreneurs

Month: June 2007 (page 1 of 2)

Acts 29 Sonoma Retreat – The Network & Defining Missional

I returned last night from the annual Acts 29 pastors retreat where we spent most of the week in Sonoma. It was great to see friends and spend time with other church planters from across the country. A couple things came from the conference, which I may post on more:

1. Acts 29 re-organizing from a network to a movement.  Leadership, structures and vision are all adjusting to reflect this.  Some exciting news is that John Piper & Tim Keller will return to speak at Acts 29 bootcamps.  (Tim Keller's is the month after his new book is supposed to come out in March, 2008: In Defense of God: Doubting Your Doubts (Hardcover).  Start reserving your tickets now!

2. Ed Stetzer (pic of us @ Jonathan Herron's blog ) spoke on the history of the word missional which traces it's origins from three streams of thoughts: missio dei, mission & missionary.  He presents why we may all use the same word, yet it means radically different things for emerging churches, evangelical camps and the reformed community.  So when Tim Keller speaks about being missional it is not the same thing as when it used by John Franke or Alan Roxburgh.  He plans to publish a paper on this soon which will be extremely helpful for the missional conversation. 

3. Scott Thomas and then Driscoll did a State of the Union address on the network.  More changes will be coming soon…

Re-thinking Work – The Need for the Church to reclaim the Cultural Mandate

The cultural mandate calls us to be stewards of the world and cultivate it for God's glory.  This includes our work.  Yet, churches have largely left work to the domain of the 'secular world'.  There are two reasons I believe this occurred, first Western Christians are shaped by an enlightenment, Platonic dualism worldview  (creating a false secular/sacred divide).  Secondly, we have a limited view of the gospel.   When the gospel is reduced to just individual salvation, the fullness of God's redemptive plan is not understood.    The evangelical world had focused almost exclusively on the great commission at the cost of seeing their entire life as part of God's plan. If we broaden our gospel understanding, how does this change the way we think about work?

First, it should change how we think about our job.   The themes of creation/fall/redemption are a pattern we must examine our work by.   For example, here are conversations I've had with people regarding their work:

Insurance Broker – God provided for man in creation placing him in the garden, because of sin, death/disease entered the scene.  An insurance broker seeks to bring peace in the face of sin by providing people with health care so they can be taken care of in a time of need.  This is redemptive work bringing shalom to a broken world.

Merchant Service Account Exec – (Provides credit card processing at a company that eliminates banks as the middle-men so they offer significantly lower rates).  In the garden we should have shared and taken care of one another.  In the OT God forbids the Jews from charging interest to one-another.  Because of sin, we don't want to help others in need and charge high interest rates (and because of sin people abuse credit.)  Lower interest rates seek to reduce the consequence of the fall as best as possible.  It is trying to reduce the impact of the fall.

It is important for Christians to see their work as valuable as they act as agents in this mandate. Are churches encouraging Christians to think this way?  How would it change for Christians if they connected their work to God's redemptive plan?  

Second, kingdom-mindedness would mean companies would re-org in effective ways to reduce waste, miscommunication, lack of delegation and responsibility.  Shouldn't distinctly Christian organizations be leading the way as it relates to employee satisfaction, customer service, etc?  In addition, these companies would re-invest back into the community.  What else would a kingdom-minded company look like?  (I'm excited that a member of our church is starting a job where he will provide consulting to companies that want to think through what it means to be kingdom-minded.  It will be interesting to see what develops from that.)

Lastly, work should play a bigger part of life in the church.  What would it look like for churches to be involved in enterprises, employing people, meeting needs, job training?  Doing all of this with the cultural mandate in mind?  Fortunately, there seems to be a re-discovery of the cultural mandate.  Hopefully this will broaden people's understanding of work beyond just a 'mission field'.  We will recognize that our job of cultivating the garden was given prior to the fall. Cultivating the earth was our primary mission.  Yet we know this redeeming process will not be completed until Jesus comes. 

Gospel, Mission, Kingdom, Imagination [External Links]

Triperspectival Leadership Essentials (David Fairchild) – Examines three essential elements of leadership, character, competency and the often overlooked compatibility.  Also check out his recent posts on Gospel Worldview Questions & Gospel Diagnostic Questions.

Rick McKinley's talk @ the Q Conference. Here is one of his points from 4 ingredients of divine imagination:  (read more at Q – Rick McKinley, Church Relevance or Q day 3)

deeply transformed disciples.. it is not about church but movement. We can grow big churches full of undisciplined disciples, but they will not transform culture. Create a movement of transformed disciples. Truly transformed disciples don’t need permission or a program to reach people. They are a movement of God to release on the city.  Ask: Who in my congregation that has been so transformed by the Gospel, and talk to them about giving it all up and going on this crazy journey…

Some bloggers to check-out: Gospel Driven life (pastor), Hsu’s Views (city-focused campus crusades), Mike Edwards (church planter) & Buzzard Blog (church planter).

The Double-Edge Sword of Raising Support as a Church Planter

A few days ago I posted an idea to help fund church planting and transitions into ministry.  Since then I've been thinking a bit more about a 'tentmaker' organization that would create sustainable church planting movements.  The concept comes from the apostle Paul who worked as a tentmaker in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus (cf. Acts 18:3, 1 Thess. 2:9) in order to plant these churches.  The goal is to create an organization to equip church planters so that they can provide for their families and transition with income into the ministry as their church develops.  The church planter could even seek to start a tentmaker organization in their city to provide ongoing support for their first and hopefully future church plants.  It is like Agathos' plan of One Church One Village, who instead of asking for continual support to fund their ministry to the orphans of aids victims in Africa, seeks to buy farms to create ongoing support.

By focusing on self-sustenance, and requiring that each village be self-sustaining, costs to each participating church are limited to a specific amount – capital costs. No further funding will be needed for each village. 

Do traditional methods of raising funds to plant a church impair the mission of the church?   Is there a connection between typical funding that requires church planters to put on a more 'event-driven' church in order to attract Christians who attend other churches and tithe?  Does the church focus more on Sunday's service than the very life of the people living on mission throughout the week?  Does it re-define what is a successful plant?  Can a church never 'break-even' and still be seen as successful?  Are there areas (inner-city, small towns) where it is impractical for a church to support itself through the congregation? 

How might church plants supported by accompanying resources from a tentmaker organization re-define success?  Could it change unspoken priorities and challenges of money to allow for intensely missional living with a longer-term view of 'success'?   There is still a lot to think through…

UPDATE: The Tentmaker Group has launched to help church planters raise funding.

Leading Gospel-Centered Church Meetings

Do you have a structure of how to lead meetings at your church?  In our monthy church planting meetings with Harbor, they patterned a structure of meeting we have adopted at Kaleo.  It includes:

1. Grace Renewal Stories [Existential] – The meeting begins with people sharing how the gospel (grace) at work.  In this time people share stories of changed lives of those they lead or their own.  There is something remarkable to hearing how the gospel is at work, it gives God the glory for what is happening.  We can only accomplish the work of the ministry when God's grace intrudes into ours and other's lives.  In addition, it is a time of celebration that brings us to a place of shared vision and spirit as we seek to see the gospel transform San Diego.

2. Vision [Normative] – After grace renewal stories are shared, we spend some time casting vision for the church.  We try to limit it to one main item that we want to ensure the leaders are thinking through and sharing with those in their ministries. 

3. Just-in-time Coaching [All] – Next, we open the floor for ministry leaders to ask the group for coaching.  People bring up the biggest challenge they currently face.  This includes practical things such as communication/planning, coaching on how to counsel someone or even theological questions.  There is great value hearing Godly wisdom from a variety of perspectives to deal with ministry challenges.

4. Kingdom Prayer [Situational] – We close the meeting with Kingdom prayer.  As we seek to see the Kingdom expanded through our ministries we submit our requests to God.  Only ongoing, dependent prayer will keep our ministries and our own hearts alive, effective, and saturated in the grace of God.

Triperspectival Hermeneutics

triperspectival-pic.jpg David Fairchild and I spoke yesterday about a triperspectival hermeneutics.  He has posted some great insight into how to use a triperspectival hermeneutic .  Here is a snapshot, but I encourage you to read the whole post.

Our Triune God is omniperspectival and sees all perspectives simultaneously. This should humble us and cause us to seek other perspectives to gain a richer understanding of His truth since it shows us that we have a very limited view of things.

Prophet Perspective:

If we tend towards a prophet perspective, meaning that we are normatively and theologically inclined, we will often look at the text with a grid of systematic theology. This means that we read a passage of Scripture and almost instinctively think of the passage under its neatly categorized theological heading. We see the text as support for the bigger theological topics in an almost apologetic way.

Priest Perspective:

If we tend towards a priestly perspective, meaning that we are more often emotionally in touch and engaged, we may come to the text to see how this affects my heart, my emotions. We look at the text to “sense” what is happening within it. We may say things like “this is how it makes me feel,” or “I know it’s right intuitively, I just can’t explain it.”

King Perspective:

If we tend more towards kingly perspective, meaning that we are situationally oriented, we may come to the text with a concern for how this text applies to real life. How it is worked out practically. We look at the text to “see” what it looks like. The strength of the king is found in the ability to apply a truth to real life situations. A king will often come to the text and instinctively understand how it should look. A king may prefer discussion oriented learning rather that book learning. A king needs to get his hands on the idea and grapple with it in conversation. Kings are great at organizing structures and systems to work out the vision of the text. Kings are very creative when thinking through how to build bridges missionally to others as a church/corporation.

These are quick summaries, read the whole post at David's site including DIAGRAMS!  Our brother is getting creative over there.  Article: Triperspectival Hermeneutics

You Can't Program the Gospel

When Kaleo Church first started, there were a number of things we wanted to do because other churches were doing it.  One example is a Film & Theology night.  We desperately wanted our people to see culture through the lens of the gospel, but it never really took off unless David or I were there.  (Years later, a group started organically in our church and has been doing this as a weekly event.)  This and other events led me to think about how churches should start ministries & programs.  Here is a thought I'd throw out there:

If church leadership creates a program and tells people they should attend, it is not the gospel.

This goes for prayer nights all the way to film & theology.  There are two reasons:

1. The gospel say, "You are already approved and accepted", legalism says "this is what you need to do to be a good Christian".  Church leadership should facilitate natural outflows of the gospel.  Let's look at an example with prayer.  People, as they understand the gospel will want to pray together.  They will see their desperation for God to show up in order to reach the city, change hearts and everything else involved in being the people of God.  Churches should facilitate the process to ensure they are able to pray as a community.  At our church this has led to once a month prayer and fasting nights, prayer prior to service and a Monday night prayer night in addition to prayer being vital at all meetings and home groups.  If this is not happening naturally, church leadership should ensure that people are being taught the gospel as it relates to prayer and the Biblical call to prayer.  

2. The second reason (which is far less important) is that program driven churches lead from the center.  Church leaders should equip others, rather than being a pastor which will create a centrally lead church (see: Leading a Transformational Community).  In the long run, programs led from the center will hamper mission, create a precedent of non-missional people who rely on the pastors to do the 'real work' of the ministry.  At our church we've learned the hard way, when leaders have great ministry ideas for the church to do these 'programs' usually don't seem to survive in the long run.  Yet, when the people who are passionate about a cause are equiped, encouraged and supported, they are able to be released to do the work of the ministry in powerful ways.  These gospel or missional pacesetters help others see that everyone is able to be on mission and seek to advance the Kingdom. 

Tentmakers – Funding a Church Plant or Ministry Transition

pault.jpgHow do you fund a church plant?  For many planters money is the number one challenge to being able to pursue their calling.  I've been thinking about creative ways to do this and wanted to post an idea:  (This is at the idea stage, so things may change)

In order to (1) help church planters fund their ministry or (2) bring people on and train them up within a hands-on environment we would create a 'tentmaker' company. (Picture of Paul the 'tentmaker) This company would allow church planters to be trained and work part (or full time) from home or here in San Diego. The nature of the position would offer a residual commission, which would slowly taper off after a church planter quit working. (We're looking at a couple companies now that look like they'd work.)  The objective would be to create a plan that would fit earning goals of the planter, including after they quit working.

For people who want to transition into ministry, we would offer an intensive training.  During the day, trainees would work roughly 5 hours but also take one-class a day.  This class would teach practical theology for ministry, philosophy on ministry, missiology with hands-on projects to actively do this work in a multi-site church plant.  All this training would be done with other men who are learning from one-another and living in a community.

For example, we have a recent church plant on a college campus.  A person could come, work, be trained and actively participate in the new church plant.  The goal would be to transition the person to full-time ministry or to equip them to go plant a church at another college campus with a funding base from their work.

This is just a start, I appreciate any feedback/suggestions.  Church planters, is this something you would have wanted to do if you could have?

UPDATE: The Tentmaker Group has launched to help church planters raise funding.

Gospel Reformed vs Being too Reformed

The gospel and triperspectivalism are essential for reformed people. Why?  Because all too often we see a strong relationship between being 'reformed' and being contentious (see 1Tim3:3).  The other day someone posted an 'ultra-reformed' reply on an old post.  I went to his blog and found a numerous posts bashing Rick Warren, Benny Hinn, Market-Driven churches and the Emerging movement.  I can't say I disagreed with some of the assessments, but to have the majority of your posts be negative/attacks seems pretty high.  It reminded me of my past, where I was more concerned with winning the argument than loving a person.  

Be only as reformed as the gospel allows. 

The gospel changes us to hopefully be more grace-filled in how we approach others.  As we grow in the gospel, we should become both more humble personally yet confident in Jesus.  We can rejoice in the identity we have already been given of perfect sonship.  The gospel removes the 'poke-them-in-the-eye' debate mentality to win at all costs.  The gospel means we are more concerned with mission than shooting Christians in the back on the way to war.

Secondly, perspectivalism helps us become a more well-rounded person through community.  I believe that those who come to the reformed position tend to be prophets.  Prophets can become doctrine-focused/Normative.  As John Frame writes in his Primer on Perspectivalism:

…perspectivalism is an encouragement to the unity of the church. Sometimes our divisions of theology and practice are differences of perspective, of balance, rather than differences over the essentials of faith. So perspectivalism will help us better to appreciate one another, and to appreciate the diversity of God’s work among us

Leading a Movement Not an Institution

decisionmaking.gif How can you structure leadership and decisions in a church to most effectively be on mission?  This is critical because when power/control are centralized in a church, the mission suffers.  Church leaders who micro-manage or want to be involved in every decision will end up creating an institutional church.  A previous post discusses framing decisions through a lens of Corporation, Community & Cause to create a transformational church. In that post, decisions are looked at as normative which need to be handled centrally, existential at the community level and situational which need to be handled by the 'cause leader'.  Here are three add'l criteria to leading a movement & decision making (see: Decision-Making Diagram ):

Vision/Values:  Elders and centralized leadership should decide and guard the vision & values of a church movement.  The larger the movement, the greater the effort should be made to minimize the centralized leadership from going beyond championing these areas.  This means beyond Biblical requirements, movements will need to ensure elders can function in overseeing a movement without micromanaging.  There will be a level of knowing that missional churches will tend to be messier than an institutional church.

Strategy: Ministry leaders or elders should be empowered to determine the strategy for their ministry focus or cause.  The strategy should agree with the vision & values and leaders should always be receptive to input, but the centralized leadership should be careful not to issue directives.

Tactics: Ministry Groups should be given authority to determine specific tactics on how to implement the strategy.  A team approach to ministry should effectively minimize the need for oversight from directors.

Credits: This topic was discussed at our Harbor Monthly Church Planters Meeting. 

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