Christology–>Missiology

I was invited by my coach, Pete Mueller, to join him and other church planters at a micro-conference about church planting.  This time was led by the Senior Pastor of Hill Country Bible Church, Tim Hawks.  Tim Hawks has overseen a church ministry that has planted over 20 churches in and around Austin.  On Easter Sunday, all of the independent Hill Country Bible Churches shared the resurrection story with almost 25,000 people!!  Now that’s nothing short of incredible!

I can go on and on with all of the amazing things Tim taught me in his short one hour presentation.  Rather, I will share with you a nugget that will shape the way our launch team operates.

Tim said that the church is too tied up in what seminarians call “ecclesiology.”  Meaning, we are acting like the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus rebuked!  We are concerned with our structure, our order, our polity, our governance, our do’s and don’ts.  We are better at criticizing one another rather than building one another up in our most holy faith.  (Jude 1:20)  And I couldn’t agree more.

Rather, Tim says that the church needs to be concerned with Christology which will lead to our missiology.  Meaning, the church must concern herself with making sure we are making known the love and wonders of our beautiful Saviour.   When we are so in love with Jesus and the study of our Saviour, then the only thing that can come about this is being a missionary to everyone and everywhere we go.  Tim says that ecclesiology (church structure) will come as a by product (for better or worse).  However, our focus must and should be about this: How have we been a Christ loving neighbor to those around us?  What are we doing to love and bless our neighbor for the glory of Christ?

Therefore, as a church plant launch team, very little time will be spent discussing church structure and polity.  The great thing about not planting a non-denominational church is that our Lutheran sisters and brothers have already done this for us through our church network.  We have our theological foundation and we’re sticking to it.  Thankfully, as a launch team, we get to focus on the practice of our faith.  We get to discuss ideas on how we are going to be such a blessing to our neighbors in and around Alamo Ranch that our presence is felt and seen in our communities.  We get to experiment with ways of being an infectious Jesus movement where our fellowship can do nothing else but grow and flourish.

One thing that Tim said he regrets is planting churches that didn’t plant pregnant.  He says that if their church would have planted churches with the expectation that they plant a new church every three years, imagine how much more Austin would be saturated with the Gospel!

That is why our church will be sure to be planted pregnant.  We have a church brewing inside of our little church plant right now.  When we launch September 2018, you better believe we will have a new worshipping community launch by September 2021.  If not, be sure to call our church out!

In our next post we will be able to share with you what God has put on our hearts to name this church plant!  It will be a name that reflects our community and our birth from Shepherd of the Hills.  I can’t wait!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In Christ’s gratitude for you,

Roy

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“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47

God has blessed us with an incredible launch team! Here is a team of committed folks who want to see the name of Jesus proclaimed in and around Alamo Ranch and beyond.  At our launch meetings, you will see a group of people bringing food and eating together, opening the scriptures, praying for one another, caring for one another, and collaborating together to discern what God has in mind for our worshipping community.  This month’s meeting was no different.  During our meeting time, we began the discussion of what our commitments will be on this launch team.  Next month we will finalize this covenant and begin to see how we will each be a vital member of this church.

A member of the launch team, Nick, shared with the team an exciting tool called “APEST” that seeks to help people know and understand their gifts for ministry and evangelism.  We are all going to take the assessment and share our results together so that we can see where our strengths are… and where our weaknesses are.  I would love to see this tool be used to push one another out of our comfort zones and try new things!

Not only does this church have the support of our launch team.  We also have the support of our Texas District and our sending church!  What a great blessing this is.  From the Texas District, Mike Newman met with Aaron and me to go through our proposed timeline from now until our launch date in September.  This was an incredibly successful and fruitful meeting.  Mike has helped oversee scores of church plants throughout his career, so his suggestions and fine tuning will set up our church plant to be success in so many ways.  One of the things Mike helped us think through was, how many volunteer ministry directors we will need for our new church and ideas for evangelism and outreach in the coming months.  Aaron and I left that meeting with a clearer picture of goals and ideas to take back to our launch team so we can all work together to reach our goal of being a group of people making Jesus visible to our community.

Aaron and I also enjoyed our monthly gathering of local church planters.  This was a great time of fellowship and support for one another.

Meeting with our network over lunch reminded me that the work of church planting is tough.  I think it’s supposed to be difficult.  The evil one comes to try and destroy the work of the Gospel.  However, “what God has joined together, let no one or no thing separate.” -Mark 10:9.  It’s through diligent prayer and intercession that will keep the Evil One away from our community of faith.

Would you diligently pray for us in your quiet times?  Will you pray that God keeps our team together under his authority//that God brings the right people and grows our launch team into a diverse, thriving team//that we be a community that is so reflective of Christ’s love that people are immediately drawn to this community//that we care less about what we want out of church and more about what Christ wants from us for our neighbors//for Christ to continue going before us as we launch into a thriving and growing worshiping community for the glory of Christ?

Studies tell us that 34% of folks involved in a church plant were previously unchurched!  God, will you begin to prepare the hearts of those you have called this church to reach?!  What an exciting time to launch a new church!

Exponential Conference

What is Exponential?  Exponential is a conference that gathers believers together under the mission and vision of church multiplication.  At this three-day conference, we all gather together for incredible teaching and worship, along with many workshops to attend.  I focused on workshops that were geared to where our church plant is.  In the beginning stages about a year out from launch.   At this conference I was able to gain incredible insights from leaders who have planted hundreds of churches and helped support hundreds more of church planters around the world.  What was also encouraging for me, was that the books I have been reading on church planting were reinforced by the workshops and speakers.

One of the most valuable experiences being at Exponential was being adopted into the church staff family of a local LA church plant I previously wrote about, Real Life LA.  This congregation is about two years ahead of where our church plant is today.  I was able to learn from where they are now and how they got there.  Before the conference, I worshiped with them on Sunday morning.  Real Life currently rents space from a local middle school in town.  I was able to see how the set up, service, and tear down went; knowing that our church plant will more than likely use rented space for some time.  I was also able to learn from a seasoned pastor, Jim Miller, and spent time with a board member, Mark Perone.  It was an incredible learning experience spending time with the Real Life team throughout the week.

What I learned from the Real Life team was church planting is tough!  HAHA Not that I didn’t already know that, but looking two years ahead of time I saw how important the need is for God’s people to step up and take ownership of their faith community.  We need faithful followers of Jesus to see how their participation in a church plant is highly evangelistic.  This made me realize that I must present to our church plant team how one of the best tools Christ has to reach new people for himself is his church.  According to research presented by the ECO Presbyterian Denomination, Church plants have members and attenders where 80-90% of whom were unchurched!  That is an incredible figure!  When a church plant team member gets to church early to set up the chairs and AV, they are working to reach a large segment of unchurched that will come check out a new church plant!  We need co-workers in the gospel, and we need even more than that!

But, how?  How do we grow our church plant team?  How do we grow our commitment to this team?  How do we cast a vision so great and so heavy that we can’t but help to serve God’s kingdom in this way?  These are the questions that I keep seeking the Lord and my mentors about.  These are the questions that I so long answers to.  If only there was a proven formula.  However, the great thing about church planting that I have learned in my early tenure is that every church plant is different because every community is different, every culture is different, every group is different.  One success story may or may not bleed into another story.  We must continue to seek God’s leading… Because it is God who will draw people unto himself.  It is God who will draw the right people to say “YES” to serving in this way with a dedicated and servant’s heart.  The team and I must continue to pray for God encounters so that we can be open to meeting folks who are waiting to join a movement like church planting.

My prayer is for our team, our future church, and all the church plants now and to come; that God will recruit, train, and equip his children to say “yes” to his calling.  It will happen… And in God’s timeless reality… It already has happened.

Month 1.5

 

When Jacqui and I received the call to come and plant a church in San Antonio, we were in the thick of summer student ministry.  If you know anything about summers in student ministry… They are not for the faint.  Our church sent out about 130 students and leaders from 7-12 grade to one of the scariest areas in the country.  The Tenderloin District of San Francisco.  Our students did a phenomenal job at reaching the homeless population for Christ.

When we returned from the mission trip, I answered “yes” to the call to come and be the lead church planter for Shepherd in San Antonio.  I informed our pastors in Dallas and, with a bittersweet heart, we rejoiced together for this new journey God was calling my family into.  All of the sad goodbyes were beginning while I got to lead our Confirmation students to their confirmation retreat in Colorado one last time.

Jacqui and I spent some time in our favorite getaway spot so we could recharge together before our new journey.

Then the work began… Jacqui and I hit the ground running getting to know the staff and community at Shepherd of the Hills.  Aaron had a list of committees for me to meet with and other folks in our new church family.  Jacqui served as one of the speakers at the women’s Bible study, and we had the opportunity to share our heart for church planting during the Pastor’s Bible Study.

In our first month, Aaron and I began to meet once a week, we’ve had our first church plant coaching session with Pastor Pete Mueller, Reverend Mike Newman invited us to join other local pastors for a monthly book study and fellowship, we began our monthly two-on-one meetings with Mike, we began our monthly fellowship meetings with our church plant friends in the ACTS church network, Pastor Chris and I began our monthly check-ins, and I began weekly meetings with my spiritual mentor, Jay Saliceti.

While all of these things are really awesome, I must say that meeting with our current church launch team takes the cake!  If you’re unfamiliar with the term “launch team” let me clarify.  It is just that!  This is a group of folks committed to seeing our community launch into a thriving worshiping community in Alamo Ranch.  We gather monthly for fellowship and to seek the Lord’s leading in how we can best serve Alamo Ranch for Christ, and to visit other churches so that we can learn from our sisters and brothers in the faith.  Initially our team will use The Intentional Church by Randy Pope to guide our team meetings.  I cannot be more excited to serve alongside this team as we seek to join other churches in the area to help make Jesus visible to our neighbors.  Currently our team consists of about 20 people, all worshipers at Shepherd who have a heart to see a new church form in Alamo Ranch.  In the very near future we will see this group continue to grow into a diverse group of folks from various backgrounds, church traditions and walks of faith.  It is my hope that our team will be so diverse and continue growing into such a loving and committed group of people that we can’t help but launch into a thriving church community.  We will be an Acts 2:42-47 community:

The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This week, I will hop on a plane and head to Newport Beach, California for the Exponential Church Planters Conference.  I cannot wait to be around other like-minded folks and learn from them, the amazing speakers, and all the breakout sessions.  While in LA, I will also be meeting with one of my amazing mentors, Cheryl Fletcher and visiting a new church plant in the suburbs of LA called Real Life LA.

Be sure to check back on this blog as I share a summary of what God revealed to me through this incredible conference and time spent with co-workers for the Gospel in LA.