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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.  

 

 

Lessons Learned When Launching Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

The Need to Re:Engage in Church Planting

Why you should go to “ReEngage14

There are countless reasons why you should invest your resources and time to attend this church planting conference at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa September 29-30, 2014. Let’s focus on three critical aspects of church planting in our movement.

Realization

Church planting benefits the sending church. There is a myth that church planting will harm the sending church, but to the contrary, church planting actually enhances the sending church. Churches that plant churches are generally attractive places to grow in Christ in their communities. There is a sense in those local churches of excitement, mission, and advancing the Kingdom of God. The myths that it is too costly, time-consuming or complicated will be quickly dispelled as we share the vision for renewed church planting in our movement. Church planting benefits the Kingdom. Church planting is recognized as the most efficient and effective way to reach the lost and advance the Kingdom. There are countless communities in the United States and around the globe that are in need of healthy, Bible-teaching churches that have a balanced view of the present work of the Holy Spirit. Church planting benefits the Calvary Chapel movement. If we don’t plant churches and expand our movement, it shall plateau and decline. The realization of these benefits and the personal responsibility for church planting should compel us to engage in this initiative.

Relationship

Relationships require cultivation. We are a relational network of churches that share a common philosophy of ministry and theology. Carving out two days to spend time with like-minded pastors and prospective planters yields a lifetime of relational dividends. While we rejoice in the ability to glean content online, we must also recognize that it doesn’t replace personal interaction. The face-to-face time with leaders and peers provides encouragement, equipping and empathy as we share our common experiences of challenges and celebrations. Existing relationships will be strengthened and new relationships shall be formed. If you are a pastor who is seeking to train and empower church planters, you will benefit from enhancing relationships with like-minded leaders. But you must also realize that you need to encourage and support the development of relationships on the part of prospective planters. The church planters need the opportunity to cultivate relationships with a band of brothers who are embarking on the epic quest of church planting. This conference provides those opportunities. During the last two years of the Calvary Church Planting Network (CCPN) I’ve been blessed to attend numerous gatherings around the globe where I have met men in various stages of church planting that I hope will be lifetime friends. The experience of gathering with familiar friends and making new friends who are passionate about church planting, the CC movement, and the greater Kingdom of God – people from all over the globe – is inspiring.

Resources

Starting a new church is often the most difficult challenge that a church planter will experience in his life. This reality is a catalyst to ensure that we are responsible to provide resources in order that they are equipped for the task. Mentors need to be better equipped to train planters, and planters need to receive training and resources that are consistent with our movement. We need to ensure the accurate and effective transmission of the “Calvary Chapel DNA” (our philosophy of ministry and theology), so that healthy CC churches are established. This year’s conference line-up of main session speakers and workshop leaders are well-known, gifted, leaders in our movement. Most importantly they will address practical and critical aspects of the equipping process. Furthermore, these leaders will be available to talk with you and encourage you. You simply won’t get that experience by seeking resources on-line.

ReEngage

Our movement has been at the forefront of church planting since our early days. The work of God’s Spirit is available for a new generation of church planters. Faithful CC leaders who pioneered the church planting effort in our movement desperately want to see the next generation of leaders continue and expand this good work. At CCPN we believe that we are just getting started. Join us as we continue to apply and impart 50 years of church planting experience to a new generation of up-and-coming CC church planting pastors as they engage a lost world with the truth of the Gospel.

Church Planting: Letting Go

Letting go. This is where it all started for us. Hello, my name is Joey Roper. My family and I are missionaries in Hamburg, Germany. We previously assisted the work at Calvary Chapel Herborn, Germany for three years before the Lord called us here to Hamburg. It was toward the end of the second year there that I really began to become interested in all things concerning church planting. I was listening to teachings, reading blogs, watching some friends of mine be raised up and sent out to start new churches, and my heart was being stirred. The more I followed along, the more I desired to step out and plant a church as well. But let me first rewind…

Assisting in a work first

Back in 2006, while I was serving as the Jr. High pastor at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, I led a team on a short-term mission trip to Herborn, Germany. During that trip, the Lord began to stir my heart in regards to moving to Germany with my family as missionaries. So I began to share these things with one of my best friends who was also on the mission field. He began to share with me that if the Lord was truly leading us to move to another country and to plant a new church, it would be best to first come alongside an existing work before starting out on our own. This way we would have the chance to not only assist in the work, but we would also have the time to learn the language, the culture, the mindset of the people, and so much more before leading a work. Looking back, I am so grateful that he shared these words of wisdom with me as they have proved to be true. So in turn, I would share these words of wisdom with you as well. Especially if you are considering going to a country that you do not fluently speak the language. Take the time to come and learn the language, culture, and the mindset of the people first – this will help you in the long run. We did just that and moved to Germany in September of 2008.

Take the time to come and learn the language, culture, and the mindset of the people first.

Letting go of it

We had been serving alongside the work at CC Herborn, learning the language, developing friendships, and learning many important lessons. We had hit many “walls” that many missionaries hit in the first few years. Through these difficult times we would constantly seek the Lord if we were to remain or if He was calling us on. Time after time, He would tell us that we were to remain and to be faithful. It was after 2 ½ years of serving at CCH, that I prayed something that changed the course of our future. I surrendered church planting to the Lord. I let go of it. I put it in His hands and let Him decide if He would even call us to it or not. Once I did that, this huge “weight” was lifted from my shoulders. I can honestly say that the “weight” was not something that God had put upon me, but it was something that I did to myself. Shortly after that time, my wife and I began to pray once again if we were to remain or if He was calling us on. This time He began to speak to us that it was time to move on. After finishing three years of serving the precious people at CCH the Lord began to move us on. But where to? This will be in our next post.

May I end this post by encouraging you today? If you sense the Lord calling you to church planting and it continues to burn more and more in your heart, it may be that you need to do as I did – surrender it. Let go of it and let His will be done.

Remember that He is good and trust Him!

God Bless you!

If you sense the Lord calling you to church planting and it continues to burn more and more in your heart, it may be that you need to do as I did – surrender it. Let go of it and let His will be done.