Posts

Unbelief

Read the following quotes that were actually stated by people:

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”  -Dr. Lee De Forest, inventor of the vacuum tube and father of television.

Everything that can be invented has been invented.”– Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

Unbelief

We are all touched by unbelief in one way or another.  Many of us see it as a harmless, healthy dose of doubt that we need from time to time. But God sees unbelief as rebellious sin!
…God sees unbelief as rebellious sin!

When God brought the children of Israel to the promised land, they sent spies ahead to scope out the land.  Ten of the spies came back with a report full of fear, lies, and doubt.  The people listened to these men, rejecting Caleb and Joshua’s full-of-faith testimony that God could do what He was leading them to do.

The result was that the children of Israel were given 1 year of judgment for each day the spies were gone: which equaled 40 years!  Each one of the fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and grandparents would perish in the wilderness, with only the next generation and Caleb and Joshua being allowed to enter in.

The application here is dramatic: are you living a paralyzed life of unbelief?  What is God calling you to do?  Where is He calling you to go?  He wants to bring you into the fullness of the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, but your faith is the admission ticket! Throughout the Gospels it was unbelief that Jesus marveled at, and often would not do miracles where people were doubting.

Throughout the Gospels it was unbelief that Jesus marveled at, and often would not do miracles where people were doubting. 

Don’t allow Satan to whisper his lies to you anymore.

Remember this familiar quote?

You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” —Satan to Eve in the garden of Eden.

 Give God your doubts, and begin living the fruitful life of faith today!

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,'” Hebrews 3:7-8.

 

Pastor Pilgrim is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church, a new church in Southwest Florida. You can check out his blog or follow him on Twitter at @pilgrimbenham.  

 

 

Looking Back

It’s been a little over fifteen years since my wife Marie and our three kids moved from Southern California to Aurora, Colorado eager to ‘see what the Lord might do’.  Well, the Lord has done, and continues to do great things and to think that we almost didn’t see them due to my lack of faith, fear, and all around humanity.  Mistakes surround our ministry here, yet God has used them to disciple, mature, and display His glory to us in wonderful ways. I’m grateful, as I’m sure many of you are, for our God who, even when we are faithless, remains faithful! Reflecting upon His loving care of us, a few things come to mind that will surely help you in your church planting adventure.

God cares about you more than He cares about you planting a church. While it might be the most important thing on your mind right now, it’s not God’s. He loves you. He sent Jesus for you. He desires a deeper more intimate relationship with you. If planting a church is coming before your relationship with Him, you’ve got it backward and unless you change, a painful readjustment is up ahead.

If planting a church is coming before your relationship with Him, you’ve got it backward and unless you change, a painful readjustment is up ahead.

God loves the people in the city you’re praying about. If you don’t share that love for the people and your identity is bound up in being a pastor and planting a church, don’t do it. Wait. Cultivate that love with God first and foremost so you can genuinely love your neighbor as yourself.

God is worthy of your holy life of obedience.  As the vessel God uses, your dedication to holiness in the life of ministry is of utmost importance. We have witnessed in the past great men, friends, pastors and leaders whom God has used greatly not guard their personal holiness.  Through sin, they disqualified themselves from ministry hurting many along the way. Let’s pray for them and for us! God is worthy of a growing life of obedience from us.

God is gracious and compassionate, full of mercy and truth.  Set the foundation of His church plant not upon methods and techniques or ideas and philosophies, but upon the grace of God, teaching people to not rely on the resources of Adam, but rather to live in the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit. Grace. Grace. Grace.

Set the foundation of His church plant not upon methods and techniques or ideas and philosophies, but upon the grace of God…

I’m a church planter at heart. God has wired me that way. Even with fifteen years of ministry passing so quickly, we still see ourselves cooperating with God in the planting of His fruitful church. I love the thrill, the challenges, and the results of seeing God do great and glorious things through the life of the local church. I especially love encouraging, serving, and equipping church planters of every generation to go forward in their calling, walking by faith. If you need or want help, reach out. We’re here to serve you.

I shared a Bible study here at Calvary Aurora not too long ago entitled, “Biblical Truths That Have Helped Me in Servanthood”. Of course I’m learning all the time, but I believe it will encourage and edify you.  It can be found here.

Ed Taylor is the founding and Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Aurora. You can also follow the church’s Pastor Ed’s Twitter feed.

If I Did It Again…

“If you planted another church, what would you do differently?”

That’s a question I’ve been asked since year one. I charged into church planting with a very positive, optimistic, if-you-build-it-they-will-come mindset, which I’m thankful for. I know other church planters who went out burdened with church plant failure statistics, wondering they would become another statistic. I didn’t know the stats, or the struggle, and I certainly couldn’t have predicted the events of the first year (deployment, flood, 3 jobs…).

However, through all of the challenges that the first few years held, I have no regrets. Even the things I’d change became valuable lessons for me.

If I were to plant another church, here are two things I’d do differently…

I would not over-commit.

I’m all about raising up a team, preparing, strategizing, and the like, but don’t wait too long. Hit it! You’ll have time to learn, grow, and re-strategize as you go. On the other hand though, it’s easy to over-commit, stretch yourself thin, and run the risk of burnout at church or at home (neither of which are options).

The main way I over-committed was by launching with a weekend and a mid-week service. Mid-week services are nice, and I’ve always gone to one in every church I was in. A mid-week study was never part of our launch plan, but when enough people requested, it seemed harmless enough. Then by the time we were ready to launch, it felt too scary to cancel something that was working so well. So, in addition to our planned weekend service, we launched with a Wednesday night service as well.

I don’t regret Wednesdays. People grew with each other and in the knowledge of the Word. However, it was way too much commitment early on. I was working 3 jobs in addition to the church, and studying for 2 unique message every week was a huge task. By God’s grace, I survived, my wife and kids still love me, and the church is still growing…but I would do it differently!

I would not try to reproduce.

Coming from a 15,000-member megachurch, our natural tendency early on was to try to replicate what they did so well.

Good Friday? A Good Friday service happens at noon on Good Friday…or so we thought.

Although thousands turn out every Good Friday at our church in New Mexico, when we tried to replicate it at noon in an Army town, a few unemployed people and some moms showed up. Good Friday at noon fit them – not us.

 

Easter is coming? We should probably rent an outdoor venue and do a sunrise service. That is how Easter services are run, after all…or so we thought.

We had seen it done that way so successfully for so many years in New Mexico that we didn’t even stop to consider any other way of doing Easter. Without considering context, culture, or the unique people we were reaching, we attempted to reproduce their success. Our first Easter was one to remember, but we don’t plan to do it that way again!

Your 1st 200 May Be Terrible

Ed Compean has planted and pastored churches in Nairobi, Kenya and now is a church planting coach and mentor to many church leaders.


Tim Keller effectively communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching, but concerning young pastors the well known preacher recently said to church planters, “For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.”

For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do,

your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.

When applied as designed, the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual places a strong emphasis on development of teaching and preaching in the season of equipping before the church plant. Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters. As the church plant moves past a core group, and especially past the launch of Sunday services, there becomes less and less opportunity to grow in preaching by receiving valuable feedback and coaching. In those first sermons of the new church the enemy who hates the church planter, and the fledgling local expression of the church, will be active to convince the planter he is useless. While not forgoing the tools of spiritual warfare, I would like to suggest three ideas for the church planter to continue the pattern of growth begun in the teacher training of the Calvary Church Planting Network Church Planting Manual.

Critical, but loving feedback usually provides a great time of growth for future church planters.

Planter: Ask Your Wife (or other key person)
Unless he is terribly unique, at some point on Sunday afternoon the church planter will ask his wife some version of, “So, how did the message go today.” The 10-minutes that follow may be the best preparation for the following week’s sermon. This point obviously presumes the planter is married. If not, then another key person can be identified.

A pastor friend offers a short class for pastor and elder’s wives on how to critically listen to a sermon and it may be good to consider something similar for future church planters. In the meantime I suggest planters ask their wives to read the “Teaching and preaching” section in the appendix of the Church Planting Manual. It is amazing how with a little forethought and preparation how sophisticated a listener can become and how much invaluable feedback a wife can bring.

Planter: Ask the Core Team
I strongly suggest a debrief meeting of the previous Sunday service early enough in the week to prepare for the coming service. As discussions of setup, sound balance and timing of the offering are discussed, it is also valuable to ask a few key questions about the sermon. It would probably be profitable to develop a template of four or five key questions concerning the message and save more in depth discussions for another time. Questions could include:

• What was the object of the message?
• How were my mannerisms?
• Where there any illustrations that did not work?
• How did this apply to the congregation’s head (intellect), heart (inner being), and hands (application)?
• What was he main takeaway point of the message?
• What could I have done better?
• What worked well?

Planter: Ask a Coach
As a planter moves out of the mentoring relationship of his sending church, the coaching relationship typically becomes the key to development of the planter spiritually, but also in practical church matters like preaching. It is advised that the coach listen to several messages (presumably not the whole first 200), from a planter and make note of good and bad patterns.

If I Could Do It Again

Neil Spencer serves on the CCPN Core Team as well as pastoring Coastline Calvary Chapel in Destin, Florida. For more info about Coastline, go to their website, coastlinelife.com.

My wife and I planted Coastline Calvary Chapel in Destin, FL in April of 2010. At that time I was serving on staff as the Executive Pastor of Coastline Calvary Chapel in Gulf Breeze (a 60 minute drive unless HWY 98 [the only hwy] isn’t a parking lot filled with touring visitors from the southeast), the church my father founded in 1983; the church in which I was born, raised, & had the privilege of serving for 7.5 years.

From 2010 until February 2013, I maintained my pastoral responsibilities in Gulf Breeze, during the week and commuted to Destin to teach a small, but growing fellowship on the weekends. Although it wasn’t that long ago that we began the work, it feels like a lifetime. So much has happened, both in me & through me as a church planter. We’ve had tremendous HIGH’S – like hosting Phil Wickham’s 1st ever Outdoor Mall Outreach in 2010 as the sun set on a Easter Sunday in which nearly 2,000 attended – & tremendous LOWS – like our CORE team leaving the church 1 yr into the plant.

If I could do it again… I would…

Trust JESUS with JESUS’ Church.

Like Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:25-34 … worry does nothing for us & don’t miss this… the God of the universe is FOR us. That fact should change the way your face looks. We should trust Jesus with HIS church, I mean it’s His blood-bought bride, not mine. If I could do it again… I would like to say that I would trust JESUS with JESUS’ church & spend more time praying and less time worrying, because what JESUS says is true: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Enjoy the Season I’m In.

Each season of life and ministry brings it’s own unique BLESSINGS and BUMMERS. At the ripe old age of 31, with 3 daughters, & the honor of pastoring a small-growing church I’ve learned something. Seasons change… & when they’re done, they’re done. Although the planting season can bring it’s bummers it also brings tremendous blessings. Enjoy them, b/c when it’s over it’s over.

 Not Change a Thing.

I am so thankful that I will never see the two eternal parallel lines of “God’s Sovereignty” and “Man’s Responsibility” intersect on this side of eternity, it’s a mystery in how it all works, & to be honest… I am okay with that. Although I could share with you the MANY MANY mistakes I’ve made, dumb things I’ve said & done, I am so grateful that God uses it all. He is in control & I know that He’s bigger than my mistakes because, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Ephesus: Exponential Influence and Expansion (Pt. 2)

Ed Compean pastors Calvary Chapel Githurai, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more info, go to the church website at calvarygithurai.org. This is Part 2 of a 2-part blog series on the church in Ephesus. You can read Part 1 here.

Ephesus had Exponential Expansion 

Revelation chapters two and three record letters Jesus wrote to a cluster of churches that came from the plant at Ephesus. Paul infers in Colossians, that Epaphras planted a cluster of three churches in the Lycus River Valley, which included one of the Revelation churches, but also Colossae and Hierapolis (Col 4:13). Since Paul had never been to Colossae, we can presume Epaphras received his training in Ephesus. This also allows us to discern the seven churches of Revelation are far from an exhaustive list of the local churches that resulted from the initial plant at Ephesus.

Ephesus not only exponentially expanded the influence of the Body of Christ through a local cluster of churches in Asia Minor, but they took advantage of the cross-cultural people in their midst to expand influence cross-culturally. Aquila and Priscilla helped establish the church in Ephesus as refugees from persecution in Rome, but several years later they had apparently returned to that city and planted a church in their home (Rom 6:2). They were just two of over 25 people Paul greets by name, plus multiple households, in Romans 16. One of those people is Epaenetus, who Paul calls the first convert in Asia Minor (Rom 16:6). All those relationships and influence for Christ was in a city he had not been to, but God had used him to impart an expectation to expand the Body of Christ.

What We Can Take Away from Ephesus Church Plant

Since October 2012 the Lord has allowed Calvary Church Planting Network much influence with direct impact on at least 25 Calvary Chapel church plants. The network has begin to train and mobilize 133 mentors with 366 potential church planters for what appears to be a very fruitful next season. Those numbers are good, and worthy of praising God for, but the pace is slow and the task in front remains overwhelming. The work is important because Jesus gave His life for it. It seems preparing for a movement rather than a single plant would be profitable and good. God’s word gives that example.

The work is important because Jesus gave His life for it. It seems preparing for a movement rather than a single plant would be profitable and good.

A few hundred words on a blog will not solve the problem of the need for more churches to teach through the Bible and have a healthy view of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is certainly not the place to offer training. Instead this is a small Bible study with an emphasis to think and act towards church planting movements and not only single plants. This will be best done by encouraging planters to glean from Ephesus and its ability to train leaders to plant in its regions and beyond. It is doing what Paul told the pastor at Ephesus to do, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2).

Church Planter Profile: Jeremiah Hurt // Lexington, KY

Jeremiah Hurt and his wife, Serah, are in the early stages of planting Calvary Lexington in Lexington, KY. Here’s a profile on Jeremiah and some of the things he’s been learning early in this process…
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1. In a nutshell, how did you find the city you planted in?

My wife and I knew we were leaving to plant a church, and I sensed that He wanted us to leave soon.  I told my pastor (David Keesee of Calvary Chapel, Crawfordsville IN), and I told the company that I worked for that I probably wouldn’t be around for another year. We were willing to go anywhere. We even looked into and prayed about North Dakota. A friend of mine who had moved to Lexington KY called me one evening out of the blue and asked me if I would pray about planting a Calvary Chapel there. I said we’d pray about it. Being only four hours away, we decided to visit for a weekend. We left thinking we’d never return, but promised we would continue to pray. Three days later the Lord confirmed, through His word to Serah and I that we were to indeed move to Lexington. One month later we were here with my pastor’s blessing.

2. What were some of the lessons you’re learning since you are still early on in the church planting process?

We are constantly learning and relearning the simple truths of what it means to follow Jesus as we plant this church. Here are a few things that we keeping coming back to day in and day out. They will seem obvious for sure, but they have taken on a whole new meaning during this process.
        1.) Keep our eyes on Jesus
         2.) Seek Jesus and ALL these things will be added unto you
         3.) PRAY for crying out loud!
         4.) It is His church, therefore this is His church plant
         5.) He’s on the throne. He’s in control. He’s got this. Relax.
6.) Leaving everything to move here was still just a simple act of obedience.
It is His church, therefore this is His church plant.

3. If you did this again, is there anything you would do differently?

If there’s anything I would do differently if I could start over, it would be to pray more. Simple as that. Prayer breeds confidence in Jesus and that you are hearing from Him and being led by Him.

4. What are some of the most important things for a potential church planter to consider before they leave to go plant?

A few things to consider before moving to an unknown city to plant a church is to make sure your pastor and other men who are faithfully living for the Lord agree with the calling that you sense God has put on your life. Make sure you remind people to be praying for you as often as possible. The idea of the adventure that lies ahead can often be greater than the actual living it out on a daily basis. Purpose in your heart not to give up when the going gets tough. It will get tough.

5. What is your vision for the next year of your church?

My vision for Calvary Lexington in the next year and the following years is simple. I desire for us to grow in our love for Jesus, His word, and for others, and that we would genuinely live out Acts 2:42. I pray we would be doers of His word and not hearers only, and that Titus 2:14 would come alive in our hearts:
       “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.”(Titus 2:14 HCSB)
If there’s anything I would do differently if I could start over, it would be to pray more. Simple as that.