Millvale Update

Millvale Matters at the Millvale Harvest Party
Millvale Matters at the Millvale Harvest Party

This past Saturday night our Millvale Neighborhood Group (Millvale Matters) continued their monthly outreaches/service projects in the community by partnering with the Millvale Borough Development Corporation in their annual Harvest Party.

The group was in charge of the Story Walk, which as director Eddie Figas said, was the highlight of the night!! It was a great night where over 100 kids came through this story walk and our Millvale Matters group continued to make news in the community. In fact, check out this article in the Tribune Review!

In addition to this great impact, the group has outgrown their current meeting location (Subway) and will be moving to the Millvale Community Center this Thursday. Praise God! Please continue to keep Millvale Matters in your prayers as they will be continuing the process to plant a church in August 2009.

Church Planting Boot Camp – Day 1

I had a great first day at the church planting boot camp up in Michigan.  We had a lot of good teaching today on being a successful church planting coach.  Here’s a few takeaways:

  • “A coach helps you think through the options before making those big decisions.”
  • “He who talks most listens least.”  –Steve Ogne
  • “Don’t be afraid of silence.  A ‘pregnant pause’ can give birth to new insights.”
  • “The most effective way to influence both individual and institutional behavior is to ask questions.” -Lyle Schaller
  • “I just keep asking questions until God shows up.” -Dianne Gonzales

In addition to some great teaching, I also had a chance to meet-up with some good friends in the church planting world (Trinity Jordan, Steve & Mary Beth Bradshaw and Tim Satryan)!

Church Planting & Fertile Soil

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I believe it’s important to go to places that need Christ, especially when planting a church, but that does not mean we go to a place that is not fertile ground for the gospel. Now there are situations and moments when a person is called specifically to an unreached, untouched people group or location. I am not speaking of those situations, but when identifying a community to plant a church in, it’s important to ask yourself this question: Am I joining God in what He is already doing or am I trying to establish my own work? This question is key.

We never want to start a church in an area that God is not already moving. That moving may be a group of people already reaching out in a community or it may be the spirit of God going before us to create a community ready for a new church. Whatever it is, this step in identifying a community can often be overlooked, but it’s huge. Church planting is difficult enough – trying to do it a part from God’s working is nearly impossible.

If you’d like to read more about this idea of creating spiritual fertility in a community, Ben Arment had a great post back in July on this same topic.

Because, Not Because

When I’m in the process of identifying locations for our church plants, one of the components that I factor in is whether or not a particular community is actually in need of a new church.  This comes from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 9:12 when He said, “”It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  The idea of need is so key.  This applies beyond just church planting, but also with ministry in general.

Many times we rationalize that we cannot go to a particular place or minister to a particular group because they are too hard toward the gospel.  In response to that, I would argue that we do go to a particular place or minister to a particular group because they are too hard.  Our ministry is not dependent on how ‘easy’ it will be, but rather how ‘great’ is the need.

Look Out Millvale

This past May we began two Neighborhood Groups in two different communities with the hope that one of them would be the location for our 7th church plant in 2009. Well, the time has come and one of them is in process to being that very church plant. I am very pleased to announce that not only is our new church plant going to be in Millvale but we have identified our church planters for this new church. The pastors of the new church plant are going to be…drum roll please…Pastor Rich and Jodi Jones. Rich is not only a good friend but he has proven himself as a great pastor. We are excited to welcome him to the church planting team and can’t wait to see what God is going to do as they join the great team already in place in our Millvale Neighborhood Group, Millvale Matters!!

In case you would like more info, here’s a short bio on Pastor Rich and Jodi:

Pastor Rich, along with his wife, Jodi, have been the Student Ministries Pastors at First Assembly of God in Hermitage, PA since October 2, 2005. They have two beautiful daughters, JoLyn and Jackilyn, and as a family seek to honor the Lord in all they do. Pastor Rich has served as youth pastor since the age of 18 years of age.

In 1992, He and Jodi began their full-time ministry as Youth Pastor at Full Gospel Worship Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1996 they accepted the Youth Pastorate at Monroeville Assembly of God and enjoyed eight wonderful years of Ministry under the leadership of Pastor Jim Leake. He spent 2005 in Detroit, Michigan, again as Youth Pastor.

Pastor Rich is a 1992 graduate of Valley Forge Christian College and is an ordained minister with the Penn/Del District of the Assemblies of God. Having spent more than 15 years in ministering to students, he has been blessed to have had many opportunities to attend and speak at Youth Ministry Training Events, including the 2004 National Youth Workers Convention for the Assemblies of God. Pastor Rich’s current portfolio at First Assembly includes the Youth and Mission’s Departments.

And for some more good news (if you’re actually still reading this super-long post), both Rich and Jodi have blogs! You can follow them at prsrant.com and jodischatterbox.blogspot.com.

If you’d like more info on our Millvale Neighborhood Group (Millvale Matters) you can e-mail us at MillvaleMatters@gmail.com.

Block Party in Millvale

I was in Millvale tonight for our last Block Party.  This is going to be the location of our next church plant which will be launching in August of 2009.  The Block Party tonight was a great gauge on the potential that rests in Millvale.  I can really sense that God is moving in this community!  We had over 175 people come out tonight and gave away 98 book bags!!

There was one lady who came tonight that had attended our outreach in Millvale last month as well.  She has seen our Neighborhood Group meeting in Subway on occasion but had never stopped in.  Well, tonight she took a step of faith and committed her life to Christ at the Block Party.  This is the first life committed to Christ at one of our Millvale outreaches and I believe it’s a sign of things to come!

Keep Millvale in your prayers in the coming months as we will be bringing on a church planter (more on that next week!) and working toward the launch of this new church!!

Empower & Release

In ministry, and especially in church planting, it can become extremely easy to always be ‘doing’. We have a God-inspired vision of establishing a church or reaching a community and we just put our heads down and work. This work ethic and willingness to persevere is a key component of any good church planter but it can also be their greatest downfall.

One of the most glaring barriers in a church plant is a lack of leadership development. This lack is often the result of a ‘doer’ mentality. We think, ‘if it’s going to get done then I need to do it myself.’ That may be true right now, but in making that decision you are undercutting the development of others around you.

Remember this key principle of ministry: “Ministry is more about empowering and releasing then it is about doing.”

What do you think? Is it easier to always be doing rather then empowering?

A True Church Picnic!

Yesterday our newest church plant, BridgePoint Church, held their first church picnic/outdoor service in Tarentum.  They had 75 people come out, with 12 first time guests and 3 people respond to commit their lives to Christ!! That’s what I call a church picnic!!  You can check out more info on the day on Greg’s blog here.

What I’ve Learned About Church Planting

Almost 2 months ago now, we launched our 7th church plant, BridgePoint Church, but for me it was the first one I was a part of from beginning through the launch.  With that said, I just wanted to post some things I’ve learned up to this point going through the process:

  • There is no set process that works everywhere.  Even the best ideas and models have to be adjusted to fit the context.
  • Although church planting is the ‘in thing’ to do right now, it’s hard work.  If there was ever a ministry position that is not glamorous (and really none are), church planting would be at the top of the ‘non-glamorous’ list.
  • Although church planting is hard work, there should still be strategy and vision.  Communicating vision to your launch team is the fuel that drives their work ethic.
  • Knowing who you are and who you’re reaching will save you a lot of frustration in the long run.
  • It seems to be more effective planting with a handful of dedicated church members and building the church with new believers then sending 150 church members to start a church.

Well, that’s all for now.  I’ll continue to post things as I discover them!  Remember, always be a life-long learner – we will never know it all!!

In case you’re wondering what exactly our process for planting is, you can check it out here.

What is a Neighborhood Group?

For those that attend APC or are curious about the new Neighborhood Groups I posted about a couple weeks ago. Here’s a brief synopsis of what they are and what they are not.

The idea of a Neighborhood conveys thoughts of family, unity and safety. Our goal with Neighborhood Groups is to create a sense of family and unity to bring those that are hurting in our communities into this safe place to experience healing & restoration through the power of God.

WHAT WE ARE…

  • We are outreach-driven. The harvest is our purpose for existence.
  • We are single-minded: Reach the lost.
  • We are a community of believers committed to the cause of bringing eternal change to the neighborhoods we live in.
  • We are a group of people that accepts individuals as they are without stereotype or assumptions, but prays for God to take them to where they need to be.
  • Although we join together weekly, we do not exist for each other, we exist for those who are disconnected from God.
  • We are supportive and always strive for unity over victory.

WHAT WE ARE NOT…

  • We are not a church gossip club.
  • We are not a theological forum for debate.
  • We are not in this for ourselves.
  • We are not here to discuss our perspective of church, but rather God’s perspective of humanity.
  • We are not here to push our own agendas, but the gospel.
  • We are not a feel-good devotional Bible study.
  • Although we believe prayer is important, we are not a prayer group.

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