Friday, December 25, 2009

Keep the main thing...the main thing

I found a good definition of church - A group of born-again believers in Christ who come together for worship and are lead by shepards who preach the Word and lead the congregation to the purpose of glorifying God by fulfilling Jesus' Great Commission and Greatest Commandments.

As leaders - lets keep our calling and purpose in front of us. Dont get sidetracked into programs or people pleasing. Obey God's call to lead and not comromise and let your people lead you.... Afterall, have you ever seen sheep lead their shepard around? I hope not....

Have a Merry Christmas....and I pray you dont grow weary in doing good!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Measuring Success

I've often wondered about measuring success within the church plant paradigm. Is it wrong to measure or should we just believe we are on track and keep going?

I recently came to the conclusion that defining a "win" or measuring success with measureable results is healthy and can lead to good stewardship in both time and money.
For instance, if we are spending a good chunk of the budget on outreach, yet nobody is getting saved, nobody is visiting the church or there are no other hints of success...then maybe we are doing something wrong. This could be a matter of tweaking or it can involve a complete overhaul. Reminder: Dont fall in love with the methodology... fall in love with the goal - to reach the lost for Jesus in this case.

Within the church plant itself, how can we measure success? I think it will differ from church to church. It may help you to review your missions statement and see if you are doing what you claim is your mission : )

Here are some goals I have set for our recent church plant and how we can determine if we are on track:

Excitement & Passion for the Great Commision
  • > 75% involved in local outreach

  • >50% involved in world missions
Excited About Church
  • >50% Inviting friends on a regular basis

  • > 75% involved in service within the local church

  • >75% giving financially to the local church

Committment to Spiritual Growth
  • > 75% involved in small groups / "Life Groups"

Write the goals down and file them away. Revisit your file regularly (I recommend monthly) to see how you are measuring up.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Using Pop Culture.....

Here is an excerpt from the website: For more - check out the site and the blog article "How to Create a Buzz".

Churches need to be able to speak in the language of pop culture and communicate the Bible in and with this strange new culture. In a sense, we need to become cross-cultural missionaries. Like missionaries, we must dwell in the culture and use the language, the signs, and the symbols of that culture to reach people. Rather than embracing pop culture, this means we must leverage it.

At our church, we’ve found at least three different methods for using the language of pop culture to reach people.

Using pop culture to acquaint people with the stories of the Bible.
Looking for pop culture examples to illustrate biblical truths.
Employing secular images and songs to raise a deep life issue to the surface of people’s thinking.
This is important because speaking someone’s language is the first step toward gaining a hearing from them.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Imagine if churches (new and existing) would think of real resource sharing (life, programs, teaching, money, gifts, volunteers, knowledge) beyond their own congregation. What if we (all churches) had a "same team" mentality?

I have seen this in large churches that share graphics, free sermons on MP3 and even video productions. comes to mind. The leadrship is kingdom minded and freely shares resources with anyone regardless of denomination or affilliation.

This past week I saw this within our own community. Three kingdom minded churches gathering to do an outreach, for the sole purpose of sharing the love of Jesus. We went a bit further and gathered for worship the next day as 1 congregation. Each church did their part.

After the weekend events there was a buzz around the community. People actually witnessed 3 churches that not only got along and liked each other, but were encouraging eachAdd Image other to be all that God has in mind for them. The leadership at each of the churches met and prayed for one another...prayed for the churches...and prayed for the community. Going a step further, each pastor expressed their desire to help the others in any way possible.

I cant help but think that God was smiling as He looked down on His children getting along and doing His will - Loving Him...Loving one another....and making a difference.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great Quote!

"To reach people no one else is reaching....we must do things no one else is doing" Craig Groeschel via Andy Stanley.

Take some time and ponder that statement. We can continue doing things out of habit...or we can take a risk and do something different....and possibly make a difference for the Kingdom!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Replanting churches? defines replanting: “To plant (something) again or in a new place…” In a church replant, a church avoids permanent death by recognizing it will no longer flourish unless conditions are drasticallychanged to facilitate growth.

Here are some facts about churches in the USA:
1) 3,500 churches in the USA close every year.
2) 80% of all churches are in decline.

Can anything be done to stop these closures or to reverse the decline? Of course there is!

I have heard that it is easier to birth a baby then raise the dead. So....why would anyone try to revive a dying church?

There are 2 good answers:

1) Because there are people in the church that God cares about. These people are probably the most faithful and have been praying for some type of renewal.

2) Because with God's can be done. It's not easy...but it is possible. Just ask my brothers in Nigeria about people raising from the dead : )
The process begins with a primary vision carrier - much like a typical church planter. The replanter however must have some additional skill sets. You see, they must be able to reorganize and pastor without the help of a core team that are excited about the "new" church. Typically, a replant consists of a leader and some people but people who are somewhat burned out. The excitement of church...has gone.

The replanter must make tough decisions. I liken these decisions to that of a triage nurse - there are things that need immediate attention and there other items that can wait. Most people would try the "turn the ship slowly" rule. I would recommend making tough decisions quicker rather than slower. Dont worry about losing people. Do what you are lead to do as the leader! The smaller the group, the faster you can make changes! Small groups that have been around for a period of time usually need quick change so that life can take place once again.

Note on change: Dont make unneeded changes based solely on your personal preferences. There should be a reason for change. If you can't clearly articulate it and it's value, put it on the back burner.

Friday, August 7, 2009

People Will Leave.....

People will leave your church. The majority of your core group (typically 80%) will not be with you in 2 years. This is just how it is! As leaders, we need to understand....even expect this to happen. Steve Sjogren calles these people "scaffolding" in one of his books - Community of Kindness. It seems as God sends people in for a season in order to help get things going. Then for some reason or another, they leave.

There are many reasons for a person to leave. Some are legitimate such as a calling to another area, or a return to a sending church. Some reasons are selfish in nature. Some people will stay as long as the church is small. Once they see growth, they bail. Some will go quietly and others will go crazy and try and bring others out. Some will talk to you about their leaving....some people will leave and then talk about you : )

If you are like might take it personally and wonder what you may have done or said to make them want to leave. But I believe we should expect this to happen and when people leave, we should bless their departure and thank them for their contribution to the church plant. Dont beat yourself up with doubts and dont try and keep someone who is determined to leave. By all means, NEVER promote someone to leadership in order for them to stay. This will only lead to problems down the road. Take the high road and bless them and get on with the ministry that God has called you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


OAIM is currently helping one of our network churches re-launch. After years of being average...they wanted to step it up, make a difference in their community and bring excellence into everything they do.

One of the first things I did with the lead pastor was to drive to the church with him and look at everything from a fresh perspective. One of the 1st things I noted was the sign. The lettering was so small, nobody who was driving the speed limit of 45 mph could read. Church signs should communicate a clear, concise message that passers-by can read and understand while driving past it.

I make comments about signage all the time - so much in fact, my son Skyler points out good signage as we drive around town. It may do some of you good just to get in your car and drive around and see what signs are clear and noteworthy.

While on the subject of signs - I had a guy come to one of our churches and said the reason he came to the church was because we didnt have some cheesy saying on the church sign. I couldnt agree more... those signs turn me off. You know ...the ones that say stuff like,"Whats missing in Ch__ch? answer: UR". Or how about “Soul food served here!”

Let me add, good ole common sense will go a long way.

Top 10 Reasons Young Adults Drop out of Church

Here is a survey which was put together by our friends at Lifeway. Very interesting results, but makes me wonder if being outward focused and making a difference in the community would put an end to some of these reasons (or excuses) why young people no longer attend church.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Church Planting Tips

How do you start a church from scratch? By a faith that envisions what God's will is and then sees it come to pass.

Here are some great tips for a new church plant:

Have an excellent children's church. Children raised in an environment of "can-do" faith find it hard later to settle for "ho-hum" Christianity.

Welcome newcomers as guests....not just visitors. Reach out in friendship quickly, since we know what it's like to be new, too.

Be Flexible. If a change is needed, dont take a year to pass it through all the committees and sub-committees. Take a pragmatic approach, "If we have to, we can put it together in the next week or two". Younger churches are typically good at managing change

Enjoy Being Casual. Some folks enjoy dressing up on Sundays--and that's okay--but casual dress should be embraced and in my opinion...encouraged--slacks rather than suits or dresses. The outer appearance isn't so important here; it's the inner person who is important.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In Order to Lead......Leaders Must Read

I once heard a man say, "A person who can read but chooses not to do no better off than an illiterate." I believe that as leaders, we should be readers. If you drive much, consider getting books on CD or MP3.

Here are some books that I have read and highly recommend for church planters:

Launch - Starting a New Church by Scratch by Nelson Searcy

The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission by Rick Warren

Community of Kindness by Steve Sjogren and Rob Lewin

Purpose-Driven® Youth Ministry by Doug Fields

For House Churches / Simple Churches I highly recommend - Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens by Neil Cole

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Get Out of that Funk!

Feel like you or your church is in a rut?

What do you do when you cant seem to get out of the "funk"?

Get around right people to get you out of the "funky rut"!

Jim Collins' Good to Great Principle: Get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people out of the bus and then DRIVE to your destination.

I have always said that everyone needs a Timothy (someone you mentor), a Barnabas (someone that encourages you) and a Paul (someone that mentors you). A leader of leaders so to speak. I have been blessed to have some people in my life that I respect and can receive from, knowing that they have my best interest in mind.

Lone Ranger ministers as well as "Lone Ranger" churches are typically not the healthiest. If you don't have a coach or mentor...I highly encourage you to find one. You will see that this one element can take you and your ministry to the next level.

So...surround yourself with people greater than you and chances are ... you will get back on track as well as have longevity.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dare to Dream

I dream of a church that.....

follows Jesus without question, reservation or fear.

values the things Jesus valued, is broken for the things that break Jesus’ heart and rejoices over the things Jesus rejoices over.

is always passionate for the outsider - spiritually , economically and culturally.

is made of people who are authentic, courageous, humble, honest, passionate and compassionate.
raises up and releases disciples who will in turn do the same.

experiences the undeniable presence of God in worship.

is of such impact and blessing to its community that the city would grieve its absence.

at the front of everyones lips is the recognition that we are part of something enor- mously larger than ourselves, the Kingdom of God.

are not just hearers of the Word but doers of the Word.

are a people who walk by faith, are messengers of hope and are known by love.

has a vision for the world and acts in a focused, intentional and strategic manner to change the world for the sake of Jesus Christ.

what occurs through their community can only be attributed to the hand of the Living God.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Signs of a Healthy Church

Here’s some thoughts shared by Dino Rizzo regarding Healthy Church Growth Indicators:

■The DNA of the house is everywhere. The leadership carries the culture all the way. It is a personal thing to them.
■There is a high level of interactiveness - and in the interactivity, there is a life-giving atmosphere.
■There is a momentum - unity about the vision and mission that relentlessly pushes love for Jesus, love for Jesus, love for Jesus.
■There is a lot of buy-in. Everything moves at the speed of the leadership because people generally will buy into the leadership prior to buying into the vision.
■The pastor has the ability to engage, enlarge and build the team. There is a high priority on making room for people to flourish.
■There is the irreplaceable God-factor: HUMILITY
■There is an element of outreach in almost everything that happens.

Check out more from Dino, a great outreach oriented leaders @

Monday, May 25, 2009

Worship - Another Piece of the Puzzle

Praise and worship in the Start-up Church

Besides the lead pastor, the worship leader is probably the most important part of the staffing puzzle. This being said, don’t be too quick to jump on the 1st person who comes to you with a guitar.

Here are some tips in selecting a worship leader:

Beware of the big-head: Being a musician typically means having some ego. After all, it takes some self confidence to perform. What you don’t want is a worship leader who thinks he or she is the reason everyone is at the church. I call this a case of the big head.

Bible School Students: This can be a good source for finding a worship leader. The downside to this is the person may be temporary – staying only a few months. I wouldn’t worry too much. In most cases, God has someone on the way to you, in order to pick up where the other left off and take it too another level.

Online Classifieds: I’ve been involved in church planting for almost 10 years now and utilized this method….once. My experience wasn’t the best to say the least. It seems that many of the big-heads responded to my advertisement. I believe this can work however if the lead pastor uses discernment. I would even recommend getting a second opinion in the event the lead pastor is not musical. I know of one experience where a pastor who was tone-deaf hired a worship leader who was…tone-deaf. He didn’t know until people in the church started to talk.

Plan B

Use musical tracks / song tracks for the service. Tracks are music and background vocals and can be purchased from your local Christian bookstore as well as online sources. You will need someone to sing the melody line. I suggest you record the selected songs onto one CD. Don’t forget to use a combination of praise songs and worship songs. It may be helpful to think in terms of flow. It would flow better to have faster songs and then slower ones

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Church Identity

We've been working on some logos for the new church plant in Manila - Open Arms Revolution Church. Here are two of the proto-types:

Monday, May 11, 2009

5 Ways to Engage Non-Believers

1) Eat with non-Christians. Doing lunch is always a great idea and it doesn’t take a lot of time! After all….we all have to eat!

2) Develop relationships with co-workers. Start viewing your job as the missions field….not just a 9-5 grind. Start praying for them today!

3) Walk or bike around your neighborhood. Start getting to know those around you by name.

4) Be a “regular” at your local coffee shop, convenience store, barber or beauty shop etc…

5) Talk more! Guys are probably the worst. I know that when I go shopping, I’m on a mission. I buy my items and get out. Instead of that routine, we should take some time and talk to those around us. Even a cordial greeting can make someone’s day

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What if Starbucks Marketed Like A Church

It's amazing how we can sometimes think we are doing something cutting edge without giving much thought to how it appears to others. Checkout this clip from

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let's Be The Solution

Just read an article that said, “America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether.

Why is this? Why are we a generation or two away from being a pagan nation?

Has Christianity lost its relevance? The answer is a bold NO WAY!

Why? Because Jesus is relevant!!

Matthew 9:16-17
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Here is the point: God loves His bride - the Church. He cares about those older traditional churches (old wineskins) but He cares about the latter generations as well. I have friends in PA who were reaching a young group of kids. My friends didnt intend on starting a church. When they tried to bring the kids to the local church however, they didnt seem to fit. They felt uncomfortable and were quite honestly... bored and didnt see any significance in church attendance. This was the delemma at hand and they could 1) force the issue and continue bring the kids to a church they didnt like or 2) they could start something new - "a new wineskin".

When my friends thought this through, they realized that they were putting "new wine" into "old wineskins" which wasnt healthy for either. This has nothing to do with age per has more to do with a mindset....a resistence to change.

Here is how Patrick J. Griffiths summarized one of his blog entries:
"New wine must be poured into new wineskins,’ not accommodated to those comfortable things in our lives with which it is basically incompatible. The message for disciples is to be uncompromising about our faith and the work of the Spirit in our lives. If our honored customs and habits, and the structures of our society must adjust to that, then so be it.”

To that I say Right On!!

Dont be afraid to try something new....something radical. Not the "oh no those people are fruitcakes" type radical ...but the "wow those people are making a difference" kind of radical : ) God has called you for such a time as this!!! When people see that you are real...when they see you want to make a difference....when they see that you are doing more than "playing church"....we can change their minds about Christians and Christianity.

Gotta go...I have plane to catch!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Leadership and Communication

I heard John Maxwell once say that "everything rises and falls on leadership and leadership rises and falls on communication."

Communication with regards to church planting has many facets:

1) Leader to the Team - Leaders should be consistent, clear and courteous.

2) Team to the Leader - 2-way communication is a must. In the same way God has given you (the primary vision carrier) a calling to start the church.... your team also has a calling - to help the vision become a reality! Remember that you are not the only "anointed" one in the group.

3) Amongst Team Members - Team members should be able to communicate, encourage and help one another afterall this is a team. The one analogy I give when training up a team deals with a field.

Imagine 3 fields....actual fields or tracts of land. Field "A" belongs to you. You can do anything you want to do in this field. You can plant a house....ignore it....whatever you want! Field "B" is a field that you lease. A lease typically spells out the terms of the agreement. If you lease the field for the purpose of growing corn.....thats what you do. If you raise cattle in Field "B" or build a house on it, you are breaking the terms of the lease and will probably be asked to leave. Field "C" is not yours....and you dont lease it for a specific purpose. If you are on this land...You are trespassing since you have no business on it.

You see, its ok to help and encourage but we need to be mindful that we dont trespass into anothers "field". The team will function properly when we stay on mission : )

4) Team to the Public - I recommend we use every bit of technology that is at our disposal. Again - consistency, clarity and courtesy is a must!

In the weeks to come, we will go into more detail in these 4 areas, giving church planters some practical ideas in which they can implement right away.


I have a real estate broker's license. In obtaining the license, I was taught that real estate is local in nature...with every area a bit different then any other. I believe that churches are the same way. Each is different... each located in an area which will be different then any other, with different customs, education levels, employment rates etc... With this in mind, each church plant will have its very own "thumb print". It will be unique.

The reason I share this is because so many times as church planters, we will try and mimick a method that worked in other areas without first evaluating what our area is like and the needs of the community. I saw this first hand when people jumped onto the G12 bandwagon. This method works great in Bogata, Columbia. Will it work in your area? Before you look at the "numbers" in Columbia, pray and ask God what is His plan for your area.

God used the mega-church to reach Korea. God used the house church movement to grow in China. We need to hold our models loosely and hold onto our mission firmly! and your church is unique and has its own thumb print. As the leader, it's your responsibility to discover it!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Base of Operations

We have located a building that will serve as our base of operations in Antipolo - on the outskirts of Manila. The building will serve several purposes:

1) As our headquarters - the launch team will meet here to make plans and prepare for the upcoming launch as well as future outreaches.

2) As our church planting school - We believe in sowing into others therefore we will be teaching others to plant effective churches. The school is 100% free of charge. Interested? Send us an email to setup an informal interview.

3) As an outreach center - We will serving the community through servant evangelism.

4) As a gathering place - Prior to the official church launch in April 2010, we will hold informal Bible studies at our HQ.

5) As a guest house for short term missionaries. We have a group coming in August to help with the church plant. If you desire to help or are looking for short term mission opportunities....shoot us an email!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A New Journey

Here I am in NC....6 days away from going to the Philippines (PI) for the start of a new journey. You see, I have planted several churches in the USA ...and have assisted many churches in the PI. (In fact, we have a healthy network in the country.) But this is trip is different. This is the first time that I will be the lead pastor at a church plant overseas.

Church planting 101 says that the primary vision carrier has to have a God-given vision for the church. Here is what I am hearing....and sensing in my heart:

* A church that is edgy....many will look at the church and wonder if its a church

* A church that embraces

* A church that reaches a generation of unchurched people....people that are turned off by the thought of "church".

*A church that is focused outward.... making a differnce in the community from day 1

*A church that loves and welcomes everyone regardless of education level...background...dress etc...

* A church that is actually fun to attend!

* A church that people will want to invite friends

* A church that enables everyone to use their talents -

Hmmmm.... I'm getting excited!

So.. save this blog to your favorites and check back often to see what we are up to. If you're interested in joining us, shoot me an email -