Category Archives: Church Planting

stuff about Sanctuary and other church planting info

Do we have it all backwards??

“If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.” (Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen)

I come from a long line of church going people…my Father was a Church of God pastor (my Mother still is), my Grandfather was a Church of God pastor for over 40 years and my great Grandparents help found the Pelzer Church of God in South Carolina.  I was a church going fool growing up…Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night FTH and Friday night prayer meetings were the norm for me and I didn’t think anything of it because that’s what was expected from you if you were a faithful Christian.  When I became a follower of Christ in 1997, I was rabidly obsessed with Jesus, God, the Holy Ghost, the Bible and anything that vaguely had anything to do with spiritual stuff…I would have slept at the church if they let me.  I was literally in church every single time the doors were opened and when I finally got a key, I would open the doors myself!

Now, if you would have asked me during that period in my life if I was a ‘disciple’ of Jesus, I would have laughed and said that OF COURSE I was!  I read the whole Bible in a year, I prayed for an hour a day (really loud sometimes), I read all the right books by “Spirit filled” authors and I tithed 10% and even gave offerings on top of that.  Over time though, it all lost meaning to me.  The Bible became stale, my prayers became ritualistic and vain repititions, the books just blended together and my tithing became another bill I paid every week.  Of course, to rectify the problem, I relied on my church going background and thought that if I did more of those things with greater passion, God would take away the emptiness I was feeling and replace it with the joy that I once had.  That didn’t happen.

In fact, the opposite happened.  In the midst of the hopelesness and despair that I was feeling, He spoke gently to me and said that true discipleship is not praying 24 hours a day or memorizing the Bible or raising the dead or ANYTHING that I can do…it’s being simply obedient to what the Father asks of me.  The problem was that I didn’t have any clue what the Father was asking of me because I hadn’t shut up long enough to hear Him speak.  I’ve tried to do that a lot more recently…just be quiet and allow Him to speak to me.  And what He’s showing me is that our criteria for being a disciple is vastly different than His criteria.  We think that a good disciple is someone who shows up to our church stuff, gives money and occasionally feeds poor people…and this is not to bash the ‘institutional church’ folks.  You can be just as duped in an Organic Church, Missional Church, House Church or whatever else you want to call it.

To be honest, I don’t think we have the foggiest clue what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and I am the chiefest of sinners!  As Mike Breen says “discipleship is  having a life worth imitating! We are inviting people into our lives and asking them to imitate the parts of our life that look like Jesus.”  I am taking a long, brutal look at my life and searching for the part of me that I would want someone to imitate…I’m still looking to be honest.  I wonder if any of us can truly make disciples if we have never been discipled ourselves?  How can we pass on something that was never passed to us in the first place?  Have we lowered the bar so far on what it means to be a disciple that we’re satisfied with attendance, buildings and cash in the offering plates?  I don’t know…I don’t have the answers to these questions but I have a feeling that Jesus will only wait so long for the church in America to get it’s act together and begin to do the ONE THING He actually commanded for us to do: MAKE DISCIPLES!

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This blog has fallen into total disrepair!!

When I went to other guys blogs and they haven’t posted in months, I always shook my head and said that I would never allow that to happen.  Well….I guess a 3 year old, 2 year old, one on the way in September, working 50 hours a week, buying a new house and planting a church has kind of turned me into one of those guys that I shook my head at.  But God has really been doing some incredible things in our lives recently and my passion for writing is being rekindled, so if you have been checking this blog from time to time for something new, there will be some new things appearing in the very near future.  Thanks for putting up with the disrepair!

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Rhythms of Sanctuary Church

We had an incredible time together Sunday night brainstorming as a church and dreaming of how we could demonstrate that OUR GOD REIGNS to our community.  Here’s the list in progress:

*Accountability-keep each other accountable to live ‘missional lives’ and to be the type of ‘trailer’ that makes people want more of God. Substantial time is spent with each other for the purpose of watching over one another in love.

*Unity-being in one mind and one accord…this doesn’t mean that we won’t have disagreements but that we are all moving towards and striving towards what’s important—announcing that our God reigns!

*Generosity-Blessing (In and Out)-Serving Together- demonstrating the reign of God to our friends/neighbors/co-workers and each other by what we do.  Giving sacrificially of our time and resources, individually and as a group.  We will seek to share our time, talent, and treasure with others. Generosity will flow out of the grace God has given us. We are to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share. We will be an authentic community who shares one another’s burdens with a battle cry that “no one stands alone.”

*Worship-living in such a way that every step, breath, word and action is worship to the Lord while also entering into a sacred atmosphere when we come together as a church.

*Fun-in public/parties- Backyard BBQ’s, gathering at the local watering hole, inviting friends to our home for food and fun. These are just a few examples of what it means to party. We choose to celebrate and enjoy life with people inside and outside our community. This is what Jesus did. A good party is like a little drop of heaven on earth and is a way of life for the follower of Christ.

*Financial/General Support for those in need (in/out)- we want to always be free to give to those in need as a body and not be hindered by overhead that would prohibit that

*Prayer (silence/contemplative)- We will be a people of constant conversation and communion with God. As we live our lives, we will pray without ceasing according to God’s will. We will thank God, worship God, be honest to God, confess our sins to God, listen to God, and always seek opportunities to pray for others.

*Respect– The arm of God is big enough to wrap around the whole world. The least we can do is wrap our arms around our neighbor, the people we come across in our daily lives. We will not play favorites based on social status but view all people as equally valuable under an almighty God. Our community is one where people can belong before they believe and find grace overflowing. All are welcome to the table.

*Trials-we know and expect that we will go through trials but during those trials, we will support one another and hold each other up

What do you think??

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Christmas Conspiracy

So, we were in one our Sanctuary Church gatherings a few weeks ago and we started to brainstorm on who we could bless as a church and how we could best maximize the small amount of funds that we have coming in.  The usual suspects were mentioned: homeless ministries, adopt-a-families, mission agencies, etc.  But then someone came up with a crazy idea and the light bulb went off: instead of throwing money at people that we didn’t know and we would never meet again, let’s bless people that are already in our lives.  So, the church would give each person $50 and we would all ask the Holy Spirit to lead us during that week to a person/people that needed God’s help. I have to say that in all my years in ministry/church, I have never actually received money from the church (other than salary, etc).  So, needless to say, we were all very excited about this radical idea and couldn’t wait to see who God led us to that week.  Here are a few of the stories of how God used us:

*One couple could not figure out who to bless and decided to hold on to their $100 until they heard God speak.  So, as they were heading to our house for the Sanctuary gathering, they began to think they missed their opportunity and then they saw their neighbor struggling to change her tire.  This neighbor and her family have been facing tremendous health and financial difficulties recently and a flat tire was not something that they could afford.  As the husband changed the tire, he handed the neighbor $100 and blessed her…needless to say, this was perfect timing!

*One guy was led everyday to go the local gas station and just help people out.  Since we live near a military base, he was able to buy a lot of soldiers breakfast and make their lives a little easier this holiday season.

*One thrifty couple found some tremendous deals at JC Penny and were able to pool their money and get $500 worth of gloves/blankets for $100.  They are giving these to the homeless in their area.

*One person works in a call center and has 14 people on his team.  He just wanted to bless them and got them each a $5 gift card to Starbucks…he was very popular that day!

*Other people sent anonymous gifts to people they knew knew were in need, helping out friends and families that are struggling this Christmas and some other really cool stuff.

I am so grateful that God has blessed each one of us and Sanctuary Church so greatly this year and we are humbled that He gave us the opportunity to give back to our friends and neighbors…it is truly awesome!

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Missional Communities—Really good blog posts

Ben Sternke

About a year ago, I was able to go to a fundraising seminar that Ecclesia conducted down in Richmond, VA.  While I was there, I met a guy named Ben Sternke and began to follow his blog when I got home and I found out that he is taking his church in a very similar direction that we want to go.  Recently, he put a series of blog posts about Missional Communities and what they are, how they work and how to get there.  So, enjoy:

*Why I Believe in Mid Sized Communities

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The “New Pentecostal” Manifesto

Samuel Lee, from Holland, has come up with a proposed ‘Statement of Faith’ for new Pentecostals. Even though I don’t agree with every word, it really sums up what I and other Pentecostals have been feeling for a while now:

“The New Kind of Pentecostals are:

1.Those who do not claim exclusivity of the Holy Spirit to a particular denomination or church.

2. Those who respect other Christian denominations and traditions and are willing to fellowship, share and cooperate with them.

3.Those who believe that the unconditional love that is inspired & directed by the Holy Spirit in believers is the greatest sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

4. Those who share the Good News with all mankind, but in a manner full of grace and love and not through arrogance and “the-we-know-better-than-you-mentality…”

5. Those who believe that miracles, signs and wonders are still possible today, but one should not elevate these above the humility and the message of Jesus Christ. They are those who are against commercializing and merchandizing the gifts and signs of the Holy Spirit.

6. Those who do not tolerate any form of fear-theology and manipulation techniques in the name of the Holy Spirit in order to gain wealth, even for the ministry.

7. Those who believe in the grace that is in giving tithes and offerings but are against abusive and manipulative forms of preaching/using Malachi 3:8… Tithes and offerings should not be controlled and must come from the heart of the giver and not from the fear preached from the pulpit.

8. Those who may disapprove of the non-heterosexual lifestyle, but are not witch-hunting homosexuals. Instead of using hateful vocabulary toward homosexuals, they listen to and pray for them.

9. Those who are balanced in their theology on Israel/Zionism. New Kind of Pentecostals are those who aim to play the role of bridge builders between the Jews and Palestinians. For God loves both…

10. Those who are not only concerned with miracles, signs and wonders, but are also concerned with social justice, and with the poor, the oppressed, the orphans, the widows and the immigrants.

11. Those who respect other cultures’ and people’s convictions and even religions, and are willing to enter into a mutual dialogue with them, without any hidden agendas.

12. Those who respect and have a dialogue with other cultures, yet when it comes to any form of inhumane practices within these cultures, the New Pentecostals are willing to address them.

13. Those who are concerned with the environment and are willing to bring in Pentecostal input in caring for the creation.

14. Those who believe in the Bible as the inspired collection of Holy Scriptures, yet they use the scriptures to bring forth grace and mercy and offer blessings instead of doom and gloom theology.

15. Those who believe that leadership should be servant hood; that leaders should serve instead of being served. Leaders should sacrifice instead of demanding sacrifice. Leadership should be based on love and fellowship and not on spiritual rank.

16. Those who respect traditional churches, or organized churches, but believe that the real church is built of people and their relationship with God and with each other. They are those who believe that the church is not a “building”, but it is a part of God continually fulfilling kingdom.”

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My kind of leadership

I don’t want to be a part of a denomination or institution or religion.  Before I die, I want to be in the very center of a bona fide, life changing, generation defining movement and that movement will only happen when we get back to making disciples of Christ! Contrary to popular belief, Jesus never once called us to plant churches.  Go ahead, scour the pages of the entire Bible…you will not find one single scripture that exhort us to plant churches.  Then, put the Bible down and go to the christian bookstore and compare the number of books on church planting compared to how to make (or be) a disciple.  Somehow, we’ve deluded ourselves in the rationale that if we plant really cool, hip churches, then people will automatically become disciples.  Well, we’ve failed miserably…if you don’t believe me, read the stats.

So, as I was thinking and praying about this, I asked God to show me what a movement would look like in our generation…what will discipleship look like in these postmodern times?  And one day, I came across a dancing fool from the Sasquatch music festival.  This is just one guy who couldn’t care less of what people think of him…yes, he is shirtless and probably on drugs, but he is authentic and genuine and people join him.  In him, I see how a movement works and I SO long to see it happen with the church in America.

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