Parachute Planting


“It’s not for the faint of heart.” That’s what one facilitator bluntly said at a church planters conference when describing one of the models that’s used in church planting. In fact, I have since come to discover that this is not the recommended model by many within the church planting universe. The model? Parachute Planting.

Parachute Planting is when a church planter and their family “parachute” drop into a new location, having no connections, no relationships, and often times limited resources… and they start a new church from scratch. It can be very challenging, even discouraging at times, and immensely faith-stretching. However, on the flip-side, I’ve also been told that it can be one of the most rewarding and enriching endeavors as well. That’s what we’re banking on 😉

About a year ago my wife and I, with our four children in tote, “parachuted” into Bradenton with the goal of starting a dynamic, life-giving, Spirit-empowered church. From day one, our ambition and dream of making a difference in people’s lives has not wavered. Not only that, but we have discovered some key principles along the way that are helping to shape our approach to planting Synergy Church within our community. Here’s a few of them:

  1. It takes T.I.M.E.  This is simply because relationships take time. It takes time to connect with people you have only recently met, and to earn the trust of those that you are asking to join you on this journey. It takes time to learn the culture of your new community, with all of its ebbs and flows, its “peak seasons” and dormant seasons, as well as its history and socioeconomic makeup. You can do this either by doing a quick Google search to discover community trends, demographics, and events in your area or by talking to those who have lived there longer than you have.
  2. It takes a TEAM. Statistics indicate that the larger the launch team, the better the chances will be of survival for the new church. In Planting Fast-Growing Churches by Stephen Gray, he suggests that in successful Church Plants… 88% have church planting teams, and 63% have a core group of 26-75 people. It may be a somewhat overused or perhaps even cheesy saying, but “teamwork really does make the dream work”, especially in church planting!
    • If you would like more information on joining our Launch Team, simply email me at  
  3. It takes PARTNERSHIP. The simple fact is that it requires resources and equipment to effectively launch a church, which obviously takes money (usually lots of it), which in the early stages means raising outside support from those who may or may not be directly connected to your Launch Team, but want to support you on your new journey. Partnerships with other people and organizations can be absolutely critical to the health of any new church. But even this requires time and trust and doesn’t always come easily.
    • If you would like to become a partner of Synergy Church, you may do so quickly and securely by clicking here.  
  4. It takes DISCIPLINE (focusing on what matters most). It can be extremely tempting to dive in headfirst, with tremendous passion and vision in order to blaze this new trail. However, it is vitally important to keep first things first throughout the church planting journey. For us, that means keeping Jesus first and always at the center (He wants a relationship with you more than He wants a church from you); it means tending to the needs of your spouse, making sure not to neglect this most important relationship and further ensuring that the ministry does not come between the two of you; and it also means prioritizing family time. For us, this may be a weekend trip to Disney to celebrate big days, or simply hanging out a couple evenings a week watching movies, playing games, or just being “present.”   

Bottom line… Church planting is hard. Very hard. And parachute planting, I am finding, can be all the more challenging and frustrating. Nevertheless… when God calls you to a certain task in a specific location for a divine purpose, you can be sure of one thing…

With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20, NCV).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a pretty wild imagination… and when tied to God’s purposes, it can result in some pretty awesome, life-giving faith journeys. All you need to do is take a step of faith and JUMP. Then trust God with the journey.

Are you ready for the ride of a lifetime? Here we go. 1, 2, 3, JUMP!


Good Idea? Or God Idea?

many small light bulbs equal big one

I’ve come across a lot of creative ideas, even ‘good ideas’ in my 20 years of ministry; ideas that on the surface appeared to be “life-changing” and “earth-shaking” and “innovative,” only for them to fall flat, producing little or no fruit. Ever been there? It can be quite frustrating, time-consuming, and disappointing.

Yet, the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:16-20) compels us to keep reaching, keep telling, keep loving, and to keep serving…

I once heard Craig Groeschel say something to the effect,

“To reach people no one else is reaching, we need to do things no one else is doing”

Instead of simply adapting and trying to carbon copy what another church may be doing, it’s vital that we get our own word from God for our own unique situation and location. Does this take more work? Yes. Can it be riskier this way? Yes. Might it be a little scary? Yep. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

When you do this, you will not be leaning and relying on your own understanding, but will diligently be seeking after and following God, receiving direction and instruction from Him (did I mention that this will also improve your prayer life?)  Then He will get all the credit and receive all of the recognition, and His Kingdom will be built not on your personality and skill-set, but on His Word and Spirit.

My personal goal has been to model this by searching after God’s heart, studying His Word, and leaning on His Spirit, much like the men of Issachar did in 1 Chronicles. This is a great example of leaders understanding the culture in which they lived, knowing the best course of action to take, and boldly acting on their intel:

All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. (1 Chronicles 12:32, NLT)

These leaders could have come up with a dozen ‘good ideas’ and maybe even made some progress. Instead, they came up with a ‘God idea’ that led to David eventually becoming their king and “There was great joy throughout the land of Israel” (1 Chronicles 12:40, NLT).

Swiss theologian Karl Barth once said, “One should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” Our goal should be to “understand the signs of the times” by studying our culture, knowing what’s going on, and better yet, what to do… then sharing God’s Word with clarity and conviction within that context.

Whether you’re a church leader, business person, school teacher, or parent, the same is true for all of us… Life can be tricky; it’s often confusing; rarely predictable, always changing; and we can feel out-of-touch with reality pretty quickly. Yet, one God idea will trump a thousand good ideas for your particular situation and lead you to sweet victory.

Sounds like a winning strategy for any phase of life, wouldn’t you agree?

The Kingdom and the Spirit


If you knew that you had only 40 days left to live, what do you think would be your top priority? What would be at the top of your bucket list? Without a doubt, you would choose to communicate that which was of absolute importance to those that you love and care about, right? Of course you would! That is precisely what Jesus did during his forty days of post-resurrection teaching and ministry.

In Acts 1:3, Luke gives some insight into Jesus’ primary subject matter during those 40 days when he recorded the following:

During the forty days after his crucifixion, he [Jesus] appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God (NLT).

So, what exactly did Jesus talk about? He talked about the Kingdom of God! And why not? That is precisely what He had been teaching during His earthly ministry for the previous three years (see Matthew 5-7 in particular).

Now, pay close attention to the following verses in Acts 1:4-5 to see what other final instructions Jesus left His followers…

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with (or in) water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (NLT)

From these few short verses, we may rightfully conclude that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is uniquely attached to and intentionally integrated with the full realization of the Kingdom of God here on earth! It’s as if Jesus is saying, “You know all that stuff I was teaching you about the Kingdom of God for the past three years and how you were basically powerless to do most of it? Well, I’m going to give you the power to realize your full kingdom potential through the power of the Holy Spirit! He’s going to help you and assist you in living according to the Kingdom.”

Here’s the deal… “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). So, when you pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” you are inviting the fullness of the Spirit’s presence into your everyday life.

What am I getting at? Jesus is associating the fullness of Kingdom living with the Spirit’s outpouring on the Day of Pentecost as promised in Acts 1:8 and realized in Acts 2! This literally means that Spirit Baptism is the full manifestation of God’s Kingdom here on earth, which gives us the power we need to live out His Kingdom rule and authority! That is God’s revealed plan for every believer to enjoy and experience.

My prayer is that through the power of God’s Spirit I may be fully enabled to walk in my full Kingdom potential, empowered to be more like Him in character, and equipped to do more for His glory! Have you made that your prayer yet?