Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alvin Sanders – Part 2

Panel Discussion – bringing it from Heroic to Everyday (Ken Molberg, Tom Mouw, Steve Highfill)

Practical Suggestions


  • A Framework for Understanding Poverty
  • Women in Ministry: 4 Views - Klaus
  • Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church
  • Building a Healthy Multiethnic Church
  • Beyond Racial Gridlock
  • One Body & One Spirit
  • See The Samaritan Way Brochure from
    • Cybercommunity – EFCA Samaritan way group in Facebook

    • Make sure to always have ethnic workshops in the district
    • Good Samaritan Retreats
    • Equip courses with George Yancey

So much of what Alvin shared was story driven that it was impossible to capture, but what a rich time today in various languages and in vivid wonderful color that God has made and that God loves!

EFCA – ReachNational Leadership Summit with Dr. Alvin Sanders

Dr. Sanders is the Director of the EFCA's SAMARITAN WAY Reconciliation and former pastor of River of Life Church in Cincinnati, OH

Developing the "All Peoples" Piece of our Mission

Applied an illustration of how we pretend to want reconciliation and inclusion. We invite, but don't include or make to feel welcomed. From Alvin's experience and dissertation, the EFCA is one of the very few if not only denominations taking proactive steps in this realm. We really want it. Alvin is the only Chief Diversity Officer in any denomination in America. or call 612-232-1352. Their story is Cincinnati from Riots to Reconciliation.

The Concept of Reconciliation

Reconciliation is God's initiative, restoring a broken world to God's intentions by reconciling all things to Himself through Christ: the relationship between people and God, between people, and with God's created earth. Christians participate with God by being transformed into ambassadors of reconciliation. – Duke Center for Reconciliation

  • Genesis 12:1-4

  • Galatians 3:6-9

  • Galatians 3:26-29

  • Colossians 1:18-20

  • 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Race and ethnicity should mean different things to the world and in the church. (side-bar…who would Jesus vote for?...why would the King of all the earth even care to vote?)

The Role of Culture (Christianity is not bound by culture, where many other religions and societies are)

Culture is about groupness. It encompasses everything that people believe and everything that they do that identifies them as members of a group and distinguishes that group from other groups.

The purpose of culture is to assist people who are not members of a group to know what the rules for acceptable behavior are and to provide consistency and predictability in everyday actions. It's the space where we derive our values, attitudes and beliefs about life.

Are we prisoners or liberators?

  • Cultural Destructiveness – eliminate other people's culture

  • Cultural Incapacity – belief in one's own culture over others

  • Cultural Blindness – failing to recognize cultural differences or acting as if the cultural differences don't matter

  • Cultural Pre-competent – a desire to provide an equitable treatment with appropriate cultural sensitivity, combined with not knowing exactly how to proceed.

  • Cultural Competence – see it, know it, learn from it, embrace it.

  • Biblical Christianity


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

EFCA – ReachNational Missional Summit with Bob Roberts – session 2

Shift of thought that Muslim Imams not the false prophets who falsely promote Christ, but they are religious leaders in darkness. They are not the enemy. Great commission will be fulfilled through the Middle East. We must go through the religious gate-keepers of the world. What did Paul do with the Rabbis? We must do the same with Muslim leaders. Roberts believes that the Great Commission will be fulfilled by Muslim leaders coming to faith in Christ and proclaiming the Gospel.

What matters most to Muslims? Issue of war and peace between Palestine and Israel. So we must be careful not to so align with Israel that we forsake our Palestinian brothers who are trying to take the gospel there. Muslims want to be with people who believe and live truth. They have more respect for bible-believing evangelicals who are sincere than for liberal Christians who relay the truth doesn't matter as long we all just get along.

Don't start churches for the suburbs, start churches for the world.

Follow Jesus to where all hell is breaking loose – whole church gets involved.

Bang on front door first, but be honest about who you are

Decrease in the West so East can increase.

Go in and embrace the culture, don't fight it.

Serve not to convert, but because we have been converted…because Christ has changed me.

Become their best friend.

Great Commission made all religion go global.



Church-planting movement is a Western term, but it is a reality in Asia, not because they created a movement. We can't create movements, because movement go beyond our control. As long as we have control, it is not a movement. The Church is the result of a move back to Jesus. We focus on planting churches, but we need to focus on moving people back to Jesus.

If we want to produce disciples, be with someone who has effectively made disciples. We have to learn from the whole body of Christ.


  • Take Time (usually preceded by 100 years of seed-planting) Don't minimize seed-sowing.
  • (Read historians to understand movements (Rodney Stark))
  • They are very personal and societal…evangelism through very natural relationships
  • They are lead by disciples, not preachers
  • No record of any nation having more than 1 cp movement
  • Generally come from the Young
  • Collaborative networks (not how is my tribe, how is the gospel)BUT most important network is your local church planting churches, that's your network.
  • A thing of the Holy Spirit
  • Are we burdened and broken hearted because we didn't plant a church this year from our local church?

What is coming next? Church-planting movements have been tribal and national, but coming up are international, global, multi-ethnic church-planting movements. How do we get ready for this?


We go from gospel to pastor to church to disciples to society to world.

World go from gospel to disciple to society leading to a church. So don't focus on raising more preachers, raise more disciples.

In China it's every disciple a church-planter.

We need more apostolic pastors to raise disciples and planters. We need church-planting churches that plant churches for that will go beyond its own generation that start for the next generation. Raise planters to plant not just for their generation but for the next generation. Don't start churches just for ourselves. Apostolic leaders who are broken and honest and givers and riskers and evangelistic and mystic and design and …

Start with the society, not the church.


  • Verbalize what God has called you to do.
  • Verbalize what you value – convictions about truth that determines behavior.
  • Verbalize vision
  • Verbalize purpose
  • Verbalize strategy
  • Do Delegation
  • Perform Evaluation

Its organic, not a curriculum or a notebook. It comes from DNA, from living it.



In America we are trying to reinvent the church while the rest of the world is simply being it! The new church will be organic and not created!

EFCA – ReachNational Missional Summit with Bob Roberts, Jr. a.m. Session

Author of 3 BooksGlocalization, Transformation, & Churches that Multiply

Word captures from our sessions with Bob


Internationals get it, younger people get it, but most western pastors and religious leaders don't get it.

Talk about redefining the church is a waste of time – it's the people in the church that want to redefine it, but people coming to Jesus will love the church. We just need to redefine the Sunday Event.

Post-modern world doesn't exist, but the post-modern west does exist. Post-modernism is the discovery of an affluent society that having everything doesn't fulfill.

America is lost, and the reverse engineering of missions from the east will reach us. When our churches aren't growing, what makes us the experts when churches around the world are growing and reaching people like nothing in the west.

The great commission will be complete in 10 to 15 years as we are able to take to gospel globally like never before because of connectivity and because of the passion of eastern Christians. Only sin will keep it from being fulfilled.

There is no one way to do church – "Liquid Church".

How to's are what the boomers wanted, but the "why's" are what the busters and xers want.

When is Jesus going to be enough for you? – the question God placed in Bob's heart when the ministry was much smaller. When is it about God's Kingdom and not our empires? The church exists not for the church but for the carrying out of the gospel in the community and the world. Don't view yourself as a pastor to your church, view yourself and your church as a missionary to your community.

What does it mean to live the sermon on the mount? What does the Kingdom of God look like lived-out among God's people? Not just external signs, but internal transformation.

2 Core Questions

  1. Is the gospel sufficient to transform a person? - Yes
  2. Is the gospel sufficient to transform a community? – Yes

Why is this not happening in America? (Finish with mind, morality, marriage and ministry in tact). The kingdom of God is more than the Sunday Event. Our view is that the church brings pressure to bear on culture. It is not just enough to have right theology, we must have the right spirit to match. Reality – everything is the realm of the Father with or without the church. How would our theology be different if it weren't formed because of heresies, but simply out of the Word of God? It's a case of seeking God and obeying God. With the Spirit of God, people can understand the Word of God without us!

Word "missions" is not in the Bible, "kingdom" is. The church is missions, Kingdom in and Kingdom out. We are lost to modernity and success and consumerism and industrialism. When people leave a church because of style of worship, they don't even get what worship is…style doesn't matter, Jesus does. Churches lead by "stars" not "godly souls."

We have vocationalized missions when the whole church is supposed to be the missionary to the whole church not just professionals.

There are no closed countries, there's just stupid evangelism and intelligent engagement.


Net Effect of the Kingdom is TRANSFORMATION flowing from and around as an interactive relationship with God. Do a sermon series on how to hear God, you'll pack your church out. The early church didn't preach that series, they simply lived it! Teach private worship to bring power to your corporate worship. Real worship, Transparent connections, Glocal Impact. God is not impressed by our dollars. God wants the new DNA. WERE ARE CALLED TO THE KINGDOM, NOT CALLED TO PREACH. WHAT IS THE NET EFFECT OF WHAT GOD IS WANTING US TO DO?

Teach people that their job is their number one ministry!

Our Kingdom Job Description – make disciples! Remember, disciple-making is not linear, it is not fill-in-the-blank, it is life transformation.

WHAT IS THE GRID? Old Testament – Israel. New Testament – Church. But Bob suggests that neither are the grid, society is! Make Disciples. All Nations. How does the gospel jump cultures? (From all Jews to the Gentiles). When gospel lays upon the grid of the church it gets choked, when it lays upon society, it goes viral. Consider Abraham with no structure for worship becoming an obedient follower of God – All nations cf. great commission – all nations. The church is to be birthed out of evangelism, not designed to do evangelism. (see pg 46 of Glocalization). When religion becomes a domain of society, it becomes a competitor. Faith should be present in all domains as disciples are present in all domains of society, so faith become viral as lived out in the domains of culture.

Engage the society first and let the church evolve from that!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

End of Week at Fair Haven Camp

Thanks for your prayers as I spoke each night at Fair Haven Camp's teen week. Through-out the course of the week we saw at least 16 first-time decisions to trust in Jesus, double that number of students stepping out to renew their relationship and to walk with Jesus daily, and an overwhelming number of students saying that they would go home and seek to live more boldly for Christ by trying to be a witness in their "mission fields" of sports groups, bands, choruses, in their neighborhoods, with their peers. Some are planning to start Bible Studies on their campuses, and others want to go home and help their youth groups become more evangelism and disciple-making focused.

I also had a great time working with a great brother and a fantastic musician, Brian Neal ( . If you want to have an edgy concert or need a worship leader for an event, then I highly recommend Brian Neal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Preaching and Retreat

I have returned to Maine (where my family is) to conduct my annual planning retreat. I will work through my KRA's, and I suspect that A#1 on my list will be fund-raising. Not only for me to continue in this wonderful role, but also to resource our planters. I am learning from other groups like the Kingdom Synergy Group from Ohio and Stadia how much they are doing for their planters, and we have so very far to go. Pray for my time of reflecting and praying and re-visiting my Key Result Area's for this next year.

During the evenings, I am preaching for teen week at Fair Haven. With 16 years of youth ministry under my belt, I have alot to draw from, so it isn't requiring a lot of prep work. But it does require the energy to preach with passion and conviction. I have chosen a "Battle" motif for the week. Last night was - "The Battle" looking at the cosmic battle between Jesus and Satan, and of course, we know who the Champion is (yes, I used the old Carman song and a pretty good video to go along with it). Tonight, "The Battle for the Mind". Wednesday. "The Battle for Image", Thursday I move toward mission with "The Battle for Every Generation", and Friday night I conclude with "Enlistment".

I am working with an outstanding artist - Brian Neil - who has worked with a bunch of other artists as a part of their band, noteable and worshipfully, Todd Agnew. So far, I would have to say that I highly commend to you for leading worship or for a concert. Pray for a good week for us both as we minister each night to about 150 people.

Aging Parents

I just spent a few days with my dad (and mom) at the Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society's big summer tractor show (a show that I pretty strongly suspect will be his last due to his failing health). Having been a life-long farmer, he sure enjoys going to see all the antique equipment and a lot of his friends, plus eat good ice-cream, see tractor-pulls and more. I am glad that I worked this into my schedule. From time to time I would loose track of them and I would need to ask someone if they had seen my "children". Of course many of the old-timers understood what I was saying and they would point to an antique lawn-tractor drawn buggy and say - "there they go there." Reminds me of the powerful Mark Schultz song that looks back across the lives of couple who are in their eighties. Its like they were eighteen all over again. It was beautiful to see as they finish these final moments of life together. By the way, Dad is progressing toward a relationship with Jesus. I don't know that he is quite there yet, but sure signs are evident. (We've had some good conversations about the subject, but being the son, I don't push too hard). I am looking forward to trying to do a few more things with him while we are able...10 minutes of shooting the 22 at a flip-up target I bought for him at Cabela's sure seems to do him some good from time to time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Petras Blog Link

Mark just told me of their new blog, although, it seems Kendra has done most of the blogging so far. Check it and remember to pray for the Petras and Crossroads Community Church in Altoona, PA.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 2 Ends

What a great day we had, but we worked hard and dealt with 1 Corinthian 1:1-3 - remembering that we are called by the will of God. We look at the earlier posting I had from YouTube entitled - CardBoard Testimonies - many of us cried then went and reflected and prayed on why we do what we do - that lives be changed for the glory of God.

Then it was to work...raising funds, building core groups, developing launch-teams and leaders, clarifying our disciplemaking pathway. We wrapped up around 4, then it was time for burgers and personal interaction and just enjoying the lake. Eric Tober from State College and Stu White our new Pittsburgh Urban Director were able to be with us today. What an energizing time, but man we all have so much work to do! Praise God for His faithfulness and strength!

Summer '08 Church-Planting Retreat

Summer CP Retreat - Day One

I had some pics to share with you, but unfortunately, the camera I used last night took lousy shots of some great scenary and our guys having some fun and discussion. Sorry, maybe today I'll go back to using my simple camera phone. We enjoyed from about 5 until 11:00 of some great discussion (ask for my Best Practices powerpoint which is basically a compilation of findings from some great researchers like NAMB, Stephen Gray and some other practicioners. Mixed into the schedule was some time in the word remembering how Jesus got away to stay connected with the Father. We read an except from Vince Antonucci's ( book, I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt. We enjoyed a lasagna dinner, a spectular Lake Erie Sunset and some fishing. Some new relationships were formed and others taken further.

We really appreciated having Scott Pugh and David Thorne from (their website is under reconstruction, but it is going to be so stinkin cool). Velocity is part of the Stadia Church-Planting Movement and Kingdom Synergy Partnership in Ohio. While we do many of the same things in our systems...assessments, coaching, training...these groups are light-years ahead of us in funding piece and in how they apply compenents from , so we are learning from them. Thanks to George Klippenes for opening the doors for us to move beyond our circles. This is something we simply must do if we really want to see EFCA Church-Planting become a movement.

Last night's group included:

Jeff Powell -
Jason Oesterling -
Nate Childers -
Alex Ielase -
Derek Wadsworth and Joe Becker -
Mark Petras - Crossroads - Altoona
Tom Richards - former EFCA pastor investigating planting
Scott Pugh & David Thorne -

While last night we studied trends and talked about their implications and applications, today we get very specific on things like website development, building your core group, assimilation, building your team, designing your disciple-making pathway, stewardship and funding. I don't want to make this an overload day, but we do want to delve into them enough to be of help. Later in the day, Eric Tober from (State College or Penn State for those who think there are other great universities like Ohio State). Also, our Pittsburgh Urban Director, Stu White arrives today as well. It is going to be a great day. Just pray that everyone finds encouragement through the course of the day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Church-Planting Retreat Underway

I am just a few hours from our summer Church-Planting Retreat, today through thursday. About a dozen younger and prospective planters will be joing Jeff Powell and me and members of our Allegheny District Church-Planting Team. We will be looking at issues like: family life, personal spirituality and balance, best practices and studied reports from people like and Stephen Gray of We will be considering how to grow core groups, build launch teams, develop leaders, make disciples and raise up stewards. Keep us in prayer over the next few days as we relate and wrestle and rest and have some fun.

Crossroads of McKean Has a Great Day

As I shared a little last week, my former church (a church at which I am still an elder, though, seems of the past several months I have not done much elding...with the travel schedule and all) was having a playground dedication of their new playground, using it as an outreach event. It was a great day. Tons of people, 3 TV stations, and just an all around great day...worship, picnic, dedication, kids and parents playing. Praise God for the many hours of work and many gifts of resource given. With the completion of this project, Anthony Baer is now an Eagle Scout. Below are a few pictures of the playground. I was involved in too many conversations to grab some pictures while the Ark was loaded up with kids and parents, but at least you see what was built.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fair Haven Camps Trip Successful

My time in Maine where my wife, Wendy-Jo, is the Program Director at was immensely enjoyable and seemingly successful. On June 15th, a group of 29 people from our church (Crossroads in McKean, PA) and from Christ EFC in Saegertown took off on a week-long mini-missions trip to help prepare the camp for its summer season. In addition to our group a group of 48 from Eastern PA joined us in our efforts of painting, building, refurbishing, trimming brush from the High-ropes course, cutting fire-wood and more. After the groups were gone, the summer staff arrived and I remained in Maine to read and study AND to do spiritual life training/leadership development with the counseling staff. Finally, it was time for the first wave of campers to arrive. It is just awesome to watch my wife at work in this arena. It is her dream-job, and while it is incredibly exhausting work running a camp with about 50 staff and 750 to 1000 kids, it is also incredibly rewarding. Pray for Wendy and the staff and the Camp this summer that God would do great things. I have returned home to PA to batch-it for a few weeks. I had some great meetings yesterday with Jim Bzdafka and Jim Hagen from Providence Church in Avon, OH, and then with Randy Spurlock from Orchard Church in Olmstead Falls, OH, then with Jason Oesterling of iKon Church in Medina. Over the next few days I will be preparing for our District Church-Planting Retreat which is next week. I also plan to help out at Crossroads Church this Saturday as the finishing touches go on the new playground in preparation for a large outreach event on Sunday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Today From Coast to Coast

Having performed a meaningful wedding cermeony for missionarys, the now Mr. & Mrs. Michael and Abby Wheaton on the beach in beautiful Ocean Side, CA (San Diego), I now board the plane to fly home. Tomorrow morning I head-off with Adam & Aaron Wheaton to join the missions team from Crossroads & Christ EFC at Camp Fairhaven in Brooks Maine.

Pray for the 29 people on this trip and the other 50 from Eastern PA we will be joining.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Allegheny District Announces Pittsburgh Urban Director

We are very proud to announce the creation of the Pittsburgh Urban Ministries Director position arranged by the District Church Planting Team and approved by the District Board on June 7th.

CHARTER: Direct efforts to plant gospel advancing ministries in the city of Pittsburgh as part of the ministries of the Allegheny District of the EFCA and its churches.

• Seek opportunities to plant indigenous ministries in urban areas lacking vibrant gospel evangelism.
• Interact with city officials and non-profit organizations and ministries to assist in community improvement initiatives.
• Partner with other gospel evangelism efforts in the city as appropriate.
• Establish a multi-ethnic team to pursue these objectives.

We are also proud to announce the calling of Stu White of Canonsburg, PA to this position. Stu and his wife Fawn have three children, and reside in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. They are members of Waterdam EFC in Canonsburg, PA where they have been attending since 1991 when the three year old church was called the South Hills EFC. Stu was on the building committee for their current structure that was built in 1997. He has been a church board member, including chairman, for several terms; teaches adult classes; chaired the pastor search committee 2 years ago; and continues to fill the pulpit as needed. Stu has been meeting with "missionally-minded" pastors and lay people in the Pittsburgh area over the past 2 years, as he seeks to understand the Lord's calling for the church in the Pittsburgh area. As a ministry, Stu and Fawn have opened their home in McMurray, PA as a respite, a place to stay, or just a meal, to over 80 people from countries all over the world.

Stu brings to us significant networking abilities and a clear understanding of working with city officials and granting organizations which can open doors for ministry advancement. He has a monster heart for evangelism and TAKING the gospel into places it isn't going. Welcome Stu!

To contact Stu, you can currently contact him at 724-941-1219 or

Church-Planting Retreat

We will be holding a Church-Planters Retreat at the Keppler Lake House in Erie, PA beginning at 4:00p.m. on July 15th and concluding at noon on July 17th. If you are not a planter and wish to attend, please contact Jim at 814-450-3737 or at

Some of the coaching topics to be covered include:  Staying In Love with Jesus while Serving Him, Being the CRR for Your Ministry (Chief Resource Raiser), Best Practices of Gathering People, Building Teams, Developing Leaders, The Absolute Importance of Your Disciple-making Pathway.  While there will be a lot of discussion of best practices and some practical training, there will also be some time to hang-back, enjoy an outdoor fire, fish (if you'd like), sit in the hot-tub under the stars with the sound of Lake Erie waves.  While it is preferable that planters attend for the entire retreat, bi-vocational planters may choose to attend only part if necessary.  Members of the AD Church-Planting team will also be there on Wednesday to interact with planters.  There is no cost to planters, however, anyone attending may wish to make donations toward our costs.  This is a fantastic retreat location used for our November Bootcamp and by members of our National Leadership for their annual planning retreat. Towels and linens provided. You'll only need to bring personal effects, bible and notebook and any other CP hand-outs that have been helpful to you.

Mill Creek Church – Boardman Ohio

Nate & Teri Childers are on the ground in Boardman, OH. Nate is working full-time with Mathias Media as he and Teri begin to settle into their community and to get to know their neighbors. Two larger churches have shown direct interest in helping with this plant as they can: Pastor Jeff McNicol and Chippewa EFC, and Pastor Brent Allen and Old North Church in Canfield. Through a process of meetings in March and April, Nate and Mill Creek met the criteria and were approved as a planting project. In accordance with the vision of our NEO Initiative, they have located themselves in a very strategic location for several communities (Youngstown, Boardman, Canfield, and Poland). Please keep them in prayer as they establish this new ministry. You can contact Nate at 3915 Windsor Road, Boardman, OH, 44512. 330-883-9327.

Alex Ielase & Redeemer on the Mount

At our May 29th Allegheny District Church Plant Team meeting, Alex Ielase and Redeemer on the Mount Church were approved as an urban church-plant project for Mount Washington (Pittsburgh). Following a year of internship with Saleem Gabrill of The Pittsburgh Project and Mosaic Church, and in fulfilling much of what was recommended following his assessment, Alex is now taking great stride to form a gospel beach-head on Mount Washington with a vision of that work spilling into other Pittsburgh Communities. Already, Pastor Jack Wilson and Waterdam Church and their youth have begun reaching out to share in this ministry. Additionally, the National EFCA Church-Planting office plans to grant $5000 toward this work. Pray for Alex, Jennifer and Scarlet as they begin this new ministry. One of their mottos is to live in the community they minister in and to minister in the community they live in. What a great motto that we need to see implemented in thousands of other communities all across our land! You can contact the Ielases at 412-352-8876. 6 Soffel Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211 or at

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Closing Sessions at expoconf ‘08

Closing Session of


What an intro to Tim Keller! Wow! By Sound


  • DNA of a reproducing church must be the gospel – Romans 1:16-17. Gospel doesn't produce power – it IS the power of God. Gospel is always a verbal proclamation in the NT.
  • See April 2008 issue of Leadership Magazine for much of the content of this talk.
  • Modern evangelical world has lost sight of what the gospel is, and we are unsure.
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke – gospel is about Kingdom of God, but in John it is about eternal life, Paul makes it about justification. They take such different approaches to the same gospel. Referenced to Brian McLaren who, in one of his trilogy books, brings us back to the Kingdom of God.
  • Keller – there is one gospel with several forms. Galatians 1 – the cursed who preach any other gospel. 1 Cor. 15 – we all preach the same gospel. Gal. 2:7 – shows the difference of approach to the circumcised and to the uncircumcised.
  • 1 Cor. 1:22-25 – Weakness/power. Chinese guy and Japanese guy see a bird – one sees beauty, the other sees lunch. 2 cultures, 2 gospel forms.

What is the One Gospel?

  • Simon Gatherhold – God's Power to Save – IVP UK. Gospel tripod =
    • In Jesus Christ, God emptied himself
    • In Jesus Christ, God died as our substitutionary atonement…
    • At end of time, In Jesus Christ, God will return to restore all things.
  • Not just about individual salvations, about restoration of all things…much bigger than what we tend to look at. It is both/and. Both personal conversion and changing the world and ushering in the "at hand" Kingdom of God.


Three Aspects of the Kingdom of God

  1. Upside Down Kingdom = reversal of values from world's values…serving, caring, reconciliation
  2. Inside-out Kingdom = personal salvation and sanctification. Repenting of not just our sins but also our righteousness…salvation is by faith. This is what makes us different than Pharisees.
  3. Right-side up Kingdom = working on the world's restoration because of salvation…the new heavens and earth.
  • Producing converts, growing the tribe just to grow the tribe becomes cancer. In our bodies, cells without purpose become cancer.
  • John's gospel put emphasis on individual change, the Synoptics place the emphasis on the broader Kingdom corporately, societally, and perhaps Paul blends both. It stems for a systematic approach to the Gospel in the Gospels and Paul's writings. We use many approaches at the gospel.
  • PREACHING EXPOSITIONALLY THROUGH THE GOSPELS AND PAUL, WE WILL PREACH THE GOSPEL IN ALL THE FORMS. He showed how preaching each aspect of the Kingdom of God impacts different people. Preach stories, preach structure all of which is found when we preach the Bible. You must be able to preach all 3 passionately:
    • Incarnational Preaching – how God reveals Himself through the revelation of His Book. The only way for Hamlet to experience Shakespeare is for Shakespeare to write himself into the play…and that is exactly what God did with us (C.S. Lewis responding to Kruschev).
    • Substitutionary Preaching -
    • Return of Christ Preaching – resurrection becomes good news for the whole world that change not just lives, but even society and creation.



Rick Warren

  • Before marriage, opposites attract, after marriage opposites attack.
  • Listen to your wife. The Holy Spirit will speak through her.
  • Never compare yourself to anyone else…always someone doing it better, and always someone doing it worse…discouragement & pride.



  1. Never Stop Growing Yourself…Have Polaroid vision…the longer you look at it, the clearer it becomes.
  2. Pay attention to your family. Call it a Sabbath, not a day-off. Build your family before you build your church.
  3. You must make disciples…it takes years to grow an oak tree, you can't grow a solid sizeable church overnight…don't be interested in audience, rather be interested in raising an army.
  4. It is all about SURRENDER…what God wants is right.
  5. Develop a Kingdom mindset…learn to love not just your own church, but learn to love everybody else's too…we are not each other's competition, our competition is the world, the flesh and the devil…THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WHEREVER JESUS CHRIST IS KING!
    It is God's people doing God's will wherever. The KINGDOM OF GOD IS INEVITABLE. Every time the disciples wanted to talk about prophesy, Jesus changed the subject to EVANGELISM.
  6. Focus on building PEOPLE not THE CHURCH. As we build people, God builds the church.
  7. You must have a process, a paradigm, and plan and follow it.
  8. Acts 13:36 – David did the timeless in a timely way…served God's purpose in his generation, then He died. 8 Laws of the Spiritually Mature Church (mp3 by Warren available at )

Lenin Quote = Give me 100 totally committed men and we will change the world.

Funding Reproduction

Funding Reproduction

Tom Jones & Troy McMahon


  1. Make clear what you are going to do.
  2. Start with a team and require every member to raise funds.
  3. Branding and top-quality media to communicate who you are and what you are doing.
  4. Make an exhaustive list of individuals, churches and organizations that might support you.
  5. Once you create a list, work the list.
  6. Ask for continued support and special gifts.
  7. Have in mind what you want people to give. Ask specifically, ask for more than think you will get.
  8. Don't give up. If someone says no, ask again and keep asking.
  9. Over-communicate THANKS!
  10. Send updates regularly.
  11. Ask supporters to visit, to become personally involved, to pray.
  12. People have different pockets for different things. Be creative in trying to get people to open their pockets. (BABY CHURCH SHOWERS – for new church plants).
  13. Make goal to be self-supporting with 2 – 5 years, and communicate that to supporters.
  14. Have good receipting systems.
  15. Have fund-raising team
  16. Build fund-raising into your reproductive DNA.
2008 National New Church Conference

Link in and Find Exponential Conf Podcasts

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Expoconf – Organizing for Reproduction

Organizing for Reproduction

Alan Hirsh & Dave Ferguson


There needs to be several shifts in our church values and practices and thinking if we will become reproducing churches.

  1. Strategy Shift: Move from reactive to pro-active
    1. It's not about 80% full
    2. It's about artist and leader readiness
  2. Values Shift: Prefer
    1. New more than old
    2. Edge more than center
    3. Change more than same
    4. Lost more than found
    5. Going more than staying
    6. Multiplication more than addition
  3. Leaders move from Ministry Management to Ministry Entrepreneurship
  4. Organizing to go multisite (directors oversee these areas for each/all campuses)
    1. Arts
    2. Business
    3. Community
    4. Authority runs north and south/influence runs east and west as opposed to just our tradition silo structuring




Movements that change the world have the structure of network, not a hierarchy

  1. Individuals
  2. Cells
  3. Other organizations

One DNA that can reproduce from a single part of it. (Read the Starfish and the spider) Chop off spider's legs, it dies. Chop off the legs of the starfish, each leg growth another whole starfish. We need to create organizations that do the same. (See Pay It Forward movie as another example).

Creating a Culture of a Reproducing Church

Creating a Culture of a Reproducing Church

Jon Ferguson & Dave Dummit for notes


  • Launch new service to jumpstart reproduction, create sense of urgency that more people need to experience what we are experiencing. They did it when they still had lots of room in their worship space.


  1. A Reproducing Church Anticipates God at Work
    1. Where is God at work
    2. Where might God be dreaming and wanting to do something also
  2. A Reproducing Church Anticipates Barriers to Reproduction
    1. Organizational Structure
    2. Give campus pastors more responsibilities (not a barrier, but something that enhances)
    3. Cut back on central services, stay systemically and programmatically lean
  3. A Reproducing Church Anticipates the Future
  4. A Reproducing Church Anticipates Rising Talent
    1. Apprentices and raise up leaders to replace leaders in every area of ministry
  5. A Reproducing Church Celebrates the Present
    1. Celebrate new ministry workers
    2. Celebrate changed lives
    3. Do it publically in your worship services
    4. Regularly hold-up your workers…videos, pictures, prayers
    5. Baptisms
    6. Efforts even if they fail…they were willing to take risks. Celebrate risk-taking.
  6. A Reproducing Church Measures Key Things
    1. Christ-followers – are more becoming and growing as followers of Christ?
    2. Leaders (small group potential)
    3. Artists (large group ministry potential)
    4. Small Groups (care and community)
    5. Congregations (measures stewardship of facilities) maximize facility usage
    6. Campuses – multi-site (community impact)


Do you want to be a church that reproduces or do you want to be a reproducing church? Think through the dynamics of difference of these statements.

Alan Hirsch During Main Session

Alan Hirsch – Plenary Session of Exponential Conference '08

  • Organizations get mesmerized to conform and need a kick in the butt to change.
  • We need to recapture the apostolic form of movement which is exponential.
  • Church in the West is in decline in every setting
  • Answer not found in new things, but in going back to find something lost in our ethos


4 Areas to Recover in order to Recover the Lost or Ancient Ethos


  1. Absolute centrality of Jesus for the life of the People of the Church –
    1. Christology lies at the heart of the renewal of the Church
    2. We must radicalize in order to re-missionalize
    3. We don't look like Jesus, and we must recalibrate back to Jesus to authenticate ourselves
    4. Christology determines missiology that determines ecclesiology
    5. Jesus doesn't mix well with religion, just look at the NT… look at any church and ask "where is Jesus?"
    6. We have subverted Jesus out of Christianity (Catholics by statues, prayers, Mary, etc; many Western Evangelical Churches by our programs and structures)
      1. Rev. 3:20 – "How did Jesus get outside the church in the first place?"
      2. Christianity minus Christ equals Religion, Christianity plus Jesus equals Christianity
      3. Show me your Jesus and I will show your faith
        1. Keep the gospels from our children because if we really take the gospels seriously, they are dangerous, radical things. (He is saying this tongue in cheek to make his point) about how the gospels should really inspire radical living….isn't what Jesus really asks disturbing?)
  2. Recovery of Discipleship as our Core Task
    1. Becoming little Jesuses – embody all that he stands for
    2. Embodiment and Transformation
    3. Movements can grow only in proportion into their discipleship (Jesus himself makes it hard to join the movement)
    4. Leadership is an extension of discipleship
    5. Consumerism is killing us
  3. Recovering the Ethos/Structures of Apostolic Movements
    1. Movements are very different than institutions
    2. We need missionally responsive, culturally adaptive, organizationally agile, multiplications movements
    3. Movements are responsive to the people outside, template follows after mission, not in front of it. Movements:
      1. Mobilize the whole people of God – priesthood of believers (we have made it too professional) "Every Believer a Church Planter, Every Church Planting Churches" (Chinese mission statement)
      2. Are reproducing and reproducible
      3. Structurallly newtworked (avoid centralization of power and function)
      4. Employ Missional leadership
      5. Where are the other offices beyond "pastor" found in Eph. 4
  4. Recovering an Incarnational-Mission Impulse
    1. Missional God
    2. Requires a Missional People
    3. Living Missional Lives

This Week at Exponential Conference

I am in Orlando with 5 guys from our district and 1 from the EDA. We have had a great time of learning and being challenged by a wide variety of movement thinking from the following leaders: Ed Stetzer, Andy Stanley, Dave Ferguson, Randy Pope, Bob Roberts, Tim Keller, Rick Warren, Alan Hirsh, Neil Cole and whole host of others. Training began on Monday and continues into Thursday afternoon. I will be posting notes from some of the sessions that I have attended. The one thing you will notice is push back to real honest disciplemaking. We have those at this conference who are all about the "gig" of buildings, programs, arts, mailings, marketing, seekers, etc AND we have those of a much simpler persuasion such as house church movement. None has said that their way is the only way, so it has not been an either or conference. It has been eye opening to where we need to head back to. I will be posting not only what most of readily accept, but also insight gleaned from those who may not seem to align with many of us of a very traditional theological persuasion. I do this so that we can understand the extent of dialogue taking place all over this globe.


Allegheny District Named Church-Planting District of the Year


During this conference, our district was announced as the EFCA's Church-Planting District of the year by our National Director, George Klippenes. This is a very humbling thing to me as we have so far yet to go. I feel like it was a low bar, but maybe a pat on the back for how far we have come is in order. As I look at other districts, they have accomplished so much more than us, and I really admire these men. But we did shot hard out of the gate in this first year. Praise God for His graciousness with us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

$5000 Support Check from Trinity EFC, Amherst OH

Wendy-Jo & I, and Jeff & Kim Powell had a wonderful day of worship together with the Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Amherst, OH as they burned their mortgage. Trinity is about 14 years old and they have experienced some very great growth. With burning their mortgage, they are putting those funds toward the expansion of the great commission through American Church planting and missions. In order to celebrate the conclusion of one phase of ministry (mortgage) and the beginning of the next (church-planting and more aggressive evangelism), they had a phenomenal worship service complete with their orchestra, praise band, special musical guests from A Fresh Wind Church , releasing of a dove, great preaching by Jeff Powell, and scrumptious food. Additionally, during this service was the burning of the mortgage and the presentation of a $5000 check toward my support. They will also be adding me as a missionary for $400/month. Trinity also continues to support Jason Oesterling even beyond their original commitment and they are making plans to plant their first daughter church in Oberlin. Praise God for Pastor Arnie Fleagle, the Elders, Missions Committee, and other leaders of Trinity in Amherst.

Dansville Community Church

Dansville Community Church has developed a pretty nice website/blog. Click on either the title above or here to check it out. Way to go Derek & Joe!! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Multiplying Church - A Thought-Provoking Read

The Multiplying Church: the new math for starting new churches - by Bob Roberts Jr.

In this book Bob Roberts chronicles much of what they have been doing in their journey of planting more than 100 churches from within their own church. Challenges include: not doing informational discipleship, but, rather doing transformational discipleship; and church-planting needs to start with society in view, not the church - the thought of the Church's role not just transforming individuals, but whole communities as well.

This is a great read for any pastor or church leader who wants to see their own church become an effective church-planting church, or for any planter preparing to plant.

Updates In My Church-Planting World

It has been a little while since I have had the chance to blog. Today, I intend to update a little of what I have been up to. Here's a quick overview (report if you wish) of many of the current activities we have been working on:

Just In - Altoona calls Mark Petras. Crossroads Community Church (a church-plant/restart) has just unanimously called Mark Petras to be their planter/pastor and Mark has accepted. Mark and Kendra will be moving from Chicago in April. This church-plant could use 6 months to 1 year of financial support as they re-establish their work there. We are encouraging any Pennyslvania Ev. Free church who could take Crossroads on as a mission for the next 6 months to one year to do so. They have a wonderful facility, and a good group of people and now a pastor. We want to help them get off the runway and high into the air. Contact Mark at 630-863-2570 or at Or contact lead elder, Dave Pullen at 814-693-6775 or at

Jason & Janeen Oesterling (iKon Church, Medina, OH) - after several months of traveling between Columbus, Amherst and Medina, Jason and Janeen will be moving to Medina in April. Jason has been working 2 days a week at Trinity EFC developing small-groups, and spending the rest of his time developing iKon's strategy and core-group. They will be moving in April. Pray for the sale of their home in Columbus which has been listed in this sluggish market. Contact Jason at 330-410-3445 or at

Nate & Teri Childers (Boardman, OH) - Nate and Teri have worked diligently through our assessment process and will be attending our Bootcamp in Kansas City at the end of this month. They have traveled a few times from St. Louis to Boardman to meet with prospective core group people and some local pastors. Nate has secured at job with Mathias Media. Following Bootcamp, they will have written their Ministry Action Plan (MAP) and should be ready for final approval as an EFCA church-plant. They have been impressive in their diligence. Contact Nate at 618-567-9594 or at

Alex & Jennifer Ielase (Mt. Washington - Pittsburgh, PA) - over the past year Alex has worked diligently at completing our recommendations given to him following our assessment last year. During this time he and Jennifer have completed our Bootcamp and have written their (MAP), they are now ready for approval as an official EFCA Church-Plant. Contact Alex at 412-352-8876 or at

Dan & Teresa George (Dunkirk, NY) - in the next few weeks Dan and Teresa will be completing our assessment process. Due to timing, Dan has already completed our Bootcamp in November, and he has taken several recommendations and placed them into practice.

Dansville Community Church (Dansville, NY - Joe Becker & Derek Wadsworth) - Pray for DCC as they grow their core group and seek to secure their first facility outside of their homes. Contact Joe at 585-278-0643 or at or Derek at 585-991-3951 or at

CORE Community Church (Shelby, OH - John & Lisa Stevens) - CORE has grown to nearly the 200 mark and is in serious need of bigger facilities. Pray for them as they weigh several good options (some of which must be decided in the next few weeks). Pray for their 2 services on Easter and anticipated record crowds. Contact John at 419-571-6050 or at

Crew Community Church (Huntington, WV - Josh & Sarah Perry) - pray for the Perry's as they sell their home in Barboursville and move into Huntington. The church continues to grow. Contact Josh at 304-733-3902 or at

Bigelow Church (Portsmouth, OH - Frank Tallerico & Brian Evans) - pray for this independent church as they consider a church-planting partnership with the Allegheny District. Contact Frank at or Brian at

Trading Post 317 (Buffalo, NY - Mike & Kristie Krantz) - pray growth at Trading Post. Pray for the several people who have trusted Christ over the past year to continue to grow in their faith and knowledge in Christ. Contact Mike at 716-908-4423 or at

John & Kristine Meaux (Cleveland Area) - pray for John and Kristine Meaux as they seek employment and housing as they prepare to move from Chicago to Cleveland. They will most likely plug-in with Providence Church as they begin their planting process. They have gone through assessment and bootcamp. Contact John at 847-421-1543 or at

Larry James (Euclid, OH) - Larry is an African American brother with a church-plant. We are coming alongside of Larry and possibly others in the African-American Community (with Larry's help) to bring training and support to their already-existing ministries and consider further partnerships with the EFCA. While pastoring his church-plant and working for ATT, Larry is also attending Cornerstone (Mayfield Heights). Contact Larry at 216-246-7605 or at

Alfredo Marquez (Cleveland) - Alfredo is a hispanic brother interested in developing outreach to hispanics in the Cleveland area. He attends Providence Church. Pray for the unfolding of this opportunity in the days ahead.

Oberlein, OH - Trinity EFC in Amherst is preparing a team of people for the eventual planting of a new church in Oberlein, OH. Contact Pastor Arnie Fleagle at 440-985-2419 or at

Other Contacts: We are in the beginning phases of Discussion with Andy Albertini from Charleston, WV, Thomas Richards from Martinsburg, and Max Ulderridge from Warren, OH.

6 Attending the Exponential Church Conference in Orlando - 6 people from our district will be attending the in Orlando April 21-25. This is the premier Church-Planting Conference in the Country. If others would like to go, hit the link above to register and contact Jim to let him know. Currently slated are: Jim Culbertson, Stu White, Josh Perry, John Stevens, Jason Oesterling, and Larry James.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stay Sharp Audio Available Online

Six sessions of great theological teaching and discussion with EFCA Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing now available at

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Staying Sharp on the Doctrines of Salvation, the Spirit & the End Times (Session 1)


What makes a theologian?
  • "Prayer, meditation, and trial." - Martin Luther
  • "By theologian, I mean one who, imbued with a substantial knowledge of Divine things derived from the teaching of God Himself, declares and extols, not in words only, but by the whole course of his life, the wonderful excellences of God and thus lives entirely for His glory."..."For no one teaches well unless he has first learned well; no one learns well unless he learns in order to teach. And both learning and teaching are in vain and unprofitable, unless accompanied by practice." Herman Witsius (On the Character of a True Theologian, pg. 27-28)
  • THOUGHT - Contrast the Theology of glory with theology of the Cross.... (Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518). What are the implications of these phrases?
  • 2 Cor. 4; Jude 4; Titus 1:6; 1 Cor. 10 and the challenge to live the gospel in our lives, to live-out Christ's Lordship in our lives.
  • John M. Frame - "Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus" - The best way to define theology is as the application of the whole Bible to whole of human life.

4 Features of Christian Theology

  1. Biblically Grounded = the Biblical Text
  2. Historically Informed = contribution of church history to our development
  3. Contemporarily Engaged = contextualization (are we answering the questions being asked today or those that were asked 25 years ago?)
  4. Lived-out = practical, daily, lived-out, real-world (orthopraxy)

WESLEY said...

  1. Scripture
  2. Traditon
  3. Reason
  4. Experience

See: Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem for "How we should study Theology" p.32ff

  • With prayer and persistence
  • With humility and obedience

google....Roger Nicole "How to deal with Those Who Differ From Us"

Make our first love, Christ, and our love for the gospel second to it, then all other loves flow from there.

Concluding the Day - It was this thought: "Unity in Doctrine, Diversity in was Paul's practice thatwas flexible, not his principle. Unity in truth and appropriate principled diversity among Christians are both part of God's wonderful provision for His people."

  1. Where Scripture addresses a specific topic, we have the responsibility to study, understand and be transformed by its teaching. Whether it be matters of doctrine or principles of Christian living, we must remain committed to hearing, believing, and heeding the Word of God to us.
  2. Matters of indifference arise where the Bible specifically provides for them, or where it is silent on a particular issue. No one has the right to bind our consciences more than the Word of God.

- Greg Strand

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day 1 at Evolve

I am in Cumming, GA over the next few days for the Evolve Conference. I am here learning, connecting and representing the Evangelical Free Church of America along with a few others from our denomination. There are probably around 1000 church-planters gathered at this event of training and providing tools and best practices. This is a direct ministry of Mountain Lake Church, and the EFCA is one of its partners. MLC is about eight years old and has about 2000 in attendence. It is obviously very heavily involved in church-planting, so its impact is much much larger than its attendence indicates. By the way, many of the folks at the church became believers through the church.

I hung-out with George Klippenes, our national leader, and a few others from our National Team. We interacted with other movements leaders and with church-planters through-out the day. Coming to a conference like this makes me grateful for how far we have come; yet, it makes me realize how far we still have to go.

The 1st message of the Day was entitled - Being a Healthy Leader. The basic premise was that Being a Spiritual Leader means that we need to Disciplined Leaders. This message was by Shawn Lovejoy, founding pastor of MLC. For a great set of self assessment questions as a leader visit The question that followed was - "who wants to follow an unhealthy spiritual leader?"

The second message of the day was by a very strong young preacher named Steven Furtick, founding pastor of Elevation Church in Charolette, NC. This church was started 2 years ago and has grown to nearly 3000. or His biggest point was taken from the life of Joshua 10:14-17 and the challenge was that we must not move to mimmick others, but we must follow God from our own hearts, from our own design. No more Mr. Potato Head churches, we need leaders and churches who will follow God audaciously.

During one of the other training sessions, I attended one on giving and on Capital Campaigns. I learned several of the myths of giving, the biggest being that we should not be afraid to ask people to give to God, for from Matt. 6:19-20, we are reminded that where people's hearts are, there will there treasure be also. If we are truly spiritually concerned for people, we need to be concerned with what they treasure. Often times, people are just waiting to be asked.

I am looking forward to day 2 of this event. God is certainly beginning as great movement in our land, we certainly need it, and it is a privilege to share in it.

A Few pics below!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Link to Acts 29 "Preaching the Mission" by Mark Driscoll

Go here to view the notes and listen to the message by Mark Driscoll. The one actually given at TEDS has not been uploaded yet, but the content is basically the same.

Reflections on ACTS 29 at TEDS

I've just returned from an immensely busy but very good week at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. On Monday, the National Church Planting team met and considered several of the issues coming at us in the world of Church-Planting.

Monday Night I had a wonderful time meeting with the Meauxs and Buerhles as we considered next steps necessary for them to uproot their families and to move to Cleveland. The real desire of their heart, while they appreciate our NEO effort, is to have ONE church family in Cleveland that will become their family as they begin to move toward planting in the next few years. I am really high on John and Matt and their families. What they want is what we really want for all our church plants (in essence a healthy mother - whether it is one that actually gives birth or one that adopts them). These couples aren't necessarily looking for money or people, but relationship, encouragement, affirmation.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Acts 29 presented its form of Bootcamp...Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever, Darrin Patrick, Scott Thomas. My conclusion is that all of our planters should do this bootcamp first, then the EFCA's. Actst 29 really gets at the heart and motives more deeply than our's, but it doesn't provide the nuts and bolts that the EFCA's does. Mark Driscoll presented the BEST SEMINAR ON BIBLICAL PREACHING that I have EVER HEARD. It will probably show-up at I want to get his permission to share the outline, then link you to the podcast. Some of what he discussed really relates well to my first blog on Preaching and Life-Transformation. I look to discuss more of this in my next blog post.

During these bootcamp, I connected with Frank and Kerri Tallerico of Bigelow Church in Portsmouth, OH. Frank is the Sr. Pastor where Brian Evans is the associate. Frank and Kerri sat through our assessment with Brian and Tripp. That experience left them wondering what they really needed to do to become a church-planting church, so they came to Acts 29 as step in that process. I am looking forward to the possibility of connecting with them as they further unpackage this.

On Tuesday night our team met with the Acts 29 team and several TEDS Profs. As we shared, I was struck by the fact that many of our leaders are aware of the need to become more personally involved in living a gospel missional life. Additionally, we considered the changing landscape of the church and church-planting. Our theme was really "Reaching-out Without Selling-out". One of the interested points was that of micro-niche ministry which reaches very specific segments of society. We also talked about the need of networking across denominational and "para-church" boarders for the sake of the gospel. Also announced was the fact the Ed has joined the TEDS faculty as Associate Prof. Later that night, Mark Overmyer and I spent time with Ray Chang and some of his associates further discussing these issues.

Wednesday - Jim Hagen flew in and we conducted two assessment interviews with Mark and Kendra Petras and Nate and Teri Childers. More to come about these folks and their potential ministries. These interviews mixed with more Acts 29 and even more connections for church-planting in the Allegheny District made for an extremely long day, but a very very productive and fruitful one.

Thursday was a driving and phone day, and now I need to decompress a little, do reports, and get ready for the next flurry of activity to come. Thanks for your Prayers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

In Chicago for National CP Team and Acts 29

I am really looking forward to the next several days...reconnecting with other leaders like Mark Overmyer from New England (my roomie for the week) and with the rest of the National Church Planting Team. While here, not only are we looking at trends in church-planting, we will also be getting exposure to Acts 29, Mark Driscoll, and Ed Stetzer again.

On Monday night I reconnect with John and Christine Meaux, then on Wednesday Jim Hagen flies up from Cleveland so we can assess Mark Petras and Nate Childers...should be a tiring day, but a good one.

Just signed up at and I am james.e.culbertson. Wendy is wendy-jo.culbertson. I look forward to giving it a try tonight with my wife and kids. More as the week progresses.

Friday, January 25, 2008

All Kinds of Activity in the Allegheny District

The Allegheny District has become a whirlwind of Church-Planting activity, networking, consideration, partnerships and more. It is hard to believe that just a few short years ago we had just a few church-plants (and a few of them had been in that status for several years - like a dozen!). We have exploded into activity, and I want to invite you and your church to jump aboard the Planting Bus with Us! Here's a quick run-down of activity:

Post-Launch Plants:
  • CORE Community Church - Shelby, Ohio
  • Crew Community Church - Huntington, WV
  • Trading Post 317 - Buffalo, NY

Core- Group Gatherers:

  • iKon Church - Medina, OH
  • Dansville Community Church - Dansville, NY
  • Crossroads Community Church - Duncansville (Altoona), PA

Assessment and Ministry Action Planning Phase:

  • Nate Childers - looking at Boardman, OH
  • John Meaux - assessed and planning to move back to Cleveland from Chicago to plant with us
  • Alex Ielase - Redeemer on the Mount, Mt. Washington, Pittsburgh, PA - building his MAP and getting to know people
  • Dan George - Dunkirk, NY
  • Brian Evans - Chilicothe, OH
  • Larry James - African American - Euclid, OH
  • Alfredo Marquez - Hispanic - Cleveland West Side
  • Mark Petras - may connect to either a NEO (NorthEastOhio) Church or to Altoona

Investigation Phase:

  • Looking at a House Church Movement with a prospective planter in the Columbus Area
  • Dave Carroll - interest in Cleveland
  • David Thorne - interested in partnering with a Pittsburgh Plant (maybe Redeemer on the Mount)
  • Don Kelly - Beckley West Virginia
  • Leo Wisniewski
  • Matt Haberman - already planting Missio Dei Faith Community in Brighton Heights (North-side, Pittsburgh) - seeing how we may come along side


  • Allegheny District Church-Planting Team - working to unpackage our systems and move us into a ministry of several regions
  • Crossroads Community Church of Edinboro - Church-Planting Intern Program
  • NEO EFCA Churches - a partnership for church-planting between most of our Ohio E. Free Churches
  • Investigating a partnership for Church-Planting with Urban Impact in Pittsburgh
  • Investigating partnership with Mi-Co (Missional Cohort) in Pittsburgh
  • Connection Through Alex Ielase with the Pittsburgh Project
  • Looking at Vision 360, specifically NEO 360
  • Financial partnerships with several individuals and churches

As you can see, there is a ton going. It seems that God is moving in the AD, why not jump on board? e-mail me at We are looking for:

  • Prayer warriors
  • Core-group members
  • Church-Planting team members for individual plants (worship, children, finance, evangelism, etc)
  • Financial Partners
  • People to network people to plants
  • Regional Church Partnerships

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Planters and Partners

God's Work in the City

Yesterday I enjoyed 3 meetings in Pittsburgh. First I met with Alex Ielase who is starting Redeemer on the Mount on Mt. Washington. I absolutely love the way that Alex is approaching his ministry...getting to know people, meeting needs and developing a vision of a ministry that helps people learn to love Jesus and to love others in tangible ways. It is not the typical planting approach that has been popularized over the years, but it is an approach that is growing in its appeal as it is truly reaching lost people.

Later in the morning I met with Jeff Hartings of Urban Impact. Not only is Jeff a former Steelers All-pro Center, but more importantly, he is a man who loves Jesus and who loves the city. He has come to realize the gift that God has given him in allowing him to be a Steeler. That title opens doors of opportunity for ministry advancement. We talked at length about what Urban Impact is doing in the city. I would like to see our local churches take advantage of plugging into some of their summer ministry service projects (rather than go over seas, stay right here at home in our district and learn to love the city. One of the things that UI is looking at is planting in the city flowing out from their ministry. They are not sure that they should plant or look for someone to come along side them....could be us? Needless to say, I had a great time of ministry fellowship with Jeff and look forward to many more opportunities for ministry partnership.

In the afternoon I met with Matt Haberman of Missio Dei Faith Community in Brighton Heights. We met at The Vault, a coffee shop Matt works at. He shared with me their strategy and their struggles. One of the truly beautiful things are the yet "unchurched" people who are learning to love Matt as their Pastor as he has hosted block parties and soup night for their neighbors every Thursday night. I am looking forward to further developing a relationship with all three of these ministries and other tenticles of networking that flows out from them.

God is at work doing something in the city of Pittsburgh. It make not look like what we in Suburbia have become accostumed to, but it is a very beautiful thing that we need to grow to understand and embrace and support and minister in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Preaching and Life Transformation

I travel about working with both existing churches and new church starts and with people who, while they have not lost interest in Jesus, have lost interest in church. The reasons for this are quite varied and the debate about not "watering down the message" continues. As I am perplexed in what I see and the continuing downward trends in American Churchianity, I am asking why? I invite you to weigh in on this discussion.

We can talk about relativity. We can talk about music and buildings and systems and authenticy and being the church beyond the walls and the hypocrisy that many outside the faith point to (and which many of us who are followers of Christ actually live). My more recent musings have related specifically to our role as preachers or teachers or speakers or communicators or whatever we may wish to be called.

Recently, I have been contemplating the focus of our preaching. While I am 100% committed to teaching of God's Word, I am wondering if we are missing the mark in our approach? Are we preaching and teaching for life transformation or simply so that people will learn more information which we hope they will eventually find a way to apply. What approach should we take in our proclamation of God's Word...exegitical - through the text, topical expositional? Most people don't even know what these words mean. To me the issue is a two-directional thing - connecting people with God's Word and connecting God's Word with people. I am certainly not one for pop-psychology in the pulpit, nor for reading a section of Scripture and then building a sermon that has nothing to do with the text. The real issue is connecting it to life. Even Doctrine, properly taught connect with life. In fact, without good doctrine, we run the risk of mis-aligning our lives. Good doctrine is the footer (cement in nature) on which we build all the rest. For me, even the very nature of God is practical. His attributes give credence to life and to faith.