August 27, 2007

5 Things I Learned About Church Planting While Backpacking

Last week was my first time away in over a year and a half. It was nice to not have to think about work (most of the time). I hesitate to call it a vacation because that implies going somewhere to relax. I didn't.

During the first part of the week I schedule a backpacking trek of 3 days, 2 nights, and about 25 miles. I knew it was going to be tough, so I started a hiking, walking, and running workout schedule to prepare. I warned my friend about the conditions and recommended he take similar steps. Needless to say, halfway through the very first day, he was ready to quite. We ended up hiking out on a flat, easy service road the next day.

Here are some things I learned:

1. Always know what you are getting yourself into. I studied and researched the area where we were backpacking. I studied the maps. I read the trail guides. I knew basically what I was faced with. In order to give myself the best odds of succeeding, I had to know the terrain, weather conditions, and what was expected. As we were leaving the area on the flat, smooth service road and horse trail, my friend said, "This is more like I thought it would be like." He hadn't done the research.

The same holds true for any major endeavor in life; especially church planting. You have to have a realistic understanding of the process to give yourself the best possible odds of succeeding. Read the books, talk to others who have done it before you, and study the culture you are entering.

2. No matter how much you prepare, the real thing is always different. I studied the topographical maps, and I knew that we would be faced with almost 700 feet of elevation gain in a very short period of time. But knowing this via a map is very different from knowing it as you trudge up the very steep side of the hill.

No matter how much you prepare, the reality of the thing is never like you imagined. When you plant a church, be prepared for the unexpected. There are many church planters who expect to reach thousands, and then struggle to get a foothold in the community. There are others who hope to simply reach the lost and end up blowing out the doors. Then, there is everyone in between.

3. Choose your companions well. I invited a friend along, and, mistakenly, expected him to prepare. I even encouraged it. The problem was that he didn't, and I really didn't believe he would. I hoped he would, but I think I knew deep down he wouldn't.

When you are planting a church, the people who make up your core team of leaders will make or break the church plant. I believe that the pastor/leader has a very strong role to play, but he can't lead without solid leaders around him. The first church I pastored was very supportive of me as a person. They liked me and my family. They liked the idea of having a church in the community, but they were not ready for a church plant or the style of church I wanted to lead. Choosing who goes with you is very important.

4. Have a plan. I knew where we were going to camp. I knew what equipment was needed. I knew how far and fast we needed to go. I had a plan, and, in the end, it was important. I also knew what tasks needed to be accomplished once we reached camp.

When planting a church, have a plan. This part of the preparation process, and the reality is that the plan will and should change. But without an initial plan everything is just hit or miss.

5. Enjoy the time you have. My trip was cut short by a two days. Hiking out was not part of the trip plan, and I don't consider it part of the trip. I was mad at having to leave early. But I also realized, pretty quickly, that my anger was causing me to miss the beautiful scenery and peacefulness of the surroundings.

When I first started planting, my expectations were obliterated. I was unhappy, angry, you name it. It wasn't until it was almost too late that I realized I needed to just simply enjoy the moment. We could all use that advice...enjoy right now.

Anything you have learned from trekking in the outdoors?

August 16, 2007

Can't We all Just Get Along

I stumbled across this post by Perry Noble about "watchdog" groups on the blogosphere.

Perry says, "There are way too many bloggers that are building a philosophy of ministry based on their own calling and giftedness…and if other churches and leaders do not have the exact same philosophy as them then they are wrong. This is nothing more than spiritual pride–which the last time I checked–is exactly what got satan kicked out of heaven."

I couldn't agree more. There are people who make it their mission in life to disagree with everyone in a particular genre of church or stoop to nothing more than name-calling and condemnation when someone dares disagree with them.

BUT................

There is a big difference between the so-called "watchdog" websites and people who are genuinely wrestling with a concept or method and then disagree with its use. There are many methods that I don't agree with nor would I use them. I have my reasons for not using them. I don't care if you use them. That is great. But I still have a right to have an opinion on the concept and to not like it. I have many opinions, and, like many of your opinions, mine are completely wrong but I hold them anyway. I don't know they are wrong. And I won't know they are wrong till God says, "Come here, boy, we need to have a talk!" Then I will know I am in trouble for something I said and an opinion I held.

And do you know what?

We can still be friends and hang out at each other's mansion in heaven. I wrote a similar post awhile back.

There are as many ways of doing and leading a church successfully as there are personalities. And what defines success for one person (growth maybe) may not be success for another (getting to know everyone in the community). There are some pastors that are driven and there are some that are laid back. There are some that won't stand for a microphone that pops during the service, and there are those that seem to be able to roll with the punches and go on.

We are all different. We all have different opinions, and we are all entitled to those opinions. We are even allowed to hold an opinion based on premises that someone else completely disagrees with...and we can still get along.

August 15, 2007

Very Funny Fotos

Bob Hyatt has some great photo responses to Team Pyros photo critique of the Emerging Church.

Here is my favorite:




I also liked his one on evangelism, but I could get it to show on my blog. Be sure to go there an appreciate his work more fully!

August 14, 2007

Rest

In a few days I will be 20 miles out into the backwoods of the Appalachian foothills. I planned this backpacking trip about three months ago. About the end of June, however, I realize that no matter how much gear I had, I was not physically prepared to hit the trail. The hours spent in front of a computer does not qualify one to hike 30 miles over three days. So I started trying to get in shape.

It started out with several long hikes and walking ventures, but about the end of July I started running. It is easy to get too excited about something and start out too quickly. Hiking and walking was okay, but running was something totally different. I needed to take breaks and try not to do too much.

That is when I discovered the value of the rest day.

When working out or running, the rest day gives your body a break and allows it to rebuild the muscles you have been using and abusing. In a strange way, the rest day(s) is the most important day of your workout schedule. Without it, your muscles have no chance of growing. They get tired and wear out. Then you are no longer able to run as far or as long as you were before.

The same thing holds true with life. You absolutely cannot do without a day off and time away for vacation. God planned it that way. That is why he made the sabbath. He tells us that we all need some time off.

So next week, I will be taking some time off. Unfortunately, by the frequency of my posts, it looks like I have already taken some time off.

August 7, 2007

Don't Be the Monkey

One of my guilty pleasures is reading Scott Adam's blog. Scott is the creator or the Dilbert cartoons. He is an interesting fellow who picks on everyone. Everyone is fair game if he finds humor in it, and he always seems to find the humor.

It is nice to know that Christians are not the only ones who get riled up when they believe their position is being challenged. This post reminds us that atheists get riled up too!

Don't be the Monkey.

August 2, 2007

Fasting

This past weekend our pastor challenged us to consider fasting something.

After much deliberation (of a few micro-seconds), I have decided to institute a lifelong fast from country music...

If for no other reason, than this