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Archive for the tag “sbc churches”

THE HAND AND HEART OF GOD….by Robert Beike

“There were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.”

(Acts 2:5 HCSB)

     A Hebrew mid-wife, at the birth of  a child, would crush grapes or dates with her finger and then rub that finger inside the mouth of a newborn to create a thirst or hunger for grapes or dates. (James Merritt, Friends, Foes and Fools: Broadman & Holman, 1997 p. 172)  God created a thirst for the nations in the newborn church in Jerusalem through its Spirit animated witness to an international multitude at Pentecost. In this way, our heavenly father was teaching “a youth about the way he should go,” so that “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 HCSB). From day one in the life of the church, there has been instilled an international thirst, and an ethnic flavor. It was as if the church was born with an international spoon in its mouth.

     The reason Jesus had them wait in Jerusalem was now clear–the pieces of the puzzle fit together to reveal  the hand and heart of God working in perfect harmony.  Jerusalem was not only the strategic and spiritual center of Jewish life, it was also the strategic and spiritual center of God’s plan for world evangelism. The coming of the Holy Spirit coincided perfectly with the presence of “devout men from every nation under heaven.”  The ethnic mix that God had gathered for a harvest celebration is described in Acts 2:8-11. These were people born elsewhere–representatives of the Mediterranean world. Many were now permanent residents of Jerusalem, but many others were in the city temporarily for the festival of Pentecost.

     It is hard to miss the divine intentionality of this event. The hand and heart of God was in heavenly concert producing a multi-national church and supplying that church with a pattern for fulfilling its purpose. God has always been a people mover, ever active in human history and the accomplishing of heaven’s redemptive plans. Gathering and sending, casting out and bringing in, impelling believers to go, compelling unbelievers to come, the Lord is the author of diversity and the architect of disbursement (Genesis 11).  Like the vinyl recordings of another era, the great commission has two sides. The flip side of the church going to the nations is God gathering the nations in proximity to the church.

     Because the heart of God desires that no one perishes but all come to repentance (1 Peter 3:9), the hand of God continually draws lines that connect the people of God with the people who need God. In God’s providence, your city, community, and possibly your neighborhood is becoming a rich tapestry of ethnic hues, hand crafted by a loving God. As you share your faith, and God’s love, you can make a world of difference without ever leaving home.

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Rattle Those Pots and Pans…………by Robert Beike

“And every day they devoted themselves (to meeting) together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,…” (Acts 2:46 HCSB, parenthesis mine)

The rattle of pots and pans, the clanking of dishes, and the aroma of food, are important ingredients in Christian fellowship. We often joke about eating meetings, and the ever-present fried chicken, but the breaking of bread has a way of binding us together. Moreover, hospitality has a prominent Biblical precedent, and roots deep in the human experience.

The Old Testament records Abraham hosting a trio of heavenly guests who had serious business in Sodom and Gomorrah. Before continuing their mission, they enjoyed the riches of fellowship over a wood-fired steak with all the trimmings. Jesus experienced hospitality as a guest on many occassions, and practiced hospitality with the disciples on the eve of His crucifixion. Upon His resurrection, Jesus revealed His identity to incredulous followers during a meal in Emmaus, and while hosting a fish fry on the beach. Bread and “The Bread of Life” seems to just go together. Its not surprising, then, that the disciples continued the custom of sharing the life of Christ around a meal.

A contagious kind of joy accompanied the gatherings of the first church as “they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” There was no pretense to their joy. They were sincerely glad they had Jesus, the word, each other, and the power of God in their lives.

Hospitality might be the most underutilized gift in the North American church. There are, likely, members in every church, and small group or class, that are wired to be gracious hosts, and/or who would be glad to cook for the kingdom of God. Hospitality is putting grace to work. It’s about giving purpose to the “pot-luck.” Let’s get together and share a little gladness. Rattle those pots and pans.

Ways Your Church Can Help Finance a New Church Plant….by Robert Beike

The four critical elements of any successful new church start are God (spiritual energy), a certain amount of know-how, lots of energy, and money. The first three are not optional, and at some point money will become an issue. Here are 20 ways your church can help finance a new church plant.

1. Provide regular (monthly if possible) financial support for the new church.

2. Donate items such as a lawn mower, microwave, oven, paint, etc.

3. Provide equipment and supplies, such as sound equipment, computer, printer, software, books, etc.

4. Pay for a specific utility such as gas, electric, water, etc.

5. Provide a specified amount for church planter’s mileage.

6. Provide gift cards from local eateries.

7. Purchase Bibles, tracts, or other material for the new work.

8. Pay for an occassional getaway for planter and wife.

9. Pay for church planter to attend training opportunities.

10. Put the new church in your mission budget and designate a percentage of undesignated offerings toward the new work (2-3% is a suggestion).

11. Provide a set amount each month (i.e. $100, $200, $500, etc.).

12. Allow the church planter to speak once a quarter and take up a special offering.

13. Take a special offering each month.

14. Sell off church assets and send proceeds to the new church.

15. Build a 48 week budget for your church and once a quarter (5th Sundays) give entire weeks offfering to new church.

16. Encourage the 5/52 plan where individuals or families give $5 a week for 52 weeks to the new church.

17. Sunday School classes or women’s mission organizations could adopt the new work, and find creative ways to help finance it.

18. Establish an ongoing fund for church planting similar to a building fund, etc.

19. Provide a baby church shower for the new church’s facility. Fill their wish list.

20. Give regularly and generously to the Cooperative program of the Southern Baptist Convention, to your association’s church planting fund, or your denominational church planting efforts.

 

 

 

 

The 10 Most Important People in Your Church on Sunday…by Robert Beike

1. Guests — Are newcomers treated as visitors who may come and go, or as guests who are expected, planned for, and made to feel welcome?

2. Greeters and Ushers — Smiles are the most cost effective outreach tools a church can employ. The first 4 minutes a guest is on your property are the most critical. What kind of impression are you making? Is your attitude saying, “stay away,” or “come and stay?”

3. Custodial Workers — Is your facility clean and uncluttered, especially in the ladies restroom and nursery?

4. Nursery and Children’s Workers — Are parents confident their children are well cared for and safe?

5. Sunday School/Small Group Workers — Are all attendees valued and made to feel welcome? Is God’s word being taught for transformation and not just information?

6. People who sit next to new people — Are new people ignored or included? Are they introduced to others and their comfort considered?

7. Worship Leader(s) — Is there warmth and enthusiasm? Are the people engaged in authentic worship, escorted into the presence of God?

8. People who sing — This includes the congregation as well as singers of special music. Are they smiling? is there joy? Genuineness?

9. Pastor — It’s no mistake that the pastor is so far down on the list. Unless the first eight are positive influences the pastor’s role is extremely difficult. Still, the pastor can make a huge difference. Is he engaging and people friendly? Does he handle God’s word with integrity? Does he communicate God’s truth clearly?

10. Follow-up Person(s) — Is appreciation for guests’ attendance expressed? Is an invitation for further involvement extended? Are questions adequately answered? The first 48 hours following the service is critical in securing their further participation.

 

20 Ways Your Church Can Be a Church Planting Personnel Partner….by Robert Beike

Church planting is hard work. There are a myriad of things that need to be done and, in most cases, few people to do them. In addition to spiritual energy, know-how, and money, human energy is a necessary ingredient for starting churches. Church planters need other “missionaries” to come alongside, roll up their sleeves, and help shoulder the load. Here are 20 ways your church can be a church planting personnel partner.

 

1. Provide short-term “missionaries” to help with music, child care, greeters, etc.

2. Help the planter in the relocation process (locating property, moving furniture, etc)

3. Provide a list of community entities, activities, and contacts.

4. Provide help with website development.

5. Provide opportunities for planter to preach & share at your church.

6. Provide office space and amenities, secretarial and/or administration help.

7. Attend appropriate functions of new congregation.

8. Provide a social and spiritual support system.

9. Pray.

10. Send mission teams for outreach projects, Vacation Bible School, etc.

11. Help with identifying & locating people groups, population segments, etc.

12. Enlist participants in $46 mission trips. Each person takes 100 names from the phone book, directory, or focus group list, 100 envelopes, and 100 prewritten letters. Purchase 100 stamps, address, stuff, stamp, and mail the envelopes. The pray for those 100 names for 100 days.

13. Enlist a team of “telemissionaries” who phone individuals/households from the focus group/area, inviting them to a specific function of the new church.

14. Send prayer walking teams.

15. Conduct a block party, assist in food drives and other “point-of-need” events with the new congregation.

16. Guidance with local school system(s).

17. Help with or provide locations for fellowships, gathering events, retreats, etc.

18. Provide opportunities and appropriate chaperones for children or youth functions.

19. Sunday School classes could adopt the new work and participate in projects on its behalf.

20. Assist the Church Planter/new church in advancing its strategy.

20 WAYS A CHURCH CAN BE A PRIMARY CHURCH PLANTING PARTNER…by Robert Beike

If you are seeking to maximize the spiritual impact in a community or among a people group, consider planting a church. There are a number of ways a church can partner in starting a new church, but the most significant way is as a primary sponsor. Here are 20 practical ways a church can be a primary church planting partner.

 

1. Provide an intercessory prayer team to lead in praying for the new church.

2. Provide liabilty insurance and legal standing.

3. Provide administrative support, such as secretary, treasurer, record keeping, copying, etc.

4. Provide use of office equipment and supplies.

5. Provide Christian fellowship for planter and new church.

6. Provide a coach and/ or mentor for the Church Planter.

7. Provide opportunities for the Planter to share vision, needs, opportunities, etc.

8. Assist the Planter in relocating (i.e. finding a house and moving).

9. Assist the new church in outreach projects.

10. Allow the Church Planter access to Pastor’s library for commentaries, reference material, etc.

11. Provide leadership in church legal matters.

12. Send deacons to assist the new church in serving the Lord’s Supper.

13. Provide people for the new church’s core group.

14. Provide demographic, psychographic, and ecclesiographic information.

15. Hold a “Baby Church” shower for the new work’s facility.

16. Provide food for fellowships in the new church.

17. Minister to the Church Planter’s family, especially around the holidays.

18. Provide short-term “missionaries” to help with music, greeters, VBS, teaching, and advancing the new church’s strategy.

19. Provide office space, or meeting space, if needed.

20. Provide financial support. (Consider a percentage of the undesignated budget, or a set monthly amount, or a special offering taken monthly or quarterly, or a 5/52 plan wher individuals or families give $5 for 52 weeks {$260}, or instead of hiring staff, fund the Church Planter).

Get S.M.A.R.T. About EVANGELISM….by Robert Beike

Let’s get S.M.A.R.T. about evangelism. No, I’m not referring to a “cone of silence,” or communicating via shoe phone, for those old enough to remember the TV series. I’m talking about a holistic approach to reaching more people for Jesus. Examine your church’s entire ministry and overall approach to fleshing out the great commission. Is there proper focus on others, and their need for the gospel? Do the elements of church life work together to create positive synergy for evangelism? Here are some ways your church can get S.M.A.R.T. about evangelism.

SPIRITUAL CLIMATE

Learn to become a spiritual climatologist, and evangelism environmentalist. The spiritual atmosphere of your church largely determines if you will experience showers of blessings or a draught in the baptistry.

Pray for souls to be saved, and for believers to be bold. Preach the word of God in season and out. Stress outreach and include gospel presentations in Sunday School classes and small groups. Conduct regular witness training, and set aside  specific times for outreach. Make use of testimonies. Be mindful that every kind word and caring act enhances the spiritual climate of your church and community. We must be good news if we are to share the “good news.”

MINISTRY TO OTHERS

Get outside the walls of the church and serve beyond the gravitational pull of the membership. Discover the needs of others around you and develop ministries to meet those needs. Recovery ministries, child care, food distribution, tutoring, literacy classes, and servant evangelism efforts are just a sample. Create your own list of 101 ways to reach out to your community.

ACTIVITIES FOR OTHERS

Include those outside the church in activities of the church. In fact, initiate activities just for them. Vacation Bible School, concerts, musicals, dinner theaters, recreation, family movie nights, and game nights (including video games), just scratch the surface of possibilities. But, activites need not be just an inside job. Consider how others can join you in engaging the community for Christ.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS

Equip and encourage the church to cultivate relationships with neighbors, co-workers, and others in their constellation of influence. Learn to genuinely care for them and show it. Practice a lifestyle of evangelism, and “infiltration” tactics, so when Sunday services are over the church is strategically deployed not simply dispersed. Be salt and light by “infiltrating” organizations, teams, exercise classes, and other venues where lost people gather. As Jesus demonstrated, meeting people where they are is the first step to getting them to where God wants them to be.

TRUTH SHARED WITH OTHERS

Become an opportunist. Be sensitive to holy moments and divine appointments. Share the truth about Jesus; who He is, what He has done, and the difference He makes in your life.

Since evangelism is a top priority of the church and every Christian’s job, let’s get S.M.A.R.T. about it.

The “iPlant” (10 Essential Applications for Church Planting) PT 2…….by Robert Beike

Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church or a church looking at sponsoring a new work, consider an “iPlant” and these 10 essential applications for maximum kingdom impact. The first 5 from part 1:
* INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
* INDIGENOUS APPROACH
* INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
* INTENSIVE PRAYER
* INTENTIONAL OUTREACH

Pt 2

INCLUSIVE MINISTRY
(1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 4:8-10)

Every member is to be on mission for God; involved in the ministry of both the “gathered” and “scattered” church. Spiritual gifts must be discovered, deployed, and developed. A God-sized impact on a community or people group depends on the inclusive ministry of all God’s people. Help others to catch the vision of being missional, and release them into the harvest field.

INSTRUCTIVE PROCESS
(Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:42;11:25-26; Ephesians 4:12-13)

Remember the goal is to make disciples who can reproduce disciple-makers. A systematic process should be in place to build up the body of Christ, making its members fit for the kingdom of God, and equipped for service. The study of God’s word and development of Christian skills are to be designed for every stage of spiritual development. Think discipleship by design.

INSPIRATIONAL WORSHIP
(Psalm 34:3; Isaiah 6:1-8; John 4:23-24)

Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-led, God-glorifying, believer-edifying, guest-appealing worship is critical. Whether in a living room or auditorium, the Savior is to be magnified, the saints motivated to serve, sinners moved to repentance, and the repentant experience grace and renewal. Times of worship act as a fueling station, and strategy session, that provides impetus for the work of the church–beyond the walls.

INNOVATIVE MEANS
(Mark 2:22; Proverbs 18:15)

Don’t be afraid to color outside conventional lines. Creat a climate conducive to risks and experimentation, where failure is not seen as final, but tuition necessary for ultimate success. Avoid being trapped by the familiar, wed to the comfortable, or driven by the traditional. Neither become enamored with everything new, but rather embrace what honors God and is effective in fulfilling His purposes. Remember, creativity runs in God’s family.

INVESTMENT OF LIVES
(Romans 12:1; Isaiah 6:8)

Planting churches requires seeing ourselves as “living sacrifices,” an offering poured out for the kingdom of God. A faithful investment of time, energy, and resources in God’s kingdom, will pay divine dividends.

The “iPlant” (10 essential applications for church planting) pt 1

More and more lives are being influenced, even dominated, by the latest and greatest technology. iPhones, iPods, and iPads are flooding the marketplace with the “ipromise” of making life better. But, if its real life change you’re after, i recommend the “iPlant.” Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church, or a church considering sponsoring a new work, here are 10 essential applications that can lead to eternal kingdom impact.

INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
(John 20:21)

Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, we are to flesh out God’s kingdom among those to whom He sends us. A godly presence is foundational for church planting. Being good news is an inseparable companion to sharing the good news.

INDIGENOUS APPROACH
(Luke 8:38-39; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)

For maximum church planting impact, our efforts must fit the cultural context. It’s important to avoid inflicting a community with a vision and values that God does not intend, or implanting elements into a culture that are not readily suited to, or sustainable within the local context. Discover how God is already working and allow the culture to be a channel for God’s blessings.

INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
(Proverbs 12:15;16:9;28:19)

Seeking the wisdom and guidance of God is paramount, but, the wise counsel of others should also be utilized. Counting the cost is a necessary first step in planting a church. In addition to a calling, church planting requires the power of God, know-how, energy, and money. Determining a people to reach, a place to meet, partners to support the work, and a prayer strategy to fuel the work, is all part of the initial planning to make it happen.

INTENSIVE PRAYER
(Luke 10:2b;11:9; 2 Corinthians 10:4)

Church planting moves forward on the knees of devoted believers, who persistently ask, seek, and knock with fervent prayer. Ask God to provide workers, seek God’s direction and timing, and knock on heaven’s door for needed resources. Recognize prayer as our work and weapon. Utilize it for the welfare of the church and mankind.

INTENTIONAL OUTREACH
(Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; Mark 1:38-39; Luke 8:5-8)

Take the great commission seriously. Be strategic in attempting to reach the “Jerusalem” to which you are called, but understand the reach of the local church body also extends to the ends of the earth. A new church’s strategies should reflect an intention to reduce lostness by encompassing the globe with the good news, and growing the body of Christ, numerically, spiritually, locally, and globally.

….to be continued..

A Church Planting Check-Up…. by Robert Beike

A survey by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention revealed a few years ago that 98.6% of responders agreed that sponsoring new churches is Biblical, and that the great commission cannot be fulfilled without starting new churches. Those results indicate a theological temperature that appears to be a normal and healthy 98.6. In the same survey, 96.2% agreed that churches starting churches is the preferred method of church planting–another healthy indicator. Yet, upon closer examination, there seems to be a serious spiritual abnormality affecting the reproductive process of the body of Christ. Somewhere between only 4% and 20% (depending on who’s reporting) of SBC churches are, in any way, involved in starting new churches. That seems a long way from normal and healthy. Our brains are obviously sending theological messages that the body refuses to acknowledge.

Why is there such a disconnect? And what will it take for church planting to become the habit of all churches and not just the hobby of a few? The problem is no doubt systemic and complicated by multiple issues. However, there are three chronic ailments that if left untreated will continue to retard kingdom growth.

Church Planting is not normal for most churches, first of all, because of impaired vision. A lack of kingdom focus blurs the purpose of the church. As Jesus stood with His disciples beside the well outside the city of Sychar and watched people streaming from the town toward them, He said, “Open your eyes and look…(John 4:35). Jesus intends that we really see people, to view them in a way that transcends the physical. But, like our physical eyes, our spiritual eyes are subject to maladies that prevent us from seeing clearly.

People blindness comes in a variety of forms. A church’s vision is often clouded by prejudice. Other churches suffer from tunel vision, allowing those on society’s fringe to go unnoticed. Near-sightedness is another common affliction in churches. Spiritually myopic churches can’t see beyond their own local context, and their mission awareness is restricted to those who are “just like us.” Still others, ironically, have a far-sightedness that enables them to see needs afar off, even on the other side of the world, yet prevents them from seeing needs on the other side of their own town, or street.

Clearly, our vision needs correcting. Acquiring a kingdom focus begins on our knees in the word of God. Getting beyond our blind spots and into our mission field requires us to become like the blind man, who was asked by Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man responded, “Lord, I want to see!” (Luke 18:41).

Heart Trouble is another malady hampering our church planting effectiveness. If subjected to the careful scrutiny of the Great Physician, we may discover our hearts have shrunk to the size of our church rolls, and our heartbeat out of sync with God’s mission.  God’s heartbeat resonates clearly, in that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Furthermore, Jesus prioritized all the law and prophets by insisting that we love God with all our being, and our neighbor as ourselves. He personally resisted the pull of His disciples agendas, and the press of a needy crowd to take the gospel to neighboring towns, adament that, “This is why I have come” (Mark 1:38). Oh, that God would sync our heartbeats with His, and enlarge our hearts to include all our neighbors near and far.

The third chronic ailment negatively impacting church planting is spiritual anemia. That may actually be too mild a term, but multitudes of churches are listless, and lack a robust spirituality. Unless they experience genuine spiritual renewal they will continue to exist in a kind of ecclesiatical fetal position. Years of inward focus and lack of regular spiritual exercise has left us weak. Recognizing our condition, repenting of our sin and selfishness, and aligning with God’s will are necessary first steps to spiritual health. Getting outside the walls of the church and into the fresh air of different neighborhoods and communities has a way of raising the fitness level of a church. Personal contact with others, building relationships, and gathering them to make disciples who will make disciples, can have a viral effect that results in a church planting epidemic–in other words, normalcy.

When Jesus scanned the five porches surrounding the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, He saw “a multitude of the sick–blind, lame, and paralyzed…” They were all waiting for a miraculous movement of God that would restore them to normal–a 98.6 life. He singled out an individual who had been sick for 38 years and asked him one critical question: Do you want to get well?” (John 5:3-5). How about you? What’s your church planting temperature? Do you want to get well…really?

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