You are Transitional

You are Transitional

By Ed Compean

A church planter can be overwhelmed with developing a core team, meeting with people and raising volunteers. These immediate based commitments, and numerous others, can make it difficult for a church planting pastor to even consider  who will follow him in the pastorate.

 

My experience until now has been planting churches and helping others plant churches. While the progress sometimes felt glacial, the focus had been to establish, raise up and turn over. In a series of events which can only be described as God’s sovereignty, things have changed. As of six weeks ago, I am the new pastor of a well functioning, almost 25-year-old church full of wonderful people and rich history. It is from this experience I hope to make three points for the planter to consider for the benefit of the church and the next pastor.

 

You Are Transitional 

A few days into my new pastorate,  a man wept deeply in my living room, not in a counseling session or in a time of confession. Instead, he was deeply moved to sobbing tears because the Lord had brought a new pastor to his church. His joy was not for me specifically, it was joy for God’s faithfulness to bring an under-shepherd for the church he loved.

 

Church Planters would do well to encourage the people of the church to care for the church with a view touching  eternity. Bill Holdridge with Poimen Ministries was instrumental in the pastor search and in my transition into the new church. He explained the importance of the long-term view by telling me, “We are all transitional pastors, there will be another.”

 

Church planters will do well to encourage people to love the Head of the church, honor His bride and appropriately respect the office of pastor. Of course there will be a generation in which there is no transition, but until Jesus returns, one day we will all be replaced. It is best to pray and plan from the beginning.

 

You need to Communicate 

The previous pastor had done an excellent job of preparing the church for transition. He had similarly done an excellent job in helping me understand how the church was functioning and how the small staff was operating. The assistant pastor was completely supportive and provided a great sense of continuity. We all knew sheep could be restless in the transition, so effort was made to communicate as much as possible.

 

Before final decisions were made my wife and I met and broke bread with the elders for a time of testimony and dialogue. Similarly, the outgoing pastor arranged for time with key staff members where many questions were asked of all. All the church volunteers were invited to a luncheon where we again gave our testimonies and answered questions.

 

To keep the church updated, the elders asked me to preach and after each service opened the church up to questions for my wife and I. While the final decision was made by the elders, it was an opportunity to communicate to the body. It allowed inquiring, involvement and investment by the body as well as to the body. In the weeks since becoming the lead pastor, several people have mentioned how they felt they understood the process and appreciated not being left out.

 

It Is Not About You

The verses the Lord gave me for the transition is Psalm 23:1-2.

 

The Lord is my shepherd;

     I shall not want.

     He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

     He leads me beside the still waters.

 

Though my wife and I are making another radical change in our lives, these well known words are not for us. They are for the Lord’s sheep in His pasture.

 

There was strong agreement that the former pastor and his family were called to a new work, but there is also strong grieving as a dear part of this community of believers is missed.

 

Even if his leaving had been from disqualification or division, as the new pastor I would want to honor and help the grieving of the sheep. They hurt, and that is okay. Grieving is good and honoring of the relationship. The better the grieving, the sooner the sheep are lying down in the Lord’s pastures and drinking of His waters. Their missing of the former pastor has nothing to do with how they view me as the new pastor. It has everything to do with missing a friend. You want to minister to and with people who feel the depth of relationships.

 

Pray and Prepare

Praying for and preparing the church for the eventual transition to the next pastor should be on the minds of all church planters. Some will transition soon, like the apostle Paul, others after many decades, like Pastor Chuck Smith. In either case, until Jesus returns, we are all transitional and should pray and prepare for the inevitable.

 

Finally, let me take a moment more to make another callout to Poimen and Bill Holdridge. They are a great wealth of information for the times a church planter moves on to do what church planters do.


Ed Compean is a former church planter in Kenya and the current lead pastor at Shoreline Calvary in Morro Bay, CA.

What Does It Mean To “Serve The Body”

What Does It Mean To “Serve The Body”

by Laura Williams

As a believer in Jesus, His follower, and a child of God, I find myself wanting to know Jesus more deeply every day. I want to understand His heart. I want to see the people around me as He sees them. And I want to see God’s hand working in and through my life! If you are a lover of Jesus, you know what I’m talking about. We all want more. And as His child, I want to share with you one of the most wonderful lessons I have learned about knowing God more deeply and seeing Him working in and through me.
It starts with understanding His Church, His Body.
If you are a new Christian, you may have heard someone refer to the people in the church as “the body.” We talk about ways to serve “the body” or bless “the body.” In fact, using this terminology so frequently may cause us to forget its significance even to those of us who have been a part of the church for a long time! Do you know why we use this term? Why don’t we just say “serve the church” or “bless one another?”
I want to share what brought this to life for me and has radically changed why and how I serve.
The Apostle Paul in Romans 12, goes to great lengths discussing our relationships to one another as members of “one body.” The point being we are all different, valuable, necessary, and designed to work together! Romans 12 is a wonderful encouragement that no matter what gifts you have or do not have, God designed you to be a special part of the church you are in. You are designed to contribute, to give of yourself, to use your gifts, to love and suffer and live life as a part of a family. A body. You are not alone. And what you do or don’t do for others has a tremendous impact on other people.
We serve one another in so many ways. When we do, we see our relationships with each other grow deeper. The closest friends in my life even from many years ago are still those built during times serving with each other. It’s amazing the way Jesus uses our simplest times—like making coffee together before an event, planning a game night, or even time praying for each other’s needs—He uses each of these for OUR good! Just as Romans 8:28 says, He works ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him. Even our simple or small acts of service wind up being a blessing to us.
And here is the greatest thing.
As we serve the “body,” we are in fact serving the BODY OF JESUS. It is Jesus Himself we are serving! Can you grasp that along with me? When I serve those around me, I serve Jesus Himself. When I bring a meal to someone in need, I bless my savior. It is all worship to Him! Using the term “the body” has become so meaningful to me since I connected that term back to Jesus Himself. Maybe you’re thinking that this is obvious—well, for me, it changed my heart and my inward attitude toward serving.
Colossians 1:18 says: “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
Jesus Himself demonstrated this beautiful truth—that we are designed to worship God in everything we do! Singing songs of praise, yes! But also by living in a way that puts others before ourselves. Jesus said, “…the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many people.”

I want to be more like Jesus! I want to see His power at work in me. I want to worship Him in every way I can, and to see His Church as His Body. And I want to see how God will use all these things for my good and teach me more and more simple truths as I do.

Whether you are a brand new Christian or have known Jesus for many years, I want to encourage you to serve others with this understanding! Whether it is serving guests in your home, teaching children about Jesus, helping with set-up or tear-down on a Sunday, or simply reaching out of your comfort zone to start up a conversation to help someone else feel comfortable—God will show His power and His presence to you in those moments.
If you are wanting to see more of God presence in YOUR life, see what happens when you begin to serve others as though you are serving Jesus Himself!
“And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Jesus Himself.” –Colossians 3:23-24

This post is shared from the Redemption Church Blog.

3 Reasons Why We Don’t Need Celebrity Pastors

3 Reasons Why We Don’t Need Celebrity Pastors

 

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.

 

We live in a day and age where we probably have the best communicators ever in the pulpit. Men who can make you laugh one moment and cry the next. After listening to their teachings, I find myself both emotionally engaged and creatively entertained. However, I haven’t learned much. I have a few “one-liners” and a lot of hashtags, plenty of Instagram posts and Facebook live videos to show their great hair and large crowds. But I’m lacking something more: depth. Spiritual power. After their “message” I feel like I’ve just gotten home from the carnival: a lot of noise and fluff without a lot of substance. And both my stomach and head hurt.

 

Part of the problem is that these men have inadvertently (and some more intentionally) made themselves celebrity figures. Their names headline on their speaking tours, in bold font. Their websites (and I’m guilty here as well!) conveniently feature their first and last name, with a .com at the end. Their podcasts and video clips plug up our newsfeed, all with the notion of ever-increasing fame. Most dangerously, their personalities drive the pulse of their churches. Just recently I read of another celebrity pastor resigning and someone who attended the church admitted that he was “the heart of the church”.  Maybe that’s the problem.

Here are 3 reasons why we don’t need celebrity pastors anymore:

 

  1. They create a cult of personality, rather than a culture of discipleship.

 

Paul reminded the carnal Corinthians, the same church who preferred a cult of personality over spiritual fathers (1 Cor 3:1-4, 4:15), that he did not choose to preach himself, but Christ. Pastors don’t own their churches; they are stewards and undershepherds who must give an account for how and why they ministered to the flock. And that flock belongs to Jesus. So we must be careful to preach not ourselves, but Jesus.

 

Spurgeon said: “The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and Him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”

 

  1. They tempt the church to put man’s authority above Scripture. 

 

At the end of Paul’s life, he tells Timothy to:

Preach the word!…For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

 

There are over 30 references to the true gospel in 2 Timothy (Paul’s last known writing) and around 15 references to false teachings. Paul made this a high priority in his last correspondence to his young protege in the faith. He tells him to “preach”, which means “to herald.” The herald was the king’s messenger who relayed the king’s message to the people. He wasn’t free to make up his own message or interpret it the way he liked. He was limited by what the king had to say. His job was simply to proclaim faithfully the king’s message so that the people understood it.

 

Often when a pastor becomes exalted to an imbalanced place of authority, recognition, and fame, his words can become misunderstood as infallible. People can be fickle; often we will look for direction from a sermon or teaching and will not want to sit through doctrine or sound teaching to receive application. So we exalt teachers who tell us what we want to hear.

 

The word Paul uses for “Sound” doctrine means healthy (we derive our word “hygienic” from it). Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke as well as Acts, was a medical doctor and uses this term often to describe someone being in good health or safety, who was ”well” or “sound”. Sound teaching results in healthy Christian living. Note that such healthy teaching is set in contrast to what people prefer, which tickles their ears. That means sound teaching must be endured. The word “endure” means literally to put up with, to bear with, endure, forbear, suffer.

 

People won’t want to endure healthy teaching but will instead turn their ears away to listen to fables. What is a fable? A short story with a moral ending. Or, like most teachings today in churches, a narrative with a moral imperative. So when a pastor of celebrity status communicates a personal preference on a passage, it can often be taken by the congregation as “gospel”. Rather than being Bereans and investigating his words to see if they are Scripturally sound, many will assume that the pastor is well-known and loved by all, so he must be right!

 

 

  1. They set men up for failure and detract from the Gospel

 

When a pastor falls, there is always fallout. There are hurting people. There are shattered lives. There are detractors who scoff from afar and look with derision on our faith and message, with increasing frequency. Too often these falls are public because the pastor was a celebrity figure.

 

Many pastors will surround themselves with an entourage. They arrive at events and conferences with an entire cloud of people, who are all acquaintances and not truly endearing friends. The accountability has closed off because he is “untouchable”. There are multiple layers of padding to “protect” the pastor from the church body, which actually means he is isolated, and thus endangered.

 

Honestly, ’Celebrity Pastor’ should be a contradiction in terms. A pastor should be content ministering to the flock God has entrusted to him, even if that means being anonymous. The lure of fame has drawn many young pastors to be dissatisfied in simply serving the Lord where they are called and doing it as unto the Lord. Instead the desire for recognition, notoriety, and status drive their vision and purpose.

 

Joe Thorn says, “Celebrity Pastors do not simply build themselves. They are built with the help of fans. It’s not wrong or idolatrous to get a photo with a person you admire. Nor is it dangerous to love the preaching or teaching of a particular leader. But at some point admiration turns into allegiance, and allegiance gives birth to adoration, and adoration, when it is full grown, produces idolatry.

 

My brothers, may we heed this with great fear and trembling, and seek to make Jesus alone famous. I intend to write a follow-up post giving 3 ways to avoid becoming a celebrity pastor. If this is beneficial to you, comment below!

 

Pastor Pilgrim Benham


Pastor Pilgrim Benham is the lead pastor at Shoreline Calvary Chapel, in Bradenton, Florida. He only has around 400 followers on Twitter, well below celebrity status. But who’s keeping count? You can read more at pilgrimbenham.com.

How to be Qualified to Lead

How to be Qualified to Lead

By: Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page 

Another mega-church pastor was removed from his ministry because of notorious sin. This time it wasn’t embezzlement, or inappropriate behavior with a woman. This time, once again, the life dominating sins were pride and abuse of authority. This time, once again, we were reminded that character trumps talent. This time, once again, we learned that dynamic and talented people unbridled by the Holy Spirit are dangerous and unqualified. Unfortunately, their public disqualification tends to transcend their general sphere of influence. Abraham Lincoln observed, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

…“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Leadership is at its essence influence. A spiritual leader influences others towards God’s desired destination. Therefore, spiritual leaders encompass a much broader group than the roles of pastors, elders, and deacons. For example, parents are called to be spiritual leaders. Influence generally begins with a small sphere, but can often expand. The larger the scope of influence the greater the need to be qualified. John Adams, second President of the United States, noted, “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”

In the local church, existing and emerging Spiritual leaders must be qualified. Every person with the title leader (or assistant leader) in his or her roles [e.g. usher leader, children’s ministry leader, youth leader, community group leader] is a spiritual leader. In the local church, the highest level of qualification relates to the office of elder (also referred to in the New Testament as bishop, pastor, overseer, and shepherd). All leaders should aspire to develop the Christ-like character that is the essence of the qualifications for the highest-level spiritual leaders.

All leaders should aspire to develop the Christ-like character that is the essence of the qualifications for the highest-level spiritual leaders.

What are some of the qualifications, and how qualified do you need to be to start leading?

What are some of the qualifications? Paul describes a snapshot of the qualifications for elders in his first letter to Timothy. The list reveals several of the qualifying character traits that spiritual leaders should seek to develop:

“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil [1Tim. 3:1-7].”

The twelve [12] traits noted below are presumably not intended as an exhaustive list. All the qualities deal with character rather than ability, with the exception of teaching. Let’s consider the traits that we are to display as leaders, and cultivate among emerging leaders:

  1. Be blameless [2]: The essence is a good reputation, not perfection, so that you don’t bring reproach to Christ, His Church, or self. Have a good reputation within the church community as well as the community outside of the church [7].
  2. Be faithful (the husband of one wife) [2]: Leaders are faithful to Christ and faithful to their spouse. This is not an exclusion of single people leading. Similarly, those who have been divorced may not be excluded depending on the circumstances.
  3. Be temperate [2]: Leaders should be sensible, and self-controlled in their behavior.
  4. Be sober-minded [2]: Be wise regarding spiritual decisions and avoid foolish choices. A person of faith should be led by the Spirit not fleshly impulse.
  5. Be good (good-behavior) [2]: There should be a sense of godliness and modesty to a spiritual leader’s speech and behavior.
  6. Be hospitable [2]: Hospitality can be shown by willingness to open your home, and other tangible acts of love for strangers.
  7. Be able to teach [2]: Spiritual leaders should be able to communicate spiritual truth and explain the Scriptures to others.
  8. Be sober (not given to wine) [3]: A spiritual leader should not drink to excess nor be intoxicated.
  9. Be gentle (not violent) [3]: Christ’s leaders are gentle, able to make peace, humble when criticized, and aren’t looking for a fight.
  10. Be content (not greedy for money) [3]: God’s leaders are to be content and not covetous. People who are drunk on money can be just as dangerous as those who are drunk on wine.
  11. Be respected by family (rule his or her house well) [4-5]: Spiritual leaders should have a godly home. Their children should have a reverence for Christ and therefore be submitted to authority in the home.
  12. Be spiritually mature (not a novice) [6]: A new believer, or one newly planted, should only be conferred with significant authority. The accolades and influence that flow from the authority are likely to produce pride. Pride led to Satan’s fall, and countless leaders have followed the same destructive path. It is wise to ensure a spiritual leader’s stability before conferring too much authority.

How qualified does a person need to be to get started as an emerging leader? I had been a follower of Jesus for less than six months when I was asked to teach a Bible study. That opportunity was critical to my development as a leader, and allowed for expanding influence as a spiritual leader. For more than 25 years I have been blessed to serve Christ, enjoy expanded influence, and the opportunity to develop other existing and emerging leaders. I believe that the most important test is whether the emerging leader is submitted to Christ and accountable to godly authority? As long as the leader is growing in character, and is under Christ’s authority, and remains accountable to godly leaders, than progressive influence and authority can be conferred. Like a horse, don’t hold the reins so tightly as to quench or break the spirit of a thoroughbred. Similarly, don’t completely let go of the reins and let mavericks cause damage.

…the most important test is whether the emerging leader is submitted to Christ and accountable to godly authority…

Lifework: Three tests to see how qualified you likely are:

  1. Pray that God would reveal any particular areas where you need to grow. Then read the list of character traits again. Share the insights with another person who can encourage accountability.
  1. Ask your spouse or a close friend to grade you on a scale of 1-10 on each of the 12 traits, and use the results to help you see areas where you might need to grow.
  1. A great test to determine whether the existing or emerging leader is submitted to Christ and accountable to godly authority is the 360-degree review. Provide the list of twelve [12] traits to a group of ten people that know you from various spheres of life [family, friends, work/school, church, community]. Ask them to anonymously grade you on a scale of 1-10 on each of the 12 traits. Receive the answers anonymously and use the results to help you see some areas where you might need to grow.

Pastor at Calvary Nexus, Camarillo, CA. Bruce has been an ordained pastor for over 20 years. Bruce planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, Ca. in 1996 and continues to serve as the lead pastor of a multi-site church. Bruce is the author of 12 books. He has previously been a trial attorney, and helps direct the Calvary Church Planting Network [CCPN].

The Advocacy of Leadership

The Advocacy of Leadership

By Michael Dobes

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page 

Several years ago, I found myself unemployed as a father of five and looking at the daunting prospect of my church experience not translating well on resumes to more secular job opportunities. However, a friend of mine heard about a job opening at Joni and Friends, contacted his friend and through his advocacy gained me an interview that led to my eventual hiring. Without the blessing of an advocate, I am unsure where I would be today. We all have the need of an advocate, as well as opportunities to advocate on behalf of others.

Effective leadership is all about people. It is about inspiring, encouraging, and developing people to learn of their God-given purpose, to develop their God-given skills, and to influence their world for God. However, far too often, we leaders can get wrapped up in the tasks, the accomplishments, the schedules, and the strategies of leadership. When we become more about the busyness of ministry than the purpose of ministry, we lose sight on leading well.

When we become more about the busyness of ministry than the purpose of ministry, we lose sight on leading well.

Have you ever had a time when you needed somebody to go to bat for you or to stand up for you in the face of opposition? Or maybe just to encourage you when life wasn’t working out how you planned? Often, the difference in life depends upon the presence of an advocate in our lives. An advocate is defined as somebody who “pleads on someone else’s behalf.” While an advocate might not agree with everything we do, they will encourage us by standing up for us.

An advocate is defined as somebody who “pleads on someone else’s behalf.”

In the book of Acts, we are introduced to a great advocate, Barnabas. Acts 4:36 reveals that Joseph was called Barnabas by the disciples. Why? Because this name means “son of encouragement” and apparently this is what he was known for. Much of the encouragement from Barnabas took on the look of advocacy. Barnabas stepped in on Saul’s behalf upon his arrival in Jerusalem after his conversion (Acts 9:26–31) and assured the disciples that Saul had truly seen the Lord. Again, Barnabas advocated for John Mark (Acts 15:37–41), even though Mark had previously left a missionary trip and this advocacy led to a split with Paul. While I am sure this sharp disagreement could have been handled better by both Paul and Barnabas, the power of the advocate is seen clearly.

I wonder how many of us see ourselves as advocates. Do we consider ourselves to be people who stand up for and elevate those around us? Would others describe us this way? One of the signs of great leaders is whether they leave people in a better place than when they found them. While personal choices on the part of the follower obviously influence this idea, leaders must consider what they are doing to advocate for and advance people in ministry.

…leaders must consider what they are doing to advocate for and advance people in ministry.

As I look back over my ministry life, I can see clearly that God has placed me into the role of an advocate time and time again. A great deal of my ministry leadership, as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, and now serving in disability ministry, has involved advocating for those often forgotten by the church in general. While advocacy is hard work, the rewards are astounding! I have been so privileged over the years to see kids and youth that I made space for at a young age grow into great leaders, both within and outside of ministry situations. Perhaps one of my most meaningful times involved a student that I taught as a young child leading worship with her husband as a guest for my youth group. Talk about being able to enjoy the fruit of advocacy!

So, what does an advocate actually do? And what are some of the best ways to accomplish this aspect of leadership? I want to address four aspects of leadership advocacy here. While I am sure there are many more, here is my list:

1) Stand in the gap for others – sometimes we need to lead as Barnabas did when he stood up for Saul. There was no reasonable way that the disciples would take Saul at his word based upon his legacy of persecution. However, Barnabas had witnessed a radical conversion and was determined to help others see the truth of God’s miraculous intervention. Is there somebody in your circle of influence with a “checkered past” that causes others to doubt him or her? Has somebody come up short in the past, such as John Mark, but is ready to make a difference today? What other stories around you have the potential to become successes if you stand in the gap as an advocate?

2) Serve others – an advocate leader looks for ways to decrease himself and provide for the needs of others. Barnabas sold a field that he owned and presented the money to the disciples for the good of the church. A leader cannot advocate while looking out for self. What practical needs exist in the lives of those around you? What opportunities are before you to look out for others more than yourself? One note here: serving is not usually a big monumental and public display. Typically, it happens in the quiet and secret and the individual themself might not even know you did anything.

3) Shine a spotlight on others – perhaps the simplest way to advocate is to see where people already excel and point it out to others. Look for leaders who lead worship well in children’s ministry, who just organized a meals ministry for the first-time mom, or who show up every week early to clean and ensure the church building is ready for a crowd. Part of Barnabas’ advocacy was letting the disciples in Jerusalem know where Saul was already excelling, in preaching fearlessly the name of Jesus. Take moments everyday to discover the unsung heroes around you and then do what you can to point them out.

4) Stimulate others to new heights – advocate leaders look to take steps that will enable potential leaders to become who God has designed them to be. It is not just about believing in or cheering for new leaders. Advocacy involves practical steps of investment that will stimulate and encourage leaders to growth. Barnabas modeled this by taking Saul under his wing for the first missionary journey. Who can you bring under your wing for a new ministry endeavor? What practical pathway could you build to assist a new leader in their development?

Advocacy involves practical steps of investment that will stimulate and encourage leaders to growth.

Advocacy is not as much about program and tasks as it is about heart. It is the heart of a leader who looks out for others and desires to see them shine in whatever capacity God calls them to. It is one more way that we are called to emulate our Savior (1 John 2:1). May I encourage you to take some time today both to recognize the advocates who have helped you on your own journey, and to look for those around you who need some advocacy? May we all lead a little more like Barnabas every day.


Mike Dobes is Supervisor of Church Relations at Joni and Friends, a global disability ministry with headquarters in Southern California.

Mike Vincent: Developing a Core Team

Mike Vincent: Developing a Core Team

Finding and Developing your Core Team!

 

As a church planter prepares to launch out and begin his church, it is always more effective to begin the work with a team as opposed to going it alone. As our examples, both Paul and Jesus consistently did ministry using the team approach. For our church planters, we call the church planting team that is going to assist in the church launch, “THE CORE TEAM.” The questions answered in this article include:

 

  1. Who should be included in a church planter’s core team?
  2. What are the specific requirements and expectations for a church planter’s core team members?

 

In this article we are going to discuss the four S’s that we recommend for every Core Team member.

 

  1. SHOW UP!

 

If a person expects to be part of a church planting core team, they need to show up!  This might sound basic, but many people want the glory and excitement of being part of a church planting team, without the sacrifice of faithfully showing up for preparation and training. When Jesus walked the earth He consistently showed up and He attended synagogue weekly –“as His custom was.” (Luke 4:16) To be on a core team, a person should be expected to show up at all church plant training meetings and the future church services once the church launches.

If a person cannot be faithful and counted on to show up at the weekly core team training meetings, you cannot count on them to show up once the church plant begins.

 

 

 

 

  1. SUBMITTED! 

 

If a person expects to be part of a church planting core team, they need to have a submitted heart! The Bible instructs us in Ephesians 5:21, “submit to one another in the fear of Christ.”  In a church plant, who is it that the core group members need to be submitting to? Each core group team member should be submitted primarily to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then the church planter or senior pastor. If a person is attending another church and submitting to someone else as their pastor, they can certainly help out with the church plant, but they should not be considered Core Team members.

 

  1. SUPPORT!

 

If a person expects to be part of a church planting core team, they need to support that church plant with their time, talent and treasure. As Jesus taught us in Luke 12:34, “for where your treasure is, their your heart will be also”. Once a core team begins weekly training and preparation meetings, we recommend that the church planter have an offering box at the meeting site so that the core team members can financially support the future church. These funds serve two purposes. First, these finances provide key funding which will be needed to prepare for the church launch. The financial support gives the core team the opportunity to show that they are fully behind this work.

 

  1. SERVING!

 

If a person expects to be part of a church planting core team, they should be ready to serve from the very beginning. Our Lord Jesus described His own ministry in Mark 10:45, by saying “the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” As a church launches, there will be an endless supply of jobs that need to be done. Each core team member should be counted on to serve in any area needed. Once the church launches, core team members should be expected to arrive early and be the last to leave as they serve God’s people.

 

Do these four S’s set a high level of expectation for core team members? Yes! Should all people that want to attend a new church be expected to be core team members? No! These four qualities are simply a grid to help the church planter find out who he will be able to count on as he prepared to launch his church and begin the greatest adventure of his life.

 


Pastor Mike Vincent is an experienced missionary and church planter in Mexico. Calvary Chapel Rosarito hosts a one year school of church planting. This local church has four church planters being sent out in 2016 who are preparing to find and develop their core teams.

 

 

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.

Miles DeBenedictis: Responsibility & Authority

Miles DeBenedictis: Responsibility & Authority


If you’ve been in a leadership role for any length of time, then the question has been posed to you too. In my experience it comes mostly from 18 to 25 year-old guys, and nine out of 10 times it comes in the form of a statement, but it’s inherently a question:

“Pastor Miles, I want to do what you do.”

The question behind the statement is clear, “How do I get into the ministry?” Or really, “How do I become a leader?”

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul writes to a young leader, who was called upon to raise up other young leaders, “He who desires the office of a leader desires a good thing.” It is admirable to want to be a leader, but not everyone gets there. In fact, a relatively small percentage of those that desire the role ever find their name on the roll.

I was given access to leadership at a very young age. At 15-years-old I was a leader within our church. Sure, it began at lower levels in youth ministry, and just helping out around the church, but it began young. When I was 17 I was the resident tech expert, graphic designer and web developer. By the time I was 19 I was a youth pastor. At 23 I was an assistant pastor, teaching one of the main adult services. At 24 I was a Bible college teacher at a small international Bible college in northwestern Germany. At 28 I became a senior pastor. The track to leadership in ministry was very quick. How did it happen?

First, the church I grew up in (and now pastor) was committed to “opening lanes” to potential leaders. They didn’t have a magic formula for identifying potential leaders; they merely opened a door for interested individuals to lead the way through. It truly fell to individuals, like myself, to step up and walk through.

Second, I walked through the open doors presented to me. Leaders lead! Which means, potential leaders take the initiative to persistently lead the way through open doors. Over the last 20 years of doing this I’ve learned two invaluable lessons of leadership and leadership identification and development.

  1. Responsibility falls to those who show up.
  2. Authority flows to those that take responsibility.

My response is almost always the same to interested 18 to 25-year-olds that take the initiative to ask me how they too can become a leader. I tell them to show up. “Be here next Sunday morning at 7:30.” Sometimes I’ll say, “We meet for staff prayer Tuesday at 9:00am.” In a decade or more of offering the open door, probably less than 10% of those interested move beyond the initial offer. But I think it’s safe to say that 90% (or more) of those that responded are responsible for and have authority over areas of leadership in ministry today.


Miles DeBenedictis is the Senior Pastor of Cross Connection Church in North San Diego County, CA, the church he attended as a child and was discipled for ministry by. He can be followed @PastorMiles

SAPS: its where its AT

Communication is invaluable… in my experience as a husband of eight-years, father to four children, and church planter/pastor for these last five-years I could not agree MORE with this statement. 


It seems like many people from most fields resonate with this. 

 

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith once said, “My belief is that communication is the best way to create strong relationships.” 

 

Paul J. Meyer, easily recognized as one of the world’s most outstanding authorities in the fields of goal setting, motivation, time management, and personal and professional development once said, “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.

 

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” 

 

As a pastor I find myself constantly communicating, in both verbal and nonverbal forms. One of the greatest weaknesses I noticed in myself as I begaworking closely with volunteers/staff was that I would communicate (or at least I thought I would) vision, pathways, & expectations but not see the desired response and result in my team. 

 

One of the men who trained me once told me, “Neil, the weakest ink is better than the strongest mind.” At first I said WHAT? Yoda, what does that mean?” I then realized the great need for both verbal and written communication with our team(s). 

 

So we developed a communication tool called: S.A.P.S. (Schedule, Ask, Projects, Services) 

 

Our church office is closed on Friday, so by Thursday at 10am our teams submit their upcoming weeks’ S.A.P.S. report to their overseer for the upcoming Sunday to ThursdayOur administrative assistant prints all S.A.P.S. forms and places them on my desk in a binder with any other necessary attachments or forms for the week (i.e., the weekly bulletin, any print flyers being distributed the coming Sunday, and volunteer schedules for the upcoming Sunday). By Monday, we meet face-to-face to connect visually and verbally on the written S.A.P.S. report. 

 

Through S.A.P.S. our teams are able to communicate in written from everything we need to know in our day-to-day “should to shoulder,” relationship for the upcoming week. As the overseer, I am given clarity on: 

1. S = your upcoming SCHEDULE for the week 
2. A = ASK any questions you have
3. P = update on current PROJECTS, special events, etc.
4. S = your role in all upcoming SERVICES or gatherings

 

Though it’s not perfect, our team has found this kind of communication so helpful in reaching our goal to glorify God by making disciples who LOVE God, CONNECT together, and LIVE ON MISSION for Jesus. 

 

Claire Vest is our church Administrative Assistant and said, “S.A.P.S. is such a great tool to keep organized and plan for your week. It also allows for the team to be aware of responsibilities and the schedule of other team members. Another great thing about SAPS is that it is an easy form to fill out each weekanyone can use it! This definitely allows for Pastor Neil to get an idea of what our week looks like as well as what projects and tasks we are focusing on. I would use this if I was a leader over a staff team. It really is a wonderful tool, I don’t see many things as simple and user friendly as this.” 

 

Shara Atkinson, our Kids Ministry Director says, “I think S.A.P.S. is very effective for both employer and employee to be on the same page and it is laid out in such a clear and concise way that makes it easy to fill out each week. S.A.P.S. helps you…

 

Plan ahead (as best as you can in a dynamic church setting).
Stay organized with the work week by having “Projects” laid out in front of you each week.
Offers accountability.  
Helps all Staff be aware of who is doing what and when.
Offers a platform for weekly Questions to your boss.
Gives your overseer a clear picture of the lay out of your week.  

 

If you’d like to view a sample of the S.A.P.S. report click here


Neil Spencer is the lead pastor at Coastline Calvary Chapel in Destin, FL. You can find out more about Neil here.

Be A “C” Student

“The ‘C’ students run the world.” – President Harry S. Truman

The need for “C” students …

Effective ministry is a team activity. In order to leverage gifts and skills to advance God’s kingdom people need to work together as a team. You want to be part of a team of people with common passions and complimentary skills. When you start to think about being part of a team it is typical to consider what kind of teammates you want on the team with you. However, you may not be as quick to contemplate what kind of team member you want to be. The following is a list of traits that I want to embody (and that I look for in teammates):

1. Character

God places a premium on Christ-like character in selecting leaders [1Tim. 3, Titus 1, Gal. 5:22-23]. Be a person who reflects Christ-like character. While ability and dynamic personality tend to be attractive elements they are counter-productive for the kingdom if not bridled by character. Over time, you’ll discover that character is the most important qualification. If something makes you feel uneasy about another person’s character it is probably wise to be very slow to put them on your team.

 2. Commitment

You want to be the type of person that other people on the team know will be faithful to fulfill their responsibilities and commitments to the team. Christians are free to come and go as God leads them. Yet I want my reputation to be that I am committed to complete the work that I’ve taken on. The amount of energy needed to train team members and forge a healthy team dynamic encourage me to be committed and look for committed people in ministry (and life generally).

3. Consensus

Seek team members who generally share the same vision philosophy of ministry and doctrinal views as you. There will always be slight divergence regarding non-essential issues and variation in style or approach. However there needs to be consensus. If the team doesn’t understand the vision and agree with the vision then there will definitely be confusion and conflict among the team. Therefore for you to be able to establish consensus you need to know what you believe, why you believe it, where you are, and where you believe that God is leading. In essence you need to know your philosophy of ministry doctrine and vision. Then you can develop consensus.

4. Competency

Are you and other team members able to develop your gifts and use skills effectively? Develop your God-given skills to achieve greater competency and look for others who want to do the same. In other words can you do the work that is required today, and if God blesses the effort and the influence expands are you willing to develop greater capacity to continue to be competent? What is you present level of competency and what is your perceived future capacity?

5. Compatibility

We place a premium on the community experience and seek teammates who desire the same [Ac. 2:42-47]. You’re going to spend a lot of time serving and working together so it is best to find people you enjoy being with. No matter how talented someone is, if it feels like you’re banging your head against a wall being with him it’s probably not a good idea for him or her to be on your core team. Incompatibility may be unrelated to someone’s character. They may have great character but the personalities simply don’t mesh. Be the type of person that can be compatible with as many different kinds of people as possible, and then seek to develop team with others that are compatible with you.

 6. Compassion

Jesus trains His disciples to be compassionate people who care for the needs of other people [Mk. 6:34]. If you are talented but lack compassion you may experience some measure of success as the world defines it, but you will not be successful as the Lord desires and requires. Some leaders are very focused on achieving a task. That is a helpful trait in leaders, but if they don’t have genuine compassion for people then the task becomes the priority rather than the people who will benefit from the achieved task. So you need people on the team who care about people not just accomplishing a task.

7. Courage

Learn to take chances as led by God – steps of faith. Life and ministry require courage. Nevertheless, it can be very frightening, even for godly people to cross the Jordan and embark on a conquest of the Promised Land [Josh. 1:1-9]. People will fear: the challenges, failure, measuring up to another (leader), and letting go of the known in favor of the unknown. Develop your God-given courage by taking ventures of faith. Small steps of faith that are blessed by Christ encourage larger leaps of faith. There is a difference between courage and simply impulsive or adventurous behavior. Ventures of faith and courage are Spirit-prompted and glorify God. Be strong and of good courage and surround yourself with teammates who will also be courageous.

8. Calling

What are you called to? In different seasons of life and ministry you will discover different callings. Your calling will always be something that honors God (or it isn’t your calling), and will tend to maximize or leverage your gifts and abilities. Your calling is likely related to something that you are passionate about. What moves you to cry or to laugh? What keeps you up at night or causes you to wake early in the morning? As you experience life seek to discern what you are called to be and to do. You will never find satisfaction until you discover and fulfill your calling. Once you have a sense of what you are called to then find others with a common or complimentary calling.

Finally, avoid the temptation to try and manipulate people to join your team because you believe they will help your effort apart from a sense of confirmation from God that they too are called to the team.

President Truman famously remarked, “The ‘C’ students run the world.” In an ideal world, I’d suggest the “C” students advance the kingdom. So be a “C” student.

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 theChurch Planting Manual. You can follow Pastor Bruce on Facebook and Twitter @BruceZachary.