Most church planters I know walk into church planting with clarity in four areas:
- They know how God has wired them- including their passions, talents, strengths, and giftedness.
- They sense a calling to a specific group of people- whether it’s a neighborhood, cultural group, city, etc.
- They have a clear vision of what the church could and should be- rooted in the intersection of scripture and cultural context.
- They have a process in mind of how this will work- which involves strategic steps in leading people individually and collectively forward in following Jesus.
Many times when circumstances appear tougher, people respond slower, and momentum takes longer than we anticipated, we prematurely abandon the process for something that appears to move us more quickly towards our desired destination. Continue reading
If our week in Southern California was all about equipping and our week in Pennsylvania was all about unplugging, then our three weeks at a cottage in coastal Maine was definitely about refueling and listening. As many have asked what we did, the answer includes long strolls on the beach and through the woods, cycling the rolling hills of a coastal peninsula, hunting for hermit crabs with the kids, lots of time with the family at the pool and beach. What we did doesn’t really describe the significance of what happened: God truly used this time away to deepen my relationship with Him and with my family. Continue reading
Thanks to our good friends Ken & Lynn Nipp, we were able to really begin our sabbatical in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. Our goals for this sabbatical are simple: unplug, refuel, and listen to God. Unplugging is not easy and requires discipline. I’m understanding why Jesus made a habit of escaping to lonely places away from crowds to spend time with the Father. He’d often cross the Sea of Galilee to get away. In this modern era of technology this requires me staying off line (except for these posts) and putting my cell phone on a shelf. Continue reading
After returning to Burlington to pick up the kids, we made a detour through New Jersey on our way to Pennsylvania. We were in the New Brunswick area for only about 24 hours, but every block of that community has so many of memories connected to the six spent years we spent pouring ourselves out in helping start the Point Church. Even more important than seeing the place was briefly seeing people we know and love. Continue reading
We began our sabbatical on July 6 with Christin and I flying to southern California to attend a preaching/teaching conference at North Coast Church with 25 other couples involved in church planting. Larry Osborne and Chris Brown provided the best training I’ve personally experienced concerning preaching and teaching. None of this would have happened, though, without Brian Bloye and Kevin Dunlap of West Ridge Church providing this for church planters they’ve invested in over the years. These guys LOVE church planters and it shows.
As many of you know, me and my family are heading on a sabbatical from July 6 to August 7. Christin and I will begin with just the two of us attending a church-planting conference in Southern California, then head with the whole family for one week in the Poconos of Pennsylvania and three weeks on the coast of Maine. Thank you to all who contributed to making this possible.
We have three simple goals: unplug, refuel, and listen to God. Please pray with us Ephesians 1:16-20:
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.
You can also download our summer update here: summer 2015 update
I’m wired to think big vision and strategic steps. I often think forward, contemplating what might be the next mountain to climb or battle to fight. In the process of thinking about the big picture, I can often miss the seemingly small yet eternally significant victories along the way- especially when I’m facing external challenges, struggling with internal discouragement, or things are moving slow. Continue reading
I’m often asked by other pastors and church-planters to describe ministry in Vermont. It often reminds me of a century ride I did on my bike a couple of summers ago. Me and a buddy mapped our route so the pinnacle of Smugglers Notch would be the exact halfway point- which means at 42 miles in, you begin an eight mile, 1800 ft climb. About three miles into the climb you begin feeling the stress in your thighs and calves, and your simple focus becomes spin that flywheel, spin that flywheel one pedal push at a time. You quickly realize you have no idea how far you’ve actually traveled, because all of your normal training rides felt much easier than tackling this mountainous behemoth. Your hope is to eventually reach the summit… you will know it when you get there and not a minute before. Continue reading
Years ago as I my wedding to Christin was approaching a good friend and fellow staff member humbly but firmly challenged me: be very careful not to sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry.
Around the same time another close friend and pastor shared what may sound like very simple advice: keep dating your wife.
Many times over these past fourteen years of being a husband and pastor, God brought these conversations to the forefront of my mind… Primarily because as a laser beam focused, 100 mph guy, I need the divine reminders.
A few specifics I am relearning:
This past November I walked through the back door from a Sunday afternoon hike with the kids and shared a simple observation with Christin: “I am discouraged.” I didn’t mean the discouragement that comes from a tough week, a tense conversation, or even riding the ministry roller coaster of starting a church. I meant real discouragement: the type that lingers in your soul for months and makes you feel like you don’t have anything left in the your spiritual, emotional, or mental tanks. Continue reading