3 Practical Disciplines To Help Leaders Grow in Self-Awareness

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Reggie McNeil says, “The single most important piece of information a leader possesses is self-awareness.”[1]  Self-Awareness could be defined as a conscious knowledge of our own character, feelings, motives, and desires. When left unchecked a lack of self-awareness in these areas can be debilitating to your ministry and destructive to your life.

The discipline of self-awareness is a leader’s intentional pursuit for self-understanding.

Here are 3 practical disciplines to help leaders grow in self-awareness:

1. Cultivate friendships. With so many “one anotherpassages in the New Testaments, we understand clearly the early church teaching on the necessity of Christian Community. Early on in ministry, I received well-meaning, but ill-advised counsel, “If you are going to be the pastor, you really cannot have friendships in the church.” I am consistently surprised by the level of loneliness and lack of deep friendships found in pastors and planters. You cannot grow in self-awareness apart from gospel-centered friendships. How are you intentionally pursuing deep and meaningful friendships?

2. Invite someone to adjust your self-perception. This is a humbling assignment for three reasons. First, you are acknowledging your own propensity to see yourself in a favorable light. Second, you are inviting someone to critique you. Third, you recognize you are broken leader in desperate need of transformation.

We can easily become blinded to what everyone else sees clearly. It is difficult to lead effectively when those you lead perceive you differently than you perceive yourself. Who has permission to adjust your self-perception?

3. Take a personality/leadership assessment. The best $26.95 I ever spent was on the Leading from Your Strengths Assessment. This easy to understand and practical leadership assessment tool is invaluable in creating healthy self-awareness. I will never forget the surprised/not really surprised feeling I had when I read, “George likes people, but can be seen occasionally as cold and blunt. He may have his mind on project results, and sometimes may not take the time to be empathetic toward others.”

Sadly, because I lacked the self-awareness to understand how others might perceive me, the early years of ministry consisted of me justifying my passion and personality while leaving a wake of hurt and offended people.

Pursuing the discipline of self-awareness calls us to look to Christ as our example as we deal with our character, feelings, motives, and desires. The fruit of healthy gospel-centered self-awareness will always be people seeing more of Christ and less of you. Do people see Christ in you?

[1] McNeal, Reggie. Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) (Kindle Locations 318-319). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Top 10 Prayer Needs Send New Orleans

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Top 10 Prayer Needs Send New Orleans

1. For a church planting movement to take place in New Orleans and South Louisiana. (11% of the population identify as an evangelical). Pray for church plants to move past 100 and see fruitful growth through baptisms and disciple-making.

2. For church planters and their families as they are on the front lines of pushing back lostness in the midst of intense spiritual darkness. New Orleans has a long history of being a very spiritually dark place, this is a real battle felt by planters and pastors across the city. Pray that the city that care forgot, would be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3. To discover, develop and deploy church planters across the New Orleans and South Louisiana. Pray for our work with NOBTS specifically as we are partnering together to raise up church planting residents for multiplying works.

4. To mobilize churches to partner with Send New Orleans through prayer, participation and provision. We would like to see every church plant with multiple support partners, that are committed to the planter and the city.

5. To engage adoption and foster care needs in New Orleans through SEND Relief. (At any given time there are over 400 children in Foster Care in New Orleans)

6. To cultivate awareness of the incredible hardship and sacrifice that planters encounter in New Orleans. Currently, we have the dubious distinction of having more per-capita murders than any city in the U.S.

7. To engage in the epidemic fight against child poverty through SEND Relief. New Orleans has the largest population of children living in poverty anywhere in the U.S. at 39%.

8. To find bi-vocational church planters with high capacity leadership to plant churches in New Orleans.

9. For the Ross Family: George, Joy, Isaac, Hannah-Ruth, Abigail, Jeremiah, London and Rueben.

10. For our 3 most immediate church planting needs:

  • A Vietnamese planter for 13-14k Vietnamese pop. with no evangelical work.
  • A church plant in our most difficult area of New Orleans, Central City.
  • A Muslim/Arabic background planter for the 10-15k Arabic speakers in New Orleans.

Creating a Gospel Life Plan for 2018

It is that time of year, time to reflect on and evaluate the passing year and look forward toward the new year. December is the month where my family and I take our yearly Gospel Life Plan retreat. These are some of the sweetest times we know as a family. Over the course of a few days, we look back at our goals and plans for loving God, leading well, and living the gospel. Joy and I are blessed to spend time individually with our kids reflecting on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. This time is also an opportunity for our family to separately and corporately set new goals for the coming year. Gospel Life Plan retreats have allowed us to grow closer as a family, see God's gracious fruit of the gospel, and challenged us to pursue Jesus with greater passion and affection. 

You can download the Gospel Life Plan Worksheet and resources by clicking the link below. Don't miss out on an oppurtunity to commit your life and year to loving God, leading well, and living the gospel as you and your family manifest God's kingdom here on earth. 

Gospel Life Plan Resources

Top 10 Church Planting Locations: New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, long known as The City That Care Forgot, is experiencing a resurgence in population, city life, young professionals, and immigrants. 11% of the population self-identify as evangelicals, there is great lostness here and great opportunities to reach this World City with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Contact me via gross@namb.net if I can serve you or your church in partnering in the gospel to reach New Orleans. 

1. Military Plant in Belle Chase- NAS JRB New Orleans is one of two Joint Reserve Bases in the country that serve and house commands from various branches of the Armed Services.

Nearly 5,400 Military, Department of Defense civilian employees and contractors work at the base daily, and approximately 1,700 family members live in more than 900 housing units. http://www.cnic.navy.mil 

2. Arabic Plants on the Westbank and Kenner- There is an estimated 10-15k Arabic People in New Orleans. We need an Arabic speaking planter and SENDING Church.

3. Hispanic Plant in Metairie- There is a large demographic of Hispanics in Metairie, we need a Hispanic planter and SENDING church.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-katrina-anniversary/10-years-after-katrina-defined-latino-presence-new-orleans-n417026

4. Multi-Ethnic Plant in Chalmette

We need a planter and SENDING Church for this location.  http://www.towncharts.com/Louisiana/Demographics/Chalmette-CDP-LA-Demographics-data.html

5. African American Plant in East New Orleans- This location is in a primary blue-collar African-American neighborhood and needs an evangelical gospel witness. 

http://www.datacenterresearch.org/data-resources/neighborhood-data/district-9/ 

6.Vietnamese Plant in East New Orleans - We need a Vietnamese-speaking planter for a large Vietnamese population in East New Orleans. This is an unreached community in need of a evangelical witness. http://dirt.asla.org/2013/06/10/in-new-orleans-a-vietnamese-community-bounces-back-with-urban-agriculture/

7. Multi-Ethnic Church Plant in the Irish Channel- This are is a Multi-Ethnic community on the South side of uptown that borders the MS River. Here is a short video and attached PDF about history. https://www.nola.gov/nola/media/HDLC/Historic%20Districts/IrishChannel.pd  http://crescentcityliving.com/new-orleans-neighborhoods/video-new-orleans-neighborhoods-irish-channel 

8. Multi-Ethnic/African American Church Plant in Central City- This area is one of our most difficult locations. High crime, diversity, gentrification, poverty…etc. It is a rapidly changing community with a very long history of violence and crime. Here is a brief overview of Central City. http://www.neworleans.me/know/about/11/Central-City

9. Multi-Ethnic Plant in the Lower Ninth Ward- This area has long been an underserved area, but it is going through a demographic change and beginning some gentrification. This is a hard area in need of a gospel witness. This area has a majority African American population, this demographic is becoming increasingly millennial and multi-ethnic. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jan/23/new-orleans-lower-ninth-ward-condos-gentrification

10. Multi-Ethnic Plants in Kenner/Elmwood/Metairie South of I/10. 

https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/la/new-orleans/elmwood/

Planting Priorities: Have a Plan for Administration & Assimilation

This weeks guest post is by Josh Hancock from Ashland Avenue Baptist Church. @J_H_Hancock @ashland_lex

For the past week I, along with 31 other workers from Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, helped Lakeshore Church in New Orleans with community outreach.  The main goal for our team was to canvas a few square miles around the church in order to increase awareness of the new church plant and to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to the community. Overall, we secured 145 contacts of people that had at least a slight interest in the new church coming to their area.

            Most would be very pleased with this number and they should be.  However, these weeks of intense canvasing before the launch of a church plant are often some of the most disorganized and fruitless because of the lack of a centralized system to later access all of the contacts made by teams.  Groups of mission teams go out and make great contacts. They might even write some of them down.  They have hundreds of stories about the lady at the end of the block who was so excited to be prayed for and asked for someone to come and drive her to the church when it begins.  But when the team leaves, often, so do all their contacts.

            But there are a few great ways to remedy this problem.  During this past week, Pastor George Ross had me set up some new church software for them that was capable of taking care of this problem and so many others that new church plants face.  I chose SimpleChurchCRM.  Simple Church is a program that allows for a very easy web/app based data entry.  It can handle everything from online giving to mobile directories for the entire church.  Watching other churches plant and reading about their difficulties, here are three of the most common struggles on the administration side of new church plants and how a program like Simple Church can be amazingly effective to alleviate the staff.

1. Finances. 

Before the church ever launches, there must be a way to track money and to receive future tithes and offerings.  Passing out a plate and counting it all up before you drive it back to the bank can lead to terrible mismanagement of the monies and creates a new problem in budgeting before there is a standard-monthly-earning achieved. A centralized church planning program allows for a lay-person to create expense reports, set up online giving, forecast budgets, and pay all invoices in one place without needing to spend limited resources on accountants.

2. New Contacts. 

This is the most common problem and also the easiest to remedy.  If you have teams canvas the surrounding area, give them the priority of getting the names and email addresses of everyone so that they can be entered into a group in the program. This information can be used to directly send follow-up invitations.  Phone numbers and addresses are great, but emails are the most efficient way to follow up and organize further visits.

3. Calendar. 

The church calendar is a grossly over-booked mess in many new churches and even in established ones.  But by implementing a software like Simple Church, one person can be placed as an admin on the calendar. The admin is the only person able to add things to it, but everyone in the church can have access to the calendar on their phone app. This does a few things: it keeps people from double-booking, and it lessens the work load for the staff by preventing them from constantly having to answer questions about the church calendar.

Don't waste precious time and energy. Make it a priority to identify, purchase, and implement a church systems platform in your church plant. 

 

Partnering as a SENDING Church: Northstar Church, Saltillo, MS.

Guest post by Campus/Missions Pastor Andrew Ledbetter, NorthStar Church @aledbetter

NorthStar started as a church plant in the spring of 2006 in Saltillo, MS. We set out from the beginning to be a multiplying church. Within the first three years, in a minor way, we supported a church plant in Huntsville, AL, Ignite City Church. As we approached our 10-year mark, the leadership of the church began to evaluate the past and look ahead to where the Lord is leading us. I knew it was time to take the next step in our involvement with church planting. I wasn’t sure what that looked like, who to support, or where to start but I did know we needed to be proactive in taking the next steps.

I periodically receive email updates from the NAMB through SEND Missionary George Ross, about partnering with plants in New Orleans. In April of this year, I received another email about an upcoming Catch the Vision Tour and was encouraged to attend. I knew that would be a great chance to learn more about how we could partner with a church plant.

April came, and I remember driving down with an open mind but still not knowing what we could do. The first night of the CTV everyone who was on the tour had dinner together, and three or four of the planters were able to join us. I had the opportunity to sit at a table with Troy Gause, a planter in need of a SENDING church. I was able to hear personally about his heart for the city and later that night we walked Jackson Square, in the French Quarter. Conversations are one thing, and anyone can talk a big game, but when you see their faith at work, it takes on a deeper level of respect and trust.

Seeing Troy minister and relate to people on the streets that night gave me a glimpse of his vision for the church. The next day we toured the city and made stops to hear from a ten other planters in need of support. I heard each of their stories, and some were captivating. At this point, my heart was heavy not knowing who we should partner with and to what level. I got back home and shared with the leadership team of NorthStar as well as our missions team about the trip.

We spent over a month praying and learning more about what was involved in being a SENDING and SUPPORTING church. We ultimately decided that we needed to follow the Lord’s direction and become the SENDING church for Troy and Cross Culture Community Church. This past Sunday we had Pastor Troy and his family share with our congregation about his church plant. The response was overwhelming! 

I think the why's of being a sending church are obvious – Luke 10:2, John 20:21, Acts 16, etc. God has clearly called you to become a sending church. But here are three practical ways you can BE a SENDING church:

1. Encourage

Church planting is hard work! If you are a part of an established church, understand that the work of planting a church from the ground up is extremely difficult especially in spiritually dark places. Be there to listen to their struggles. Encouraging the planter, his family and the members of the church help keep their eyes on the vision of what God has called them to do. It’s simple. It helps them know they’re not alone. 

2. Support 

 Give like you never thought you could. You can get a clear picture of what your ministry focus is, by where the budget goes. If you don’t have a place in your budget for church planting, evaluate your ministries and see where you can reallocate funds for your church plant. Next year, put them in your budget.

When you host a planter, be sure you are hospitable and take care of travel expenses because coming to your church may mean taking time away from work. With that in mind, take up a love offering or set aside an honorarium. Financial support is needed but don’t let that be what stops you from stepping out in faith.

Kevin Ezell, president of NAMB, said, “Every church regardless of size can be a sending church. It has everything to do with engagement, not with money.” Think of creative ways you can bless the planter and church. Every church has resources they are blessed with, use those for his glory and trust the Lord will provide for the needs of your church. Be bold and exercise faith, as you take the next step in missional engagement.

3. Go

Not everyone can take 1-2 weeks off work to go overseas. But most can drive 5 hours or more for a weekend or 4-6 days to serve and meet needs of the church plant.  Be sensitive to their schedule and plan accordingly – not just when it’s convenient for you and your church to go.

We're still taking our first steps as a SENDING church - learning as much as we can so we can be diligent and faithful in seeing Cross Culture become a self-sustaining body who loves God, leads well and lives the gospel. 

What's your first step?

1. Visit the NAMB website and view the city and planter profiles

https://www.namb.net/send-cities/

https://www.namb.net/send-cities/neworleans/profiles

2. Sign up for a CTV 

https://ctv.namb.net

3. Pray about who to support

4. GO

Participation: 5 Considerations for Supporting Churches

Supporting Churches are essential for church planting to be fruitful. Church planting is far more difficult and dangerous when there are no supporting church partnerships. Healthy church plants will testify to the vital impact of supporting church partnerships in their journey to self-sustainability. A supporting church can partner with a church plant through prayer, participation, and/or provision. Today’s post highlights five considerations for supporting churches partnering through participation.

1. Understand the Context

If you are partnering or considering partnering, make it a priority to visit the church plant, preferably with a team of people from the partnering church. Understanding the context is essential for healthy partnerships. Seeing on the ground conditions will shape how you view and support the church plant as you lead your church to participate.

2. Don’t Highjack the Vision

What might be working for you in your context is probably very different from what will work in the church plant context. Be careful that you don’t highjack the ministry vision of the church plant by forcing the planter to conform to the ministry and vision of your church. Commit to learning about the mission and vision of the church plant, look for ways you can partner to make it happen. 

3. Be Generous

Have you ever had the cheap, cheap, cheap, red hot dogs? The ones that turn your hot dog bun and hand red? Don’t be the church that buys those for the Block Party because you are too cheap to spend an extra couple of dollars for some real hot dogs. Be as generous as possible and look for ways to cover all the ministry expenses when you are participating with a church plant.

4. Participate in a Worship Service

Pastor don’t be afraid to let your team stay over and worship with the church plant, even if it means missing a Sunday. Supporting churches can participate in a worship service by offering to serve in the nursery, preschool, and children’s ministry for the day. This will be a much-appreciated ministry for the volunteer staff of a church plant. If you want to go all out, suggest your team give their tithe/offering that week to the church plant.

5. Prepare Your “Yes” Face

Take time to equip your team to have a “Yes” face attitude and testimony. This simply means being willing to go all out with a positive attitude as you seek to carry out the mission and vision of the church plant while giving your best visible “Yes” face. Church planters are always in need of encouragement, equipping your team to model a “Yes” face will have a tremendous impact for the kingdom and the planter.

These are helpful ideas to consider as you participate in supporting a church plant. Faithful supporting churches participating alongside church plants are the most effective and biblical means to advance the gospel in hard to reach cities. Do not think for a moment you are just taking a trip or serving at an event, the participation of a supporting church has eternal impact you may or may not see this side of heaven.

Click here for more helpful supporting church resources.

 

5 Practical Ways To Make Visitors Feel Welcome

This weeks guest post is by my wife Joy Ross, follow her on Twitter @joyleanne. 

I remember the first few weeks in New Orleans visiting churches. To my recall, I don’t think I’d ever visited a church in my life, well maybe on vacation as a kid!  I’ve never had an option of where I would go to church, but then all the sudden I came to the realization of not being the preacher's wife, not being the preacher's daughter, and that I'm just a visitor, not a soul here will know me.

As freeing as this might sound for some people, it was very hard for me. I remember lots of smiles, and several people said, "Welcome!" Even some said, "Nice to meet you!" I got my children situated in class and found a seat. Sometimes George was preaching somewhere else, and sometimes he was with me. When he wasn’t with me, I sat down alone. People walked by and visited with their friends, grouped together, and found their usual spots.  No one purposefully was trying to make me feel bad, but I remember being alone and wishing someone would say to me, "come sit with me!" No one ever did, though.

 I vividly remember this. The Lord impressed  it on my heart, and it will hopefully forever change me. It was as He said,

“Joy, never forget this moment. You will not be the new person for long, and you will make friends, but NEVER forget this feeling, LONILENESS! Don't be that girl Joy, that just walks by and smiles. Get out of your comfort zone! Ask people to sit with you, better yet just sit with them. People are hurting. You are not hurting Joy; you know me. Some of these people that walk into the church will never walk in again because while you were wanting to fellowship and speak to that same person you’ve texted all week long and will hang out this weekend, they sat alone, and you missed that opportunity to be me! Be JESUS Joy! Open your eyes, walk with me. This is for my glory and your good. That feeling right now. Don’t forget it, may it lead you to be more like me!"

Here are five practical ways you can help visitors feel welcome and provide a pathway for connection. 

1. Ask visitors that are alone to sit with you.

Go above and beyond to make them feel welcome into your church body. Introduce them to others. If it’s a male, find a male. If it’s a college student, find a college student, if it’s a student, find a student (You get the picture. Be wise). 

2. Provide needed information. 

If they are trying to find a ministry or looking for someone,  don’t just point out where to go; show them, introduce them, talk to them, stay with them. Be a minister and make your smile count for the glory of the Lord.

3. Collect information and Prayer Requests

Your church should have some form of visitor card that is purposeful for collecting valuable information and prayer requests. Offer to help the visitor complete one and drop it off for them when they are done. We collect information and prayer requests because we care, not to add them to another list. 

4. Use Social Media.

Offer to exchange emails and give them your social media information. Point them to the social media platforms of the church and encourage them to visit the churches website for more information and ministry opportunities. 

5. Be intentional.

Go to church with a mindset that many visitors show up on any given Sunday because they have found themselves feeling alone and in a hopeless situation. Followers of Jesus should be the most hopeful people on the planet, don't forfeit the opportunity to manifest living hope to those that visit your church.

For the first time in my life, my sanguine-self remembered being very lonely. I wondered if this is what it had felt like to visit our previous church? I wondered how many times I had smiled and walked past someone with a well-meaning smile and nod. I asked the Lord to forgive me for the times I had been too busy to make a difference in the lives of just one visitor. 

10 Practical Ideas for Developing a Strategic Prayer Partnership with a Church Plant

Leading your church to engage in a prayer partnership is a great and essential first step in missional engagement. Church planting is difficult and lonely at times, and church planters are in great need of the most powerful resource you can offer, the prayers of the Saints.  Implementing a strategic partnership with a church plant is a powerful way to partner with church plants as they spread the gospel and have kingdom impact.  

Every church can partner with a church planter, because every church can and should have a prayer ministry. However, many churches want to pray for their ministry partnerships, but have no tangible plan to do so. This often results in the church losing it passion to pray and the partner feeling forgotten and alone. Here are ten practical Ideas for developing a strategic prayer partnership with a church plant:

Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence.
— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

10 Practical Ideas for Developing a Strategic Prayer Partnership with a Church Plant

1. Read and implement Serving In Your Church Prayer Ministry as Church Wide Emphasis. This is a great resource for laying a solid foundation for a Church Prayer Ministry.

2. Download a Church Planter Profile. Get to know the planter, his family, and ministry context. Print, distribute, and display these in your church.

3. Initiate a specific and regular time to pray for the planter you adopted. Regularly remind your church of their commitment, responsibility, and privilege to pray. Have them set their phone/clock alarms to the agreed upon time and stop and pray. 

4. Assign Small Groups/Sunday School classes to adopt the planter and his family as they routinely write prayer cards on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and special occasions.

5. Use quarterly video calls in a church wide service. Ask planters to share for 5-10 minutes followed by corporate prayer for the adopted planter, family, and church. 

6. Google Earth the church planter’s geographic location and pray over his community addressing the needs, barriers, and lostness.

7. Send a team to pray “on site with insight” at the location of the planter’s community.

8. Use a monthly/weekly update to communicate the prayer needs of the planter you adopted.

9. Share the planters Social Media platforms and have your church encourage them with regular messages of “You have been prayed for today.”

10. Create a prayer chain that will commit to immediate prayer for real time ministry requests and needs the planter may encounter.

These are just a few practical ways your church can partner with a church plant as you commit to battle for them through prayer. What a wonderful privilege it will be for you and your church to participate in meeting every church planters greatest need, having faithful prayer warriors interceding on their behalf.  

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
— Luke 18:1, ESV

Planters: Say Thank You to Your Partners

When is the last time you said thank you? Sending and supporting churches make church planting a reality. But the support they give can easily become expected or taken for granted. Planters and Missionaries can fall into a sense of entitlement, believing we deserve support for our ministry efforts and sacrifice in reaching the lost. Do not let this be true of you! Take the initiative and make the effort to thank those who support you. 

I will go down it if you will hold the rope.
— William Carey to Andrew Fuller

1. Make writing thank you cards routine.

There is a former church plant, now self-sustaining, that consistently write me thank you cards for my ministry investment in their staff and church. I am always encouraged and grateful to find their handwritten note in my mailbox.

Keep a running to-do list for "Thank You" cards and mark out time on your calendar to write them. Taking time to send a handwritten thank you note is an expression of gratitude. Keep a list, mark out time on your calendar, and buy some stamps:) Writing "Thank You" notes should be a routine ministry discipline if you are a church planter.

2. Provide partners with something that connects them to your city and church.

Connection Church Belle Fourche, SD is a church plant I pray for regularly because the planter gave me a great shirt and coffee mug. Every morning when I drink coffee in my Connection mug or when I wear my shirt, I am reminded to pray for this church and their staff. Don't miss out on the little ways you can connect your partners to your church and say thank you. 

Each city has something unique planters can use to say, "thank you" and join their partners to the city. In New Orleans, everyone has the privilege of experiencing "King Cake". Only after eating a Cream Cheese filled King Cake will you fully appreciate what I am saying. Many planters here send out King Cakes in January and February to their partners thanking them for their support. 

3. Text a picture and thank you. 

Ministry is fast paced, and we can quickly lose sight of all the support that made it possible. The next time you host a block party, community event, or see someone saved and baptized. Take a picture and send a text to your partners with a little note that just says, "thank you for making this possible." 

4. Send a book and thank you.

I have a copy of Pray for The Flock by Brian Croft on my nightstand. A church planter here in New Orleans gave me a copy and wrote a lengthy personal note of encouragement. This was a special gift that not only reflected gratitude for my investment, but ministered to me greatly. 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
— Philippians 1:3–5

These are practical and tangible ways to show your partners that you are grateful for their support and covet their partnership.

It saddens me to hear a support church share experiences of ingratitude and entitlement from partnerships. Church planters make it a priority to show your gratitude for how God has a provided for your ministry by intentionally thanking those who support your ministry.

Cultivating and Maintaining Good HABITS

Leadership experts tell us that it takes between 45-66 days to cultivate a habit. The dictionary defines a habit as a "settled or regular tendency or practice". Over time we all develop habits in our life, some good, some bad. Habits are the fruit of what you love the most. Here are few thoughts and resources for developing good habits in your life.

1. Live in Reality.

Your habits will impact your life. Sure there are those stories about someone's grandmother that drank, smoked, and ate bacon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day her whole life and lived to be a hundred and ten, but that is the exception, not the norm. Every person has a pattern of daily habits that influence and shape their life. Live in reality and see the future impact your habits will have on your life.

2. Develop Good Habits.

Many people struggle with developing good habits, believing it is impossible to change. This lie is contrary to the transforming work of the gospel. Stop feeling your stuck because of long term bad habits. Many years ago, I went through a season of not wanting to get up early. I began praying a simple prayer that God answered, "Lord, if the Holy Spirit can raise me from the dead, He can raise me from the bed." Start praying today that God would give you the grace and power to change.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
— Romans 8:11

3. Be Accountable.

Accountability is essential in cultivating and maintaining good habits. Having a spouse or friend that holds you accountable can be the difference on those days you need that extra motivation and encouragement. Authentic accountability will give someone permission to challenge you in cultivating and maintaining good habits. Do not go it "alone" find a partner to share your struggles and goals as you seek to lay a solid foundation of good habits in your life.

4. Leverage Tech.

There is an "App" for everything these days. Leveraging technology is helpful when cultivating and maintaining good habits in your life. Just do a Google search for "Best Habit Apps", there are numerous free and inexpensive apps. Here are a two apps that I find helpful in tracking and recording habits. Do not spend more time than necessary researching and experimenting with every app out there, find something that works and stick with it. Consistent use of effective technology can be very useful in cultivating good habits in your life.

1. Strides

2. Evernote

5. Evaluate, Adapt, Overcome.

Evaluation is essential, is what you are doing working? For the last fourteen months, our family of four has been on the incredible journey of fostering a two-year-old and three-year-old! Being OCD about calendars and schedules, this new reality threw a wrench in our family and personal routines, to say the least. Many of my previous routines had to change; I had to re-evaluate, adapt, and overcome to maintain consistent habits in this new seasons of life.

Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

POD Coaching: Life In Community- Part 1 & 2

This semester of POD Coaching will focus on Family and Community. We will be using "Disciplines of a Godly Family" by Kent and Barbara Hughes, and "Life in Community" by Dustin Willis as resources.

As a way to help anyone who has a desire to coach and disciple, I am posting my Coaching Scripts download links below, I pray it is valuable to your ministry.

Download Life in Community Part 1

Download Life in Community Part 2 

 

Fall POD Coaching- Growing Up (November Part 2)

Our current semester of POD Coaching is underway. Pod Coaching consists of a monthly meeting between 4-8 participants for an hour and half. This semester of POD Coaching will be focusing on Leadership and Discipleship. We will be using "Painful Side of Leadership" by Jeff Iorg, and "Growing Up" by Robby Gallaty as resources. As a way to help anyone who has a desire to start POD groups, I am posting my Coaching Script for this semesters Coaching. I pray it is valuable to your ministry. 

Download Growing Up Part 2- Coaching Script

Fall POD Coaching- Growing Up (October Part 1)

Our current semester of POD Coaching is underway. Pod Coaching consists of a monthly meeting between 4-8 participants for an hour and half. This semester of POD Coaching will be focusing on Leadership and Discipleship. We will be using "Painful Side of Leadership" by Jeff Iorg, and "Growing Up" by Robby Gallaty as resources. As a way to help anyone who has a desire to start POD groups, I am posting my Coaching Script for this semesters Coaching. I pray it is valuable to your ministry.

Download Growing Up Part 1- Coaching Script

Practical Ways To Support A Church Planter

With the overwhelming responsibilities and needs in ministry, it is easy to focus on our own church and lose sight of our support role towards a church plant. Here are some practical ways you can serve and support your church plant starting today.

PLANTER SUPPORT IDEAS:

  • Baby shower for expecting planters.

Have your church host a baby shower for an expectant planter. A partner church hosted a shower last year and provided a planting couple with diapers, baby food and clothes, and a freezer FULL of food. What a blessing!  

  • Monthly volunteers for childcare during worship.

SEND New Orleans has several partner churches that take one worship service a month and send a volunteer team to do childcare. This allows overworked volunteers to come and worship with their church family. 

  • Date night and childcare for a planter. 

One of the greatest barriers planters face in cultivating a healthy marriage, is simply finding childcare and resources to make it happen. Plan to send a team down to provide childcare and a dinner gift card. I promise it will be a blessing.  

  • Church Planter Profiles prayer strategy. 

The greatest partnership a planter can have is a faithful church praying for their family and work. Visit the NAMB website and download church planter profiles today, click here for SEND New Orleans Church Planter Profiles. 

  • Hosting a Global Impact Conference at your church.

Having a church planter come and share at a GIC is a powerful way to communicate and challenge your church to participate in local and global missions. You can read more information here about the benefits of a Global Impact Conference.  http://georgeross.net/home/10-reasons-to-host-a-global-impact-conference 

  • Pastor Appreciation Month.

 Unlike many established churches with a rich tradition of pastor appreciation, church plants reaching un-churched and de-churched people rarely have a background in pastor appreciation. Use this October as an opportunity to appreciate your church plant pastor. Here are some great resources for pastor appreciation http://sendnetwork.com/pastors-appreciation/

If you would like more ideas and information take time to visit the North American Mission Board SUPPORT church resource page. Here you will find out how your church can be the best SUPPORT church possible as you lead your church to love on and support church planters across North America. 


SUPPORTING CHURCH RESOURCES

Fall Pod Coaching- Painful Side of Leadership Part 1 & 2

Our current semester of POD Coaching is underway. Pod Coaching consists of a monthly meeting between 4-8 participants for an hour and half. This semester of POD Coaching will be focusing on Leadership and Discipleship. We will be using "Painful Side of Leadership" by Jeff Iorg, and "Growing Up" by Robby Gallaty as resources. As a way to help anyone who has a desire to start POD groups, I am posting my Coaching Script for this semesters Coaching. I pray it is valuable to your ministry. 

Download Painful Side of Leadership Part 1- Coaching Script

Download Painful Side of Leadership Part 2- Coaching Script

 

Leading Your Church To Have Kingdom Vision

Acts 13:1–3 (ESV)

1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

1. Be Intentional about it.

The first missionary team was intentionally sent by a local church to extend the gospel and advance God’s kingdom throughout the Gentile world. Kingdom vision will follow a leader's intentionality, it will not happen through wishful thinking. How are you intentionally leading your church to have kingdom vision?   

If the church is the outpost of Gods kingdom...then church planting is Gods means to advance His kingdom to the ends of the earth. The church at Antioch was an example of a multiplying church with a kingdom vision for intentionally making disciples.

2. Budget for it.

You are not serious about kingdom vision if your not willing to have a line item in your budget for church planting. If you want to find out what is important to your church, look at your budget. What you spend the most money and time on, reflect your priorities. Allocating resources for church planting is a testimony of kingdom leadership and a serious commitment to advance the gospel across the street and around the world.

3. Build His kingdom.

Our propensity is to grow our ministry, pastor our church, and build our kingdom. Kingdom vision will require dying to your hopes and dreams in exchange for seek first the kingdom of God. Building God’s kingdom means a radical commitment to His mission for making disciples and planting churches. A church with kingdom vision recognizes discipleship as the program of the church, not a program of the church. You will never lead a church with a kingdom vision if you are more concerned with building your kingdom, than making disciples who make disciples to advance His kingdom. 

No matter how large or small, every church can take the next steps in cultivating a kingdom vision for church planting. Being intentional, addressing your budget, and prioritizing disciple-making are small steps churches can take to create a kingdom culture for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel. 

Want more information about leading your church to have kingdom vision? Check out these resources for Supporting and Sending churches. 

Supporting Church Resources

Sending Church Resources

Too Busy To Pray For Your Children?

Some months ago I read, Setting Their Hope in God, Biblical Intercession for Your Children, by Andrew Case. It is a practical prayer book written to challenge parents to pray consistently and biblically for their children. Intentional prayer is certainly one of the greatest challenges of a busy life, but if we believe the scriptures, we must cultivate this discipline.

Praying for your children has to be one of the greatest privileges God gives us as parents. I am so grateful that at 43 years of age God is still gracious and patient as he sanctifies me in the discipline of prayer. This was a great short read that I highly recommend. 

Here are some takeaways:

From Ephesians 6:4, the work to be done by parents includes:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
— Ephesians 6:1–4

 1. Instructing them in the faith.

2. Setting them a holy example.

3. Restraining them.

4. Praying for them. 

 

You should pray for your children's conversion because:

  1. Their salvation is so great a prize that it is worth all the pains which your prayer to secure it for them may cost you.
  2. Few will pray for them if you do not. 
  3. No one else can pray for them as you do.
  4. Your omitting to do so will be perilous to them and to you.
  5. You will find it easier to perform other parental duties, which God has ordained as means to their salvation. 
  6. Prayer alone can call into exercise that divine power on their behalf, which is absolutely necessary in order that the prayers, which you may employ for their salvation, may not be used in vain.
  7. By their salvation, granted in answer to your prayers, your savior will be glorified. 
It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.
— Hudson Taylor

You should pray for your children's welfare because:

  1. You may expect, as a result of your prayers, that the power of God will counteract the times you have failed in your parenting.
  2. Their will be critical periods in their lives when, without your incessant prayers, they may act most unwisely, if not disastrously. 
  3. It will lead you to a better understanding of them.
  4. It will increase your holy desires for them.
  5. No other means will be so effectual in enabling you to overcome the difficulty you experience in talking with them on religious subjects.
  6. You will thereby secure for them God's aid in efforts they may make to yield to you in obedience.
  7. Other parents seeing you example, may be led to imitate you.
  8. The will often, should they continue in the world, have their times of need when the power of God alone can avail to help them.  
Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.
— Elisabeth Elliot


Why You Need A SENDING Church

Churches plant churches... On many occasions as a Pastor of a SENDING church and now a Missionary in New Orleans, I have encountered planters who want to plant, but they have no church that has sent them out.

Having a SENDING church is not only critical it is very biblical

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
— Acts 13:1–4, ESV

Here are 3 thoughts on the importance of a SENDING church:

1. A SENDING church provides affirmation.

Every church planter knows about assessments. These tools are excellent and needed for healthy church planting. But who knows you better than your SENDING church? The church at Antioch affirmed the calling of Paul and Barnabas, and sent them out. Who has affirmed your calling and leadership at the current church you are serving?

2. A SENDING church provides encouragement.

Being sent out by a church that knows you and loves you provides real encouragement for the long tough days of church planting. I have always found it interesting that God called Barnabas, the son of encouragement, to be on the team. What a testimony of the church at Antioch sending out their greatest encourager on the First Missionary Journey.

3. A SENDING church provides resources.

Resources will always be a need in church planting. A SENDING church is making an investment in you and the kingdom. Prayer, participation, and provision are some of the ways a SENDING church provides church planters with the needed resources to make a kingdom impact. 

William Carey, who upon his trip to India, looked at the Baptist Missionary Society leadership and said, "Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope." Carey would go as a missionary into the unknown and the BMS would provide him with the needed resources and support. Andrew Fuller, as secretary of the BMS, did just that, raising resources to send missionaries so the gospel could advance to the ends of the earth. A SENDING church holds the rope as planters take the gospel to cities and people who have no hope apart from the good news of Jesus Christ. 

Church planting without a SENDING church is a disaster waiting to happen. Before you publicly declare God’s call for you to plant a church ask yourselves a few questions: Has your local church affirmed your calling and giftedness to plant? Does your local church have a kingdom vision to send out and give away? If you are unable to secure a SENDING church what does that say about your leadership? Statistically, church plants with SENDING churches have a higher success rate… but most importantly having a SENDING church is just really biblical.

Check out these NAMB resources for SENDING Churches

3 Reasons Coaching Is Essential

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There is much talk these days about “Christian Coaching” and from my perspective, rightfully so. Coaching can be a valuable resource for any pastor/planter to grow personally, spiritually, and missionally.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
— Acts 20:28

Here are three reasons I believe coaching is essential:

1. Discovery. A pastor friend said it best; “There is a criminal lack of self-awareness in pastoral ministry.” Although there has been much written on self-awareness, the reality remains, we see ourselves better than we really are. Coaching provides insight and input into how others see us. It is difficult to lead effectively when those you lead perceive you differently, than you perceive yourself. Who has permission to adjust your self-perception?

2. Development. Years ago while living in Helena, MT., I met a cowboy who said  profoundly, “If you are not green and growing, you are dead and rotten.” Simple and ever so true! We are all in one of three places: We are growing and moving forward, we are losing ground and going backwards, or the most dangerous, we are stagnant and don’t even realize it. Coaching is not magic, only you can be responsible for you, but more often than not coaching is a catalyst for development and growth in the life of the leader.

3. Discernment. Impulsive decisions were one of my greatest leadership deficiencies during my first four years as a lead pastor. I am convinced that had I been coached, the experience would have enabled me to be a far more effective leader and decision maker. Coaching provides a listening ear and sounding board during critical times of ministry and life. Good coaching helps the leader by asking questions, listening, and giving input.

Entering into a coaching relationship is one of the most strategic decisions a leader will make. Through self-discovery, leadership development, and godly discernment a leader begins a journey of lasting and fruitful ministry. Stop lamenting your current circumstances; enlist a coach for your good and God’s glory.