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Planning in His Presence

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In Uncommon Life Daily Challenge, Tony Dungy says that one of the keys to life is self-control, discipline. He says we need to “discipline ourselves to do what we need to do so that at a later time we can do what we want to do.” This truth focuses on our core, our inner most being. The necessity for disciplines in our life that will insure that our core is strong and that it remains strong. Paul prayed for believers in Eph. 3:16, “I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit.”

Prayer is one of the disciplines that is crucial to keep our spiritual core healthy and strong. When our prayer life begins to diminish then everything else begins to deteriorate. It requires discipline to dedicate oneself to prayer but our primary job is to listen to His voice. The exciting thing is that when we do our job, listening, then He promises to do His job, guiding and directing us. Prayer is the key to opening our lives to the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Planning is necessary in our lives and in our ministries.

First, realize that you become empty on the inside before it shows up on the outside. We have even learned to fake it, put on a mask, and appear to be spiritual when we are not walking closely with God. The truth is that your life will eventually catch up with your heart. Putting it very plainly, you will burn out sooner on the inside than you are able to see on the outside. Our prayer must be, “Holy Spirit, would you show me what You can do through me?” Remember, He is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think.

Second, the primary purpose of prayer is to get into God’s presence. You must desire and pursue prayerful planning because the plans of God are only revealed in His presence. You will be tempted to trust your instincts and hunches but the Holy Spirit’s direction is so much better. You want to figure it out and come up with a better idea on your own but even the smartest people in the world are not always right. You may think you will just work harder and longer than anybody else. A good work ethic is admirable but God’s power is better.

Third, believe in the power of prayer to accomplish great and mighty things for Him. It has been quoted often, “The Christian should work as if all depended upon him, and pray as if it all depended upon God.” You know you are not perfect but He is working to perfect you. You do not always know what to do but He knows how to direct you. You do not have the strength or stamina to do all that He has asked of you but He gives you the strength. In Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson says, “When you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.”

What does prayerful planning look like? It begins by praying with a reason. Paul says, “For this reason I kneel,” and prays a specific prayer for the Ephesians to receive spiritual power. In Gen. 24, Abraham’s servant asked God to show him who would be Isaac’s wife. The Bible says in verse 15 that “before he had finished speaking there was Rebekah.” Jesus prayed specifically for His disciples in John 17 that they would be protected, have joy, be sanctified by truth, and live sent lives as He did. Be specific! What is your need right now?

Prayerful planning continues by praying with an attitude of humble intensity. Paul said he bowed on his knees. The normal Jewish prayer posture at that time was standing, with hands stretched out, and eyes looking heavenward. By kneeling he submitted, bowed, to the reality of his total dependence on God. The intensity is determined many times by the severity of the circumstances. Sometimes our prayer is a casual conversation with our heavenly Father but other times it is intense intercession. The leadership of the Holy Spirit determines the need!

Humble intensity means that we are not just fixated on getting an answer or victory over our circumstances but learning how to live, grow, and glorify Him in and through our circumstances. It is not only praying, “get me out,” but also asking God to “see us through.” Quoting Mark Batterson again, “The primary purpose of prayer is not to change our circumstances. The primary purpose is to change us!” As Jesus faced His greatest challenge, the cross, He prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify You.”

Then we need to pray with a focus. In Eph. 3:14 Paul said, “For this reason I kneel before the Father.” The focus of prayer is not on what you are asking but whom you are asking. Prayer is more about our relationship with Him than Him meeting our needs. If we desire His direction and guidance we must press and lean into His presence. This is where He outlines His agenda for us and shows us what to think, how we should feel about it, and what we are supposed to be doing. It is being in His presence to allow Him to work in us so that we can become more like Christ.

Healthy churches are always asking, “What do we need to be praying for specifically right now?” They seek to plan their work and then work their plan but that is a plan that is bathed in prayer!

God’s plans are discovered, discerned, and defined in God’s presence!

7 Principles for Working On Your Ministry

On Vs In

The challenge of the pastorate requires the leader to be focused on many different areas at the same time. It is easy to get caught up “in” doing the tasks that need to be accomplished but unable to find the time to work “on” the ministry. In The Emotionally Healthy Church, Peter Scazzero says, “When our life with God isn’t sufficient to sustain our work for God, we will find ourselves struggling with our integrity.”

Before we can even differentiate between the “out’ and “in” we must first make sure that we are not just doing the work of God but that we are being who He want us to be. The doing is easier and can produce a false sense of spirituality and accomplishment. Hal Seed has said, “The temptation of pastors is to spend 90% of their time working ‘in’ their ministry instead of ‘on’ their ministry.”

In 1992, we headed to Northern Illinois to be church planters. Our first Sunday we had 13 present and my family comprised five of those in attendance. We began doing the things we believed that needed to be done. We had to do it all and actually enjoyed controlling everything from printing the bulletin to planning every activity. The problem is that as the church grows it is not healthy for one person to oversee and run everything.

The smaller the church is, the more it tends to run on individual talents but the larger the church becomes, the more it requires systems. If one person is in charge of a ministry and something happens to that individual then the ministry comes to a screeching halt. Don’t build your systems around one person but rather find a group of people to run them together. Always think in terms of a ministry team that builds a system for each ministry.

So, what does it look like to be working “in” the ministry of your church? This includes tasks that are important and usually necessary. However, these tasks are focused more on maintaining and caring for what is already in place and functioning. Working “in” ministry includes sermon preparation, counseling, teaching a class, overseeing a ministry event, and many other regular duties of the ministry.

Working “on” the ministry involves evaluating the effectiveness of present ministries, determining the vision and long range goals of the church, developing new ministries and new outreach opportunities. The key difference is between maintenance (not all bad) and creating and considering new approaches (not all good). Working “on” the ministry means to spend time thinking about what needs to be done, when it should be done, and who is going to be in charge of making sure it happens.

Here are a few things to consider in how to work “on” your ministry!

First, listen to the advice of others around you. You do not need to, nor should you, control everything. The leader is the primary influencer but remember there are godly people around you who have better ideas than you do. Listen well!

Second, develop a team of thinkers who can speak unfiltered into every situation. That may be a little scary, but if they only feel comfortable enough to tell you 90% of what you need to know then there is a 100% chance you will make the wrong decision.

Third, continue to develop as a leader through reading, mentoring, and training. Somebody out there knows what you need to know and you need to find out who that somebody is and learn from them. Great leaders are life-long learners.

Fourth, see crisis and challenges as opportunities. All of the polls and the research tell us that more people than ever before are turning away from the church. We should see this as a great opportunity to figure out how we can reach the greatest unchurched population ever.

Fifth, realize it is more about the person than it is the position. Some may say they don’t like preachers but what you usually find is that there is a pastor in their past that they feel let them down. Remember this truth, people will join an organization but they quit because of people.

Sixth, train the team to know what they need to do and how they will do it. Systems develop a process of next steps so that everyone on the ministry team knows what to do next and who to talk to in order to make it happen. It is providing a pathway of how to get from point A to point B and beyond.

Seventh, your greatest asset is the people around you who give of themselves to make the systems function properly. If you do not value them they will never live up to your expectations. If you want more out of your team it will require you making a greater investment into their lives.

Where do you begin? It starts with evaluation of the ministries and systems you now have in place by asking good questions. Do we have a process in place that is easy to understand? Where can you improve this system to make it more effective? What changes do you need to make to the system and are there any changes that need to be made with team members? Do we have a plan and when will this plan be implemented?

     Your church not only needs you to work “in” the ministry but also to make sure you are working “on” the ministry. This will require you to schedule time to pray, study, and determine where you are and where you desire to be as a church. It will demand these elements: Attention, Inspiration, Instruction, Training, and Evaluation. Remember, plan your work and work your plan…….but also be ready to change the plan when necessary!

P5 Multiplication Timeline

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This is my third recent blog on P5 Multiplication with the strong conviction that we must start multiplying not just adding!  Be sure to read the previous two:

  • P5 Multiplication – June 24, 2015
  • P5 Multiplication Centers – June 26, 2015

Every church should consider where they are in the P5 process and begin working towards being involved in multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches.  What will it look like when you are ready to reproduce by planting a church?

 P5 Multiplication is a 5-Step process:

  • Pray
  • Prepare
  • Partner
  • Parent
  • Plant

P5 Multiplication Centers develop a clear process of discipleship that leads potential church planting teams through an apprentice program in a local church.  They teach individuals how to make disciples right where they live, right now!

  1. They participate as a member of a small group.  (3-6 months)
  2. They are a co-leader of a small group.   (3-6 months)
  3. They start a small group from scratch.  (3-6 months)

The common question is, “How do we get started?” or “How do we get involved?”  Here are items to consider for being a part of the P5 Multiplication movement that we are asking God to make a reality.  The following list is not exhaustive but is meant to serve as guide to help think through steps that can facilitate multiplication:

 

0 – 6 MONTHS:

  • Prayer Retreat (Location, Planter, Team, Level of Involvement, Time, etc.)
  • Read Acts and a book on Church Planting
  • Develop a Sermon Series on Church Planting
  • Cast Vision with Key Leaders and Influencers
  • Develop L.E.A.D. Team (Partners who Learn, Encourage, Achieve, and Dream together)
  • Schedule Churches Planting Churches Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your V.I.P. (Vision, Involvement, Plan)
  • Develop an Understanding of the P5 Process (Determine Your Level of Commitment)

(Pray, Prepare, Partner, Parent, Plant)

  • Attend and/or Organize a Multiplication Center (Mentoring Group can be as small as 2-3)
  • Decide on your Discipleship Engine/Process
  • Form a Daughter Church Task Force inside your Church
  • Send Key Leaders to Visit Successful Church Plants
  • Host information and prayer meetings for the daughter church project

*Churches that have planted daughter churches are growing 3 times faster than those who have not.  (Natural Church Development)

 

 6 – 12 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Discipleship Process, location of team, partnerships, etc.)
  • Read the Epistles with a focus on Leadership Development
  • Begin to Develop a Church Planting Prospectus
  • Celebrate Church Planting in Creative Ways
  • Candidate and location selected
  • Schedule an Assessment (Do not skip this step)
  • Schedule Church Planting Essentials Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your V.P.T. (Vision, Plan, Timeline)
  • Begin researching the Potential Location (Demographics, Exegete the Culture, etc.)
  • Secure partnerships or become a partner
  • Recruit Team
  • Develop Launch Team
  • Partner Church Commitment Worksheet

*It is not the size of the church but the size of the church’s heart that makes the difference.

*What do you need to plant a church?

  • A burden for lost people
  • A willingness to step out in faith
  • A vision for a region
  • A kingdom mindset

 

12 – 18 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Pray for Laborers, Person of Peace, divine appointments, etc)
  • Schedule Mentoring Church Planters Training – Dynamic Church Planting International (dcpi.org)
  • Through DCPI training develop your Mentoring Vision Statement and Plan
  • Have Budget in Place and Partnerships Finalized
  • Church Planting Agreement Signed (Under Promise and Over Deliver)
  • Church Planter and Team are in Place.
  • Coach is Selected and Coaching
  • Find Persons of Peace and begin Building Relationships
  • Plan Servant Evangelism activities
  • Plan Small Groups meetings as opportunities become available
  • 50% of time must be sent with unbelievers (Do the work of an Evangelist)
  • Baptize New Believers
  • Begin Reporting to Partners

*Make sure you are ready before you launch!

*Schedule Vision Casting meetings with those who might be interested in being a part of the journey!

 

18 – 24 Months:

  • Prayer Retreat (Pray for disciples to become disciple makers, Pray for workers and leaders, Pray for your city, etc)
  • Continue doing the things that got you where you are! If they are working!
  • Focus must be on making disciples that make disciples
  • Host multiple “taste and see” gatherings
  • Develop systems that will maintian the vision and keep it moving forward
  • Improve follow-up systems and intentionally follow-up on all newcomers
  • Start new missional communities
  • Keep building relationships and networking—This is critical!!!
  • Keep meeting 25 new people a week
  • Remember once the formal worship services begin the show can drive everything if not careful.
  • Look for critical mass (Normally need 40 – 50 adults to have 200 for launch service)
  • Be missional and attractional!

*The goal is to reach as many people as we possibly can with the gospel!

*The goal is to make disciples of those who were not following Jesus!

There are many other things you could possibly add to the list but remember to, “Plan your Work and then Work Your Plan.”  Also remember that no battle strategy survives the first conflict!  You must be ready to adapt and make changes as necessary.  The driving force behind all of this is to go and make disciples!!!