Why Plant Another Church?

 

Why Plant Another Church-

A couple of years ago, Karine and I set out on the journey of a lifetime when we resigned an established church with a full-time salary, packed up everything we owned, and moved our family to Bradenton, Florida to begin the process of planting Synergy Church. This naturally begs the question, “Does Bradenton really need another church?” After all, like most American cities in the Southeast, there’s definitely no shortage of churches here. So, the simple answer is yes… and no. Let me explain.

The Sarasota-Bradenton area is booming with explosive growth and an influx of new people moving here from all over the country. Recent studies show that the Sarasota and Manatee Metro area is the 11th fastest growing area in the US with more than 20,000 new residents moving here in one year alone!* That’s the size of our neighbors to the south… Venice, FL. Not only that, but the estimated population of Manatee County alone is over 375,000 (factfinder.census.gov), and the latest stats indicate that only 23% of Manatee County residents attend church any given weekend, which subsequently results in a staggering 77% that are unchurched. What this indicates is that there are approximately 290,000 people who don’t attend church anywhere! Needless to say, there’s a ton of potential for a new life-giving, Spirit-empowered church on Florida’s Gulf Coast!

So, our vision is not just to start another church with the same format, same programs, and structure as other churches out there. Our vision is to start a vibrant, life-giving church that influences a city and shapes a culture. 

When Andy Stanley started North Point Community Church over twenty years ago, he began with the following premise:

“Atlanta doesn’t need another church. Atlanta needs a different kind of church. Atlanta needs a church where church people are comfortable bringing their unchurched friends, family members, and neighbors. A church where unbelievers can come and hear the life-changing truth that God cares for them and that Jesus Christ died for their sin. We’ve come together to create a church unchurched people will love to attend.”

A “CHURCH THAT UNCHURCHED PEOPLE LOVE TO ATTEND.” I love this for so many reasons! And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with watering down the message.

First, many churches today have become so inward focused that they have all but lost their initial reason for being (any church worth its salt begins as an extension of God’s love to the lost); Second, it resonates with the mission of Jesus, who “came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10, NLT) and who would even “leave the ninety-nine… and go out to search for the one that is lost” (Matthew 18:12, NLT); Third, it mirrors the life and ministry of the Head of the Church–Jesus, who was known as a “friend of sinners” (see Luke 7:34); and lastly, I am convinced that there are ways of “doing church” that no one has even thought of yet, and this excites me!

I often find myself thinking about the possibilities and dreaming about the type of church that God would have us plant. There are so many creative ways that have yet to be imagined to connect lost people to God, and I want to be a part of this creative process with Holy Spirit as He reveals and inspires us on this journey. After all, as I mentioned in my previous post, we serve a…

“…God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)

The good news is that God wants a vibrant, life-giving Jesus community where all people are welcomed and are finding freedom, forgiveness, hope, and purpose for their lives… even more than we do! This requires stepping out of our comfort zones, taking some risks, and dreaming of new ways to do church that will connect with those who need it most–those who are far from God.

Let’s be clear. Bradenton really doesn’t need another church. Neither does the community in which you live. What they need are grace-filled, Good News-centered, Spirit-empowered, life-giving movements that are truly making an eternal difference in peoples lives. Our goal is for Synergy Church to be that type of church. And with God’s power and provision, we will see a miracle birthed!

So, to answer the question “why plant another church?… may I suggest that the eternal destiny of the 77% just may very well depend on it!  Continue reading

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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?