Five Healthy Meals for a Church Planter

“Five Healthy Meals for a Church Planter”

By Ed Compean

Consider the meal. The second statement God made to humanity was about food. Eating was an element in the fall of humanity. Food is was made an Intrigal part of the Passover and Levitical offerings. Jesus dined with sinners, provided thousands of meals and instituted His New Covenant with a supper. We all eagerly await another supper with Him.

 

Food is fellowship and an important part of church planting. This is played out in numerous ways, but there are at least five healthy meals church planters should partake of.

 

Community Leaders

Once a core group is established and discipleship is happening, make appointments to break bread with the mayor, high school principal and other civic leaders. You will be surprised how many will be willing to at least meet for coffee. Share the vision of the church plant, ask how you can serve the community and be sure to ask how you can pray for them personally.

 

View this meeting is similar to getting an annual physical from your doctor. You may not have anything wrong, but when there is a need you already have an established relationship. When a civic leader is looking for spiritual leaders, they will already know you.

 

Other Pastors

Unless you are working among an unreached people group, most communities have some type of pastoral alliance or fellowship. If possible, seek them out and eat together.

 

These men, and sometimes women, will not all have the same philosophy of ministry as you. That’s okay because the suggestion is not to partner in ministry as much as join in prayer for your community. These people will have incredibly valuable insight into the spiritual strongholds and challenges of your community.

 

Leaders in the Church Plant

Beginning as soon as possible and continuing as often as possible, share meals in homes with the church leaders. Don’t eat out or meet at coffee houses, but make it a point to break bread in homes.

 

A restaurant is a missed opportunity for true fellowship that is usually only found in a home setting. Being in a potential leader’s home allows interaction and observation family dynamics which will never happen in a restaurant.

 

The Church

Two goals are being reached in having food and beverages after every church gathering. The first is creating an entry point for people to exercise their spiritual gifts as they serve others in hospitality.

 

The second goal is a simple pause. As people pause to enjoy a coffee or baked good, you and other leaders have an opportunity to engage them before they get into their vehicles. It’s a time people can share a moment and hopefully plan for more time together.

 

Jesus

As often as the church plant takes communion they join together to remember the importance of our Lord’s death, burial and resurrection. As soon as the first baptisms are held and the church is formalized, it is time to eat of the Lord’s Table on a regular basis.

 

It’s important for the church plant to early on understand the language of 1 Corinthians 11 explains the communion meal is to be taken together. It will not only unite the body together with each other, but with Christians around the world and, of course, with Jesus Christ.

 

Digest

Psalm 34 tells us to taste and see the Lord is good. The post resurrection appearances of Jesus always included meals. At the birth of the church they broke bread from house to house. It follows that eating together is strategic in establishing of fellowship and worshiping communities.

 

 

Pastors and Bankers – an Unlikely Kingdom Connection

Pastors and Bankers – an Unlikely Kingdom Connection

A friend of mine recently said to me that there is no way that he would have a banker who did not understand his business. In fact, it is why he left his former bank. “A new bank officer who does not understand my business is both unresponsive and dangerous,” he said. “When he did show up, he never came alone…I think he was embarrassed about how little he knew about us…and without that knowledge, he could not make a decision.”

While the Church is not a business, it certainly has financial and operational characteristics that are unique and must be understood for a banker to adequately serve its needs.

My thoughts here are essentially an admonition to the Pastoral community to form a relationship with a banker that is Kingdom oriented, Christ-honoring and built for the long-haul. Too many Pastors take the stance that “its money…and I don’t really deal with those issues,” or, worse yet, “it does not matter where we get the money to build…it’s just money.”

 

In Praise of Counsel

The Scripture is clear; By wise Counsel plans succeed… (Proverbs 11:14, 24:6, 15:22). A banker who understands the church, cares for the Pastor and is motivated by the thought of seeing plans for the Church succeed can be a valuable asset for the wise Pastor. By this, I do not mean the banker who is dedicated to the funding of every project that the Pastor proposes. There are many pitfalls to construction, from being over-ambitious, to poor project management to incurring too much debt (and you can live with this for a long time). A thoughtful, prudent and informed banker can save your ministry a lot of unnecessary pain and anguish.

 

Relationship is Key

Too many Pastors view the bank loan as purely transactional in nature. The risk of this is disconnecting the knowledge and focus of the bank from the purpose and needs of the church. Right now, there is a plethora of cash available for loans and many banks looking for transactions. When cash gets tighter, the tendency of banks is to retreat to their core competencies. Remember my friend above? Clearly his business was not a core competency of the original bank, or, if it was, they simply did not have the right personnel in place to communicate this competency. As you search for a bank to fund your project, or simply handle your cash, make sure that the bank is committed to the Church (many have an antipathy for the Church and are suspicious of its purposes) and has personnel who are familiar with how churches operate and are committed to the integrity, safety and success of the local church. In short, people make the difference. Be linked in heart and in purpose.

 

Think Long-Term

I have been at this for 22 years and have many a Pastor friend that I have served alongside for a decade, or longer. The commitment of our bank to provide services that meet the needs of the Church and keep a Pastor free from financial worry is a great source of personal satisfaction for me. I have understood my call clearly over the last 20 years…to protect Pastors. With all of the brokenness that exists in the world, the last thing that a Pastor needs is financial worries. This is core to our approach and if it is not core to your bankers approach, you have another cause for worry. In summary, find a good banker who cares about you personally and Kingdom values in general. Befriend him and walk the long ministry road together. You will be thankful you did.


Chris Dimond is the Senior Vice President of CASS Commercial Bank. CASS has a longstanding relationship with the Calvary Chapel movement and occupies ground floor space at the Logos building in Costa Mesa.

Pilgrim Behham: 3 Ways To Rock The New Year

Pilgrim Behham: 3 Ways To Rock The New Year


Perhaps you’ve heard the catchy (and convicting) adage before: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Sometimes church planters and pastors are the most guilty of this notion. We mean well. We just want to please the Lord and walk by faith, and leave the details to the bookkeeper. None of us determine from the beginning that we desire to fail. But sometimes when opportunities present themselves to us, we aren’t executing because we weren’t ready.

 

The New Year is one of those opportunities. Families are reeling from the brink of financial overload during Christmas. Many people wait for the New Year to start a new lease and make a move. Others begin resolutions that include growing spiritually and visiting a new church. This means there are lots of people who may be starting to attend your church or who are going through a stressful time of transition. We as pastors and church planters should not be caught unprepared as the ball drops and the year changes.

 

Here are 3 ways pastors and church planters can rock the New Year:

  1. Re-share Your Vision

As a church planter, it is absolutely critical to take advantage of seasons and to plan ahead. I have met many pastor-teachers who merely teach through the next verse of the book their church is studying during the month of January. Why not take the first Sunday of the New Year to passionately articulate why your church exists?

When we take time to communicate who we are and what we are about, this refreshes our congregation to get on mission. It can also course-correct people who are on the wrong bus. I have seen much fruit from these “Vision Sundays” and even incorporate a yearly theme for our church to consider as we advance the Kingdom for another 52 weeks.

 

  1. Refresh Your Team

Jesus said in Mark 6:31, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” A recent study found that 1,500 pastors will leave the ministry this month due to one of three things (or a combination): moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches. Another study found that 80% of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses said they feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as leaders. It is imperative that we get away with our teams to pray and fast and seek the Lord together.

 

One characteristic of very healthy organizations is their frequency of productive retreats and vision meetings. Our new church, Shoreline, is working on a collaborative weekend retreat this year called “Shoreline Labs” where our team comes together to brainstorm and pray and share ideas in a setting that puts us all on the same level and allows us to creatively design what we believe God is leading us to do as a community. Don’t allow another year to come and go and burnout to set it without taking time to get away alone and rest.

 

  1. Reset Your Ministries

Some ministries just need to die. As awkward as that was to say, it’s true. Have you been keeping something on “life-support” when it needs a funeral? Every year we consider every single ministry and whether it is contributing to our mission and core values. If it isn’t, it doesn’t make the cut. In January we reorganize our Community Groups and allow new people to host and lead so that others may attend and so the groups avoid becoming stagnant.

 

As a former Apple employee, many people would come into our store with simple problems on their iPhone. One of the first things I would do was to “reset” the phone by depressing a few buttons. Often this cleared out the issues and resolved the problem they initially came in for. Resetting our ministries allows us to annually evaluate what is working (and what isn’t) and see how we can make things better. It is also an exciting time to launch some new venture or plan some event we didn’t have the budget for last year.

 

When the New Year arrives, we have an opportunity to do much more for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Are you taking advantage of the calendar? Are you ready to see greater things this next year in and through your life and ministry? With a little planning, you can celebrate that you are redeeming the time in the midst of evil days, even if the New Year comes without the fireworks.


Pastor Pilgrim Benham is a church planter, pastor, and writer (but don’t ask him to do all three at once). For over ten years there was no nondenominational church plant in downtown Tampa until he planted Calvary Chapel South Tampa. After 4 years he moved to his hometown Bradenton and planted Shoreline Calvary Chapel in East Bradenton. God continues to build His kingdom as Pastor Pilgrim trains and encourages church planters in Florida and to the ends of the earth. His book, Forgiven: Are You, Are They? Is available on Amazon.

Christmas: Neil Spencer Controversy or Opportunity?

Christmas: Neil Spencer – Controversy or Opportunity?


Christmas can be controversial. No, I don’t mean controversy in the sense that you wanna pick a fight with Aunt Esther because you’re sick of her annual fruitcake gift contribution; but, controversy over how Christians and churches should engage with the Christmas season.

You may not be aware of it, but the debate as to whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. Many Christian brothers & sisters celebrate Advent. A Latin word that means “ coming.” It is a time to celebrate and reflect on the first coming of Jesus, and rejoice and prepare for His second coming. However, many equally sincere and committed Christians will choose to avoid the holiday season altogether due to some of the pagan origins, over-commercialized craziness, and perhaps the reminder of lost loved ones.

 

One pastor said when it comes to the Christmas season, Christians can choose to RECEIVE it, REJECT it, or seek to REDEEM it. We can REJECT it by having nothing to do with it, and even perhaps demonize it all together (ever heard people say that SANTA should be SATAN?). We can RECEIVE it by jumping into the commercialized craziness of it all – Santa, Rudolph, Buddy the Elf, all the stuff, without connecting this season at all to the coming of Jesus. We can REDEEM it by using this season as an opportunity to celebrate Jesus and to be missionally engaged with our communities.

 

I like what one author has said about celebrating Christmas, “Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.”

 

The Apostle Paul encouraged the early church in Rome by saying, “Some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God… Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” (Romans 14.5-6, 12-13 NLT).

 

Whatever your conviction is about Christmas season, we should use EVERY opportunity, EVERY season, EVERY day to reach people with the GOOD NEWS of Jesus. In the country of America, men and women are open to hearing about Jesus during the Christmas season. Pastor and researcher Ed Stetzer released this statistics on Dec 14th of this year saying 61% of Americans will attend church during Christmastime, 77% of Americans who attend church during Christmastime do it to “Honor Jesus;” 57% of Americans who do NOT attend church at Christmastime would likely go if invited.

 

Jesus was sent by His father into the world as the very first missionary. And Jesus initiated a missionary movement (Matthew 28:18-20). Every Christian, like Jesus, is a missionary. Every neighborhood and workplace is a mission field. As Dick Hillis, missionary to Asia and founder of Overseas Crusades International said, “Every heart with Christ, a missionary; every heart without Christ, a mission field.”

 

Let’s use this Christmas season as an opportunity to engage men and women with JESUS!


Pastor Neil Spencer leads Coastline Calvary Chapel in Destin, FL; find out more about Neil at neilspencer.net.

Christmas: Daniel Williams Meals Matter

Christmas: Daniel Williams – Meals Matter


Once you have known the love and mercy of Jesus in your life, there is no greater joy than sharing His love with someone.

Jesus commands us to go into all the world and make disciples,and nothing brings greater fulfillment than stepping out and helping a person grow in their relationship with Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20, John 20:21) I want nothing more than to obey my Savior and tell someone else about how much He loves them and what God has already done for them! But have you ever found yourself feeling ill-equipped or maybe you just don’t know where to start when it comes to discipling someone or even sharing Jesus? ! !

When my family came to Florida to start a church, we did not know anyone. We had no team, no church to invite people to, and wanted a way to form relationships and share Jesus with people who so desperately need Him. We had always loved having people over to our house to eat, and we decided to continue using this approach to building relationships and see what God would do through it! ! !

Meals are a practical and powerful means of connecting with people. ! ! Jesus used meals as an opportunity for ministry throughout His life. Robert Karris said, “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.”! !Luke 7:34-35 says, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.” ! !

God is constantly using the everyday world around us to show us things about who He is. So, it makes sense that Jesus used every opportunity to teach those around Him, including meal times. It is amazing to note the number of times we hear some of the greatest teachings of Jesus come from a time sitting around a dinner table.

The act of inviting someone into our home is becoming more rare as people are busier and connecting more and more through social media and texting rather than face to face. We have had many people tell us that our home was the first “real home” they had been to in years! Tim Chester wrote a book on this subject called “A Meal with Jesus.” “Few acts are more expressive of companionship than the shared meal….someone with whom we share food is likely to be our friend, or well on the way to becoming one.”!! ! We eat an average of 21 meals per week.

It is a reasonable and attainable goal to plan out 1-2 of these meal times each week to connect with someone for the sake of discipleship! In a natural setting, eating a meal is an intimate and comfortable environment for real conversation.! ! So be encouraged that this is something you can do! Sometimes we may feel like what we are doing is not enough, or we feel at a loss in how we can better pour into someone’s life.

This is a great starting point. Just as Jesus used meal times to pour into those around Him, we can begin to look for ordinary opportunities to do the same!


Daniel Williams started Redemption Church Delray Beach in 2012 in Delray Beach, Florida. Where he lives with his wife, Laura, and their two children.

He currently serves as the Lead Pastor. For more information about him or Redemption Church visit www.redemptionindelraybeach.com

PlanterPlan.Com

We want to introduce you to PlanterPlan.com a valuable tool that will assist you in managing the various projects often associated with church planting. This resource is available for free thanks to the kingdom minded leaders at Passion for Planting, and is described in detail below. There are add-ons available at reasonable prices to enhance the tool, however for those with a limited budget, be encouraged – the free package is an excellent resource! Plus you can add accessories to the base model as needs arise and/or resources become available. You will also find this resource listed on the CCPN site on the bottom of our team page where we provide a short list of partners and preferred services. 


 

Purpose:  PlanterPlan is an online, easy to use, church planting project management tool that tracks the tasks needed to launch a new church or a new campus of an existing church. You can assign tasks to team members, quickly see what’s coming due, mark tasks complete, and track overdue tasks. PlanterPlan works with all major browsers on any device including mobile devices. What really makes PlanterPlan shine is the comprehensive library of tasks that church planters need to accomplish to start a healthy new church.
 
Key Features of System:  Planting a new church is challenging and PlanterPlan helps the team stay organized and focused. The resulting efficiencies gained frees up the lead planter to stay focused on people.
  • User Dashboard: Each member of the team has their own user account with a unique username and password. Users can quickly evaluate progress and establish priorities with graphical displays for current, overdue and completed Milestones/Tasks, as well as, days to launch.
  • Phases: Each phase represents a large block of time accomplishing related milestones. Phases One, Two, and Three are largely planning and preparation work that can be accomplished before the planter moves onsite. Phases Four and Five are the bulk of the execution of the strategies/plans leading up to the Phase Six Launch activities. Phases are then broken down into Milestones.
  • Milestones: Milestones bring clarity of purpose. By grouping similar tasks together into a milestone, the planter gains efficiency of effort and more importantly, answers the question, “Why?” Each milestone brings the team closer to launch of the new church.
  • Tasks: Each task has a detailed description to help the team get things done. Think of the tasks as the “what” to do. There are roughly 400 tasks in the PlanterPlan standard project template to help you do the right things at the right times. You’ll apply each task to your specific planting context to launch the church God called you to plant.
  • Action Steps: Action steps answer the all-important question of “how”?  Breaking tasks down to specific “how to” steps ensures clarity of expectations for the team. Action steps are PlanterPlan’s “premium content” of clear, step-by-step instructions that include: training videos, checklists, worksheets, templates and samples.
  • Reporting: Easy to read reports and graphs help you understand your current status, what your priorities are, and where you need to focus your attention amidst competing priorities. PlanterPlan reporting allows you to see your project visually. Reports include: Quick Look, Detailed Project Status and a Time Line Summary Graph.
Key Features for Users:
  • Free access to the library of 400+ tasks (“what” to do) and the reporting tools.
  • Low cost upgrade to the action steps (“how” to do it).
  • Content is optimized for use on mobile devices.
  • Intuitive Project Management:  Enter the project name, project start date, launch date and PlanterPlan instantly builds the detailed (and properly sequenced) project management schedule of milestones and tasks.
  • Project Templates: PlanterPlan currently offers two project templates.
    • New Church: Includes tasks needed to launch brand new churches. The intent is the church will be its own entity, independent from any “mother” church.
    • Multi-site Campus: Includes tasks needed to start a new campus/location of an existing church. The intent is the new location will remain part of the existing church.
  • Task Filters:  Users can filter tasks to view all tasks, tasks specifically assigned to them, tasks completed, overdue, due currently, due soon and not due yet.
  • Custom Tasks: Along with customizing due dates and priorities, customized tasks unique to the planter’s approach may be added into PlanterPlan.
  • Task Color Coding:  Colors are used throughout PlanterPlan as an indicator of task status.
    • Grey: Not Due Yet:  Tasks which have both start and due dates in the future.
    • Orange: Due Soon:  Tasks that have due dates within the next 7 days (configurable).
    • Violet: Current:  Tasks that have a start date in the next 0 days (configurable).
    • Red: Overdue:  Tasks that have a due date prior to today.
    • Green: Complete:  Tasks that are marked complete (include tasks marked N/A).
  • Coaches:  PlanterPlan includes various coaching “checkpoints” to assist Church Planter Coaches as they review and affirm the planter’s efforts.
  • Team Management:  New users can be added to the team and granted project access by their role:
    • Standard User: Edit tasks assigned to them
    • Full Access User: Edit any task in the project
    • Coach:  Edit only coaching tasks
  • FAQ: PlanterPlan has a tutorial video that demonstrates the features of the tool.  Additionally, there is a list of frequently asked questions for users.

PlanterPlan.com is one of several church planting resources through Passion for Planting and Exponential.

Book Review: “The Leadership Ladder – Developing Missional Leaders in the Church”

Steve Ogne is a pioneer in developing resources for church planters, and has provided another excellent resource for pastors and planters. In the “Leadership Ladder” the authors provide a meaningful practical tool to develop disciples and leaders who can reach the lost and make mature disciples. One of the great benefits for church planters would be to better understand the issues and develop a culture from the inception of the church that was intentional about leadership development.

We are all aware that there is a crisis in the church in regard to development of mature disciples who are capable of reaching the lost and then making mature followers of Christ. Most proclaimed Christians have never shared their faith [the gospel], don’t engage unsaved people in the culture around them [live missionally], and have no idea how to make mature followers of Christ of new converts. This book is a valuable resource to help change the dynamic and offers a helpful model as a new paradigm.

The authors provide a practical “how to” toolkit that likes the process to a ladder. The sides that support each rung are Biblical knowledge and Biblical character. The book provides practical ideas to ensure these foundational aspects are addressed properly. You’ll likely learn some new skills to ensure that Biblical knowledge is actually being developed in the local church. As Calvary Chapel pastors we can erroneously assume that because we teach the Bible in verse by verse that people in the local church are actually growing in their understanding of theology in a meaningful way. Similarly the need to develop and ensure that the church is growing in Christ-like character is extensively addressed.

The book provides tools to help Christians engage the unsaved people in the culture they live in. The next step up the ladder is the process to make disciples who can make disciples. Once that skill has been learned and applied the next rung is to mobilize Christians for ministry. Then we learn to train those disciples who are mobilized for ministry to effectively lead ministry. The final steps are learning to effectively lead leaders and then to plant churches. Throughout the book the authors provide very practical advice and insights from a plethora of Christian leaders on how to put the principles to work.

I’m blessed to serve at an established church where I believe the majority of the principles have been and are being addressed. Nevertheless, the practical and comprehensive nature of the book has convinced me that this is a must read for our leaders. In the context of a new church plant I believe that it would be especially advantageous to develop this type of process as part of the church’s DNA from the beginning of the church through its maturation. So, I highly recommend this resource to you.

Pastor Bruce Zachary planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, CA and is the director of Calvary Church Planting Network. Many of his resources are available for free online, including Kingdom Leaders and the Church Planting Manual. You can follow Pastor Bruce on Facebook and Twitter @BruceZachary.

Lessons Learned When Launching Out

I don’t know anything about planting a church. We’re only eight months into this and we are learning new things every week, praise the Lord; and there’s so much to learn.

One of the best pieces of practical advice I got was, “When you think you finally have this thing figured out it’s time to quit because the Lord is no longer in it.” There are countless books and classes and webinars and manuals and experts and conferences on church planting. These things can be great, and they can be detrimental depending on how much hope you place in the process or formula. I’m not really one for process or formula. What I do know is me, and I know that I am nothing more than an untrained and uneducated fisherman (literally) who knows and loves Jesus.

When my wife and I got married ten years ago we were flooded with unsolicited advice on marriage. It came from all over. Some advice was sound and could be applicable. Other advice was obviously less than sound and was quickly dismissed. When our first son was born we were given parenting books and we were encouraged to take parenting classes. It was a very stressful and confusing time, especially when we’d get conflicting advice more often than not. A doctor would tell us one thing and a family member would tell us something else. Here we were, brand new parents just trying to make it from day to day, being overwhelmed with advice that may have worked for someone else but wasn’t working for us. We could drive ourselves crazy trying to follow everything we read and heard, or we could pray and figure it out.

When the Lord placed it on our hearts to plant a church it was no different. I was given advice in every area you could think of, and from everyone. I was told that we should look to plant in a more affluent area so we wouldn’t have to worry about money. I was told how long or how short I should teach for and what book to teach from (sometimes that was even a book of the Bible). I was told what instruments we need for worship and how many songs we should play. I was told how we should set up chairs and what kind of coffee we should have. I was told what authors to read and what teachers to listen to. If it sounds churchy, I was told how to do it. A lot of information came from great, well intentioned non believers. A lot of other advice came from people wanting me to know how they would do it. Yet other advice came from men I respected and I actually wanted to hear what they had to say. Just like with the marriage and parenting advice, though, I found myself frustrated. Please don’t get me wrong, good counsel is crucial and should be sought after and rarely will someone who wants you to fail offer advice. However, your marriage is personal and unique and will only grow and prosper when Jesus is the head. And likewise, your children are going to learn how to tie their shoes when it’s time to tie their shoes and they will be potty trained when it’s time. Don’t labor and sweat over that stuff. Frankly, they don’t need to be groomed to live the American Dream, they need Jesus and that’s between you, your wife, your children, and the Holy Spirit. Labor over your children in prayer, preach to them the Gospel. Let the other stuff sort itself out.

There’s no formula to church planting. Obedience and service is extremely personal. At the end of it all Jesus is going to ask, “Who do you say that I am?” What I see in the Bible, and what I’ve dedicated my ministry and my church to, is to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer. Trying, and falling so short, but still always trying to give myself continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Like I said, I’m brand new to this and I’ve been overwhelmed by all of the things I “should be” doing. My inbox has been flooded with promises from church growth services and every article I’ve read tells me I need to be culturally relevant, wear tighter jeans, and drink more coffee. As I fail to find mention of these “ministry aids” in scripture, I read in Psalm 127:1, “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

My goal in ministry is to be found faithful. You’re not gonna catch a fish sitting on the couch. My prayer is that I remain sensitive and flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit while I remain busy, redeeming the time in the city that the Lord called me to serve in. Stay in the Word, surround yourself with people who love Jesus, pray hard, and give thanks through everything. Trust the Lord because He cares about His church and my wife and my kids more than I do. Block out anything that distracts or takes away from you being found faithful. I reckon we’ll figure the rest out as we go.

“My prayer is that I remain sensitive and flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit while I remain busy, redeeming the time in the city that the Lord called me to serve in.”

Pastor Ryan Saul was on staff at Calvary Chapel Palm Harbor when he and his wife Rachel began praying about planting a church. They left for Tampa in 2012 and were used to launch Calvary West Tampa.

The Church Planter…Organized

One thing that many church planters have in common is their lack of concern for the detailed and nuanced. We tend to be those who are pregnant with vision and faith yet devoid of systems and processes. We can write our vision out on a napkin in eight seconds but ask us about our process to lead people through discipleship and we will choke on our Grande Lattes. Many guys will even disguise their inability (or disability) to pay attention to organization and actually try to pass it off as faith! They say things like, “Well the Lord is in control. I don’t need to do anything but pray and teach the Bible.”

Though I agree there should be a simplicity in doing ministry that leans heavily on the provision and power of the Holy Spirit, when I read through the Old Testament, I find a very detail-oriented God who’s even concerned with specific color schemes in the temple (think Pantone). I find a God who designs an ark to accurate specificity.

In the New Testament, I don’t find a lack of organization being a spiritual gift. There’s just no acquittal for being disorganized, or worse, lazy, about ministry structure. It isn’t God’s heart, it’s an excuse. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul summarizes his instructions to Corinth on how their believer’s gatherings should look. And his simple summary in verse 40 is: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Speaking of spiritual gifts, Paul reminds us that there should be a sense of order and decency in all that functions within the body as ministry happens. Does that describe your church? Does that describe your leadership?

In the New Testament, I don’t find a lack of organization being a spiritual gift. There’s just no acquittal for being disorganized, or worse, lazy, about ministry structure. It isn’t God’s heart, it’s an excuse.

If not, here are 3 ways to help become more organized in your ministry:

1. Determine workflows.

A workflow is merely a step-by-step layout, visually, of how you are doing ministry. What happens when people visit your church? What is your plan for follow-up? For discipleship? For small groups? Who is in charge of what ministry? What is your process for handling money and doing the books? How do you communicate to your leadership? To your church body? To the unbelieving community around you? What does your year of events, including your preaching schedule look like? Workflows lay out the answers to these questions in a step-by-step format.

For example, if we have a new believer, I will know immediately what is next for them. They will be on a path towards baptism and a discipleship group. They will be given an opportunity for ministry both in the church gathering and in our scattering for mission. We aren’t in the business of only making converts, so why do so few churches have a great game plan for discipleship? I personally use an app called “MindNode” which gives me a visual layout of our processes. I know where every single person in our church should be designated because I have a clear picture of what we are doing, every day. This paints a broad vision for your church but also gives specifics so you can be intentional with every relationship.

2. Delegate and prioritize.

If you find yourself overworked and exhausted, yet still disorganized, chances are you are not delegating or prioritizing. Take everything that needs to be done, on a weekly basis, and create an action list. There should be verbs on this list, like “Design outreach flyer”, “Take Larry to coffee to talk about him leading a home fellowship” or even “Pick up bagels”. Once everything (and I mean everything) is on this list, drop it into one of four categories: Urgent and Important, Urgent but Unimportant, Important but Not Urgent, Not Urgent and Not Important. Now that everything has been categorized, it’s time to prioritize and delegate. Here’s how this will look:

Urgent and Important: Do First
Urgent but Unimportant: Delegate
Important but Not Urgent: Schedule

Neither: Set aside

You may love to create graphics, but is this as important as preparing a sermon? Delegate it. Delegation is simply sharing the workload with others. Make sure the person you are delegating the work to knows what is expected, where their resources are and how they are to get the job done. On the other hand, a new website design may not be incredibly urgent, but it is very important. Schedule it. Do you want to get a leadership retreat planned? It’s certainly important, but not as urgent. Put a date on it. If it isn’t urgent or important, set it aside for the future. What are the things that only you can do? These are the urgent and important things that must be done first. For me, it is always “Prayer, preaching, and people (discipleship/leadership)“. Take this “Do First” list and put the list items on a daily/hourly calendar. Make sure there is a timed reminder. You’ll be amazed at what you can now get accomplished. I use einsenhower.me, a free web program that helps put this matrix together for you.

What are the things that only you can do? These are the urgent and important things that must be done first.

3. Digest a portion at a time.

It can be overwhelming to look at the body of work it takes to plant and pastor a church and ascertain how the work can be organized! But the best way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time (if you are odd enough to eat elephant). After prioritizing, I will take our entire year and break it into seasons (or semesters). I place a special emphasis for each season: community in the spring, mission in the summer, discipleship in the fall, outreach in the winter, and have campaigns for each of these initiatives.Rome may not have been built in a day, but it was built one day at a time! On my weekly schedule I break the looming workload into daily tasks. That means I wear a different ministry “hat” on Tuesday than I do on Friday. I take advantage of Hootsuite and Mailchimp (both free) to schedule daily social media posts and weekly email announcements so I’m not frantic about it throughout the week. I don’t have to guess about meeting up with someone because every day I’ll know what my boundaries are.Here’s a sample of what my week looks like now:

Monday: Hootsuite/Mailchimp scheduled/Weekend Wrap-Up communique
Tuesday: Worship setlist and sermon outline prepared/Write blog/Event prep
Wednesday: Community Group Guides created/Sermon preparation
Thursday: Discipleship meeting planned/Future idea brainstorm
Friday: Weekend volunteers/service/sermon finalized

It really isn’t a difficult formula to help get organized. It simply comes down to knowing what is most important and urgent and starting each week with a plan. Organization includes creating a detailed, step-by-step process that you can visually see for every aspect of your ministry, and taking one day at a time to accomplish a mountain of work. Zechariah 4:6-7 says: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain?” The mountain of work may seem great, but God reminds us that it is not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit. Rely on the Holy Spirit to strengthen you as you do all things decently and in order.

Pastor Pilgrim Benham is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church, a new church in the Bradenton/Lakewood Ranch area of Florida. For more details, visit thisisshoreline.com.

Book Review: Spurgeon’s Sorrows

Learning to preach, evangilize, mobilize volunteers, encourage staff, is a huge party of being a pastor and planting a church. However, one aspect of church planting I didn’t account for was the emotional and spiritual toll that it was going to take. Zach Eswine wrote a short book tackling the subject of depression and offering hope: Spurgeons Sorrows, Realistic hope for those suffering from depression. However, he chose to do it in a fascinating unique way.

Charles Spurgeon has been one of my favorite pastors since I became a Christian. I’ve read most of his books, sermons, and almost anything else I can get my hands on. By all accounts Spurgeon was doing what most of us church planters want to see happen. He had a mega-church, wrote books, spoke at conferences, and in many regards was a celebrity pastor. However, even with all the “successes” Spurgeon had in ministry, one of the most consistent threads of his life was depression. Consistently , or occasionally, most church partners will deal with depression and that is why Eswine’s look at how Spurgeon dealt with depression is important.

I would encourage every planter, potential planter, or pastor in general to read Eswine’s book. It is not only going to be a helpful resource for you and your own personal life but, It will also be invaluable for you as you minister to people in your church who are going through despair. I want to highlight three aspects of the book that were insightful and helpful for me.

1. Depression and despair comes even when there is “nothing” bad happening in life: Most people associate depression with traumatic experiences . Which to be sure can be a cause of depression. Yet, that is not always the case. Surgeon says this: “Quite involuntarily, unhappiness of mind, depression of spirit, and sorrow of heart will come upon you. You may be without any real reason for grief, and yet may become among the most unhappy of men because, for the time, your body has conquered your soul.” Andrew Solomon in his book The Noonday Demon, “Grief is depression in proportion to circumstance, while depression is grief out of proportion to circumstance.” Therefore do not discount in yourself or your congregation that despite everything going well you may still be afflicted with despair and depression.

2. Spiritual depression is real and powerful: Spurgeon says “Spiritual sorrows are the worst of mental miseries.” Eswine says this on the subject, “We feel in our heart that He is angry with us, or we have done something to forfeit His love, or He has toyed with us and left us on a whim. Either way, He exists for others, but not for us. He punishes us with silent treatment. He laughs at our pain when he gossips to others about us. The irony of desertion is that God’s absence feels overwhelmingly close to us. We stare the void in the face. According to Charles, when a person knows that God is with them, he or she may bear great depression of spirit, but if we believe God has left us in our miseries and hardships, there is a torment within the breast which I can only liken, Charles says, to the prelude of hell.”

3. Jesus suffered from depression: Spurgeon says this, “Personally, I also bear witness that it has been to me, in seasons of great pain, superlatively comforting to know that in every pang which racks His people the Lord Jesus has a fellow-feeling. We are not alone, for one like unto the Son of man walks the furnace with us.” Later in the chapter Eswine says this, “…Instead, what we need to know for ourselves in our hearts is that Jesus is ‘the Chief Mourner’ who above all others could say, ‘I am the man that hath seen affliction.’ To feel in our being that the God to whom we cry has Himself suffered as we do enables us to feel that we are not alone and that God is not cruel.”

This is a fantastically helpful book that will encourage you, give you hope, and like for me, give vocabulary to what I have been feeling but unable to articulate. There is hope to be had even in the worst of times. We must as pastors passionately provide that hope to ourselves and to those who we have the honor of ministering to.

Pastor Trevor Gavin has been used of God to plant Nexus Portland. You can follow Trevor @tgavin811 andfollow the Gavins in their journey on their blog