Church Planting

Renovation Church & Weekly Communion

weeklycommunion

Beginning this coming Sunday (November 12th), Renovation Church will begin practicing weekly communion. Communion is when we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through eating a small amount of bread and wine (or grape juice) as a church.

The vast majority of contemporary churches only practice communion quarterly or monthly. This is a major change for many of the people who attend our church. Here are three reasons we will begin practicing weekly communion.

1. Weekly Communion seems to be the practice of the early church.
First of all, let me make it clear that there is no scriptural mandate to practice communion every single week. So if you disagree with me on the frequency of communion, that’s okay. Nevertheless, it’s my conviction that the early church seemed to practice communion each time they gathered together (see Acts 2:46 & 1 Cor. 11:20).

2. Communion is more than a “memorial.”
The Roman Catholic church believes the elements in communion literally become Jesus’ body and blood. Many baptists have taken the opposite path and said there is nothing significant about communion, it’s simply a memorial of what Jesus has done in our place. I think both of these approaches are incorrect.

I prefer the Anglican route of calling communion a mystery. When we partake of communion as a church there is something significant happening. People do not die and get sick by taking communion in an unworthy manner if communion is only a memorial (1 Cor. 11:30).

When we partake of the elements, God nourishes our souls through the power of His Holy Spirit. Jesus is present in communion… just not physically. So how exactly is He present? I’m not sure – it’s a mystery that is beyond my comprehension.

3. Communion is an opportunity for us to respond to God.
We will partake of Communion at the end of every service as a response to what God has done through the preaching of His Word. Rather than passing the elements of communion around, we will invite people to come forward. As people are coming forward, we will have prayer volunteers around the communion table so that people can confess sin & receive prayer (this isn’t required but highly encouraged).

Each time we partake of communion, we are reminded that Jesus was crushed for our sin. The punishment that brings us peace was laid upon Him. His blood was poured out that we might be forgiven. He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God.

In summary, it seems right to us and to the Holy Spirit for us to begin weekly communion. I believe God will use this ordinance (or sacrament) as a means to strengthen His people and draw us closer to Him. 

Renovation Church – Launch Sunday Recap!

10-15-17 PART 1

I’m still in awe of what God did this past Sunday at Renovation Church. I had the incredible honor of preaching from John 3 and explaining why our church would be rooted & sustained by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that we would not lift up Renovation Church but rather Jesus Christ and unite with other churches in the area to help people know Jesus and make Him known.

Here are a few highlights of this past Sunday!

Attendance: We had over 80 people in attendance for the service. We actually had to add 5 extra rows of chairs than what we normally have for Sunday mornings!

First Time Guests: We had 6 first time guests who had never attended one of our services as The Rescue Church.

Meal: After the service we had an incredible team of volunteers provide a great lunch for everyone who came. The vast majority of people were able to stay after the service and enjoy the food. We even got the Vikings v. Packers game on for the football fans!

Generosity: I am still amazed at God’s generosity through His people this past Sunday. Our offering was FOUR TIMES our weekly expenses. In other words, through one Sunday we covered all of our expenses for the month of October. To give some context, we become “Renovation Church” on Monday, October 9th with exactly $0.00 in our bank account. I was extremely stressed and plagued with doubt leading up to our first Sunday – could we even afford to be our own church? I can testify that God is truly a provider for His people.

More than anything, we were faithful to what God called us to do. My goal is not to grow a large church or gain a personal platform. I pray that our church can have the same attitude as John the Baptist – that Jesus must increase while we decrease (John 3:30). As He continues to provide for our church we are planning on releasing many of our people to plant churches throughout the area – especially in rural communities. Our goal is plant our first autonomous church by 2022.

We are just a bunch of nobodies trying to tell everybody about Somebody. Let’s make Jesus famous!

P.S. – If you live in the Garretson/Sioux Falls/Pipestone/Luverne area we would love to have you as our guest. We meet on Sundays at 10am at the Garretson school. For more information, head to our website – www.renovationchurchsd.com 

New Name, Same People (Garretson Campus Transition Q&A)

garretsoncampusinvite

The Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church is in the process of becoming our own church. We are doing this with the blessing & support of The Rescue Church.

In this short post, I want to invite you to a special service on Sunday, September 24th. We meet every Sunday at 10am at the Garretson School. Our regular service on September 24th will be extremely short (roughly 30 minutes long). The rest of the time we will announce some major news about the transition and spend time answering questions. If you are wondering about any of the following I HIGHLY encourage you to join us!

1. What will the name of the church be?

2. What will our values & vision be?

3. Are we financially sustainable?

4. How can I be involved to get things going?

5. What will our relationship with The Rescue Church be after the transition?

6. When will we officially transition to the new church?

7. How will we spread the word to our communities about this change?

…and many more questions – see you then!

 

 

It’s Time For War

war

This is the tenth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


As we move closer to transitioning the Garretson Campus to an independent church, I have noticed the subtle effects of spiritual warfare have been magnified. Small disagreements threaten to bring division, obstacles appear to be impossible to overcome, and discouragement attempts to reign over my thoughts.

God reminded me of a truth this week that has placed things into perspective: We are overthrowing the dark forces of evil in this community and we must expect resistance. It’s time to fall on our knees and storm the gates of hell with the weapon of prayer.

Jared Wilson explains what happens when the kingdom of darkness is pierced by the light of the Gospel:
“The Devil is like a rat in a jar that is filling with ether. We should expect that as his death gets ever-nearer, he will beat his claws more furiously against the glass… As the Gospel takes over your ministry and the kingdom of God grows in your church like yeast in dough, you can expect that our enemy will not go quietly.” 

As we enter into a season of warfare, here are three principles we must keep in mind:

1. People are not the enemy.
Even if people are the source of persecution, insults, or division – we must never attack the person as if they are the enemy. Paul makes it clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood, instead it is against the powers of darkness that wreak havoc in our communities (Ephesians 6:12).

We must rejoice when we are insulted, persecuted, or slandered. When this happens we know that our reward will be great for we are experiencing the same thing as the prophets and apostles who have gone before us (see Matthew 5:11-12). In retaliation for the offense, we must not be overcome with evil but rather overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

2. We fight FROM victory not for victory. 
When David conquered Goliath, the war was already won. The once trembling and fearful Israelites overwhelmed the Philistines and slaughtered them (1 Samuel 17). In the same way, Jesus has already disarmed Satan and all of his demons by triumphing over them through the cross (Colossians 2:15).

We are invited to follow our Warrior-King into battle – knowing that the victory is already secured. Satan may let out a furious scream but the ether of the Gospel will suffocate his power. We do not need to fight for the victory because the victory has already been achieved through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

3. Our weapons will demolish strongholds.
Every community – especially rural ones – have demonic strongholds of addiction and false religion. These fortresses seem insurmountable but we must remember the weapons God has entrusted to us. We do not wage war with bullets, fire, or bombs. Instead, our weapons have been infused with a divine power to demolish strongholds, arguments, and every pretension that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Friends, commit to the Scriptures and prayer daily. We must renew our minds so that we do not conform to the toxic pattern of this world (Romans 12:1). If we submit our lives to God and resist the Devil he will flee from us (James 4:7). We must battle by laboring in intercession for our families, communities, and churches in order to crush the ugly face of the ancient serpent.

It’s time for war.

 

The Terrible Weight of Pastoral Ministry

PastoralMinistry

This is the ninth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


P.S. – This will be a longer blog post. One of the best ways that I process concepts is through writing. Truthfully, this post is probably more for me than anyone else!

We are a few short months from completely transitioning the Garretson Campus into an autonomous church plant. In the past few weeks, I have been spending hours researching church leadership – all while fueled by copious amounts of caffeine! It seems to me that the healthiest form of church government is to have a church led by a team of Elders who are committed to making disciples who make disciples.

The office of Elder is interchangeable with the office of pastor. In other words you can correctly call a pastor either an “elder” or a “pastor.” This means that those who function in the role of Elder should be functioning as pastors – not just business leaders who vote on the church budget!

Jared Wilson explains the terrible weight of this ministry in this way:
With the double honor of 1 Timothy 5:17 is the double responsibility of James 3:1.

As I wrestle with the development of elders/pastors in our church, I want to meditate on these two texts and see what we can learn from them.


1 Timothy 5:17
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

1. It is the elders – not the congregation – who direct the affairs of the church. There are numerous forms of church government and the majority of rural churches practice a congregational form of leadership. In other words, the church holds business meetings and all the members vote on major decisions (hiring/firing staff, nomination of new elders, expansion of a building, etc). Contrary to this, it seems that the Scriptures teach that the healthiest form of church government is for each congregation to have a plurality of elders/pastors who lead the church & shepherd the people.

2. These elders are worthy of double honor. Literally, they are worthy of a double “honorarium.” Paul is speaking about honoring them by holding them in high regard and also honoring them by providing a healthy salary. Unfortunately, we will not be able to pay salaries for our elders since we are a small church but that is the goal we will work towards.

3. Some elders are focused on preaching & teaching. All the Elders in a church have to be able to teach the Bible (2 Timothy 2:24). Nevertheless, there is usually a “Teaching Elder” or “Teaching Pastor” who preaches the majority of the messages and leads from the pulpit. In our new church, I will be the one filling this role.


James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

1. The majority of people should not teach the Bible on Sunday mornings. All Christians have a responsibility to instruct one another with the Scriptures but very few should stand before a congregation and proclaim the Word of God. Only those that hold to and are able to defend sound doctrine & sound living should teach the people of God corporately. This means that those who are not able to lead their household as their first ministry by shepherding their spouse and kids should never attempt to lead God’s church (1 Timothy 3:5).

2. Everyone who teaches the Bible should be extremely fearful. The Elders/Pastors who regularly teach the Scriptures must consider the terrible burden of representing the limitless God through human speech. We are prone to pride and fits of anger – even in the pulpit. We must plead with God to crush our pride and bring supernatural humility each time we open the Scriptures. Practically, I pray each morning (out loud for the congregation to hear) that if I say anything contrary to the Scriptures I pray my words fall on deaf ears.

3. Elders/Pastors who teach the Bible will be judged with greater strictness than those who do not. Practically, we are judged by those that listen to our messages. Often the first person to be attacked in a church is the pastor because he is the person who represents the congregation. Even more terrifying than being judged by people, we will give an account to God for how we exercised leadership in His church. We will be held accountable for every careless word that we speak.


Do you have other Scriptures in mind that help clarify the role of an elder/pastor? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Three Ways to Shut the Backdoor of YOUR Church

backdoor

This post is the fourth of a series posts of my reflections on the Small Town, Big Church Roundtable event I attended at The Rescue Church. I encourage you to read the first three:
1. It Takes ALL Kinds of Churches…
2. Three Reasons Your Church is Struggling Financially
3. Hiring Church Staff with No Money


Every church seems to have a revolving backdoor. In other words, a small church may see 50+ guests every year with many of these people becoming permanent members while continuing at the same attendance. This happens because people who have been attending the church regularly leave.

Watching people leave your church, especially when the reason is unknown, is one of the most painful parts of being a pastor.

This backdoor was a major problem at The Rescue Church. After reading the book Sticky Church, we have begun to search for solutions to the problem. This was also a topic which was brought up at the roundtable; below are three ideas that resonated with me:

1. You need excellent small groups!
If you are like many pastors, you may have audibly groaned when you read those two words: small groups. As pastors we hate to talk about small group ministries because we aren’t very good at them (that’s saying it nicely!). This has also been brutally true of the church I help lead.

We are currently experimenting with sermon-based discussion groups. These meetings have been effective in connecting people to each other and to God. An average group for us looks like this:
(30 minutes) – We have a meal together.
(15 minutes) – We share what is REALLY going on in our lives and pray for each other.
(30 minutes) – We spend time going through the discussion questions from the bulletin.
(15 minutes) – We close with prayer.

It is a simple but effective format. If you are interested in this, you NEED to read Sticky Church!

2. You need to personally follow-up with visitors!
It’s terrifying to attend a new church for the first time. After the service, the person will have an internal (or external) debate on whether or not to attend the following week.

If you want visitors to return to your church, you NEED to follow up with them personally. This means you need to have a way of gathering their information. We have “Connection Cards” which people can fill out and have a welcome gift mailed to them.

If you have their phone number, I highly recommend giving them a call. Thank them for attending the service and answer any questions they might have. Explain that you would be honored to have them join you again the following week!

3. You need to have a relational church!
The primary concept which continued to come up in our discussion was relationships. People stay at a church because of the relationships they have forged there. If the people in your church have the mindset of a country club and refuse to welcome guests to the service, your church will not grow!

You need to cultivate a deep love for guests in your congregation. This is more than going to grandma’s house after church with the same people every week. The people in your church should intentionally look for ways to welcome guests!

We have a “First Impressions” team at The Rescue Church. These are our greeters, ushers, coffee bar severs, etc. Although we have an official team, we are clear that EVERYONE is on the First Impressions team. This is something that we embed into the DNA of every person who attends our church. One of the greatest compliments I hear from first time guests is how genuinely friendly everyone at the church is!


Have you noticed that your church has a backdoor? What are some things you have learned to help close it? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Hiring Church Staff with No Money

staffnomoney

This post is the third of a series posts of my reflections on the Small Town, Big Church Roundtable event I attended at The Rescue Church. I encourage you to read the first two:
It Takes ALL Kinds of Churches…
Three Reasons Your Church is Struggling Financially


The pastorate can be incredibly lonely. This feeling is multiplied by the pastor having no team around him to help lead the church. Many pastors are the “savior” of their congregation. The pastor is required to be at every hospital bed, preach every sermon, and fix every technology issue.

This is a toxic system of ministry which will bring death into your church.

Pastors in small churches tend to envy pastors who have multiple staff members. Many small church pastors dream of having a team of people around them helping propel the ministry forward. This is why many pastors see small, rural churches as a stepping stone to a larger ministry.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Everything you need in order to take your church to the next level is already in your church!

One of the concepts that has revolutionized The Rescue Church is volunteer staff. Volunteer staff are church members empowered to help lead the mission of the church. There are many people in your church who would be honored to put their hands to the plow (for free!) but you need to call it out of them!

So how can you do this? I’m glad you asked!

1. Have a clear vision!
Everybody wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Unfortunately, many churches are content with preserving the 1950s to the best of their ability. No one is going to want to serve for free under an organization that has no vision for the future and is stagnant in its growth.

If you want men and women to step into leadership at your church, you need to have a vision that is clear, compelling, and simple!

2. Call people to HIGH commitment!
Often we try to fill volunteer roles by convincing people of how easy it will be. This is bad leadership! If you do not hold a high standard for the people you place in leadership, they will only do enough to get by.

You need to find dynamic leaders who are willing to pry open doors and wrestle with the impossible.

At The Rescue Church, we call all of our volunteer staff leaders to commit to 5 hours a week outside of their weekend duties. This is a BIG commitment for people! If you recognize leadership in people, call them to a HIGH commitment so that they can grow in their faith and impact the community!

3. Show them the exit ramp!
No one wants to get signed on to a volunteer position which requires them to give up every Tuesday night until Jesus comes back. You need to understand that the people who are going to be leading in your church are probably leading outside of the church as well. They are BUSY people and you do not want to risk burning them out.

We require our volunteer staff members to sign a commitment which says they will serve for one year. At the end of the year, we always give our staff members the option of stepping down. We value our volunteer staff members greatly and want to be sure they are spiritually, emotionally, and physical healthy; this means rest is vital!


Have you ever hired volunteer staff members? What are some things you would add to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment!