Category Archives: pastors
I’m parting with several books that I have had in my library. Rather than sell them online, I thought I would give you the opportunity to ask for one first. So, if you are interested in any of the following books, let me know. First come, first serve. You can message me with your requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. All I ask is that you pay for shipping if you live far away from me. =)
I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt – Antonucci
- The Leadership Lessons of Jesus – Briner & Pritchard
Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
- Too Small To Ignore – Stafford
- Jesus Wants To Save The Christians – Bell (eBay)
Guerrilla Lovers – Antonucci When Leadership and Discipleship Collide – Hybels
- The Prodigal Hugging Church – Wright
- Taking A Stand – Knowles
- The Purpose Drive Life – Warren
- If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat – Ortberg (eBay)
- Planting Growing Church for the 21st Century – Malphurs
- Faith In The Game – Osborne (eBay)
- Emerging Churches – Gibbs & Bolger (eBay)
In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day – Batterson
- Creating Web Sites – Crowder & Bailey
Building A Web Site For Dummies – Crowder
There you have it. Let me know.
What I am about to say, I do not say lightly. I have been praying about this for years and I believe that God is leading me down this path. I believe that God wants me to plant churches. I am on a journey where the future is completely unknown and must fall squarely in the hands of God Himself. And there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be. From here, it gets a tad less “heavy.”
When it comes to church planting, there is a lot to ponder. Until I feel the spark to talk about other areas of church planting, I want to go ahead and offer a few tips to church planters and future church planters out there. This post will deal specifically with your church’s name. When it comes right down to it, your church name is going to be the center piece of your marketing, it will reflect who you are, what your values are, everything. You are setting out to change the world for Jesus and chances are the first impression people have of you will be your church name. That’s why the church name is almost as important as financial funding (insert hilarious laughter here).
That being said, I have some very important church names that you should consider for your church plant.
The Lord’s Vineyard
That’s right. You want people to know that there’s only one vineyard in town that God has chosen, and it’s yours. That other church down the street? Forget them. They don’t even have the right name on the door. Surely God isn’t working in their lives. You want everyone to know that if they’re going to be picked in God’s glorious elect, they better be in your vineyard. After all, it is the Lord’s.
Church of the Holy Immaculate Conception
What we’re hoping for here is for people to be confused and think you meant, “immaculate reception.” If that’s the case, they might think you’re talking football. And if you know football, maybe you’re only half-weird. Get them in the door with this brilliant “bait and switch” name.
Holiness Church of ( insert city/town name )
Nothing says, “Our church is more holy than yours, yours, yours and definitely yours,” than a church name with “Holiness” in it. If you’re in an uppity suburb somewhere, this may be the option for you. Everyone should know that while other churches might be holy, they aren’t nearly as holy as yours. The folk who love to keep up with the Jones’ will love that they can rub this one in to their friends. “Oh, you go to First Church of God down the street. Well, we have been members of the Holiness Church of ( insert city/town name ) for 42 generations. Yep, that’s right. We’re holy.”
Anything with “Whispering” in it
Whispering Pines. Whispering Grove. Whispering Creeper. Who’s whispering over my shoulder? This is just getting weird. Still, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper on a mountain side. You want people to know that at your church, they will be hearing God in whispers over their shoulder. Plus, this way you get to get them started in some Old Testament knowledge right away. They’ll be learning Bible and won’t even know it.
The First Holy Faith Tabernacle Church of Peter, Andrew, James and John Founded on the Solid Rock
If your church name is longer than your mission statement, it’s a good one. Because the one thing you don’t want to have happen is for the lost to actually remember your church name. After all, new people means being uncomfortable. So let’s just confuse them with a ridiculously long name on the sign.
Boring ( anything )
Look, I get it. You’ve lived in Boring, (State Name) since you were conceived. You are proud of the 1/2AAA Girls Checkers State Championship your school won in 1903. So go ahead and spit in the face of first impressions. Who cares if people drive by and think your church is boring. It’s worth it because of 1903.
So, there you have it. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I do hope I have helped to ease the burden that is the hard work of church planting. Feel free to use these free of charge for your church plant, or you can create your own variation as well. Now, get out there, start a church and confuse the heck out of the people in your town.
If you have a desire to church plant and you believe God is leading you in that direction, let me know. I would love to pray for you (seriously, no satire here). Also, you may want to click the image above to help you get started on your church planting journey.
There is this pretty cool verse over in James 4:2. It says this…
…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
Could life really be that simple? Could it be that so much of our struggle in life is because we simply try to do it on our own and we don’t ask God to intervene?
I was thinking about this in the context of ministry and church life. Instead of complaining that I don’t have enough volunteers, I’m starting to ask people to volunteer. It’s an amazing concept, I know. As a staff at New Life, we are asking God to change people’s lives and that He would lead people to baptism. I know, crazy huh? Ask God to intervene in “our” work. The best part, seeing so many changes in people’s lives the minute we start asking for it. We have seen God do some very cool things. I’ll save some of those stories for another post.
I love how simple this concept really is. My oldest son, Grant, was at a friend’s to hang out. He is nine years old and started a very interesting conversation with the mother of his friend. He simply said, “What religion are you?” She said, “I was raised Buddhist, but my parents never pushed it on me.” So Grant said, “Then what are you?” She replied, “Well, my husband was raised Christian, so I guess we’re just floating right now.” Grant simply said, “Oh, well you should come to my church sometime.”
I don’t know if she will take him up on the offer, but I think sometimes we don’t have, because we simply don’t ask. Are you as a minister taking time to ask God to intervene in people’s lives? Are you as a minister taking time to ask people to get more involved? Are you simply asking the question?
I am striving harder to ask both of these questions. I am asking God to change people’s hearts because I know I can’t. I am also starting to simply ask people to get more involved. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish with a simple ask.
So who do you need to ask?
Do you need to ask God to do the hard work of changing people’s lives?
Do you need to ask a neighbor to come to church?
Do you need to ask someone in your ministry to step it up?
It is God who is able to do more than we can possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). But, at the very least…
It’s time to ask!
Last fall I played in a men’s flag football league in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a blast. One of my teammates was named, Bryan. He and I played defense on the same side of the field (this meant we got to know each other really well). He had a great phrase he would use during crucial moments of a game. He would look at me right in the eyes and say, “Time to do work, Rodda! Do work!” Granted, the grammar isn’t great, but the phrase gets the job
did done. That phrase and his intensity always challenged me to run a little faster, to jump higher and work harder than the guy lined up across from me.
Now jumping to present day life. Our Campus had an awesome Sunday. Our theme was, “Get Right With God.” We had really cool stories lined up for people to tell about how God has impacted their lives. We talked a lot about the Jordan River and water in Scripture. It seems to me that water, especially the Jordan, carries some powerful significance to God. Every time the Jordan is mentioned, it seems there is some transition in life, something leading to victory and hope.
- Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan
- Moses’ passing the mantle of leadership to Joshua
- Elijah passing the mantle of leadership to Elisha
We challenged people to come to the banks of the Jordan. To get their feet wet. To make a commitment. To dive all in for God. To give Him full control of their lives. To immerse themselves in the waters of baptism.
Then, we handed them a card. We challenged them to fill out the card and to tell us about a commitment they might need to make. We also asked them to tell us how we could pray for them. What things in life were holding them back from giving God their all and how we could we be praying for them.
Then it happened. I sat down that afternoon to read the cards. I began to pray for individuals by name who were going through some very serious things in life. And to think they trusted us enough to tell us what was going on behind closed doors. I believe it was a huge moment in the life of our Campus.
One man wrote…
I want to serve as a better example for my family – wife and kids. To live a life with God and Jesus in control.
…the strength to save my family.
And still another said…
My marriage. It is dying.
And this was just the beginning. As I prayed for these people and families, I was overwhelmed with emotion for them. I was blown away by their honesty and their stories. And that’s when it hit me. Do work!
Satan is doing work. He’s working. He’s getting after it. He’s destroying lives. He’s lying to people about what brings fulfillment and purpose. Oh yes, Satan does work!
Am I ready to, ‘Do work?’
The field is there. The people are ready. The hearts and souls of people are open and ready for transformation. As my friend Bryan would say, “It’s time to ‘Do work!'”
I enjoy listening to many people. National speakers, pastors, writers, presidents, CEO’s and more. I like listening to people that I disagree with. It forces me to take a stand on what I really believe, rather than just float along with whatever the next thing to come along is. With that in mind, this is what I like so much about a guy like Francis Chan.
When I listen to him, I don’t hear a lot of bias toward his own way of thinking. He challenges us to confront God and Scripture to determine what we believe. I think in a lot of ways I like him because he makes things very simple and I am a simple guy.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.” I haven’t read the book, so I won’t comment on it yet. I don’t think I should comment on a book I haven’t read. However, I believe Mr. Chan has read it and he has some very interesting comments. He never calls out Mr. Bell. He never points to anyone in particular to throw them under the bus. He simply says that we can’t afford to get the issue of hell, wrong. Check out this video and let me know what you think about this whole conversation.
“What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest fear?”
This is the tagline of the book by Mark Batterson, “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day.” The book is based on a biblical character named, Benaiah. He once chased a lion into a pit while it was snowing, and killed him (2 Samuel 23:20, 21). With this in the background, Mark writes nine chapters on this simple verse in the Bible. Simply put, this book is fantastic if you are struggling with confidence or fear about a decision in your life. The stories that Mark shares are a true encouragement to get out there and chase after your dreams. The book is filled with great one liners and inspiring stories, all designed to help you be courages and take some initiative and chase your dreams. Or a lion.
The downside to the book is that it seemed a little on the repetitive side. After all, it’s hard to write on nearly any topic with only a one-line story as inspiration. At times the book felt like it would have made a great article or series of blogs, but not necessarily a book. So you need to be ready for some repetitive language and some concepts that will repeat themselves.
Overall, this is a great book for those needing that extra nudge of encouragement to chase something in their life. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
It was the final session at Exponential Conference 2011. Matt Chandler was the main speaker (I’ll have more to say about him in a later post). Exponential ends with a bang each year. This year was no different. The plan was to have a prayer and anointing time with church planters and teams that wanted to be prayed with before leaving the conference. The New Life staff team was asked to help with the prayer and anointing.
I stood backstage awaiting instruction. Our team listened as the session was talked through and how everything would go. I left with a small tube of oil as did the rest of our team. As we sat through the service, something began to nag at me. I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. Who was I to pray with and anoint these people, these church planters and leaders. The more I thought about it, the more inadequate I began to feel. In fact, I sent a text message to one of our guys who was sitting behind me. It said…
I don’t feel qualified to anoint. God has much work to do on me still.
His reply was fantastic and really helped me to make one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Up to you. Question isn’t whether you have it all figured out, but whether you can be God’s agent in blessing these pastors. If you decide to pass, no worries.
I decided that I would go for it. I wanted to be up there with our team, praying for all these men and women who were getting ready to start a new church or had just gotten underway.
When the time came, I went to my spot with the rest of the people set aside for this role. People began to flow forward by the hundreds. I heard stories from church planters who were tired and worn out. I heard stories from those who were afraid and anxious about what was coming their way. I met teams of people who were working together to make an impact in places like Los Angeles, Denver and Orlando. I met one woman who was on a team trying to plant churches in Canada. I was able to pray with them and put some oil on their forehead.
I don’t know how everyone else felt. I can only speak for myself. What we did for those people, praying with and for them, maybe accomplished as much, if not more, for me than it did for them. I was blown away by the stories and by what God is up to in our world. I was given a fresh sense of the fact that, it’s not about me. It’s all about God and what He is doing.
I am so thankful that I went for it. I’m so thankful that the man I sent my text to, didn’t just give me an excuse to get out of it. Instead, he challenged me to bless others. God worked in my heart and soul through praying for others. It was an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything (except having my wife beside me when all this happened).
If you’re out there, working in ministry, church plants, leadership team, etc, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your story. I want to know how I can pray for and encourage you.
God is doing big things my friends. Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I assure you, God is winning the war!
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid!
Keep it up, church!
Keep it up!
I’m here at Exponential 2011 in Orlando, FL. Our New Life team is volunteering with a ton of cool stuff. We’re getting to see some pretty cool behind the scenes stuff at the coolest church planters conference on the planet (someone please pass that tid bit along to Todd Wilson for me). As we were preparing to volunteer today, we were going through some training. Our fearless leader stood up and inspired us to volunteer like it was our last day on earth. He was very excited and it was easy to get excited along with him. I wanted to share a little of what he said. If you’re a volunteer, apply what was said to your particular area of service.
In order to give this conference the “Wow” experience it deserves, volunteers have to own it like it’s their own. Our volunteer leader helped us with that. He told the story of Exponential and how it was the brainchild of so many great people. One of which he mentioned specifically was Dave Ferguson.
You are Dave Ferguson…
…he said. So I left and pretended to be Dave Ferguson today. That was fun.
The point was well taken though. If we want this conference to be as successful as it can be, we need to be as excited about it as Dave. We need to pretend we have invested as much in it as Dave has (and many others, I’m just using Dave because that was the name that was thrown out there today). I was inspired to, “Be Like Dave.” He’s cooler than Mike anyway.
Then our leader said, “Every moment is your moment of truth.” I loved that. I think that is a great, practical statement that all volunteers in any capacity can grab onto and believe in. Each moment is the only time you will have that moment. Your only moment to make a first impression. Your only moment to make the best impression for Christ that you can. Every moment is your moment of truth. I’ll be taking this one home to the volunteers at my Haymarket Campus.
If you are a volunteer at a church (or anywhere else for that matter), I want to encourage you.
Thank you so much for all you do.
I apologize for not telling you as often as I should.
I want to encourage you to view your role as a moment of truth. Put yourself in the shoes of “the boss” for a minute. Think about how much they invest in whatever it is you are doing. You are that person. Care for it as deeply as they do. Give it your all. Especially if you are volunteering in a ministry. There’s nothing more important than the work you are doing. View every moment as your moment of truth. It is your moment to make a huge impact on someone’s life and ultimately for the Kingdom of God.
Do you volunteer?
What do you do?
And, thank you. Thank you so much for volunteering!
Tomorrow, I’ll be Dave Ferguson again. Not a bad looking guy I guess. It could be worse. I could be….whoa! About got myself in trouble there.
I’m putting the finishing touches on my Easter lesson for Sunday. Here’s my point – There is something desperately wrong with the world, but God is setting it right in Jesus!
Every year I write an Easter lesson. I have been for more than 10 years. Every year, I use roughly the same verses of Scripture. And every year, I’m blown away by the evidence that is stacked up in God’s favor.
There is no question that Jesus rose from the dead. Any other option requires more faith than believing He rose from the dead.
And because Jesus rose from the dead, my life should be significantly different. But, it’s not. I’m not who I should be. I’m not who I could be for my Jesus. I am disappointed in myself when I don’t give my all. My God deserves so much better.
I’m so excited that Sunday’s coming. Easter morning changes everything. God’s plan is fully realized and His grace is in full swing.
Thank you God for your grace through Jesus Christ.
I pray I live a life that is worthy of all you have done for me!
Forgive me when I fall short.
I love You!
I just finished a short run. I needed to clear my brain and have some time to think. It has been a while since I last went for a run. So before long, all I could think about was my legs. They were revolting in every way. When I got home, I did some stretching, but that didn’t help. So, I busted out the trusty, handheld muscle roller. For those who have used one of these, it’s a modern day, torture device.
Grab each end, and roll the small, plastic wheels over whatever muscle is sore. It’s amazing how many tiny bumps this
torture device health tool will find. Press down and slowly roll out the kink in your muscles. If you aren’t screaming in pain, or crying, you’re doing it wrong. The only thing that keeps you rolling over every muscle fiber, putting yourself through that kind of pain, is knowing that on the other side, your muscles will be thanking you.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship and all that Jesus expects of me. As a follower of Christ, there are certain disciplines that I want to have in my life. I want to spend time reading the Bible. I want to spend time praying. But sometimes those disciplines can be a little like the handheld, muscle roller.
Some days, I read the Bible and something jumps out at me. It lands on some of the most sensitive areas of my heart and soul. Then it begins to work, rolling back and forth. Often times there is pain and tears associated with the work God is doing. As a disciple of Jesus, I open myself up to being examined and improved by the Holy Spirit of God. And when He does His work, it can be painful as even the tiniest, hidden parts of me are exposed. He brings them to my attention and I’m forced to deal with them. I’m forced to look at my flaws in light of the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ, who I claim to follow.
Yet, I want to be exposed. I want the Holy Spirit of God to see every part of me. Why? Because I know that growing through those times will lead to an even closer relationship with my Father.
This is not about how great or wonderful I am. This is about a journey of faith, growing to be more like Christ. And along the way, Jesus is shaping me into His likeness. Sometimes it’s a painful process, but I believe that it will all be worth it in the end.
Zechariah 13:9 – “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
Have you ever used a muscle roller?
What images, metaphors, come to mind when you think of discipleship and growing to be more like Christ?