Episode 045: What is ‘Multi-Congregational’? (Part 1)

In this episode (the first of two) we sit down to talk about the multi-congregational model New Life has developed over the last several years—why we did it, how it works, and what opportunities and challenges it presents.

 

 

PART 1 SHOW NOTES

 

We stumbled into this, quite honestly… we knew we had a deep bench of teachers and preachers on our staff and we needed to infiltrate our city…

 

Brady was really taking a risk with me… he gave me a space to experiment and grow…

 

For us, we decided that the church should look more like a family model than a franchise… we wanted to create an environment for our “children” to thrive within their strengths…

 

We had a burden for a location and a leader who was willing to go… you have to have that… if the leader isn’t called to the location, it won’t work long-term…

 

I am not suggesting that everyone do it the way we did it… it requires a lot of vulnerability, a lot of honest conversation, and a great deal of trust… if you don’t have that, don’t even try…

 

All of us had to agree that when we had aggravations, we were going to talk about them… most relationships fall apart because we don’t know how to deal with conflict… this model is ripe with potential conflict…

 

We believe that to be a pastor is to be attentive to place, to the soil of where you’re planted… and so we CENTRALIZE our administrative [functions] but we CONTEXTUALIZE ministry…

 

If you’re in a church where you have a group of friends and you’re wondering how to expand, then this model will work for you… but if you’re in a church where you don’t have any preachers or teachers, this model is not for you… you need to spend a lot of time building relationship with each other…

 

The flip side of this is that we need to get clarity where clarity is possible… financials, percentages, benchmarks for hiring, etc.… you need to work that out as much as you can…

 

The tension came in when New Life Downtown was bringing in enough money to sustain them separately from us… so we came up with some percentages that would keep Glenn motivated and also kept finances coming back to us…

Episode 044: The Pastor in Relationship

In this episode, we sit down to talk about the kinds of relationships pastors need to cultivate in order to live and lead from a healthy place.

 

This is particularly tricky for young pastors or church planters… on one level, this is the last question you think about – who’s leading me, who’s caring for me?

 

Part of the reason this is so tricky is that there’s a power differential here… it can make it tricky to know what you’re seeing with people… are people drawing near to us because they care for us, or because they need us?

 

Only recently have I begun to think about the kinds of relationships I need… it’s not just about “having friends”… maybe we need to think of the pastor like Frodo Baggins… on the quest, you need several different kinds of people around you…

 

We need relationships inside the community certainly, but also relationships outside the community in order to stay healthy… keeping this in the right balance is crucial…

 

There’s already a distance between the pulpit and the pew in the very first interaction that people have with us… sometimes we unwittingly increase that gap… but we can also intentionally decrease that distance…

 

A spiritual director is someone that you see not exclusively when you’re in crisis… they are someone to help you see and pay attention to what is going on in your life, and even to bear witness to that…

 

What happens to us when we don’t have real relationships is that we become a parody of ourselves… we start being our persona and cease being the person God made us to be…

 

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are still the best index of whether or not we are healthy…

 

Episode 043: Why Church?

In this episode, we sit down to talk about the role of the local church in the life of the believer. In a time when many people see participation in the local church as optional, we try to answer the question, “Why Church?”

 

 

I don’t know how we got here but it certainly is a different day… many feel that they can practice their faith in other ways [than being part of a local church]… and it didn’t used to be like that… it used to be that this was the neighborhood and this is where we go to church…

 

The church used to be the place that held many community concerns together, and as a society develops you have more groups that handle parts that the church held… which then reduces the things that the church feels specifically responsible for…

 

It’s our job to ask the question whether we are teaching people accidentally whether their physical presence with us is not necessary…

 

There are so many reasons why the research says people go to church… but the reason that’s never listed is, “Because I am a Christian” or “Because I got baptized…” we need to recover the sense that the church is a PEOPLE… what we offer is not a religious product, but what we offer is OURSELVES…

 

We’ve taught people to say that church is about YOUR relationship with God, YOUR experience with God… instead of saying that “Church is how God forms US as a family…”

 

The church has the unique opportunity to restore a sense of family and village and comradery that has been lost in society today… it is the place where we can call out names in a depersonalizing and lonely world…

 

We need to tell people what the church IS… people come with their own paradigms and conceptions… we need to say to people that the church is a whole different kind of thing and help them practice it…

 

Pastors need to draw attention as often as possible to the common life of the community of faith as the place where the sermon lands… the church rising up in the uniqueness of its common life is what makes the church interesting in the first place…

 

We live in a world that wants to talk about the omnipresence of the divine… and the church stands up and says, “Yes, God is present everywhere, but he is particularly present here… Come home to the Father’s house…”

Special Episode: Remembering Eugene

In this special episode we sit down to talk about the life and legacy of Eugene Peterson.

 

 

First, I think Eugene’s generosity of spirit [most marks me]… he should have never let me into his life, but he did… he’s a pastor…

 

Eugene’s commitment to the life of the mind [also marks me]… from 6am to 11am every day he would lock himself in his study to be with the Lord and his own mind… and then would spend the rest of the day at church with open office hours till 5pm…

 

These days people read blogs… Eugene spent 25 hours a week diving deep and then produced for the world… that inspires me as a pastor not to cut corners…

 

Most of us discovered Eugene when the Message version of the Bible came out… it introduced us to this man and awakened our curiosity… and then we couldn’t get enough…

 

When I went out to see Eugene in 2010, a lot of my questions were about the pastoral vocation I saw in his books, which I was having difficulty reconciling with my context… the thing that stuck with me about my visit was that Eugene said that there was no perfect context to do ministry…

 

Eugene taught me not to romanticize or idealize small church… demonic activity happens there as everywhere… you need to learn the prevailing idolatry of your place and stand against it…

 

I love the story of why Eugene wrote the Message Bible… he wrote it for his Sunday school class… he rewrote the book of Galatians for his class, and found it was helpful to younger people who were coming to faith in his church…

 

What I find interesting about the Message was that he did it for the sake of his congregation and not to sell books… it’s almost like the Lord winked at him and said, “Because you care about my bride, I’m gonna bless this…”

 

Eugene would say that busyness is an illness of the spirit… that it is a violence against time… when I heard that I thought it wasn’t possible [to do ministry that way in my context]… but I’ve learned that you can…

 

The last time I was with Eugene I told him of the impact he has had at New Life… of the transformation we’ve experienced because we were reading him… so much of who we are and what we’re doing is because of him… I wanted him to know that the church is listening to him…

Episode 042: Creating Robust Community

In this episode, we sit down to talk about the practical challenge of creating a robust sense of community in our local churches.

 

 

The American church is getting drawn into a culture that celebrates celebrity and entertainment and entertainment-type gatherings… a lot of [pastors] fall into the trap of trying to attract customers rather than building community…

 

Most pastors are struggling with building small groups and community inside their churches, no matter the size… we’re facing some headwinds…

 

The first headwind is that we’re becoming very tribal… to find places where you belong is challenging if you don’t believe like everyone else… it’s taken over so much that pastors are afraid to disagree even with their own congregation…

 

The second headwind is that we’re all transplants… we don’t live around family any more… America has become very mobile…

 

The third headwind is that we’re busy… and the fourth headwind is that we’re hurt… many of us bring pain from past church relationships with us into our new church and have made inner vows that we’re not going to get close to church people anymore…

 

One of the things we need to do is just greet people well… BE NICE… we work really hard at greeting people… the initial greeting can break down walls…

 

We also need to help people find friends and be known in the church… people often don’t get what they need in the church because they don’t know who to ask… they need someone that they can talk to if they are struggling…

 

Finally, we need to help people find mentors… the generational gap in our culture is growing… one of the beautiful things that we’re working at is creating intergenerational connections…

 

Every gathering needs to be relational… create space for “linger” moments where people can connect… create fuel for ongoing conversations… and then invite and train people to lead…

 

Leading for community requires margin and space within your calendar to be relational… the moments sneak up on you… and if your calendar is so full that you can’t be interrupted, then you’re too busy as a leader…

 

At the end of the day we have to remember that we are not the administrators of a large program… we’re entering into life with people… we’re trying to be a community that is running at the purposes of God…

 

This is not easy… it has to be intentional, and it can’t be programmed… friendly, relational pastors produce friendly, relational churches…

Episode 041: The Art of Making Big Decisions – Eight Questions to Ask

In this episode, we sit down to discuss eight questions leaders should ask themselves as they follow the Lord’s leading through big decisions.

 

 

[You can see Pastor Brady’s Eight Questions at the bottom of the podcast notes. If you are able, it might be helpful to view these while listening!]

 

I’m finding that seminaries are turning out great preachers and teachers… but by their own admission they have fallen short in preparing young men and women for the entrepreneurial [aspects of pastoring]… A lot of pastors make big mistakes that cost them equity with their congregations…

 

A lot of people have a “good idea” and THEN they pray about it… it can be hard to talk yourself out of a good idea… the best ideas come when we are in prayer—they don’t start with us…

 

I need to check my motives and be self-aware… what is motivating me to do this… is God really leading me to do this…? In Acts, the Scripture says that “it seemed good to them,” and then they prayed some more…

 

I know God is leading me to do it when I can’t do it on my own, when it requires faith, when it is scary and unsettling… when there is a peace about hearing his voice and a terror about following it through…

 

We have brilliant people at New Life that understand systems, structures, and budgets… they’re not there to throw a wet blanket on the plan… plans get tested in the fires of community and scrutiny…

 

One of the ways that God confirms that he is calling you to do something is that he sends you the people you need to do it with you… often, pastors have great ideas but not the right people to execute them…

 

A lot of young leaders get hijacked in this process… does the leader have the right TEAM around them… we don’t see any missionary journeys in the New Testament where people go alone… they go out two by two… even the Apostle Paul needed a team…

 

Do you have a plan to communicate the need? If you’re embarrassed about talking about money, then you’re not going to do anything big for the Lord…

 

Often, even after all is said and done, the Lord will say “Not yet…” We don’t always see everything that’s going on, so we need to learn to trust those little “pauses”… this is about taking the finalized plan and laying it at the altar one last time…

 

Knowing what the “win” is ahead of time will give you clarity and help you celebrate…

 

The Art of Making Big Decisions

Eight Questions

1 – Have we prayed?

2 – Is God leading us to do this?

3 – Do we have the right vision or plan?

4 – Do we have the right leader?

5 – Do we have the right team?

6 – Do we have enough money?

7 – Is this the right time?

8 – What is the win? Why are we doing this?

Special Episode: Announcing The Essential Church Learning Community

In this episode, we sit down to talk about the “what” and “why” behind the launch of our Essential Church Learning Community.

 

 

https://newlifechurch.brushfire.com/events/447094

 

On Feb 19-20thof 2019 we’re launching our first Essential Church Learning Community… We want to get together with leaders who are hungry to learn in an intentional environment… to explore topics we’re all wrestling with…

 

In a traditional conference setting, you have one person on the stage giving their best talk… I often walk away from those with 30 questions about what I’ve heard… usually there isn’t space for that in those conferences…

 

There are great conferences around the country that you should go be part of, but I know there are lots of leaders who want to be at a table with men and women who are in the same stage of life where we can sharpen and shape and learn from each other…

 

When I was in my 30s, I had a thousand questions and I was so grateful that in that season I found gatherings much like this… at one of them, we all had 30 minutes to share our greatest concerns and fears… the advice and relationship I gained from that have lasted a lifetime…

 

Very often at conferences, the best ideas go back to the cars in the parking lot, because participants don’t have a space to share them…

 

What’s beautiful about a learning community is that you don’t give people a solution to a problem, you give people conversations around big ideas that can help them in their ministries…

 

The format will be plenary sessions plus lots of guided conversations around tables, with food and time for interaction…

 

I think one of the things we’ve discovered is that we’re trying to live in some healthy tensions: the tension of having a senior pastor PLUS a strong team approach, the tension of the energy of the charismatic PLUS the rootedness of the Tradition, the tension between growth AND discipleship… these are the kinds of conversations we’re going to have and you’re the kind of person who should be here…

Episode 040: A Conversation with Matt Brown

For this conversation, we sat down with Matt Brown to talk about the joy and challenge of evangelism, and how to do it the Jesus Way.

 

 

Matt Brown: https://www.thinke.org/

Pre-order “Truth Plus Love”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0310355249/

 

When Billy Graham passed away it made me think, “What next step do I need to take to help reach this generation with the gospel?”

 

Pastors need people like me (evangelists) who are passionate about sharing the gospel outside the church… if you struggle with evangelism, find people who inspire you and find ways to step outside in your everyday life…

 

Billy Graham was great at clearly presenting the gospel… more pastors need to think about that, and about how they are giving people a chance to respond…

 

The reality is, there is Holy Spirit power when we preach the gospel… when we talk about Jesus and lift up Jesus God will move in a sovereign way and draw people to himself… we need to make more opportunities for this…

 

The way Billy Graham lived his life was such an example to all of us… nobody is perfect, but he lived with integrity and tried to avoid the stumbling blocks that leaders get caught up on… he lived a life of authenticity and was likable…

 

My question is how can we champion some of the opportunities (presented by the new media) to talk about Jesus and bring the Bible to our world… and how can we have the right spirit when we do it? Church leaders and Christians need to set the pace here…

 

For a long time in my own life, I thought intensity and aggressiveness was the measure of maturity… what I began to realize was that if we live lives of the fruit of the Spirit, with a whole lot of love and joy and peace and kindness, then the gospel is going to look really good to people…

 

1 Corinthians 13 says that if we don’t have love, our words won’t be heard… the gospel can’t be heard through a life of un-love… we need to ask ourselves if what we are about to say is loving, gentle, and full of the Father-heart of God…

 

There’s a difference between being bothered and being burdened… we really need to have God’s heart for people, which comes out in the fruit of the Spirit…

Episode 039: A Conversation with Lisa Bevere

For this conversation, we sat down with nationally recognized author and speaker, Lisa Bevere to talk about life, marriage, ministry, and her latest book, “Adamant.”

 

 

There is a challenge in our day to merge truth and love… we have to know the Word of God but also have the leading of the Spirit…

 

I started to see that everyone saw that the truth was fluid… I found myself wondering what was happening in our culture… many people are finding themselves overwhelmed by information with no clarity [about what is true] …

 

Jesus is our “adamant” which means “invincible” … Jesus is invincible, he is an unassailable refuge… and we are in an “unassailable refuge of truth” which is Christ…

 

There are a lot of people who know catch phrases but don’t know the Word of God… there needs to be a return to reading the Word of God in context… not just scriptures here and there but context…

 

Being a grandmother gives you long range sight… there are things you’re concerned about when you’re a young woman or a mother… but when you’re a grandmother, you see that what you were so concerned about didn’t really matter…

 

Daughters have questions, mothers have answers, and grandmothers have perspective… God has always been multi-generational… and things that kids can’t hear from parents, they can hear from grandmothers and grandfathers…

 

When women are empowered correctly, they are not competitive with each other… they are free to use their gifts of intuition and relationship…

 

A lot of times we get women trying to talk like men at the table when we need women to be women at the table and men to be men and both empowered and valued and put together…

 

John and I don’t focus on what we don’t have… we’ve learned that the grace lifts when we complain… I don’t really believe in balance… I believe that I’m always a minister, always a wife, and always a mother…

 

Stop trying to be friends with everyone… enjoy your children and don’t just survive them… enjoy your marriage… laugh at your future… focus on the people who are challenging and building you… be the friend you wish you had…

 

 

Episode 038: A Conversation with Clayton King

For this conversation, we sit down with Clayton King and discuss the leadership structure of Newspring Church and the value of healthy confrontation.

 

 

http://www.essentialchurchconference.com/

 

We have lead pastors, teaching pastors, and campus pastors… each one of our campuses has a campus pastor who handles the day-in and day-out and preaches occasionally…

 

Our lead pastors—there are four: a pastor of culture and vision, a pastor of ministries, a pastor of finances and facilities, and a pastor of campuses—serve together in a lead pastor role…

 

Then we have three teaching pastors who preach and teach and create the series’ we’re going to go through…

 

The team approach is a beautiful thing for us because it forces us to submit our egos to the Holy Spirit; you can’t hide from ego in that kind of space…

 

The system is important, but it’s really the goodness of the people that makes the system work…

 

There’s nothing like personal integrity… it is indispensable… for us, what we’ve learned is that the Holy Spirit wants to bring unity… and while there isn’t a model prescribed in Scripture, there are some bedrock principles…

 

One of the decisions we made after our change was that we were going to quit reporting our numbers… we wanted to be more focused on discipling and shepherding our people… We changed the culture so that our pastors and shepherds were part of the family…

 

We’re also more open to the Holy Spirit… his presence and gifts… we’ve sensed a fresh wind and fire, a revival, where we’re seeing people healed at our gatherings, where we’re praying over and for people and sharing prophetic words…

 

We are not telling people “This is the only way to do church”; we are saying, “This is what the Holy Spirit has told us to do…”

 

Every church has opportunities to make changes… and we should seize those opportunities… but don’t make them quickly or out of panic… don’t get in a hurry… slow down, take your time, and labor before the Lord… and God’s church will prevail…

 

When you embrace healthy confrontation, while it is hard in the beginning, eventually it becomes normal… once an ego has been exposed, bruised, and then recovers, as a team we’re less likely to get hurt or take offense… it’s a maturing process…

 

http://www.claytonking.com/