Thursday, March 31, 2011

High Payoff Activities

In Becoming a Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavy points out each of us contributes something unique to our organization.  He refers to these as “high payoff activities.”  These are the things that each of us offers that “bring the greatest value to your organization, team, or customer.”  Harkavy argues, of course, that we should seek to maximize these skills for the benefit of ourselves and others.

The big challenge for ministerial leaders is identifying these activities and then giving them priority.  Most pastors would argue that preaching is a key activity that has great consequences in the life of the congregation.  The pastor is most highly visible when it comes time to step into the pulpit and share a word (hopefully) from the Lord.  I rarely find a pastor, however, who does not recount how hard it is to find the time to read, study, and pray in order to prepare their sermons.  Too many other things get in the way.  There are few things that a pastor does, however, that have the impact of preaching.

Another place where pastors can have a great deal of leverage if they invest themselves purposefully is in working with staff members or volunteer leaders in the church.  Whether you call it supervision, mentoring, coaching, or just leading, seminaries do not often prepare ministers for this task.  Because of this, many do not see it as important, but the investment made in the lives of others can pay off for years to come.

Although some congregants might not think of it as a “high payoff activity,” the time that the pastor spends with her or his family is crucial.  For a married pastor, time spent in nurturing a healthy relationship with spouse and children is never wasted.  For the single minister, there is also a value in committing to “family time” whether it is with extended family members or close friends.  Such time is rewarded with a healthy awareness of one’s humanity and personhood that balances some of the draining challenges of leading a congregation.

An often neglected “high payoff activity” is personal time spent with God.  The pastor who does not nourish his or her relationship with God will find that “the spring dries up” and there is nothing left to quench one’s thirst.  No matter how much time one spends studying scripture for preaching and teaching, it is also important to let God speak to you through reflection on holy texts and in prayer.

What are your “high payoff activities” and how are you leveraging them?  Wise choices can make a big difference in your life and ministry.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trust the People

Several years ago, a friend shared an interesting story with me about a community development organization in his area, an area with a great deal of poverty and unemployment, but also an area where many people of means choose as a place to retire.  The newcomers saw the needs in the community and organized a program to meet them, but in setting up their board they did not invite any long term local residents as directors.  They feared that these indigenous people really did not know what was needed to respond to local needs.  Of course, my friend noted, who knew the issues better than those who were forced to live with them each day of their lives?

In missions and ministry, Christians have often adopted a paternalistic mindset characterized by a belief that those of us who are the “professionals” and have been doing this longer know what the uninitiated or immature believers need.  Fortunately, many mission and ministry strategists are starting to see the need to make those who are the “field” part of the team.  The insights and ownership of those who are part of the culture are essential to advancing the cause—winning converts, establishing churches, building houses, improving food production, or providing basic needs.

In the community development area, we see this approach in asset-based mapping or asset-based community development.  This methodology seeks to discover and utilize the strengths within communities as a means for sustainable development.  As one writer outlines this, “The first step in the process of community development is to assess the resources of a community through a capacity inventory or through another process of talking to the residents to determine what types of skills and experience are available. The next step is to support communities, to discover what they care enough about to act. The final step is to determine how citizens can act together to achieve those goals."

In church development, this is the type approach championed by Neil Cole in practice and in books like Organic Church.  The basic idea is to start a new work from scratch, seeking out the “persons of peace” or influence in an area, investing time in them, challenging them to conversion and discipleship, thus winning over those who are part of the culture and are already strategically placed to reach others.

The key concept in both cases is to realize that God is already at work among all people.  God has created every person with certain gifts and talents.  If properly encouraged, these individuals will take responsibility to improve their circumstances, share the faith, or make a difference in their culture.  This approach requires patience, discernment, and love, but it provides the biggest pay-off in people’s lives.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No, Seminaries are Not Dying

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt begins his blog post with this sentence:  “Our seminaries are dying and the Master of Divinity degree has been discredited.”  He goes on to recite all of the problems with contemporary theological education, especially from his perspective as an Episcopalian, but also suggests some ways to revise the system.

I am sure that Dr. Schmidt has specific situations and examples in mind.  I know enough about the ministerial preparation processes in various denominations to know that they often operate much like the Marine Corps, seeking out only “the few, the proud, etc.”  These processes are often more concerned about winnowing out the weak and uncertain than equipping the called.  Of course, I come from a Free Church tradition that is all over the map on theological education.  Many Baptist churches will call a pastor if he (yes, I do mean to use the male pronoun) looks good, sounds good, has an attractive family, and enjoys potlucks.  Whether he has a theological degree is not really important, but if he has some kind of diploma that helps a bit.

Certainly there is need for a balance.  Churches and theological institutions must partner to encourage and equip those who are called to ministry, a point that Schmidt makes very well.  This is in the best interests of both entities.

 Some of Schmidt’s ideas are workable, but he proposes that “a residential model of focused, face-to-face education and formation in the faith is the best means of preparing a generation of thoughtful, faithful servants of the Gospel.”  He understands that for this to happen, “the church should . . . make resources available for all those who do pursue the church's ministry to avail themselves of that face-to-face formation.

In reality, churches and denominations are not going to provide those resources.  They are already starving their institutions or cutting them free.  Central Baptist Theological Seminary, among other institutions, recognizes this reality and has adopted a strategy that provides theological education where students are already involved in ministry.  These students do enter into face-to-face relationships with faculty and other students as part of their preparation but without uprooting themselves to another part of the country for three or four years of preparation and then trying to reconnect with the type of ministry in which they are already involved.  They have the opportunity for contextual education supported by gifted and committed professors who understand the local church.

In the best of all worlds, Rev. Schmidt’s ideas might work, but we are not part of that world.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Real, Live Missionaries

I still have the newspaper clipping inviting readers to come to a local Baptist church and hear “a real live missionary.”  Some of my earliest heroes were missionaries.  I grew up with a high regard for them, whether they served in the United States or overseas.  I can remember when I was a college student and had the opportunity to actually host a missionary who had served in Africa and to take her to dinner.  I bombarded her with questions about the country where she served and the work she did, and she graciously responded with information and insights about the people she served and loved.  To many in my generation, being a “real, live missionary” was the highest calling a Christian could attain.

Times have changed and the way that we do missions is certainly changing.  Although we have been encouraged by leaders in recent years to “keep your mission gifts coming or we will have to bring the missionaries home,” the truth is that most denominations can no longer sustain the missionary enterprises they once supported.  This is certainly not the end of world missions, but the way we do missions must be reconsidered.  There are any number of options available.

Some believe that missions is now the responsibility of the local congregation.  The “golden age” of world missions actually began with mission societies and fellowships that were not part of the churches but sought their support to put missionaries on the field.  After a time, denominations took the lead in missions and simply asked the churches to provide the people, money, and prayers to keep the endeavor going.  In the 21st century, churches—especially larger congregations—can actually “do” missions themselves.  They do not want someone far away making the decision about where they mission dollars will go and where their mission projects will be done.  Although they sometimes seek denominational support, many churches are taking the initiative to put missionaries or even entire missionary teams on the field.  Some congregations are, in reality, becoming mission boards in their own right.

Of course, some individuals who feel a call to a particular mission develop their own mission boards or organizations to respond to the need.  They are entrepreneurs who discover the place of need, develop the strategies to respond to that need, and then mobilize the resources to accomplish the mission.  A hybrid of this approach is the individual or couple who discern a calling to a particular ministry, find a missions organization that does that type of work, then raises their own support from family and friends to become part of the organization’s work.

Perhaps one of the more radical approaches (but by no means unusual in this day) is adopted by those who take seriously the idea that every Christian has a missionary calling and seek to insert themselves in places where they can live, work, and be the presence of  Christ in that situation.  Like the Apostle Paul, they are tentmakers who pursue their secular vocation in a place where they can also follow their vocation of being a believer.  In a global economy, this approach is becoming even more attractive and feasible.

What other options are out there for those who recognize not only the barriers but the opportunities in our world?  I have no doubt that God continues to call men and women to go to places where the Gospel has not been heard, but the way that they go about it is certainly changing.  What is the spirit of God saying to us?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do You Really Want a Woman in the Pulpit?

Pam Durso, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, recently shared a very positive report on this year’s Martha Stearns Marshall month of preaching.  This initiative encourages churches to invite a woman to preach on one Sunday in February and share that information with BWIM.  Durso reported that 183 churches hosted female preachers this year, up from 107 last year.

I wonder if churches are really ready for this.  If a church chooses to invite a woman to fill the pulpit, there may be some unexpected consequences (please note that I write this with tongue firmly inserted in cheek and a twinkle in my eye).

For example, congregants might be forced to confront their prejudices that a woman cannot preach.  Of course, since most Baptists in the south have never heard a woman preach (even though women give “devotionals” and “testimonies” very often), they really don’t know whether a woman can preach or not but avoid assuming that is even a possibility!  The experience might be life transforming.  

Another danger is that the woman speaker may provide an insight into scripture that the audience has not heard before.  Because of her background, the preacher may bring life experiences that will illuminate the text in a new way.  Hearers might even be brought closer to God.

Perhaps we should give some consideration that the congregation, usually more than half of whom are usually female, might actually identify with the preacher in a new and unique way.  I know some great men preachers, but I wonder what impact it has on women in a congregation to hear a man preach every Sunday but to never hear a woman preach.  If having a woman take up the offering and serve the Lord’s Supper is encouraging to our female children and young women, what would having a woman preach mean to them?

The big concern is that once we hear a woman preach, we might actually want more.  This would open the door to pulpit committees giving serious consideration to female candidates for pastor.   This would increase the competition for “senior pastor” positions (yes, I know that term is never used in the New Testament) and there are only so many good spots to go around as there is. 

So, if your church considers inviting a woman to preach, be prepared for the consequences.  It could well change your church.

Saint Patrick: Legend and Inspiration

Today many will celebrate the life of Saint Patrick of Ireland with green shamrocks, green clothing, green beer, and even green rivers.  The day has become a time to celebrate the mythos of Eire, the Emerald Isle, and to party, but we can also take advantage of the day to take a second look at Patrick the churchman and his legacy.

As one might expect, much of the story of Patrick is shrouded in myth. The accepted story is that he was kidnapped from Britain by Irish raiders when he was 16 and taken to Ireland where he was a slave for six years.  He eventually escaped and returned to his family, but he took vows with the Church and returned to his place of enslavement as a missionary.  He is credited with converting the island to the Christian faith.  By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

The genius of Patrick seems to have been his ability to contextualize the faith in order to win converts.  He took advantage of the well-developed stories, customs, and institutions of Ireland to present the Gospel in a powerful way.  So significant was this approach that it gave birth to what we call Celtic Christianity, a movement that differentiated itself from the Roman form of the faith for centuries.

 In his book The Celtic Way of Evangelism, George Hunter identifies several aspects of this approach:

·         A team strategy.  The followers of Patrick usually worked in cohorts for mutual support and encouragement.
·         Spiritual empowerment from a community of believers.  Celtic Christian created a number of “foundations” (also called houses or monasteries) that became centers of civilization and learning as well as evangelism.
·         Imaginative prayer.  They took seriously the world around them as a gift from God and immersed themselves in its beauty and power as a means of becoming closer to God.
·         Hospitality.  They readily accepted seekers, guests, and refugees into their midst.
·         A conversion model based on fellowship.  Whereas the Roman model could be summarized as believe, belong, and practice, the Celtic model was belong, practice, and then believe.

How much of this can be credited to Patrick is by no means clear, but accounts testify to him as a man of both commitment and creativity.  Patrick and his followers seemed to show a love and respect for their fellows which built a bridge over which unbelievers could cross without fear.  Mythic or not, the example is inspiring to believers in the 21st century.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

From Programs to People

When you begin planning in your church, what is your beginning point?  For too many years, the beginning point has been, “What does the denomination have for us?”  Churches simply adopted the latest denominational program and plugged it into their congregation whether it fit or not.  The same mistake is made today by those who surf the Internet looking for new and attractive programs and choose them for the congregation based on their authors or their graphic design without regard for the realities of the church’s members and its context.    

I hope that we are making from progress when it comes to church planning and are moving from the mindset of “Here is what we have for you. Come and plug into it” to “Where are you in your Christian journey and how can we help you live for Christ each day?”  The difference is between an industrial approach and an organic approach.  The industrial, “one size fits all” approach assures church members that an activity is good for them and they should join without any questions asked.  The organic model assumes that each person is unique in the eyes of God and has special needs and opportunities.

Now some will say that they begin their planning process with the Bible.  If you mean by that you are taking seriously God’s concern for people, I can go along.  God certainly has worked with a quirky group of people in the past, recognizing their abilities and handicaps.  The Bible is candid about this and testifies to the unique ways in which God has worked with people in the past.  The challenge is just as real today!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Real Talk

 In recent months, I have become aware of people in our congregation who have significant ministries in the community:
·         the lawyer who volunteers with the domestic violence center;
·         the former heart patient who spends time each week visiting heart patients and sharing insights about how to live with their disease;
·         the busy mother who tutors at-risk children;
·         the business person who finds himself the “chaplain” in his workplace.

This is what missional Christians do; they serve in the world. These are not church-sponsored activities. These are ministries that they have identified and pursued.

In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal notes: “People don’t go to church; they are the church. They don’t bring people to church; they bring the church to people.” Wherever a believer is, there the church is present.

Ministry takes place in many contexts—community service, the workplace, the home, the coffee shop.  The challenge for the church is to give members the permission to seek out and pursue their ministries in the world. We value what people do within the walls of the church through recognition, training, and encouragement, but we fail to do that for those who are doing Kingdom work outside the walls. The traditional church needs to find ways to bless and equip the daily ministries of our members.

The People Development Team in our church believes that God is always at work in the world and invites us to join in that activity.  We want to help church members become what God has called them to be (self-awareness) and develop strategies to live that out (through skill development and personal growth development).  Our theme verse is “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10b, NASB)

One of the ways that we can learn more about how our church members are living out their witness each day and how we can help them in those efforts is the “Real Talk” session.  We picked up the core of this idea from McNeal’s book.  During this 45-60 minute session, a member of our team meets with a group in our church (such as a Sunday school class) and asks members to respond to these questions:

·         What do you enjoy doing? 
·         Where do you see God at work in your everyday life?
·         What would you like to see God do in your life over the next six to twelve months? How can the church help? 
·         How might God be working through you to serve others?  How can the church help?  How can we pray for you?

Participants will be asked to respond in writing and to discuss their responses in a small group setting.  Our ultimate goal is to develop people rather than programs, so we start where the people are rather than assuming we know what is best for them.

We think it is an exciting idea and look forward to what we will learn from those in our fellowship.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lead from Your Strengths, But . . .

One of the concepts of leadership that I have found helpful in recent years is the idea of leading from your strengths.  This approach is based on that idea that God has gifted each of us in special ways.  Each believer has particular spiritual gifts, skills, backgrounds, and experiences that make that person unique.  Because of this, there are certain things that person can do in the Kingdom of God that others cannot do.

If this is true, why would we want to spend time identifying our weaknesses and trying to improve on them?  No matter how much I work on it, I am not going to be an accomplished musician.  I do not have the temperament or skills and it is a little late in life for me to begin!  This is not meant as an excuse to revel in complacency or irresponsibility; rather, it emphasizes that we can be more productive if we build on what God had already given us.  God has “wired us up” in a particular way, so let’s make the most of it.

This is the basic thesis of Marcus Buckingham, Albert Winseman and others whose research and writing encourages us to identify our strengths and to make the best use of them.  You can find more about this in Living Your Strengths and Now, Discover Your Strengths.  

Although I support this approach, I was reminded that exercising this approach requires a certain amount of wisdom and humility.  Terry Linhart of Bethel Seminary makes this point:  “Your gifting has a shadow where your greatest weakness lives.” When we operate out of our strengths, we need to recognize that in doing so we are leaving some other things undone.  You may be a great people person, but someone has to balance the books, for example.  Or you may like to take care of the “behind the scene” details but someone needs to provide encouragement to the staff.  We need to know where our “blind spots” are.  The danger comes in not recognizing the vacuum that may be left even though you are using your strengths to the greatest advantage.

Certainly this is reminder that we need other people on our team.  They not only keep us sharp, but they can deal with the things that may be left undone otherwise.  Although each part of the Body of Christ is unique, each and every one is necessary for the Body to be whole.

Friday, March 11, 2011

“Value-Added” Believers

We often talk about improving the world, but what are we doing to improve ourselves?  In Becoming a Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavy writes:

As a coaching leader, you need to figure out how your product or service connects to some larger contribution.  How does it help people to gain a higher quality of life?  How does it enable them to operate more efficiently, contribute to their health, improve their outlook, or enrich their relationships?  Regardless of your business, you must identify what need you’re serving that helps to improve the world.

Although Harkavy is not specifically writing for a Christian audience or for church leaders, his point is still applicable.  How does what we are doing help others move further along on their relationship to God?  What is the “value added” dimension of our work as lay or clergy leaders in a faith community?

My suggestion is that one of the most important “services” that we can provide to others is to help them grow in discipleship—becoming the women and men that God is calling to be. This will happen only with encouragement from a significant person in an individual’s life.   In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal states, “Genuine spirituality lives and flourishes only in cultures and relationships of accountability.”  Of course, our ultimate accountability is to God, but we can create and accept accountability structures in our lives that will help us to become more mature followers of God.

Those of us who aspire to this role are challenged to “practice what we preach.”  Every one who is a spiritual leader needs a mentor, coach, or “spiritual friend” to provide support and accountability for the journey. 

As we begin the observance of Lent in preparation for the celebration of  Resurrection Sunday, what better time to reflect anew on committing ourselves to becoming the people that God has freed us to be? 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ask a Fool

The role of the fool or court jester in medieval history is a fascinating concept. This person, who was either mentally deficient or acted that way, was employed to tell jokes and provide general entertainment by a monarch.  The fool could say or do things that no one else would attempt.  He provided a slightly cockeyed view of the world.  Of course, the role has been romanticized by authors like Shakespeare, so we are not sure exactly how much latitude the court fool really had!

Sometimes we need a person like that to help us clarify our plans and get a new perspective on a project.  Too often we are limited by our own experiences and preconceived ideas. We need people who can think “outside the box” and encourage us to do the same.  Where do we find these people?

One possibility is the novice, one who is new to the field and is unencumbered by the expectations and presuppositions that we as “experts” bring to the table.  In his book The Medici Effect, Frans Johansson points out that one research team made it a point to integrate undergraduates with graduate researchers and professors into their work.  One professor noted, “They have different ideas, ideas that we have become too blind to see.  Many of these ideas turn out to be very good.”  They are not smarter, but they see things differently.  Don’t be afraid to bring new church members onto your team.  Their naiveté may be enlightening.

Another possibility is to share your ideas with an outsider.  We often tend to succumb to “groupthink” when we are part of a cohesive group that is seeking to reach consensus with minimal conflict.  A potentially negative consequence of group cohesion is a fear of upsetting the equilibrium of the group.  We can overcome this block by asking an outsider either to observe our group process or come in and give a fresh perspective on our finished project.

Finally, we might want to expose our decision to a skeptic.  I know that many times our working teams are already “blessed” with skeptics.  The most valuable skeptics are not those who tell us it won’t work but who explain WHY it won’t work.  These people may become obsessed with details and plans and can kill the creative process if engaged too early, but they can help to refine an idea or product before the team finalizes it.  Many church planning approaches fail because they don’t get these people
“into the tent” (or on the committee or team) from the beginning.  You are going to have to answer their questions eventually so make that part of the process.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn explains that “almost always [those] who achieve . . . fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change.”  If you really want to be creative, seek out those who can provide a new way of seeing.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Emerging Adulthood

As friends were saying goodbye to their sons and daughters leaving home to attend college last fall, I made the comment, “Don’t worry. They’ll be back.”  Many of us who know and love young adults can expect that at some point we will experience the phenomena of a return to the nest for some period of time.  This seems to be a rather new thing and many of us are struggling to not only understand it but to live with it!

I gained some new insight last week when I attended the C3:  Christ, Church, Culture Conference at St. George’s Episcopal Church.   I was introduced to a new area of sociological research by Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.  Smith runs the National Study of Youth and Religion, a longitudinal study  funded by the Lilly Foundation designed to identify the “dispositional culture” of this age group—beliefs, values, norms, assumptions, etc.

Many in the initial study group are now in their twenties.  Smith’s research provides some key insights about a cohort that is called “emerging adulthood.”  Sociologists are suggesting that those in the 18-29 age group today are part of a new stage in transition to “real adulthood.”  “Real adults” in this thinking are married, have children, and are employed in their first “real job.”

Emerging adults have postponed their entry into adulthood due to a number of factors.  Here are some suggested by Smith:

·         Expansion of higher education in the 20th century.
o   More than one-half of high school graduates go to college (but only a small number actually finish).
o   BA/BS graduates are encouraged to continue with education—MBA, etc.
·         Delayed age of first marriage and childbirth.
·         Macro-economic changes requiring flexibility and mobility.
·         Substantial parental support well into their 20s.
·         The pill and ready accessibility to contraceptives.
·         Cultural saturation of mass-consumer entertainment.
·         Influence of postmodern relativism and skepticism.

Smith helped me to see that this “emerging adult” stage is a reality, something new on the human developmental cycle.  Smith suggests that members of this group are generally pessimistic about the future of society, but they have great hope for their own potential success.

The church has a tremendous challenge in learning how to minister during this time of turmoil and opportunity, especially since this significantly extends the period before cohort members “settle down” and consider bringing their children to church.    Thank you, Dr. Smith, for sharing your insights.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thinking about the Future

Churches spend a lot of time on visioning processes and strategy planning.  Of course, sometimes these are a waste of time and effort.  The work is done and put on the shelf, leadership changes, or the ministry context changes due to unforeseen circumstances (economics, demographics, etc.).  This does not mean that we should not think about the future and the opportunities that God will provide in coming days, months, and years.  There are always open doors for those who look for them.

In his e-book The Knight and the Gardener, futurist Cassidy Dale writes:

The future cannot be “won” for any one party, group, nation, or religion.  Instead, the longer term we think, the more we realize we can only enable good futures to emerge by building robust capacities for people to solve problems we cannot yet foresee.

Dale suggests that rather than pursuing a simple “problem-solving” approach, we should seek to discover a “meme”—a contagious idea—or a “metaidea”—an idea that enables other ideas to arise.  This approach enlarges our vision and opens our eyes to previously unseen possibilities.

There have been many of these throughout history.  I would submit that putting the Bible in the vernacular language of the people was such an idea, one which had unexpected consequences even for those who translated and printed those early versions.  In contemporary times, the free flow of information on the Internet through Facebook, Twitter, and other applications has had unexpected consequences for authoritarian regimes around the world.

What “meme” or “metaidea” will transform your ministry by increasing your capacity to dream or conceptualize?  Just thinking about this approach can open new doors for you.  This is a good time to move beyond processes and programs to powerful ideas.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Church Planting: Common Concerns

Planting a new church is not for the faint of heart!  You need all the friends you can get.  I am currently working with two friends to develop a teleconference peer group for church planters.  When I made contact with one potential participant, he expressed some concern that his church was different and he might not necessarily fit with the group.

As I have continued to encourage this church planter to join our group, I have realized that every church start, like every church, is unique with its own story and special challenges. No two church plants or churches are exactly alike!   Even so, there are some things that all church planters do have in common.

First, each church planter has to not only champion but nurture the vision for the new church.  Whether the desire is to reach a particular geographic area, a specific demographic group, or propagate a particular ministry, someone (hopefully the planter) initially discovered and embraced that vision.  Now he or she must nurture it to reality.

Second, a church planter always deals with the discovery and proper use of resources.  These include time, people, finances, and space (among other things).  Finding and mobilizing these resources is often a test of faith!

Third, every church planter should be concerned about self-maintenance.  This includes his or her personal spiritual development, family life, health, and financial stability.  Failure to pay proper attention to any of these will result not only in the failure of the church plant but deep and lasting personal failure as well.

Fourth, a church planter always works toward developing a community.  The church plant may start with the pastor and the pastor’s spouse, but it will only become viable when others chose to make the new church their faith community—the place that will seek and serve God.

Whether a person is planting a church in an urban setting, a small rural community, or a resort community, these are the key things with which he or she struggles and it is good to have fellow travelers to share the struggle.