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Looking Ahead from CCPN Roundtable, Cuernavaca, México

Update on a Calvary Church Planting gathering in Cuernavaca, México:

This gathering was part of a regional retreat for Calvary Chapel affiliate churches, pastors and families, and ministry teams. Those attending came from hours away: Acapulco, Veracruz, Taxco, Puebla, Cuernavaca, and Mexico City and its metropolitan area.

Most of us have known each other for some years; a few are recently starting out. I write this looking back almost four months, still thinking about what we saw.

By the time we got to where we would have a “meeting” about church planting, it was clear that the whole retreat was essentially about ALL the aspects of church planting within the Calvary Chapel framework. Conversations and fellowship time was pretty much about what each church, pastor, or ministry team member is learning, and their questions and things they could share with others. There was really no need for “directed” dialogue or presentations: all the diversity among those attending nevertheless have found themselves moving constantly within the realm of church planting.

The two “moments” that allowed us to identify where we are, and where we are headed, involved passing a wireless microphone from person to person: first answering—in one word—the question, “Where have you had the most hardship in ministry?” and later, “Where do you find the greatest joy?”

The responses from about 100 attendees were deeply personal, yet not that varied; first of all the most hardship had been with family/ministry issues, a sense of not getting anywhere, patience and endurance, and health problems. It made us pause a bit to see that the second string of answers showed that the greatest hardship—and the greatest joy—are linked. We then went on with the retreat with that in view, as a clearer perspective for what is ahead.

Pastor Jim Foote serves at Semilla Cuerna in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. You an follow the church at @semillacuerna or on Facebook. Pastor Jim is at @jaimefoote.

CCPN Roundtable, Githurai, Kenya

To facilitate as many bi-vocational mentors, pastors and planters, Calvary Church Planting Network Roundtables in the United States are a few hours in length. It’s not that way here in East Africa.

The recent CCPN Roundtable hosted at Calvary Chapel Githruai in Kenya took the tone of a retreat as several pastors came early from around the country and Tanzania to spend the night together in prayer and fellowship at the church building. By morning there were groups of church planters, mentors and lead pastors gathered around chai in prayer and fellowship long before the official first session. Old friendships were rekindled, new ones were made.

The first session was Who Should Plant a Church and I was honored to teach it. I wanted people to realize where they fit on the church planting team. My points were the Good Shepherd is building His church, His Spirit is calling out workers to join in, and all people in all churches have a place on the team.

My points were the Good Shepherd is building His church, His Spirit is calling out workers to join in, and all people in all churches have a place on the team.

Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge from Calvary Chapel Lakeside represented the Calvary Chapel Association board of East Africa in the second session by giving an informational message on the affiliation process. Being a mentor of multiple church planters, Pastor Stephen was able to relate the practical side of being sent out and the steps someone goes through to become an affiliated pastor.

The third session was by the roundtable’s Githurai host, Pastor Murigi Kariuki. He titled the message, Nurturing a Church Planting Culture and addressed established churches as well as the new churches represented in the roundtable. His points were based on purposing to plant churches, training to plant churches and equipping those called to plant churches. Pastor Murigi suggested one benefit of the community of Calvary Chapel churches gathered together was to discuss the advantages exchanging interns so potential planters could spend time with other churches with specific agenda points to aid in their calling.

Pastor Steve Kaburia from Evangelical Community Church in Naivasha and in Mataara gave a heart felt and passioned plea in the fourth message and titled it, Following God’s Leading. His message was partially based on the testimony of how God had his team labor in the urban community of Naivasha, but was at the same time tilling soil in a nearby rural tea farming community. While the urban church was in its fledgling stages, it was used to plant the new church in Mataara. He laughed while explaining the first church plant did not seem mature enough to launch a plant, but God found it good to grow the second church to double the size of the first church plant. Appropriately, his object for mentors and planters was not to be locked into preconceived systems or patterns, but to be sensitive to God’s leading.

Pastor Evanson Gitu from Calvary Chapel Rongai is received as a mzee (honored elder) among the Calvary Chapel pastors for his years of service and gave the final teaching. After spending considerable time dealing with the Kenya Revenue Authority (similar to the I.R.S.) to understand the obligations of churches to the government, he gave an informative teaching titled, Give Unto Cesar. Many were surprised to learn of the taxes a church must pay and the penalties for ignoring the law. His exhortation was to protect the churches by honoring the words of Jesus.

His exhortation was to protect the churches by honoring the words of Jesus.

As the day ended, pastors, planters, mentors, visitors and missionaries continued to talk and pray. More worship songs were sung, more chai was drank and then more talk and more prayer. Pastor Stephen Otieno Nyadenge from Calvary Chapel Lakeside invited as many that would come to spend a couple days for the 2016 CCPN Roundtable beginning Monday, August 1.

Ed Compean is a church planting coach based in Nairobi with his wife Kelli, but soon to transition back to the States to serve as director with SSMF. You can read their blog or follow him on Twitter @Ed_Compean.

The Lost Art of Discipleship

I love Legos. When I was growing up, my particular genre of Lego brick was the Castle series. I went full-on Medieval with castles, drawbridges, and unscalable walls. I had Tupperware containers filled to the brim with every imaginable type of Lego brick, and spent hours raiding and defending the kingdoms within my bedroom.

Matthew 28:19-20  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Lego had a great concept: miniature bricks that connect to build various recognizable, designable objects. Somewhere in its quest for greatness, Lego began to lose its way. In the mid 90’s, Lego began selling toys for younger kids that could be put together in minutes. They reached out to innovate new blocks that had electronics in them, with an accompanying television show and video games, and stopped prioritizing what they were good at: miniature bricks that connect to build various recognizable, designable objects.

The Building Block

Our building “block” as Christ-followers, the foundational basic of Christianity, is discipleship. Discipleship is calling people alongside us to follow Jesus. If this is the simple concept that Jesus has laid out for us to follow, then somewhere we have lost our way. Like the Danish company that was good at selling brick system toys, we have tried to innovate and improve upon Jesus’ method. Ask a pastor today what his church is doing for discipleship, and you’ll get a variety of answers:

“We let discipleship happen organically, and gluten-free”
“We offer a discipleship class”
“We have small groups”
“We have lots of bicycling and knitting and aerobics classes”

The truth is, discipleship is much more than these. When we really get down to definitions, discipleship looks a lot like apprenticeship.

Disciple: Apprentice

Here’s how Wikipedia defines apprenticeship:

Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study…Most of their training is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade or profession…typically last(ing) 3 to 6 years. 

In various countries and professions, it ultimately means learning a craft through careful study and assistance of a master craftsman, working alongside them in observation and relationship. 

Is this not how Jesus discipled the twelve? Not in a classroom setting or in random casual encounters over coffee, but through purposed relational impact over three years alongside a handful of men as they ministered together. Jesus poured into His followers to train them. There weren’t classes on doctrine and vision and leadership. Jesus said “follow Me” and then immediately began ministering to others, and trained the disciples as He went. Discipleship is not taught, it is caught. We don’t complete a course and then receive our “Disciple Diploma”. We need someone who is mature in the faith to call us alongside themselves to model what it means to follow Christ.

Thinking Inside the Box

Like Lego, we decided to think outside the discipleship box and start to innovate, to our demise. The church has replaced discipleship with whatever is the latest fad and whatever brings the hottest hype. We have substituted spiritual growth with numerical growth. We applaud and promote celebrity pastors and go to conferences where the speakers all have large church attendance. We have romanticized “big” instead of “healthy”.

In “Brick By Brick, author David Robertson explains how Lego made a significant comeback:

The “out of the box” thinking almost put them out of business. What they did after 2003 is they kind of went back in the box. They went back to the brick, and they focused more on the police stations and the fire trucks and the other things that not only were what their fans wanted, but were also pretty profitable for them. When they went back in the box, they found that there was a lot of money in the box and that fans returned to the brand.

How do we return to the brand, to the box? The answer is discipleship. Paul told the Ephesians how important discipleship is in the spiritual (not necessarily numerical) growth of the church:
but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head —Christ— 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

We need to think back inside the box. The goal of the church is to make disciples who build up the body as each part does it role well. Then we will grow up in all things to please Jesus.

At our church, Shoreline, we are organizing the church around 3 environments: the Sunday and midweek gatherings (for exalting the Lord and equipping the saints), Community Groups (for fellowship and participation in the body), and Discipleship Collectives where we meet with a smaller handful of Christ-followers to walk out our faith in close proximity, apprenticing one another toward maturity.

So here’s a few questions for us to consider:

Why is discipleship not happening in my church/life?
How does my church organize discipleship?
Who am I discipling/apprenticing?
What can we change in our church culture to return to this lost art form?

Pastor Pilgrim Benham is a church planter/pastor in Bradenton, Florida. He planted Shoreline Calvary Chapel this January and loves to equip the saints to make disciples in southwest Florida to the end of the earth. Shoreline’s vision is to win, disciple, and send people. For more details, visit thisisshoreline.com.

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.

Transition Thursday Pt 2: Leadership Transition and the Importance of a Team

What does good leadership transition look like? Should it be on a grand scale and made with great promises? How long should it take, and what’s the secret to a successful transition?

Last week I started a three-part series on leadership transition, using the illustration of passing the baton in a relay race. A relay race is composed of teams of four runners who must be quick, strategic, and smooth in running, pacing the handoff of the baton, and the handoff itself.

One critical element is often overlooked in our age of super-stardom. The four runners must work together as a team. No one runner is more important than the other. Each has a role to play. Yes, it’s great to get off to a good start, and have a strong kick at the finish. But, it’s also vital that the second and third runners gain, regain, or keep the lead, along with seamless handoffs so no precious seconds are lost.

Teamwork is critical for good transitions of leadership. But where and when does this teamwork start?

From great to not so great

Last installment (part 1) we looked at the story of Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles. It is a sad example of a transfer of leadership from one leader to another, from King Solomon to Rehoboam, his son. It can also illustrate a transition of leadership in most any organization, including a church.
One thing especially difficult is a transition from a founding pastor (or leader), to a younger, much less experienced leader, as in this story (2 Chronicles 10:1-19). “Filling the shoes” of someone who established the culture of a church (or organization) is very difficult, and is even more difficult under the shadow of the founder, if they stay within the organization or church.
Here are several questions that should help bring some healthy consideration towards a good leadership transition. Healthy leadership transition shouldn’t start as an afterthought, or in the last few months of a leader’s tenure, but needs to start early on. It should be embedded in the whole vision of the church or organization.
 
Self-accountability questions for leaders—
1) How is your relationship with the Lord? Are you going through a spiritual growth period or adry spell? Are your devotional times with the Lord somewhat hum-drum or are you experiencing some special times as well?
2) Who are you discipling? Are you investing any of your life and walk with the Lord in someone else? How are you transferring any of what the Lord has done in your life to bless others?
3) Who are you training up for positions of leadership? Who is able to take your place if you’re called to do something different someday? Will what you are doing outlast or survive your involvement and presence?
4) Are you accountable to anyone? Who? Do they know this? Do you make regular time to be held accountable? If not, who can you go to when you need guidance, help, or restoration?
5) What vision do you have for ministry now and the future? Do you have a sense of vision for the ministry you’re involved with now? Do you have vision for other ministry beyond what you’re doing now?

Now rather than later

That’s a bunch of questions all at one time, but these are not to be answered once and set aside. They should be looked at and considered from time to time within a given year—maybe 2 or 3 times a year.
Discipleship will naturally produce leaders. It worked well for Jesus, and it still works. It’s just a slow and deliberate process, which is why now is the best time to start doing it! Keep it simple, personal, and deliberate. It will spawn good spiritual growth for the discipler, as well as the one discipled.

Looking ahead

In the next installment I’d like to address some questions for younger leaders. But even young leaders can benefit from the above questions. If Rehoboam followed the advice of the team of advisors to his father (King Solomon), it would be a very different story. But he didn’t.

Trusted and proven advisors are a valuable asset to young leaders, any leaders for that matter. New and young leaders can bring fresh vision and energy to the table, but not know how to get things started or how to implement the vision.

Next week, we’ll look at a few ideas to prepare for leadership transition long before it needs to happen.
What is your experience with discipleship?
 
Are you investing any of your life and walk with the Lord in someone else?
 
Who are you training up for positions of leadership?
 

What vision do you have for ministry now and the future?

 

With Trip Kimball’s permission this is a repost from his blog, Word-Strong. Along with his family, Trip planted a Calvary Chapel in 1978 and in 1990 took them to the Philippines as missionaries. There in Asia he was used by God to not only establish Rainbow Village for abandoned babies, but serve in equipping hundreds of national pastors and church planters. Currently Trip serves from his Florida home as a mentor with CCPN, as an integral part of Poimen Ministries and continues to equip leaders in the States as well as in missionary settings.

Young Pastors in the Future of Calvary Chapel

Pastor Zach Vestnys is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Petaluma. Zach is married to Kara and they have four children, Abby, Timmy, Elly and Galilee.  Follow Zach on Twitter, @zachvccp.

A summary of my experience at the Senior Pastor’s Conference

at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa this year.

I’ve always felt a bit like an outsider.  I would consider myself a third generation “Calvary guy”.  Pastor Chuck was obviously the first generation and from his ministry God did a great work that brought a whole new generation of pastors and churches.  I feel blessed and fortunate to have grown up in one of those churches under one of those pastors, Jon Courson at Applegate Christian Fellowship.  There I grew in my love for Jesus, His Word, and His church.  So much so that at age fifteen I felt the call and desire to be in ministry and set out to serve the Lord in any opportunity that He opened to me.  As I pursued each opportunity, I never would have anticipated that I would be the senior pastor, at age 24, of a church in Petaluma California, that was started by another man and handed to me.  I can remember going to my first senior pastor’s conference and feeling so excited and privileged that I could be there. But as the years went by, and the challenges of ministry set in, I discovered that there was a feeling growing in me that was unsettling.  The feeling that I was an outsider.  After all, I wasn’t there when Jesus moved, I wasn’t even born.  Nobody said that, no one treated me that way, it was a feeling inside of me that I wrestled with.  I would hear guys talk about the great things that God had done during the Jesus Movement and I realized that my sense of awe and amazement, overtime, gave way to feeling out of place because I hadn’t experienced any of it.  I also noticed over time that my initial desire for God to move again, in power to revive His people, gave way to a hopelessness that it just wasn’t going to happen again.  I wasn’t there then, and I missed it.  So what now?  Here I was ministering in “no man’s land”, destined to live in the generation between revivals.  I believed that God would revive again.  I believed that God’s work was not through, but that somehow my fate was to live in the generation of declension and demise.  Somehow I had drawn the straw of living in the time characterized by corruption and darkness before the light shines.  I missed the revival by just around ten years.

Please keep in mind that I didn’t know all this was happening to me.  I would not have been able to articulate it.  It was a slow, almost undetectable cooling.  Overtime this creeping desperation and discouragement, that was beginning to border on cynicism, sunk its fangs into my heart and the poison began to have its effect. To top it all off, the only senior pastor’s conference I’ve ever missed was last year’s, because I had decided to take my wife and our two older kids (10,9) to Kenya to share in the mission work that our church supports.  I missed Pastor Chuck’s last conference, his final exhortation, and the nail seemed to be driven in to the coffin of my being an outsider, a step-child of sorts. Once again all I heard in my head was, “you weren’t there”. This was the heart that I brought to the pastor’s conference this year.  My heart was discouraged, defeated, and hard.

But the most amazing thing happened.  Throughout the course of the conference, from speaker to speaker, I heard men, with tender hearts, who were there in the Jesus Movement, say, “we’ve never been here before and we need to seek the Lord together”. I don’t know that I can explain exactly why or how, but I want to simply describe what I felt the Lord do. It felt as though the doors flung wide open, to a club that I was never qualified to be a part of, and the invitation was given, “Come in! Come in! Because we’ve never been here before.”  Something clicked for me. I was no longer one of the few guys that “wasn’t there”.  I was now a part of a great group of men who had, “never been here.”  But that was just it, I was there with them in a place we’ve never been.  It felt like a fresh start.  It felt like the seeds of Revival in my heart were planted.  I felt a fresh breath of air fill my lungs and a deep desire fill my heart to seek the Lord and need His Spirit again.  Jesus was moving.  It might have only been me but I suspect there were others, whose hearts were revived in the hope that though we may have missed the first Jesus Movement, He can move again, and we should ask Him to. We should live, labor, serve, give, and sacrifice all that we have believing He will.  I wasn’t there then, and I can’t change that, but I’m here now and believing that Jesus wants to move changes everything.  Thank you to everyone who served, gave, and labored so that we could come and be refreshed and revived.  Jesus was moving and I was so grateful to be there this time.

This article was originally posted on the Calvary Chapel website, you can view the article here.

Seeking the Wisdom of an Elder

Ed Compean pastors Calvary Chapel Githurai, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more info, go to the church website at calvarygithurai.org.

An American family recently came to spy out the land to discern their possible role in church planting here in Kenya. Besides trying to help with all the practical aspects of leaving all that is familiar behind, I was sure to connect them with Pastor Evanson Gitu from Calvary Chapel Ongata Rongai. Pastor Gitu is man we consider a mzee (elder) among the Calvary Chapel Movement here. He is full of wisdom and I always enjoy learning from him.  As I listened to their interaction, I jotted down some notes based around his two main points that may help others seeking God about planting churches among the majority world.

Success Requires Patience

Sitting in his office, surrounded by stacks of books, Pastor Gitu began by asking the visitor seeking his input questions not delivered in a pointed or antagonistic way, “Who are you and what do you want to do?” Pastor Gitu asked and then explained some of the missionaries that have come were very effective, but unfortunately, “others have been a waste.”

The pastor explained how one of the first Calvary Chapel missionaries in Kenya met more than 2,000 men interested in planting a church, taught 200 of them in a series of training seminars, but only he caught the vision and actually planted a church that became a Calvary Chapel. It was almost seven years before another Calvary Chapel came to Kenya. Leaning across his desk, the wise pastor said, “You need time to discern how God is working, it takes great patience and that is not how success is usually measured.”

“You have something that can work well for you, but if you are not careful, it will work horribly against you,” the African said to the young American. Pastor Gitu continued to explain that people will come to hear him, but many will come for all the wrong reasons. Pastor Gitu said unless he is prepared for the onslaught and has good policy in place, the work will not last. He said many missionaries have come and failed because they see initial excitement, but they forget it is God’s work and not theirs. Speaking from the experience of seeing many missionaries come and go the elder said, “The key to good missionary work is patience and perseverance as you wait on God to reveal who is there for the right reasons.”

Many missionaries have come and failed because they see initial excitement, but they forget it is God’s work and not theirs.

Build and Retain Openness for Discipleship

Referring to John 1:39 when Jesus invited a couple of disciples to where he was staying, Pastor Gitu explained true discipleship in Africa happens while sharing life experiences and not only in classrooms. He said sharing Christ is living incarnationally, vulnerably and purposely to truly transform lives and make disciples. He mentioned it is particularly important for the missionary to be able to say he is wrong and learn from mistakes.

Sharing Christ is living incarnationally, vulnerably and purposely to truly transform lives and make disciples.

“The first missionaries landed in Mombassa hundreds of years ago and we have to say they were ineffective,” Pastor Gitu said of their methods of discipleship. Naming tribe by tribe as the missionaries traveled inland from Mombassa, the pastor explained how some received traces of Christianity, but most took Christian names, only to remain polygamists and retain witchcraft. He then added, “There was little actual change, like the missionaries had never come.”

Shaking his head slightly, Pastor Gitu mentioned how he has seen recent missionaries return without having successfully planted a churches, but if they had better relationships things may have been different. He went on to say the people watch the missionaries and, “If you are determined to continue learning and continue crossing over your personal boundaries for the sake of the Gospel, the people will take in your doctrine.”

Concluding Thoughts

It was very fitting with the Bible and Kenyan customs to seek wisdom from an elder. Pastor Gitu had great points and we all left feeling like we had learned important points for ministry. I was reminded competent counsel and coaching from an elder willing to share from their experience is invaluable for young church planters, but also for those of us with a little more experience.

Generational Church? Pt 2

Pastor Rob Salvato of Calvary Vista walks us through his thoughts about the value of multi-generational churches. Make sure to catch Part 1 of this blog here.

For more info about Pastor Rob and Calvary Vista, visit calvaryvista.com.

INSIGHT FROM STUDENTS AT CCBC

I teach yearly at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrietta, California. Last semester I taught on the life of David. I came to the portion of scripture in David’s life where he was passing the baton of leadership to his son, Solomon. I used that scene to have a discussion with the students about passing the responsibility of church leadership to the next generation. I shared with them how, should the Lord tarry, my generation would be passing the baton of leadership to them in the next ten years. I asked them what they thought that should look like.  Honestly, I was expecting some of them to say, “Just give us the keys to the car and get out of the way.” That was not the response I received at all.

Instead, they were looking for relationship with older believers. “We need you guys to walk with us in ministry.  Don’t just do it for us, but do it with us.”  They went on to share how they need the older generation of leadership to let them try things and make mistakes, and then for us to be there to talk about why, perhaps, it didn’t work out.  These future leaders were like sponges, looking for relationship, insight, accountability, guidance, as well as opportunity.

THE NEED TO VALUE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER

My prayer for the church that I am honored to pastor, as well as the church as a whole, is this: As we move forward in the future, I pray that each generation of believers would value and respect each other.

As we move forward in the future, I pray that each generation of believers would value and respect each other.

To the seasoned saints, can I encourage you to appreciate and encourage the next generation? Their hearts are zealous for the Lord, with a passion for Jesus that is contagious! They are innovative and creative. Yes, they might question the system and ask why things are being done the way they are, but that is okay, especially when they want to understand the reason why. The younger generation has a tendency to think “outside the box”, which again, is good because we see in the Word that God often worked “outside the box”. Listen, seasoned saints, we can learn a ton from our younger brothers and sisters. And if, perhaps, they challenge you to break out of your comfort zone, is that really a bad thing? I, for one, am willing to welcome the challenge.

Listen, seasoned saints, we can learn a ton from our younger brothers and sisters. And if, perhaps, they challenge you to break out of your comfort zone, is that really a bad thing? I, for one, am willing to welcome the challenge.

To my younger brothers and sisters, can I exhort you to respect and relish the seasoned saints who have logged some significant years, walking with Jesus? Invite them to coffee and ask questions about life, family, parenting, and ministry. Realize there is a potential wealth of wisdom sitting right next to you or right in front of you at church. You can learn from these wonderful brothers and sisters who have pursued Jesus and served Him longer than you have been alive! Hear their stories and glean from their victories, as well as their defeats. You will find that the world they grew up in and the time frame they were saved in, in many ways, is not that different from the one you are in now.

To my younger brothers and sisters… Realize there is a potential wealth of wisdom sitting right next to you or right in front of you at church.

One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” – Psalm 145:4

Generational Churches? Pt 1

Rob Salvato pastors Calvary Vista in Vista, CA. For more info about the church, go to their website, calvaryvista.com.

I had lunch recently with a friend of mine who is in his twenties. Yes, I do have friends who are in their twenties and I value their opinion, insight and creativity. We were discussing how many of the churches that are on the rise and gaining notoriety today cater their services to people under the age of thirty.

My friend had attended one such church for about three years in the area he used to live. The church was large, popular, with great people and pastors. But he definitely noticed a lack of maturity, depth, and life experience because most of the leaders were young. After moving to the San Diego area, my friend visited several churches that were of the same style, flavor, and age group, before deciding to make Calvary Vista his home church. He told me one of the things that he likes about Calvary Vista is the generational nature of the church. There are saints here in their teens, twenties, thirties, and all the way up into their eighties. He was attracted to the wisdom, maturity and life experience he saw in the older people in our church body.

I was so blessed to hear his perspective on this matter. I truly believe in my heart, that a healthy church is going to be a well-rounded church as it relates to age, flavor and style.

GENERATIONAL CHURCH IS BIBLICAL

I find it interesting that the Apostle John writes these words in his first Epistle.

“I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” – 1 John 2:12-14

John wrote to a pretty broad spectrum of saints in this address. He acknowledges little children, young men and fathers. Teens, twenties, and beyond are being addressed.

Paul also mentions the diversity of the ages in his letter to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:1-2

“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.”

Again, in Titus 2:1-8,

“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

“Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”

Here, Paul paints a picture of the older men and women pouring into the younger men and women. It is safe to say that the early church was made up of multiple generations of people. My point is that I believe the church today should look the same way.

BLESSED BY SEASONED SAINTS

I turned fifty last year and it is strange to think that my life is more than half way over! At the same time, I am blown away at the thought that I have been walking with Jesus for over thirty-nine years and have been teaching God’s word for over twenty-eight years. Life with Jesus has been good. When I consider the seasoned saints, who call Calvary Vista their home, I am blessed and humbled to be a part of such a rich family of believers; ardent students of God’s word who have years of life experience, walking and serving Jesus.

ENCOURAGED BY THE NEXT GENERATION

At the same time, my heart is blessed and encouraged by the young people I see coming up in the ranks. Young couples, who like my wife and I when we were young, are struggling to make it financially and are trying to figure out marriage and parenting, but who have a passion to honor and serve God with their lives. I am enriched by the twenty- something crowd who are critical thinkers, with questions and who think through their faith. I see a zeal in them that inspires me. Many have a desire to do something big for God.

Stay tuned for Part 2 as we hear more from Pastor Rob about the value of multi-generational churches!

Reflections on a Church Plant Pt. 1

Ed Compean pastors Calvary Chapel Githurai, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more info, go to the church website at calvarygithurai.org.

Last week was Calvary Chapel Githurai’s seventh anniversary of our launch service. It was also the Sunday I announced I was moving on and the role of lead pastor was being transitioned to Murigi Kariuki. In the days leading up to our final meeting on details and working through how to communicate this change to the saints in Githurai, I contemplated some of my challenges as a pastor. From that time of contemplation I gave Murigi a list that I plan to share in three parts. It was not a list of what he should do, because he will eventually have his own list of challenges. It was a list of my challenges and hopefully a list that will help him. They are not given in any particular order, and I could probably fill many more posts, but these are the points I considered important to pass on to Murigi and hope they help others.

Unjam and Unhook

Too many times in the the early days of the church, ministry would come to a stand still as people in a minor role of ministry oversight did not feel equipped and lacked ability to see the bigger picture of what God was doing in His local church. They only could see that they were doing chai ministry (think coffee ministry) and did not see their service as a point of hospitality and entry into the church. Looking back I wish I had begun a School of Ministry, or similar, to unify the leaders in vision and purpose. The first SoM (using a “Kenyanized” version of the SoM manual on this site) graduated only six students, but most of them ended up being key leaders in the next season of the church plant. All the graduates had a unified vision of the church and became agents of change and could be trusted to take ministry forward.

Follow up on Delegation

I have been told I’m an encourager and I can confidently say God has allowed me to stir up gifts (2 Tim 1:6) in the servants I’m honored to serve with. I’ve also been told I have a tendency to put people and ministry into action and then never follow up. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time not only developing people and ministry, but systematically following up so they would not grow weary of doing good.

Identify and Disciple Young Leaders

Calvary in Githurai has surely been used of God to develop leaders, but I wish I had particularly invested more, into faithful young men who would be able to teach others. Here in Kenya, more than 50% of the population are  considered youth, meaning post-circumcision, but pre-marriage (roughly 18 to 35-years), yet remain among the least reached and ministered to group. I identified too much with potential church planters and families, yet should have spent more time developing youth.

More points will come. My hope is that church planters, and those mentoring planters, will consider what they wish they would have done better. For Timothy types, who are called to stay and not move on to plant another work, I suggest considering how your list may be changed in 2014.