… the thoughts from a life in the Son-shine State

Archive for the ‘Church Planting’ Category

It will be messy.

Many churches, when starting out, experience an initial rapid growth in attendance. Some refer to this as a “swell,” and not true growth. Most often it’s attributed to Christians that are unhappy with their current church and are looking for something new.

Real growth happens, not when a community simply gains people that are already followers of Christ, but when they start reaping a harvest of seeds sown in fertile soil.

This requires something many Christians don’t enjoy—finding good soil.

In his book Organic Church, Neil Cole reminds us that “bad people make good soil—there’s a lot of fertilizer in their lives.”

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The more messed up we are, the more manure we find ourselves standing in; and as a result our lives become very fertile for the seeds of the Gospel to take root. (Encouraging, isn’t it?!)

Don’t go looking for the people that have it all together. Find the fertile soil… it’s ready for seeds of Life to take root!

Sniffing-out fertile soil…

Steve

Coffee =

While I sat in the coffee shop tonight, this is what I observed:

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I long more and more to build bridges with my community…

I wish I had the time to learn everyone’s story.

Help us, Lord!

Coffee and Community

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I love coffee.

But my love for coffee does not overshadow my love for people and relationships.

I love community.

It’s amazing to see how conversations, connections, and care develop in a community over a cup of coffee. (Do you c this happen, too?)

My passion for these things has grown over the years, and they have become key ingredients in leading us to where we are today—planting a café church.

I have the privilege of knowing some awesome people that are also really into building relationships and making great coffee. One of those groups are the people at the Drowsy Poet Coffee Company here in Pensacola. Another is Courage Coffee in Hamtramck, MI (Detroit).

I believe that one of the most powerful avenues in which the gospel is transmitted is through relationships. Relationships, through the work of the Holy Spirit, build the Kingdom of God.

Though many would argue that coffee is not good for you due to the addictive nature of the caffeine, I would beg to differ. In fact, it is because of the addictive nature of coffee that I have been able to build so many great relationships!

You could say that my caffeine addiction has been ordained by God “for such a time as this!” 😉

Seriously, though… I strongly believe that God has given us a clear vision to use coffee as a way to build relationships. It’s not about the coffee, it’s about the kingdom—the Kingdom of God, here, now, alive in the hearts of people!

The coffee, the café, the conversations, the care, the connections…
… all tools for building the Church, which is Christ’s passion; and that goes far beyond any passion I could ever have for coffee.

Wanna meet me for a cup of coffee?

Steve

  • Are you a coffee drinker?
  • Do you drink it because you like it, or is it more of a social, peer-pressure, everyone-is-doing-it sorta relationship?
  • Have you seen the social/relational aspect of a cup of coffee bring about change in someone’s life?

(Photo taken at the Drowsy Poet Coffee Company)

Quote

Facing Fear Himself

The following is taken from an eBook that I have recently read called What Matters Now, and was put together by Seth Godin. This portion was written by Anne Jackson is thought provoking, so I decided to share it with you. Enjoy (and click on the book title link to get a free copy of the eBook)!
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Have you ever wondered who’s behind that little voice in your head that tells you, “you’re in this by yourself, one person doesn’t make a difference, so why even try?

His name is Fear. Fear plays the role of antagonist in the story of your life. You must rid yourself of him using all necessary means.
We’re often impressed by those who appear to be fearless. The people who fly to the moon. Chase tornadoes. Enter dangerous war zones. Skydive. Speak in front of thousands of people. Stand up to cancer. Raise money and adopt a child that isn’t their flesh and blood.

So, why are we so inspired by them?

Because deep down, we are them.

We all share the same characteristics.

We’re all divinely human.

Until Fear is gone, (and realize he may never completely leave) make the decision to be courageous. The world needs your story in order to be complete.

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Fearless, sorta…

Steve

And, Just Like That…

… almost a week goes by!

Busy, busy, busy.
Work, work, work.

It’s way past my bedtime, but it hit me that I hadn’t blogged in 5 days! Crap. I mean… poop. The Challenge is upon me… consistency is key, and this week I failed! But, maybe the following testimonies from a week of God-at-work moments will make up for it. 🙂

God has been at work, my brothers and sisters! Let me-ah testify-ah of the goodness-ah of God-ah!

Monday I was told about the fact that after our first church planting meeting at the coffee shop, and after closing in a prayer of blessing over the business there, they had the busiest day (and highest sales) of any Sunday since they opened! God is so incredible, and we are so thankful for His blessing on the shop for providing a place for us!

Tuesday we found out about a guy that came to our first church meeting (we’re technically not an open church yet, but I will never straight up stop someone from wanting to be a part of what God is doing). Well, he had a dream that a light was coming after him. He woke up and immediately said to himself, “I gotta get right with God!” He told a friend that he knows it’s because he attended our meeting last Sunday. To God be the glory! The Hound of Heaven is at work!

Wednesday God provided for me the opportunity to go to our monthly ministers’ meeting, and I had a chance to share about the church plant; and other pastors got really excited! One guy took down my name and number and wants his daughter to be a part of the church (she is a student at the University of West Florida)! God is so good!

Thursday my wife and I had the privelege of being invited to the house of the Pastor from the church that just sent us (Grace AG). He and his wife cook a pastor/decon Christmas dinner every year; and they invited us to join them for dinner. I love seeing, and being a part of unity between the leadership of different churches!

Friday (yesterday) I had the opportunity to eat lunch with three other men, and share, invest, and encourage a friend that is greatly struggling right now. It was so awesome to see how God is working in his life in the midst of great trials! Then, last night my family ate dinner with some friends that we haven’t spent time with in a while. It was so refreshing to eat, laugh, and pray with them. Thank you, Jesus!

Saturday (today) was D3 (Daddy-Daughter Date), and one of the highlights of my week, every week! I love taking my daughter to the coffee shop and investing in her. Such a joy and honor to be raising her. Thank you, Lord! But a trip to the coffee shop is never without an opportunity to share of the great things God is doing in our lives, and to continue to build relationships with others; and to have opportunities to share about the church plant. Every time I am there, someone is asking about it, or a co-worker tells people about the church. It’s so great to get confirmations about the vision God has birthed in you!

God is so incredible!
A week full of awesome things that God has done!

I would say I’m speechless, but… How can I keep from shouting His praise!

Steve

Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go!

Yesterday I blogged about purposeless feats, like No-Shave November (which I participated in). Going with the theme from yesterday’s blog, but changing gears, I am going to share about purposeful things. [Note: sorry about the titles “Let It Grow…” and “Here We Go…”. I have been listening to a lot of Christmas music, and the song “Let It Snow” has been in my head.]

It is now official.

December 1st is upon us, and we are no longer serving at Grace Assembly of God. It is sort or a surreal feeling, yet there is a natural transition taking place. As we share with others what the Lord is doing in our lives, it seems right in my heart that we are exactly where God wants us, doing what He has created us to do. Everything that we have experienced, learned, and gained has lead us up to this point in our lives.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
(Psalm 139:13-16)

God knows us better than anyone, and He has allowed us all to live today, for such a time as this (Esther 4:24). People look at the world and get discouraged and are filled with fear. But, it really is exciting! We are carriers of the Good News! Jesus said–

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33)

I am so thankful to the Lord… we are so blessed, beyond measure, to be a part of this work.

So, here we go!

Whoa…

Steve

More details to come about the church plant as the weekend draws near.

If You Build It…

… it will probably fail.

So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.
(Nehemiah 6:15, 16 NLT)

On Sunday night (our last Sunday as pastors at Grace Assembly of God) Pastor Ben Peters gave a great word about building walls.

As the Church, it is our job to obediently work toward fulfilling the vision that God gives each of us; and usually that vision is specific and unique to each local church or person. We see many leaders having a very specific vision that God has given them, and that vision is fleshed out through their local church or ministry.

When these visions are given from God, there is one thing that they will all have in common: God will receive the glory.

If it is His will, it is His bill. God provides everything we need to fulfill His purposes for our lives. Our job is simple—obey. It is when we start to make our own plans, and attempt to strategize with our own understanding and vision and models and strategies, that we fall short every time. Yes, people may look at it and say, “Wow! That’s really successful!” (or maybe not if it completely fell apart); but either way, unless we have completed the task set before us by God, then we have not succeeded in that which matters most.

The people built the walls of the city of God, not for their own glory, but so that God would be glorified. That, at the success of His people, the world would fear God. When we take the credit, or change the plans, or attempt to make some corrections for God (because we think we know better), that’s when the glory no longer goes to God; and that is when the work that was done has now been done in vain; and when we thought we were building walls for people to see God, we end up only building barriers that keep people from Him.

This can come in the form of church programs, the structure/control of our services, social programs, “outreaches” (I put that in quotes, because we usually mean come-and-see-us-and-be-impressed… maybe-you’ll-stay-and-pay-tithes), etc. Don’t get me wrong! A lot of what we do is good, I think… But how much of what we do is really what God intended us to be doing as the Church?

Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
(Psalm 127:1a NLT)

I certainly am not claiming to have all the answers. These are simply thoughts from an ongoing dialogue about what we are doing as the Church.

What do you think? Please, feel free to leave some feedback. 🙂

Seeking His plans…

Steve

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