Church planting theory and models

I have one hour to address this topic on Monday morning at a two-day church planting conference.

I don't really know what the other speakers are gonna say and not say. I don't really know who or how many people are going to be there. I do know the delegates will include at least some of:

  1. Christian Reformed Church ministers from around Australia who are in pretty established ministry patterns.
  2. Ministers from the Vision 100 network who are already doing church planting and figuring out how to do it well.
  3. Students from Moore College who are thinking about doing church planting after they graduate and are sniffing out the Tassie scene.
All I gotta do is say some relevant stuff to these vastly diverse groups on the topic of both church planting theory and church planting models. And I have an hour to do it.

Easy. Right? Yeah right.

Sydney is leaking Anglicans

At a rate of 80 000 people in five years.

It's because Anglos are moving out of the city. Mission to the big cities means multicultural mission. Craig comments on a recent Sydney Anglican article.

Twenty Thousand foot checklist example

Taken from Making it all work:

Asset management
Quality control
Staff development
System design
Administrative support
Product development
Public relations
Customer service
Client development


Laura loves Crossroads House

Laura from Louisville says:

Every time I look at my pictures of my trip, I pause and take extra long to look at the Xroads House pics.  That was one of the coolest things I've ever done.  If Xroads House was in Louisville, it would be my church.  I had this feeling the times that I was there that THIS is what church is supposed to be like.  If Paul was like, magically transported to Xroads House, I feel like he would feel right at home!  :)  It was so great -- in fact, I think it's something that should be replicated all over Hobart.

Resolutions inspired by MIAW

  1. Review my system six monthly. Give myself permission to buy new stuff and change the way I do things.
  2. Use Someday/Maybe lists better. Scan them during weekly review. Remove dead items. Consider spending money on Someday/Maybe things occasionally.
  3. Use Project Trigger list and write new ones: reminders of all the different types of issues that need to be explored in creating a new project.
  4. Make a project 'review daily' if progress needs to be made on it quickly.
  5. Add a 'Key things I'm expecting from others' list to my 'Waiting For' list. (MIAW, p. 141)
  6. Add a @Braindead context to my system. (MIAW, p. 147) - not sure if I'll actually do this one or not.
  7. Add Things to to in... Sydney/, Melbourne/, Launceston/ and so on to my Reference material.
  8. Review 20Kft monthly, 30Kft quarterly, 40Kft and 50Kft annually.

Not writing things down as a form of dominance

Positively, writing everything down shows an openness to possibly relevant material and a communicates a desire to take any information or duties that come up seriously.

Therefore, negatively, not writing things down can display a stance of being closed towards any relevance and a lack of desire to take information or duties that come up with seriousness.

So not taking notes can be a form of dominance.

It might be that you are just wanting to show that you are laid-back or that you have a great memory. And yet even then, this can be a form of dominance:

I'm more laid back than you about these big ideas. You're a slave to organisation. I'm Zen.

And if the person who writes things down is the one who remembers things and reminds you of them later, they are the fussing micromanager, you are the powerful, free-flowing person who forgot all about it, but are happy to oblige once you are reminded.

Writing things down is a humbling inconvenience which shows a willingness to take the other person seriously and engage with them meaningfully and responsibly. Even if you don't need to write things down, it's could be a pretty kind gesture.

If I were writing MIAW

I would have added more detail about how to apply this to being a student, a mother, a waitress. David Allen claims it works well for all people, but it would be good to have more examples outside of the management world.

I would have explored in more details the character traits and habits that are required to stay consistent with the GTD approach. Some of this comes out at the very, very end of the book. Would be good to have this earlier.

I would have spent more time talking about regular tasks routines and other checklists. This is assumed at many points in the book, especially in the chapters on perspective. But maintaining routines other than the weekly review is not explicitly taught at any point in the GTD approach.

I would have included more sections that encourage people to buy stationary. Everyone likes buying stationary. That was the fun thing about the first book: the excuse to buy stationary. Some new permission to go shopping in that paradise called the office supply store would have been cool.

Phrasing police 'is under attack'

If I were Stephy I'd post about this. Christian culture loves talking about things being 'under attack'. Marriage. Family. The church. I think the phrase souns paranoid and sloppy.

Laura is feeling hungry

And has posted thoughtfully on the martial art of frugal shopping, gardening, cooking and eating.

I wonder if there's room for some churches to start up some workshops on these topics?

Bron challenges Vision 100 on MTSTas blog

Bron gives a grab-bag of reflections about 2009 and then gives some challenges to th Vision 100 movement on the MTSTas blog.

I don't like or need GTD...

You may say. And that's fine. I'm not really into proselytising when it comes to GTD. I just live it out and hope people will ask me about it. But humour me for a minute. You may say you don't like the GTD approach or you don't need GTD approach and that may be so.

But do you like:

  1. The idea of dumping all the nagging worries out of your head and recording all the wonderful ideas in your head whenever they come to you or as often as you need to?
  2. The clarity of pinning down what you actually have to do about all the different dreams and duties, relationships and roles in your life?
  3. The holism of having all your duties and resolutions noted in one place so you can choose what to do based on where you are and how you feel?
  4. The simplicity of separating actual activities from larger stuff to help you take the basic steps towards big commitments and amibitions? 
  5. The commonsense to ask what you are wanting to achieve before worrying about how you are going to achieve it?
  6. The freedom to set aside time every week to get a bird's-eye view of your life, hopes, commitments and prayers so that everything stays in persepctive?
Well you may "Not like GTD" but that's basically all it is:
  1. Capture everything,
  2. Idenfity the 'next action',
  3. Keep context-specific lists,
  4. The project vs action distinction,
  5. The 'natural planning model',
  6. The 'weekly review'.
GTD is not a system, but a 'systematic approach' as David Allen makes clear in his second book, Making it all work. You can apply this approach to your iPhone or erratic, strange piles of stuff in your hippie teepee house or your paper-based filofax or your kitchen noticeboard. What system you use is irrelevant, it's the systematic approach that's the big thing.

Are you following the MTSTas blog?

This team blog is well worth the read. It will expose you to a range of people's thoughts and keep you up to date about MTS Tasmania ministry events and news.

David Allen has become a little J K Rowling

He got famous and so his editors got less ruthless. MIAW doesn't need to be as long as it is. Chapters 1-4 are basically an extended introduction, saying again and again "When you read MIAW you will discover..." or "That's what MIAW is going to be all about..."

Two things:

  • The title Making it all work actually contains a double entendre. One the one hand it's a book about how to making everything operate well. But the way to do that, according to GTD is by making everything in your life 'work' - treating it with the same seriousness and organisation that you treat your work. Hence the subtitle: "Winning at the game of work and the business of life".
  • The silliest quote so far:
You can't really manage time; time just is. What you can manage is yourself - your focus and your actions.... When you are fully and optimally self-managed, time actually disappears. You're just engaged.

Making It All Work has arrived

And I like MAW as an abbreviation more than MIAW, but time will tell on that. This is David Allen's follow up to the excellent oragnisational book, Getting things done (or in Australia, strangely, How to get things done).

This book does several things:

  • Reflects on the success of GTD and the many reactions, misunderstandings and questions that have arisen as it has infected the entire world (chapters 1-4),
  • Meditates on the underlaying values which make the 'horizontal' workflow stuff really hum along ('Getting Control' - chapters 5-10),
  • Spends much longer on the 'vertical' level of organisation - from 'runway' to '50Kft' or from actions to life goals ('Getting Perspective' - chapters 11-18).
I will post random reflections as I word my way through it, but for now, here's the first thing it has helped me with. I had struggled with projects that needed to be reviewed more than weekly. What if I have to do a string of time-restricted actions within one week?

My solution had been to put additional deadlines in my calendar. the MIAW solution is far neater - to acknowledge that some projects need to be reviewed more frequently, and so reviewing them should be placed in a checklist for daily or two-daily routine.

Pete Woodcock on the Psalms

Pete is currently preaching on the Psalms at Fairfield Community Church, London. I'm listening to Psalm 27 from last Sunday.

Pete played a huge role in my conversion and in teaching me how to preach. He is an extraordinary communicator, very different to the reserved, Proclamation Trust style. He's very animated, funny, passionate, bombastic.

Please enjoy.

Breaking out of question-requests

Every now and then I try to break habits of speech, to avoid getting lazy and tired in the way I communicate.

A while back I was trying to dig '-wise' out of my everyday speech because clarify-wise and speech-wise it's not the most graceful thing expression.

At the moment I want to stop phrasing requests as questions:

Could you please...?
Would you be able to...?
Can I please ask you to...?

Not because they are bad, but simply because I rely too much on questions to be courteous. I would like to find more direct ways of requesting things that are still gentle.

Any suggestions?

Steve Chong

Steve is the guy who invited me and Nikki to come to the Acts 29 Summit. He met me through Peter Ko who spoke with me at Xpose Preaching Conference in Melbourne last year. Whenever you mention his name people laugh. He's the kinda of guy who's best mates with everybody and has over a thousand friends on Facebook.

Steve was 'hand picked by Driscoll for mentoring' in September last year, which is lovely. He heads up the crazy RICE ministry in Sydney and has become the founding minister of Kirkplace Presbyterian Church in Kogarah. Kirkplace is an interesting story all its own and you can read about that here.

The door's always open: helping your pastor

I'm just settling into the role of assistant pastor for 2009 and this is something I really want to work on, to help Dan in his ministry:

I want to work at hard at communicating to the church the importance of communicating with their leading pastor. It is very destructive when you have probems, complaints, disatisfactions and you don't tell your pastor. Instead you worry. And talk to others. And remain unhappy. This gradually wears away on your own service to the church and infects others with discontent. In the end it corrodes trust, understanding and love.

I want to stay 'on message' this year with reminding and reassuring the church that 'the door's always open' for them to speak directly with Dan about their problems and questions.

Mission oriented schedule IV - Project list

I've nibbled at this one over the last two days, putting a couple of projects in place. I'm currently planning this project and all its sub-projects. I've clarified my mission, my vision and my values. I've dumped everything I an think of on paper. Here's my projects list at the moment:

  • Cold contact routine
  • Regular designing and printing of fliers and posters
  • Invitation letter
  • Cold contact partners
  • Contacts file
  • Google maps (incl. campuses and residential colleges)
  • Marketplace chat brainstorm
  • Contacts email list
  • Regular businesses and common rooms and noticeboards for posters
  • Acess to residential colleges
  • Monthly supervision meeting
  • Checklist 
It's amazing how much needs to get done in order to get on with getting things done!

Mark Driscoll gets to meet real life Tasmanians

Guest post: Nikki Lynch

A rather strange thing happened the other night.....I came home late from bible study and Mike had a weird look on his face.  I thought that there'd been some sort of pastoral disaster, he'd broken his beloved macbook or something what but he just said "we're going to Seattle".

Scott Thomas and Mark Driscoll (of the Acts 29 network) have invited Mike, the kids and I to go over to Seattle to a world church planting summit in March.  Trippy!!  There's I think four other families going from Australia and from what I can gather its going to be smallish (ie not 20,000 people, we're guessing under 50).

What an amazing opportunity hey?!  Mike and I have benefited so much through "Pastor" Mark's teaching, he's helped us think through heaps of stuff to do with ministry, marriage, church planting strategy and teaching the bible that we haven't been able to find elsewhere, especially from more traditional teachers.  We'll actually get to meet these guys, which'll be totally awesome.

The other reason we're so excited about it is just that we're very much little country town bumpkins trying to plant churches and spread the word.  We're pretty happy doing this as we love Tassie to bits and believe this is where God wants us.  But its been pointed out to us by alot of people that its great to go other places, to other churches with other approaches and styles  so that our minds can get a bit broader, see what God is doing elsewhere, network with other people that share our vision and learn from our brothers and sisters with different accents and different hairdo's.  So far we've been blessed enough to do this in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide (and London and Paris ages ago), I think it'll be a huge blessing to us in our ministry and lives.

So, our house is crazyness at the moment.  Mike is trying to raise the money to get us there, I'm trying to halve or household budget (i finish up at my job next week) and we're trying to explain to Xavi (3yrs) that America exists all at the same time as starting the years work.

Your prayers would be much appreciated!

Love from your special guest host...


If you happen to want to help us out with paying for the airfares, email mike:

Memory verses for dinnertime Bible reading

At our dinnertime Bible reading, we read a new page of Matthew's gospel each week, and also re-read a memory verse every day for a week or more. So far the memory verses have been:

  • The treasures in heaven bit
  • The do not worry bit
  • The wise man built his house upon the rock bit
  • The greatest commandment bit

Mission-oriented schedule Part III

Please note: these comments are relevant for my work schedule this year. It's not appropriate for every pastor in every situation at every time in their ministry's life.

Here's something else I want to work on better this year: a contacts file. I would like to figure out a good way of keeping track of and praying for the people I know and the people I meet. This is still wet cement, but here are some initial thoughts:

  • Dilligent prayer for all friends, acquaintances and contacts.
  • Get better with birthdays and other special occasions for all contacts, rather than just close friends.
  • Set up periodic email list for non-Christian contacts who want to hear a little about what our church is up to. Perhaps six monthly.
  • Ensure that I extend invitations to church on a regular - but not naggingly, annoyingly regular-  basis.  Again perhaps six monthly.
  • Prayerfully think about how to be a better acquaintance evangelist. I shouldn't wait until I'm good friends with someone before inviting them to church.

Being clear when writing a values statement

I remember talking about this with Dan at the end of last year:

Some points on your values statement should be descriptive: they describe who you currently are, what currently defines you, what visitors would describe you as, what would help newcomers understand you - actual values.

Some points are more defining what you want to be and want to stand for. They are aspirational values, rather than actual values.

Nick has posted a quote from Malphurs which introduces this terminology.

NY Times: 'Driscoll is American evangelicalism's bete noire

You can find the article here.

H/T Challies

A mission-oriented work schedule Part II

Here is a rough breakdown for weekly evangelistic activities:

  • Cold contact/community surveys - 5 hours
  • Fliering/letterboxing/phonecalling - 2 hours
  • Taking the time to chat to people in shops/on the street - 2 hours
  • Investing in non-Christian friendships - 2 hours
  • Following up church contacts/running evangelistic courses - 2 hours
  • Cultural involvement - 2 hours
I will find all of these hard, but taking the time to chat and investing in non-Christian friendships the hardest I think. That's because they are not as easy to schedule, but require constant attention.

A mission-oriented work schedule Part I

I want to ensure that I plan to devote a decent amount of time to evangelism and engagement with the non-Christian world during 2009. Here is a rough breakdown I am working with:

  • Administration - 10 hours
  • Study and preparation - 15 hours
  • Ministry meetings - 15 hours
  • Evangelism - 15 hours
I will find it hardest to restrict admin and ministry and easiest to avoid study and evangelism.

Categorising 'mosquito tasks'

Matt has tweaked the GTD 'next actions' list in an interesting way. His approach definitely fits with the ideals of GTD: to avoid unecessary mental drain when looking at your TODOs:

Releases are small actions that are not project related. GTD has you put these on your next actions list. I found that doing so actually ruined my next action list because I would always end up with six trillion mosquito tasks staring at me all day long. I'd want to do things just to get them off my list, and not because it was the most strategic use of time.

So now I group all of these mosquito tasks together into a project of their own, which I keep outside of my next action list. My "next action" on them is then "work through releases."

I've just bought David Allen's latest book.

Making it all work: winning at the game of work and the business of life. It was Wayne's review that got me to do it. Thanks Wayne.

Structural elements of a church planting movement

In the last chapter of Planting Missional Churches, Ed Stetzer draws on Church planting: The next generation by Kevin Mannoia, which itself is describing Bob Logan's system. The elements he describes are a great roadmap for Vision 100 here in Tassie:

  1. Parent church network:  The group of existing churches who are discussing and encouraging each other in church planting. Vision 100 was born out of such a network. If you're a Tassie church, you can always become a partner with us.
  2. Profile assessment system: The way to assess the strengths, weaknesses and gifts of potential planters. We have only just adopted a draft system in December 2008. I think that a failure to do this well has caused problems in the past. I hope we can really build on this in the coming year.
  3. New church incubator: Fellowship and mentoring to help church planters. We also adopted a draft system in December for doing this kind of work. Again, our failure to do this well in the past has been a significant problem.
  4. Pastor factory: How funny is this name? The Ministry Training Strategy has served this role in the past for us and it is hoped by some of our churches that Church Based Theological Education will, in some cases, do this even better. But how funny is the name 'pastor factory'?
  5. Church planter summit: A conference that initiates the church planting candidates. We started a the Vision 100 Leaders Conference two years ago which may serve this purpose in the future. You can read a review of last years conference on the last page of our November newsletter.
  6. Maturing church cluster: What makes this a cluster rather than a network? Nobody knows. But this what helps a newly planted church gradually move towards being a mature church. I think we will need to put some careful thought into church establishment and renewal in the next five years here in Tassie, or else we'll end up with a bunch of small churches going nowhere fast.
  7. Strategic planning network:  To focus wisdom and energy on encouraging new church plants and renewing existing churches. Our Vision 100 committee is fulfilling this role too. We'll be having a strategic planning session on January 19th, in fact.
  8. Harvest 1000: The fund raising body. Jo and Emma are the two people on our committee involved in fundraising and they're doing a great job. We are trying to focus fundraising on concrete church planting initiatives, as it is easier to give to a project rather than a general idea for most people.

Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer

I am currently reading this, thanks to Nick who posted it down. I'm supernaturally gifted at giving things a trendy 'pre-worn' look in a short period of time. That's why Paul never lends me his books. I'm hoping Nick won't remember the condition the book was in before he lent it to me. Then again, I may give it a wisened, 'I've carried this manual with me while I've planted fifty churches' look to it.

It's a good read. Stetzer has some good cautions and qualifications against the emerging/missional approach to church. Lots of practical advice and examples.

It is clearly written in a larger 'scene' and clearly American in style and approach. You definitely feel like you're in the big league. It is so easy for Australians to hear all that and go 'Oh that's just America'. But perhaps we do that too quickly. A couple of examples:

  1. When the churches in this book do fliering and mailouts they think tens and hundreds of thousands - recruiting mission teams and volunteers from other churches, doing addressed letters, rather than just fliers in letterboxes and so on. Is there a valid cultural reason why we should publicise less? Or are our sights set too low?
  2. Likewise, Stetzer refers to churches who are willing and keen to seek out additional funds and even do rehearsal services to make sure that the church is well run and well presented when it starts. In Australia, we tend to only think about good branding, equipment, decor and uniforms once (and if) the church can afford them in it's own budget. Is that a cultural difference or a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  3. At one point he discusses 'rental fatigue', the exhaustion that sets in from packing up and down for church in a rented hall each week. And in passing, he speaks about volunteers getting up at five or six a.m. to spend three hours in set up. I'm not necessarily advocating a church service that requires that much set up. But I am asking: do we limit how well we do things by having too low a threshold for certain types of work?

"House" by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker

I read it because Shiloh's boyfriend lent it to me and because I had heard of Frank Peretti and because the thought of a Christian horror novel was hilarious.

The book is pretty well written, better than a lot of horror I have come across. Not anywhere near as good as Stephen King, but pretty smooth and some chilling imagery. The book proves that you don't need graphic sex scenes and skull-crushing detail to make really good horror.

It is set in spooky inbred Texas Chainsaw sort of America. Great vibe. Scary haunted house. Labyrinthine basement that keeps morphing.

Now a lot of horror novels get silly towards the end. Even the greats sometimes don't know how to untangle to spooky mess they've made. But House makes an additional mistake. It not only gets silly it also gets preachy. But it does it in a way that is a mistake I think Christians commonly make when they try to do art: it allegorises.

I don't think you need to have the death and resurrection of Aslan to be a Christian author. But that's exactly the mistake this book makes. More than that, it can't even contain its allegory - it spills over into reality. Yuck.

Strangely, if the whole thing was more openly Christian from the very beginning it would have worked better, rather than gradually seeping in this Christian stuff as the novel progressed.