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How Church Planting Is Like A Rollercoaster

Rollercoaster Church Planting.001Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? If you have, you either hated it or loved it. Psychologists say that regardless if you desire to go on more or stay far clear of the loops and jarring twist and turns, these two very different reactions are in response to the same thing. And that is the feeling of just letting go and being at the sheer mercy of the ride.

For some of us, we love that. For others….not so much. Luckily, I’m one who loves it. Why luckily? Because I’m starting to realize how much church planting is like being on a roller coaster.

1. At Any Moment, This Ride Is Going To Come Apart

I don’t know who first said it, and I’m pretty sure it was an airplane they were talking about. But, every time I’m on a coaster (or a plane) I remember hearing; “you know, the lowest bidder got to build this thing.” Well for me, in regards to church planting….I’m on a ride that has been constructed by the creator of the Universe. In fact, a guy named Matthew recorded Jesus saying; “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18 ESV

I’m not building me a church, I’m not building a legacy to pass on to my children. I’m working to honor God by leveraging the gifts he gave me to do what I’m created to do.

2. Act Like This Anywhere Else And Be Thrown In Jail

I’m writing this article while sitting in a Starbucks. (Here is a picture of my view) I bet, even in a Starbucks, that if I threw my hands above my head and started screaming as loud as I could that I would get the privilege of meeting some of Virginia Beach’s finest men and women in blue. (Actually….I think their uniforms are black, but you knew I meant the police.) But for me, as a church planter….I’ll follow the words of advice of David. Who, after being scolded for dancing for joy for God’s sake replied: “I’ll become even more undignified than this.”

To many of us fear what others will say. I’m sure there are folks who think Marissa and I are mad. Giving up everything we had, going all in with our money, time, talents and all of our possessions to build a church to care for people we’ve never met would, to some, seem crazy. But we do this to honor God. And I’m not even close to being done yet with what I’m willing to do for God. Short of sin….I’ll do whatever it takes.

3. Bumpy

A rollercoaster has the ability to knock you around a bit. I’ve been on some coasters that actually hurt me some. What can I say, I have a sensitive system. Well, church planting isn’t a smooth ride. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

There are so many decisions to make, so much money to raise, so much work to do, so many relationships to build, so many leaders to recruit and equip…the list goes on and on. But, like rollercoaster pain, it will be over before I know it. Sure, once the church launches January 22, 2017, the ride will change and be just (if not more) challenging. But then, in time…that ride will change.

I love different. God has gifted me with the ability to dream big. In fact, just yesterday I had an amazing conversation about the future with a couple I’ve met, Bob and Debbie. They have an amazing ministry to the homeless in Virginia Beach. And, I plan to give them as much support as Coastal City Church can….even before we launch. Anyway, Bob was sharing with me his vision for a transitional house they would like to own and run to help homeless people move from the street to self-sufficient living. I shared with him my vision for the future in regards to a church facility.

I don’t want to ever build a church. I want to see us engage the community around the “church” with a life enrichment center. I told him, I want a church that has on its street front a sandwich shop. A place where we hire those that need someone to take a chance on them. For example, what if we hired homeless people and in addition to their hours of work, we paid them an additional 2 to 5 hours per week to take life enrichment classes.

Who knows, maybe one day Coastal City Church will provide the employment and Homeland Disciples will provide the housing.

I may change rollercoasters from time to time, but I’ll never leave this “park” of church planting until God lifts the burden from my soul to reach people far from Him with the hope of the Gospel truth.

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Consumed By The Call,

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Work/Life Balance Is a Myth

Work Life Balance is a myth. Steps to get your life and calendar under control.

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I think it’s a mistake and a waste of time to put energy into finding a balance of “work” and “life.” I recently read a great article about the myth of work/life balance on the Relevant Magazine website. I like what the author, Tyler Ward, wrote about the flow and seasons of creation and about all other natural rhythms.

So what should people do when they feel overwhelmed? What should exhausted people do to get what they want, which is really control and peace. They often think that if they strike the right balance in their schedule, all their problems will go away.

Tips and Suggestions

 

  • Master the Word No  I’m a recovering people pleaser. Actually, that’s a myth also. I’m a recovering “I’ll say yes so you’ll think I’m awesome, feel validated as a person, and be my friend” person. I used to refuse to believe that time was a limiting factor on me, but it is—for all of us. Now, when I’m asked to do something new or to help someone, I say no. I’ll say something like this:
    • Thank you for asking me. I’m honored you think this highly of me. Possibly one day I’ll be able to say yes, but today I need to say no. My calendar is full for the foreseeable future.
    • Can I help you think of someone else you might ask? I simply can’t yes at this time.
    • Would you ask me again in one year? I can’t say yes right now.
    • I appreciate you asking me. I know when I ask someone to help me with something like this, I’m afraid they will get annoyed. Me—I’m not annoyed at all; in fact, I’m honored. I wish I could say yes. How can I help you find someone to take this on?
    • Notice, I never say “but” or “however.” I let my no be no. I used to give long, drawn-out explanations. I don’t anymore. And if someone doesn’t respect me or my no, they probably wouldn’t have genuinely appreciated my help in the first place.

 

  • Get a Task-Management System  Whatever system you will actually utilize is the system you should use. If a calendar system with everything on it works, use it. I work with a lady who still carries a large planner. It’s full of notes, business cards, her calendar, and who-else-but-her knows. But it works for her. I experimented with all sorts of systems. For the longest time I used Siri and multiple different lists in my Reminders app on my iPhone. But then I read Getting Things Done by David Allen. I combined his methodology with Evernote and Nozbe.  This combinations has been the system that has saved my bacon and brought order to the chaos of my tasks and schedule.

 

  • Delegate Decision Making  I first wrote about this here. A young leader once told me she is great at delegating tasks but terrible at delegating decisions. I identified with that, because it’s true for me as well.  I don’t need to be the gatekeeper whom all decisions must pass through. I still sweat the small stuff and have the pulse, blood pressure, temperature, CBC count, and all the other vitals of our organization in check, but I simply don’t make a majority of the day-to-day decisions.  Instead, I use a lesson I learned from Dave Ramsey in EntreLeadership. When I have new team members, I have them come to me with three solutions to every problem. After they present the problem and solutions, I let them know which solution I would like and why (even if it’s one of my own). Over time, they begin to anticipate what I’ll decide. After several weeks, I’m comfortable saying, “From now on, just decide this stuff on your own. Keep deciding like you are, but you don’t have to come to me anymore. I trust you.”

 

  • Set Clear Boundaries  I don’t travel away from my family for more than three nights in any 12-month period. I use Skype and attend online conferences like Social Media Summit 2014, webinars, and more. I actually get more continuing education and professional development now then when I’d travel to conferences and events more often. I network with my mastermind group every other week for a couple of hours via Google Hangout. I attend networking lunches and meet with peers for breakfast. I still get the job done, I just make sure I’m at home to get the most important job done—giving my wife and my kids a healthy dose of quality and quantity time together.  My team has been instructed that my wife is put through to my phone whenever she calls, regardless of what I’m doing. She is never told I’m not available.

 

  • Get Your Free Time and Family Time on Your Calendar First  Every few months, I have a calendar meeting with my wife. I try to get every family event on my calendar before I start getting work meetings, speaking engagements, etc added to my calendar.
    • I make sure I schedule time to exercise.
    • I have three recurring appointments to eat three meals a day with plenty of time at each meal to relax.
    • I have a block of time marked as “Family Time” in the evenings so I can play with my kids.
    • I have a block of time scheduled to read.
    • I have blocks of time scheduled to work. I used to try to schedule my work as specific tasks, but I need the flexibility to work on the projects I’m in the mood to work on. This is where Nozbe and the Getting Things Done methodology come into play.
    • I have a lunch or breakfast appointment once a week with one of my kids.
    • We schedule date nights for us.

 

  • Hire Help.  I use oDesk to hire virtual assistants to work for me for only a few hours a week. I wrote a complete post about the benefits here. There is no reason you can’t hire someone to help you, even two to four hours per week, not to free up time to work on something else but to buy you time to be with your family.  Plus, I hire other independent contractors for editing and other work.  I use Fiverr.com in addition to oDesk.

Action Steps

  • Update Your Calendar
  • Read Getting Things Done
  • Check Out Nozbe

What About You

What is working right now for you? Share on Facebook.

A Simple Lifehack to Be More Present During Family Time

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I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Why? I guess because it’s about my phone.

I was struggling with a self control issue….nothing new for me.

I struggle to keep my hands, eyes and thoughts off my social media and blog stats.

I love engaging with my online community.

Plus, we are trying to expand our online community. My wife, and I have a big project we are putting together. It will help parents have more fun in their parenting, make family fun easier and equip parents with tools to build their children’s character. (I can’t wait to tell you more about it in the next couple of months)

With all that going on, a full time career I’m dedicated to in Christian camping and conferencing….I need to be completely focused during our family time. I also have a goal to be “unplugged” once a week when I practice the spiritual discipline of a Sabbath.

I had been utterly failing at both of these goals, until recently.

What has been helping…

  1.  Using Do Not Disturb function on iPhone and iPad to turn off notifications from Twitter and my blog Comments.
  2. I created a folder I called iFamily & iSabbath. I dragged the apps into that folder that I needed to remind myself not to look at during certain times. I was surprised the first several days how many times I grabbed my phone out of habit to check stats, comments, etc.
  3. I don’t open this folder during predetermined times.
  4. I tell my wife when these times are.

If you don’t struggle with self-control.  This will sound silly to you.  But for me, it’s a lifehack I need.

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