church

3 things we've learned starting a church

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A wise church planter told me that church planting would depend more on God growing my heart than God growing His church. “Jesus will always build His church. It’s up to us if we allow Him to grow us in the process.” I’ve taken those words to heart. The last 30 months have been some of the most exciting and exhausting of my life. I’ve enjoyed incredible highs and endured lonely lows. I’ve fully realized my capacity and limits. I’ve come face to face with my faults and weaknesses. While it’s still fresh, I’d like to share some broad insights that I’ve gained over the last 2+ years. In the coming weeks I hope to share more specific insights. Here's my first 3.

We can’t do anything alone

Whether you’re leading a group, managing a team or pastoring a church, you need someone who is pouring into you. I have a coach, an accountability network and close friends that keep me honest. I’m prone to do things on my own. It’s hard to let people do what I can do myself. Even more difficult to let people get close enough to know me. I believe there are 3 types of people we need in our lives:

  1. THOSE AHEAD OF US: You need someone who’s been where you’re heading. You need their insight and encouragement. You need their honesty. Many will tell you theory. these people will tell you experience. It sounds like “here’s what I’ve seen…” more than it sounds like “here’s what I think…”
  2. THOSE BESIDE US: Who do you have in your corner that’s doing what you’re doing? Most of you know I have been blessed with some real advantages. Kevin Bass is my unfair advantage. When he’s working with you he makes everyone look good. He’s also a super encourager of people. You need some friends who are in the thick of it with you. People you can count on. People who love and accept you even though they’ve seen you at your worst. You need someone who can keep you humble and accountable.
  3. THOSE BEHIND US: The kingdom isn’t just for you, today. It’s been entrusted to us for the next generation, tomorrow. Who are you strategically spending your time with? Who can you mentor, encourage and lead? Someone needs your expertise, experience and guidance. Don’t be selfish and spend all your time with the first 2 people I mentioned. Find someone to help along the way.

 

We need all the support we can get

We planted through a denomination. We received training from multiple organizations. We meet often with individuals from different movements for leadership development and encouragement. We wish we could figure everything out on our own. We can’t. Well, maybe we could, but it would take decades. We’ve been blessed to take years of experience from other planters/planting groups and repurpose it for our context. If you're trying to lead within your own knowledge, experience or skill, you're capping yourself. There are people who've done what you're trying to do. Reach out to them. We bought coffee and meals for countless pastors, leaders, planters, business owners and coaches. Every one of them has something different to offer. It's been said, "Show me your 5 friends and I'll show you where you'll be in 5 years." I want to encourage you to get out there and build or find a network that can support and develop you. If you're trying to lead a church, plant a work or start a business, you'll need different networks for different things. There are leaders I spend time with for spiritual wisdom. There are planters I depend on for specific insight into an issue I'm facing. There are church planting groups I depend on for training and support. There are hundreds of individual sponsors who pray for our ministry often. All of these networks work together to build Jesus' church in our zip code. Find a network. Work the network. It's 2018. There's no excuse for trying to do something with no support network.

Nothing can replace

your relationship with Jesus

My backyard is my favorite spot. When I gave my wife a tour of our backyard in 2013 it wasn’t much to look at. I didn’t take her inside the house that day either. Nothing good would come from her seeing that wreck. The brick cape cod at the end of Tyler Crescent had been empty for a few years. The previous owner had abandoned it mid renovation. There wasn’t a kitchen. The yard looked like a jungle. I had to rent a bobcat to tame that jungle. She and I arrived in the late afternoon to see the sunset. That’s all this house had to offer: a view. But I knew. This would be the yard we’d enjoy. This would be our next home. This jungle was where I’d spend some time alone with God.

Over the last few years I’ve had some long afternoon talks with God in that backyard. Occasionally I’ll be mowing, raking or plugging while we talk. Often, I’m just pacing around as God works to soften or direct my heart. I’ve had some difficult conversations with God watching the sun set in my yard. I’ve enjoyed some incredible answers to prayer walking in circles on our little piece of Portsmouth. I’ve been blessed with an incredible spouse, great training, strong support and a next-level team. To be clear, I've got more than a few unique advantages. None of those advantages can ever replace my personal relationship with God. Your relationship with God can take you farther, longer than any unfair advantage in your skillset. Your (lack of) relationship with God can also undercut every advantage in your skillset. Get a team. Find a support network. But trust God, not the process.

 

3 simple steps to establish your devotional life

Do you ever ask yourself  How do I start reading my Bible, or How do I start praying to God?

Do you ever ask yourself How do I start reading my Bible, or How do I start praying to God?

What makes getting into a routine so difficult? We have busy schedules that consist of work, family, and activities that we enjoy. So, where can we fit in extra time for other things? That's easy,  most of us have at least 15-30 minutes every day that we can allot to spending our time with these other things.

Yet, getting into a routine can be so difficult because it asks not how much time we give in a particular day, but how often will we seek to spend time each day and the next on devoting our time to whatever thing we are giving our time to. With as difficult as starting a routine can seem to be, starting a routine is also equally simple. 

Choose a time

What time works best for you? As I said earlier, most of us can find a 15-30 minute window in our busy lives to spend time with our Creator. One of the most crucial aspects of starting a routine is gradually building your endurance up from an easy starting point. A lot of times we can get burnt out of our devotions simply because we try to do everything all at once. Pick a time of day and start small.

I tend to have a tendency to be more awake at night and I prefer to end my day in a way that I can thank God for the things He has done that day. I've also met plenty of people who love to start their day in God's presence so that their day and their decisions throughout their day reflect their time spent with God early in the morning. And there are also others who prefer to spend their time with God in the middle of the day or during their break at work. All of these are good, but remember to choose a time that works best for you.

Choose a place where you are comfortable

Do you have a view that sticks out in your head? How about a comfortable spot you love to sit? Learning to enjoy your routine is vastly important to continuing a healthy routine. Finding that place where you can sit and focus on God is important to enjoying the routine of having your devotion with God. If you don't have a place in mind, look for one.

Read/Pray/Meditate

There isn't a real set order in how you should do these three things, but it is good to do these three things in some order. 

Read. Reading our Bible is the way that we can see what God has spoken to those in the past and how he speaks to us today. Don't just read to read, read so that you can remember what you've read. No matter if you have read 5 verses or 5 chapters. If you are having trouble finding a book to start in you can look back at one of our recent posts about where to start reading your Bible: http://www.restoreportsmouth.com/blog/?offset=1474568064263

Pray. Praying is our way to speak with God. He wants for us to have a relationship with Him and to have an ongoing conversation with Him in our Bible reading and prayer. Praying for our needs is good as well, but remember to also pray for others.

Meditate. I'm not talking about sitting on the floor Indian-style and humming chants or doing yoga. I mean that after you read and pray to reflect on the things that you've learned. Reflect on the Word of God and reflect on what He is doing in your life.

-T.I. (the intern)

What's your next step?

This week at Restore we had FOUR people (Terry, Jenny, Caleb, and Alex) take their next step with baptism!! 

What's your next step? Pastor Marc taught us this week from Ephesians 2:4-10 on how we can take the steps to having a better relationship with God. Here's what you missed!


God said, ‘I want you to be Mine and I want to be yours.”
— Marc

SPend time with God

The more time that we spend with God, the more we come to realize how perfect He is and how far we are from Him. But that isn't supposed to discourage us, it's supposed to encourage us to strive to be more like God in how loving, merciful, and gracious we are with other people.

Jesus has called you to change your world

Our focus shouldn't be to change the whole world, but to change our community, our workplace, our families, and ourselves for Jesus.

it starts with your relationship with god

Before we can change our world God has to change us first. God wants to rescue you from who you were. God wants to redeem you into who you were called to be. And through you God wants change the world.

 

Here's a video of this weeks message.

Generosity

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This week Pastor Marc talked about 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 and what it looks like to live generously. Here are three take-aways from this week.

Generosity is giving when it doesn’t make sense.
— Marc

Generosity requires faith

God asks for us to have faith in him, but that faith is stretched so thin when the rent is due. We serve a generous God. He has given us His Son, He gives us Salvation open-handed, and He gives us hope. God is not a taker, He is a giver. He asks us little in comparison. Money is not the end-all-be-all. He may not always give us money, but God knows what we need. Our God is faithful to give to those are faithful to give.

generosity kills materialism

How do we kill materialism? We have to view money for what it is, a tool. For us as believers, money is a tool for us to bless our community. Tools are made to be used, not to be stored away never to be used again.

Generosity builds faith

God provides a way for us to be generous. Our faith in God increases as we see the blessings He brings to those who are in need. When we step out in faith and give (at church or in the community) and watch God step in and provide, our faith is strengthened. Do we trust God enough to give?

 

A follow up to Sunday's sermon:

The goal of growth is ALWAYS productivity. We raise our kids to be independent so that they may grow to be productive adults. We don't want our children to depend on us forever, and we desire to see them mature and become self-sufficient.

The same is true for the church.

Our goal is to be healthy enough that we can grow to a place in which we are taking care of our own needs; physical, spiritual, and financial. Our ultimate goal is to be productive. We aren't just paying bills and passing time, but we are making a difference and investing in our community. If this is to be true in the church it must also be seen in believers' lives.

Here are two questions to think on this week

  1. Are we growing into mature believers who are generous AND self-sufficient?
  2. Are we growing into every good work mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:8?

Growth and good works go hand in hand.

 

Here's a video of the sermon this week on Generosity.

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What are Launch team members committing to?

When someone asks what it takes to be a launch team member, my reply is simple: "gimme 5!"

I'm not just asking for a high five, though those are always welcome on teams. We're asking for 5 distinct commitments from a team member.

1. Commit to be there when we gather. This is a big one. Everybody wants to be part of a church, but showing up seems to be hard in 2015. We are asking for faithful team members who we can depend on. When guests show up, but nobody is there to greet them, it gets awkward quick.

2. Commit to serious prayer for the church plant. Literally every challenge we've faced thus far has been overcome through prayer. This is our secret weapon. If we are going to be team members, we need to be praying together. 

3. Commit to being an outspoken advocate/bringer. The best way to reach people is by telling them/inviting them. We need individuals who will commit to bringing people. 

4. Commit to generosity. Oh shoot, is he talking about money???? We hope to be the most generous church in our community. That's only possible if we are generous as individuals. There's no required amount or sliding scale to join the team (we aren't into pyramid schemes). We ask the team to lead the way in generosity.

5. Commit to serving. Some will serve in our guests services area. Others will help the parking lot team. Maybe your gifted to serve in the area of music, kids' checkin, hospitality, etc. We don't ask anyone to serve outside their comfort level, but we do ask for team members to lead by example and serve regularly somewhere. The good news is our nursery is fully staffed by professionals, so you don't have to worry about dirty diapers.

 

-Marc