Church Planting, Leadership, Pastors, Preaching

TXT: Controversial Messages of the Bible

In October, One Church is beginning a new sermon series entitled TXT: Controversial Messages of the Bible. We’ll explore four of the most provocative messages in the Bible:

Week 1 | How was the Bible was Written and Formed?

Week 2 | Does the Bible Condone Violence (ex. the Canaanite Genocide)?

Week 3 | What does the Bible teach about Slavery and Sexuality?

Week 4 | Did Jesus Really Claim to be the Son of God?

One Church is committed to be a church where questions and doubts are welcome. We’re not afraid to address the most difficult subjects for American churches. It is a guarantee that some people will leave the church, but addressing difficult subjects will bring more people who appreciate the church’s approach.

On week three, I will address the topic of Christians and homosexuality. This will require sensitivity and a calm, reasonable tone.

Click for more info about the sermon series here. You can also watch or listen to sermons anytime at onechurch.com.

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Church Planting, Leadership

When People Leave the Church

One of the most difficult experiences for a church planter is letting people go. People you never thought would leave will leave for a multitude of reasons.

One Church has only held weekly services for six months, and we’ve seen half of the visitors leave because they were looking for a different type of church. One person called me names on the way out.

Here is a tough realization- people will leave your church. You will be tempted to convince some to stay. Others will attack you as they go, and you will be tempted to retaliate. Regardless of their reasons for leaving, you only really have one choice.

Bless them as they go.

Contrary to what some church planting “experts” tell you, you don’t need warm bodies to fill seats. You need people are passionate about fulfilling the vision and mission of the new church you are planting. People who passionately believe in your vision will multiple themselves.

People who do not will distract you, hold the church back and take other people with them when they leave. The longer they stay, the more toxic relationships they create. If they attack you as they leave, even the people who don’t leave will wonder if they’re correct.

When they leave, don’t let them make matters worse by dragging you into a conflict.

Let people go sooner than later. If they attack you, do not retaliate.

Just bless them as they go.

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Church Planting, Leadership, One Church, Pastors, Preaching

Why It’s Difficult to Leave Fundamentalism (Part 1 of 3)

Bible and Science

Since moving to Phoenix to plant One Church, I’ve been exposed to more conservative evangelical megachurch theology than I have been in other locations. One of the many influences on conservative evangelical megachurch theology is the fundamentalist tradition.

I’ve met quite a few thoughtful Christians of all ages who are searching for a church different from the one they grew up in. Some of them either grew up in a fundamentalist tradition or arrived in a fundamentalist church as an adult.

For some, Christ first became real to them as an adult in a fundamentalist church, which makes it more difficult for them to consider that their fundamentalist pastor may not have been accurate in all of his claims.

Of course, it is probably the social pressure found in fundamentalism that creates the most difficulty for persons questioning fundamentalist teachings. If they question or leave, they will be ostracized by their friends and mentors and viewed with suspicion, or worse yet… as a liberal.:)

In my experience, fundamentalist churches have two central claims that make it difficult for their members (or even ex-members) to consider any view of the Christian faith other than fundamentalism:

  1. “We teach the Bible, while other churches just teach the traditions of men.”
  2. “The Bible is clear on every subject it addresses, so our church has the one correct teaching.”

I’ll post more in the next few days…

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Church Planting, Leadership, One Church

One Church Launched

The very start of the service before the room filled up.

Eleven months ago, my wife, son and I relocated to Chandler, AZ to lead a nondenominational, parachute drop church plant.

One Church launched weekly worship services yesterday with 118 in attendance, 96 adults and 22 kids! (This photo was taken at the very beginning of the service before 3 more rows of people showed up.)

Our strategy has been to grow through word of mouth and social media, in addition to 30 grand opening signs placed around the city and our A-frame directional signs placed Saturday mornings. We tried targeted and saturation mail with a very low return. I will probably not use mail anymore in this area (direct mail worked well for me in Columbus, OH, however).

Leading up to the launch, we held six monthly preview services and a Christmas Eve service. In the first preview service last October, the total attendance was 43. In last months preview service, the total attendance was 73. So, we grew from 43 to 118 in six months.

We’ll see what the second week attendance is next Sunday. Let the emotional roller coaster begin!:)

 

 

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Church Planting, Leadership

Launch- Prayer and Fasting Campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer and Fasting

During the month of December, One Church will dedicate ourselves to prayer and fasting. Our prayer will be from Matthew 16:18, that Jesus would build His Church through us.

I have prayerfully decided to fast from food for 21 days. My fast will begin on December 2 and end on December 23. I will post updates, spiritual insights, prayer requests, etc. here on my blog. Please follow my blog and join One Church in prayer.

30in30

During the month of December, we need to complete our fundraising goal of $150,000. We are praying to raise $30,000 in 30 days.

100% of the funds raised in December will go toward One Church launch expenses including:

  • Direct Mail
  • Signage
  • Promotional Giveaways
  • Radio Commercials
  • Facebook and Newspaper Ads
  • Service Projects

You can give to One Church in two ways:

1. Make your check out to “One Church,” and mail it to PO Box 12036 Chandler, AZ 85248.

2. You may also give conveniently online here.

Thank you for your prayer and generous gving to launch weekly worship in One Church!

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Church Planting, Leadership, Pastors, Uncategorized

Your First Launch Team Meeting

A lot of church planters have an obvious question about leading a launch team, and I’m surprised that there aren’t more resources available for it- “What do I do during my launch team meetings?”

My plan has been to take our first five weeks to work through Adam Hamilton’s three questions for church plants (from Leading Beyond the Walls). They help you define your church’s theology and specific call and distinctives:

  1. Why do people need Jesus? (1 week)
  2. Why do people need the Church (universal)? (1 week)
  3. Why do people need this church (the one you’re planting)? (3 weeks)

I feel like I know the individuals on the launch team fairly well because I’ve been building relationships with them for a few months. So, I assumed that our team was ready to jump into question one last night… and then it happened.:)

I started with an icebreaker game that went okay, but even as the game ended, I could tell that there was an elephant in the room. I had the feeling of having to try too hard, and it seemed like we weren’t really connecting the way I wanted to as a launch team. There was just a feeling that I was jumping ahead.

Looking back on it, I should have expected this, but I didn’t, and maybe this blog post will give someone else a heads up.

After the icebreaker game, I thought about what to do for about 5 seconds that seemed like an eternity. I decided to scrap my entire plan for the night and asked this question,

“What are your fears about starting a new church?”

Two hours later…:)

It was a phenomenal discussion. The first person to share was a very kind-natured young wife and mom who respectfully shared that she was concerned about tithing. Her honesty broke the ice (for real), and it set the tone for a very honest and healthy discussion about our launch team’s fears.

Different people brought up fears like- unmet expectations and disappointment, the pressure of leadership, the time commitments needed to start a church, and ultimately, that the church plant would fail.

It was probably the most honest meeting I’ve ever had in 10 years of full-time ministry.

In hindsight, it makes perfect sense to me, but I wish I would have intentionally planned this discussion for our first night. Essentially, it’s not 1995 anymore when you could plant a church, and as long as it had contemporary music, it would work. Lots of church plants have failed since then.

Our launch team is aware that a few church plants in our area have failed. They see mega churches who have the suburban family entertainment model of church down to a science. Church planting is actually being replaced by these same mega churches opening multi-site campuses.

Your first launch team meeting probably needs to allow your people to honestly express their fears, and then you need to honestly and realistically address them without defensiveness. If you can’t tell people why your church is needed, you’re not ready to plant anyway.

Intelligent people know that church planting is a high risk sport, and until you acknowledge this, it will be the elephant in the room.

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Church Planting, Pastors, Uncategorized

Church Planting Tips- Continually Improve Your Preaching

I think one of the biggest reasons that church plants fail is inadequate preaching.

The truth is, there is no excuse for being a subpar preacher. There are just too many resources out there on how to improve your sermons and delivery. And there are too many great preachers out there to learn from.

Need more motivation? The people in your church who have been believers for awhile know this too. They’ve heard great preachers. They know what’s possible, and they know when you’re not improving. Notice that I said, “improving,” not “perfection.” Even if our sermons don’t stack up to Andy Stanley’s, Rob Bell’s, etc., we can at least learn from them and get better.

Plus, pastors pay a price for less than adequate preaching. If you preach well, everything in your church will improve. The attendance will improve. Giving will improve. Volunteering will improve. Momentum will improve, and your task as a leader and vision caster will become easier. Continually improving as a preacher makes everything else in pastoral ministry a little easier.

I’m passionate about continually becoming a better preacher, so I’ve compiled a pretty good list of resources. Here is a list of blog posts over the last couple of years about improving your preaching, including a post entitled, “Preach like Mitch Hedberg.” You know you wanna read it:

https://ryangear.com/2011/10/11/the-emotional-movements-of-an-engaging-sermon/

https://ryangear.com/2011/01/03/tony-morgans-10-keys-to-better-sermon-series-planning/

https://ryangear.com/2010/12/26/adam-hamilton-sermons-3-things/

https://ryangear.com/2010/12/07/sermon-writers-block/

https://ryangear.com/2010/11/08/preaching-and-leadership-websites/

https://ryangear.com/2010/09/16/poets-prophets-preachers/

https://ryangear.com/2010/09/17/help-for-pre-sermon-jitters/

https://ryangear.com/2010/09/13/sermon-delivery-tips-ii-repost/

https://ryangear.com/2010/02/28/sermon-delivery-tips/

https://ryangear.com/2010/09/08/preaching-sermons-people-remember/

https://ryangear.com/2010/09/01/preach-like-steve-jobs/

https://ryangear.com/2010/02/28/sermon-writing-tips/

https://ryangear.com/2010/03/03/narrative-sermons/

https://ryangear.com/2011/12/27/preach-like-mitch-hedberg/

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