MCM Update: BridgePoint Church

BridgePoint's New Building

Over the next few posts, I wanted to take an opportunity to share some updates from our most recent MCM church plants.  I’ll start off with Pastor Greg & Francie Krowitz and BridgePoint Church in Tarentum, PA.

BridgePoint (BPC) just celebrated its two-year anniversary last month and has had some exciting things happen in recent months.  This past October, they were able to move out of their meeting space, a boxing gym, and into a more permanent church building owned by First Christian Church in Tarentum. The provision of this building was an answer to prayer and God’s continued favor on our MCM churches in miraculously providing church buildings!

For the month of October BPC met at 9am, prior to First Christian’s service.  Then in November, the leadership of First Christian decided to cancel their Sunday morning service and join BPC’s service, allowing them to have a later start time of 10am.  Since that time, BridgePoint has seen a number of new families joining the church and in addition to meeting in this building on Sunday mornings and they have now moved their offices and small groups into the building.  Over this last 6 months, BPC has experienced some incredible favor with the First Christian leadership already, and we are believing that BPC will one day own this beautiful building, allowing them to continue to be a beacon of hope to the Allegheny Valley!

Recent water baptism in BPC's new building

This past Sunday, BPC had one of their regular baptism services that they are now able to have with the baptismal in their new building.  Greg baptized 6 people, which included a mom & her two sons, a brother & sister and a young adult! God continues to move at BPC and we know that the best is yet to come!

As we celebrate what God is doing in Tarentum through BridgePoint, continue to keep Pastor Greg and Francie in your prayers as they look toward this 3rd year of existence as a church and lead BPC toward a place of greater influence and impact in the community!

God’s Heart for Church Planting

I’m teaching this week at our MCM Ministry School on the topic of church planting, one of my favorite topics to teach about!  With that said, here are a few of my notes from yesterday’s session on the foundation of church planting:

The world doesn’t need more churches for the sake of new churches.  They need them for the sake of their spiritual renewal.

  • God’s Heart to change cities & communities, not plant churches.
  • The goal with church planting is not simply existence, but transformation.
    • Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples…”
  • It has been proven that evangelism happens most rapidly in new church plants, especially in the first 3-5 years.
    • If this is the case, then church plants have the potential to create a lot of disciples.
    • If our mission is to go and make disciples, then why not use the greatest tool God has given us to do so, the Church?

Building the church is at the heart of God.

  • Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
  • It is God who will build His church…we are given the unique privilege of joining Him in this great mission.
  • When Jesus ascended to heaven, he sent the comforter, the Holy Spirit to help his disciples change the known world.  The vehicle that God then established to do this was the Church, the Bride of Christ.

My Friends. My Heroes.

I am blessed with some amazing friends and I want to take a moment to tell you about two of them that are preparing to do something great for the Kingdom of God! Both of these guys are incredibly talented, and there is no doubt have great things in store for their future!  My purpose in sharing them with you is very simple:  They are both more then just friends, they are missionaries on the front lines of ministry, and therefore have to raise significant financial support to support themselves, their families, and their ministry.  Here’s a quick description of what they do and how you can support them:


Pete and his wife Whitney, are co-pastors of a new church that has started up in Topeka, KS, Mission Hill Church. It’s a church geared toward reaching young adults of the growing city of Topeka.  They have been seeing some incredible things happening at the church, but what has been most encouraging to me is to see two friends who have moved to Topeka completely on faith knowing that the place where God calls, He also provides.

Pete is an incredibly talented young man that graduated from Central Bible College in 2007.  He has such a big heart for people and seeing people connect to Christ that I know Topeka is never going to be the same!!  If you’d be interested in supporting Pete & Whitney financially or praying for them, here’s a few quick links:


Jeff is a U.S. Missionary to Berkeley, California and will be an Associate Pastor at the soon-to-launch, 360 Church in Berkeley. He graduated from Central Bible College in 2009 and will be working with author and professor, Earl Creps.  Berkeley is seen by many to be the picture of what will be in our world.

While still in college he felt a passion growing inside  to influence not just people… but the people who influence society as a whole. Influencing the influencers.  He is helping to plant this church because UC Berkeley is rated the top public university in the world… the best of the best.  It is where the future is created.  What if these creative people met with their creator?  What if these guaranteed world changers changed the world knowing the living God?  How would our world be different? God has already begun to do some great things through Jeff in Berkeley and I know it’s only the beginning!  If you’re interested in supporting them or getting more info about Jeff, here’s a couple links:

Coming in 2010: New Church Plant in South Side

In addition to the church plant being launched this fall by Pittsburgh City Outreach, the MCM Network will be planting LifeStone Church in the South Side community of Pittsburgh. Jack and Jamie Thomas moved to Pittsburgh last year to plant this church and they have seen God do some amazing things already.  Their small Neighborhood Group has now grown and transitioned into a good-sized launch team, and in fact they have their first ‘Practice Service’ this Sunday.

To give you some perspective of where LifeStone is in the scope of planting, here are the different stages we utilize for our MCM church plants:

  • Neighborhood Group: We start a small outreach group in a potential community that meets weekly and goes through a curriculum that equips group members for evangelism.  In addition to the weekly meetings, they also do an outreach/service project each month.  The goal is to simply serve the needs of the community and be a blessing to those within the community.
  • Launch/Street Team: As the Neighborhood Group grows and it becomes apparent a church plant is not only possible but purposed by God, we connect the group with a church planter and the month before we start monthly ‘Preview Services’ we transition the Neighborhood Group into a Launch Team, or Street Team.  This team now divides into different ministry teams for the purpose of the services (hospitality, kid’s, security, worship, tech, etc.).
  • Preview Services: Usually 4-5 months prior to the Grand Opening of the new church plant, we will begin holding monthly preview services.  These services serve multiple purposes:
    • To give the various ministry teams the ability to work out their processes and systems for the sake of excellence at the Grand Opening.
    • To provide opportunity to build momentum in the church & community toward the launch.
    • To give the team leaders opportunity to build their teams bigger, which in turn establishes a bigger base from which a larger launch is possible.
  • Grand Opening/Launch: This is an exciting day when the church officially goes public with weekly services.  At this point, the church may not have all the bells and whistles of an established church, but they are doing one thing well: providing a weekly worship service that not only is done with excellence but is impacting the spiritual climate of that community.

If you are, or have been, part of a church plant.  Are there other stages you utilized or you would add?

What to Do Following a Preview Service (Part 4)

To finish my series of posts on ‘What to Do Following a Preview Service’, I’ll be addressing the final component of ‘Correction’.  In case you missed the last few posts, here’s the four-step list:

  1. Celebrate
  2. Follow-Up
  3. Analyze
  4. Correct

Once your preview service is complete, you’ve celebrated what God has done, you’ve followed-up with all your supporters, you analyzed the various service components, the final step is fixing, or correcting, the problems you’ve encountered. Correcting problems is one of those things that is always easier in theory than reality, but in this case it is crucial. For this to happen most effectively, here are a few tips:

  • You need someone at the top driving excellence. This is usually the senior pastor or a senior leader.  Without this, those on the team will not naturally have the motivation to correct problem areas.
  • Have a good idea of what the various components should look like and be willing to probe. Statements like “I don’t know what’s wrong, I just don’t like it” don’t fly.  Dig deeper and identify why something isn’t working.  Temporary fixes are just that, temporary.  You want to establish your church on good processes that work.
  • Don’t get discouraged if after a couple preview services things aren’t perfect. Remember, this is why you have multiple preview services.  Also, you’re working with people not robots.  Things will never be completely perfect (sorry to break it to you!).
  • As you walk through the process to fix broken processes or problems with your service, do so in love. Don’t use a cannon to kill a fly!  The fact that one of your greeters stood inside the doors instead of outside is not worthy of a 5 minute tirade.  Correct and express the need for correction in moderation.

Well, that’s it!  As you go through your preview service process and do these four steps each time, by the end of this stage of a church plant, you should be ready to launch big!!

If you’re in the middle of this process now as a church planter, I’d love to hear how it’s going!  Also, anything you would add?

What to Do Following a Preview Service (Part 3)

Continuing my posts on what to do following a church plant’s preview services, I’d like to address the third step, Analyze.  To read the previous two posts on Celebrating & Follow-up, click here or here.

One of the core purposes of preview services is to help a new church establish and refine quality processes for their weekend services. With this being one of the core purposes, the step of analyzing following a preview service is very important.  The goal in analyzing is not to take a negative approach to your services, but rather look at key components of your service and identify ways you can improve.  To do this effectively, you want to include the key leaders of each of your ministry teams. Each of those teams will correlate with the list below of the areas you’ll want to analyze.  Your church plant might have additions or subtractions based on your style and approach:

  • Service Programming: The structure, flow and execution of the service plan.
  • Media: Video, sound, graphics, etc.
  • Worship: The flow of worship, the quality of the overall worship experience, and musical excellence.
  • Hospitality: Welcoming and connecting guests and creating a relational environment.
  • Kid’s Ministry: Nursery, Preschool, and elementary.
  • Set-up/Tear-down: This pertains mostly to portable church settings.
  • Facility, parking & signage:  The flow of the crowd, parking availability, quality signage inside and outside.

In each of the areas listed above, ask yourself these four questions in your analysis process:

  1. What works?
  2. What’s broken?
  3. What’s missing?
  4. What’s confusing?

In my final post, I’ll discuss the final step, correction.

Any areas you would add to the list above?

Raising Money for Church Planting

Every church planter (except for those millionaire planters) have to fundraise to some extent. Some more then others, but it’s still a necessary part of starting a church from scratch.  With that said, just wanted to share some fundraising tips for all you church planters or church planter-hopefuls out there:

  • This might sound very basic, but I can’t express how necessary this one component is.  Before you ever look to raise any kind of money, give your fundraising to God. Make sure your efforts are concentrated with prayer.  Understanding God’s role in raising funds and involving Him in that process is critical.
  • Make sure your vision and purpose for planting is clear. There’s nothing worse for a pastor then to have a guy sitting across the table asking for money and not having a clue what he’s going to do with it.  Know your vision and know how to communicate it with passion & conviction.
  • Once you’ve prayed and have clear vision for your church plant, begin to look for financial partners. This might be a healthy church in the area mothering your plant (ideal).  It might be a number of churches investing finances and people into the formation of this new church.  It could be a number of individual donors that believe in your vision.  One of the more popular fundraising routes today is planting through a church planting network (or denomination).  You can oftentimes receive more funds this way, but there are usually stipulations.  The best thing to do, though, in finding financial partners is to use various combinations of these sources.   Multiple sources will ensure more stability.
  • If you’re having trouble finding financial partners, try breaking your expenses down.  For example, rather then asking a pastor to give $50,000 toward planting your church, you ask him if his church could purchase a video projector for $3,000.  This not only makes things more manageable for a money-conscious pastor, it also is a more tangible investment for a church or investor.
  • One last thing…remember, if God has called you, He will provide!

Anything you would add?

Words of Wisdom from Otto Wegner

Two nights ago I had the privilege of spending the night at the home of Otto Wegner in Center City Philadelphia. Otto is a man I admire so much and I really enjoy gleaning from his years of church planting and ministry experience. With that said, here’s a few things I took away from the conversation we had over breakfast:

  • We shouldn’t measure success by size, sound and speed but by community transformation.
  • When a person who is illiterate and without a job comes to the altar and commits their life to Christ, they’ll wake-up the next morning with a new life in Christ, but they still can’t read and don’t have a job.
  • We need to celebrate steps of faith by ministries here in America just as we celebrate those same acts oversees on the mission field.
  • The method is the Message. How we communicate the Message speaks volumes to our confidence in it.
  • Too often we are not confident in the Message enough, so we feel a need to compensate for it.
  • (One of his mainstay quotes) “The presence of God’s people guarantees the presence of God.”
  • As the salt of the earth we can’t just sit there and wait for people to realize their thirsty.
  • We shouldn’t just plant churches for the sake of church planting – it’s about community transformation.
  • Pay with time for things that appreciate. Pay with cash for things that depreciate.

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.

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