Feb 172012
 

Assuming a churchplanter or pastor wants to share the gospel and impact a local community, there are some ways that a planter can connect quickly and over time in his community to began making inroads that lead to building bridges over which the good news can travel.

Here are some ways I/we began to connect when we planted just over 5 years ago.

Start in your own neighborhood and homeowners association
For a planter/pastor/leader to lead others, he or she must model what he wants others to put into practice.  Start with your own neighborhood or relationship circles closest to home.  There is nothing more powerful than a pastor sharing personal stories about how God has worked through his personal relationships to see people connect to God through Jesus.  I started getting to know neighbors through neighborhood events, homeowner association meetings and my wife and started a discussion group for couples on marriage and family issues.  As a result, we have seen multiple families and people from our neighborhood trust Jesus and get connected at Church at the Grove.

Local Schools
Our church’s two campuses both meet in public schools.  We began building relationships with the principles and staff through feeding them and loving on them in a variety of ways.  We told them we want to be their first call if they need something.  It has worked and they love us and have become “raving fans” of our church.  Here’s the deal:  If you tell them to call you, you better be ready to follow up and meet their request.  You must maintain a healthy credibility with the community.

Police Department
The Police Department knows as well as anyone what is going on in the community.  I went to the local police department and asked them if they had a chaplain.  They didn’t and I volunteered.  Within a year or so, we baptized the Chief and he now plays in our worship band.  We partner with the department on a number of things but the partnership with the greatest fruit has been our “Shop with a Hero” Christmas project that touches over a hundred children through the public schools.

Funeral Homes
One of my mentors told me that when he planted a church years ago he went to the local funeral home and volunteered to do funerals for people without a church. WOW!  I do over a dozen funerals a year for unchurched families.  It is a great way to connect with unchurched people and meet a practical need.  More and more people navigate death and loss without the security and hope that eternity offers us through Christ.  Several families have given our church a try through these connections and countless people have heard the gospel.

Counselors
We try to maintain relationships with what we call the “365 people” that deal with community needs everyday of the year. These are the police, firefighters and school counselors that deal with the basic needs of people on an ongoing basis.  We go to the school counselors and tell them that our church wants to be at the top of their list when it comes to helping meet needs.  They love us.  Here’s the deal: You better be ready if you make yourself available.

Social Workers
You will be able to meet practical needs if you make your church available to help with DFACS, county or city social workers or any leadership that is connected to everyday needs in the community.

Coach or volunteer in a local sports league
This is one of the best ways to connect with people in the community.  If you love what people love, they will listen to what you have to say.  If you pour your life into their children through coaching a sports team, it will be the easiest way to connect people to your church.  This may be the most productive means by which I have personally connected people into our church!  People are hungry for leadership with character and integrity and it is hard to find on the youth sports field unfortunately.  You can’t go wrong with volunteering to coach kids in the community!  Be ready, because people will be watching how you handle yourself on the field!

Prayer walk
There is nothing better than simply walking a neighborhood or town and praying over everything going on in a local community.  Prayer walking does not provide instant reward or feedback and it doesn’t seem like a glorified activity but God promises to reward prayer.  It is one of the best things a leader can do and it should be a regular part of a leader’s routine!

What have you done to successfully connect in the community?  I would love to hear one of your ideas that has worked!

 

 Posted by at 2:00 pm
Feb 062012
 

Our Social Circle campus pastor Nathan Boyd (via Perry Noble) shared this with our launch team a few months back in preparation for launching our second campus in Social Circle.  We must continue to advance the gospel through church planting and multiplying movements!

1. Because we understand that found people find people…and we will not stop doing whatJesus commanded us to do.

  • Matthew 28:18-20- “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”
  • Matthew 9:35-38 – “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field”

2. Because we understand that saved people serve people…and we will not stop doing what the Bible commands of us.

  • 1 Peter 4:10 – “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
  • Matthew 20:28 – “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

3. Because we understand that growing people change…and we will not stop praying for Jesus to change us.

  • Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

4. Because we understand that we can’t do life alone…and we will obey what the Lord has instructed us to do in Hebrews 10:24-25.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

5. Because we understand that we cannot out give God…and so we will obey what God’s Word teaches.

  • Malachi 3:6-12- ‘”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
  • Proverbs 3:9-10- “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine
 Posted by at 1:20 pm
Sep 102011
 

I will never forget standing in the Kennesaw Mountain High School cafeteria the morning of September 11, 2001.  I turned to see my pastor, Mike Linch, walking toward me as if he were late for a meeting.  I had arrived early to teach character education to Cobb County high school students.  Mike began to tell us how a plane had hit one of the twin towers in Manhattan;  we all went to the school office to watch a television monitor as another plane hit the other twin tower.  The groans and audible anguish filled the school office as everyone watched the events in real time.  At first, there was silence; then, there were horrified responses of panic and despair.

Those of us at the school to teach character education were asked to go to our classrooms and were given permission to turn the television on with the students.  I spent the morning with high school students, watching as the towers crumbled and life as we knew it was transformed before our eyes.  We talked, cried and comforted one another.   Adolescent problems didn’t matter in light of what we observed on that morning.

That morning was significant in shaping my calling to plant a new church. It galvanized my motivation to take the gospel to the unchurched and those far from God.  I was challenged to view the events of 9/11 through the lens of the Great Commission.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the eternal destination would be for over 3000 people that perished on that day.

It is normal and understandable to be horrified, angry and experience a gamut of emotions in the middle of all the circumstances surrounding the attacks of 9/11.  We experienced loss and grief as a nation.  Our security was challenged and we felt backed into a corner.  As the dust settled, the natural and human response became vengeance.  I completely supported the leadership of our nation based on scripture in Romans 13, but I believe strongly the Body of Christ has a Biblical mandate that is distinct from the State Government.  I think of the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:43–45 (HCSB)
43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies  and pray for those who  persecute you,  45 so that you may be  sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

On Sunday morning September 11, 2011 at Church at the Grove, we will be celebrating 5 years as a church.  We will celebrate the many decisions of individuals who have turned to follow Jesus and the many baptisms that have taken place as a result.  In the midst of this celebration, we will pause, pray and reflect on those life-changing events of 10 years ago.  Our challenge that day will be simple:  The hope of change in this world is not revenge, bombs, bullets or even the ballot box.  The hope of this world is taking the Gospel to all people, groups and nations.

We must not allow the contemporary clash of cultures to distract us from fulfilling the timeless mandate of the Great Commission!  Maybe our focus of the Gospel should be toward those that consider us among their greatest enemies.

Matthew 28:18–20 (HCSB)
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19 Go, therefore, and make disciples  of  all nations,  baptizing  them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember,  I am with you always,  to the end of the age.”

 Posted by at 9:29 am
Jun 032011
 

The “new routine” of Summer kicked into gear this week with celebrating Memorial Day and getting used to school being out.  It has truly been a great week and I have reflected on the goodness and faithfulness of God so much this week.

I was able to spend some time with a few different people this week that helped remind me of why we do what we do at Church at the Grove.

I spent some time with a friend that is hungry exploring faith issues and the Bible for the first time in his life.  It is so refreshing to see that hunger for the Word of God and the things of God.  This is why we started Church at the Grove!  We desired to build relationships with people born and raised in the first “post-Christian” generation that didn’t have the Bible and Christian foundation that so many have had in previous generations, especially here in the Bible Belt.  This friend is vigorously pursing God through reading the Word and becoming a part of the Church at the Grove family.

I spent some time with a precious family that has gone through a recent tragedy in their family and it is so encouraging to see them lean into God during this tough trial.  They have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love from their Grove family and are trusting God as they continue to move forward.  I always think I am going to visit someone in need and encourage them but often I am the one that leaves a home being encouraged by the family I visit with.

I was able to cast the vision I believe God has given Church at the Grove with a family this week.  It never gets old sharing the mission and vision God has given us.  It is so humbling and surreal to see how God has delivered on what He promised us He would do just over 5 years ago when we set out on this adventure!  As I shared the heartbeat of our church and what I believe is distinct and significant about Church at the Grove, I was overwhelmed again with gratitude and resolve to move forward faithfully to accomplish what God has led us to do!

Can I remind you?!

Vision:

God has called us to reach out to the first generations born and raised into a “post-Christian” American culture.  We desire to share the gospel with these generations and see God build a church of influence!

Mission:

Church at the Grove exist to develop people who follow Jesus and Make Disciples.

Strategy:

We seek to fulfill God’s Vision and Mission for Church at the Grove through:

  • Creating Environments where people can explore faith at their own pace.
  • Encouraging relationships.
  • Starting discussions and conversations that lead to sharing the hope found in Jesus.

Simply put, we want more than anything else make much of Jesus, glorifying Him through touching individual lives with the love and grace of God.  Love God; Love people!

Keep praying, Keep investing, Keep inviting!

 

 Posted by at 8:47 am