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?

M25: The Jesus Model for Ministry

M25 Ministries Graphic

There is nothing more Christlike than to put down your titles and pick up a towel to serve others. Pure and simple.

To be honest, one of the great downfalls that I have observed in churches today that are failing or in decline (BTW, that would be about 85% of churches in America today) is that they have become so inward focused (concerned more with who they’re trying to keep happy than who they’re called to reach), that they’ve forgotten why they were intended to come together and meet in the first place–to worship God and serve people! And one of the best ways to serve people is to share the love of God with them in practical ways.

Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28, NIV).

At the church that I currently serve as pastor, we are providing opportunities through the creation of M25 Ministries (based on Matthew 25… go ahead and read it. It may change your view of what church is all about).

Basically, M25 is all about truly living a Christ-centered life through the power of the Holy Spirit, demonstrating (not just through empty words) God’s practical love for people by serving their most basic needs–food, clothing, drinks, compassion, etc. Why? Because this is the Way of Jesus!

To get just a glimpse into what we are trying to do, watch this short promo video about M25 Ministries. Better yet, if your church currently does not have anything like this, why not begin praying and planning how to get started today? You’ll be glad you did!

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Who Wants a Healing Ministry?

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.  Matthew 25:35-36 (ESV)

When I was a student at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, one of my favorite classes was a class on the Holy Spirit taught by Dr. Frank Macchia.  One day during class, I remember him asking the question, “Does anyone here want to have a healing ministry?”  Immediately several hands were raised, no doubt indicating a sincere desire to be used by God, perhaps in the vein of such healing evangelists as Jack Coe, Kathryn Kuhlman, Smith Wigglesworth and the like. Then, much to everyone’s surprise he said something that has helped shape my ministry. He said, “...then feed the hungry and clothe the naked. If we would just feed and clothe people in need, then we would have a healing ministry. Many diseases and illnesses today are caused by lack of nutrition and protection from weather. Instead of hoping to lay hands on someone and pray, why not just feed them and clothe them. I promise you that if you do that, you will heal thousands.” He then quoted Matthew 25:40 where Jesus said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

If we would only pause and look around us, we would see that God has already given us plenty of opportunities to be used in healing ministry. There are people that we come in contact with practically everyday that are desperately searching for answers and looking for hope and lasting peace. Perhaps taking the time to minister to their particular need is the most spiritual thing you could do! Sure, it may not be as “dynamic” or attention-getting as laying hands on a sick person and seeing them healed, but it could be more life-transforming… both for the recipient… and for you. 

So, who wants a healing ministry? It’s more practical than you might have previously imagined! All we have to do is find a need and fill it!