Thursday, November 27, 2008

Making Kingdom Connections

I talked before about the importance for Encounter to make Kingdom connections and partnerships. It reminds me of a conversation I had with someone about Kingdom-mindedness several weeks back. You know, having a stronger desire to see God's Kingdom move forward than our own kingdoms.

My conclusion from this conversation? There is no room for being territorial in the Kingdom of God. It's either God or you — one must subside. Even in my own thought process, I've been reminded that you can't have both. This week has been a great reminder of that truth.

Andrea and I met with a couple of guys from an established 'network' of churches here in Montana. It turns out that they are looking to plant a church like Encounter right here in Helena. They recognize that Helena needs a faith community that connects the unconnected of this generation with Jesus and the life He brings.

In our conversation, we began to discuss how a partnership might work and agreed to continue our talks. This is another example of how God has been opening doors for His vision through Encounter.

OVERWHELMED...This brings me to my point. One church in Helena from this network has heard of our 'need' to get to Atlanta for the ARC Assessment. I was humbled and Andrea was overwhelmed almost to tears when the elders of this church (who don't really even know us) presented a check to help us with our remaining needs.

This one church community is not looking at Encounter as competition. They are not worried that Encounter may steal people as a core group. They just want to see people enter into a growing relationship with Jesus ...

... and that is what it means to be Kingdom-minded.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quotes That Have Messed Me Up!

I've been collecting quotes over a month or two from several of the blogs I follow. You can follow some of the original posts and my short comments on my Google Reader Shared Items Blog here. Recently, I've come across some that have absolutely messed me up!

Craig Groeschel [Swerve]
I believe one of the biggest ministry challenges in our day is small vision. Without intentional effort, most people tend to think small, play it safe, and avoid risks. Is God honored by the size of your vision?

To reach people that nobody else is reaching, you have to do things that nobody else is doing.

C.J. Mahaney
The proud person seeks to glorify himself and not God, thereby attempting in effect to deprive God of something only He is worthy to receive.

Dorothy Sayers
No crooked table legs or ill-fitted drawers, I daresay, ever came out of the Carpenter's shop in Nazareth. (Translation: excellence honors God.)

Mark Batterson [Evolutional]
Most people are bored with their faith. And as Soren Kierkegaard said, boredom is the root of evil. You cannot live by faith and be bored simultaneously

Francis Chan in Crazy Love
Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to other believers.

Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.

Tony Morgan [blog]
Direct mail won’t fix your problem. Billboards won’t fix your problem. Neither will platform announcements or bulletin ads or bumper stickers...until you answer the right questions, marketing could be what’s preventing your success.

I had a very wise man once ask me, ‘If I was new to the area would I go to the church that I was serving at?’ When I answered no, he gently let me know that I was stealing from that church and it was time to move on. (a comment from Ryan over on Tony's blog)

Troy Kennedy [NewWorship]
Is my heart broken for the things that break Jesus' heart? Does my heart rejoice over the things that Jesus rejoices over?

Bill Hybels in Axioms
Passion always leads.

Perry Noble [blog]
Your sin cost Jesus as much as that person's sin

An idol is anything we like more than Jesus.

For far too long, the Church has gotten mad at non-Christians for being non-Christians. I don’t get mad at a duck for quacking. It’s a duck. It quacks.

We need to accept people where they are. Meet them where the are. And take them to a place where they can meet Jesus.

A disciple isn’t someone who knows a lot of information. It’s someone who says, ‘Jesus, I will follow you.’

The early church was HEAVILY led by the Holy Spirit…they didn’t know what to do without Him! We don’t either!

People ask me how I hear the voice of God. How do you not hear the voice of the Lord? ... Where there is no expectation, there is seldom any revelation.

Let me know if any of these mess you up...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Would You Go To Starbucks If...?

Another video I found over at Monday Morning Insight. What if Starbucks marketed itself like the church does? Funny, but sad and true.

Engaging The Senses

I think how we express the message of life matters. Especially new life and second chances. What does it look like to be a new creation?

I love the creativity of expression in the use of lighting, sound, and color to engage the senses in this video. It speaks volumes more than simply saying "we are a new creation." What do you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

We're Going to Atlanta!

Andrea and I spent most of the day a few Sundays ago completing assessment tests. We prepared a spiritual gifts assessment, DISC and LEAD personality profiles, and some other things for the ARC church planter assessment on December 1-2. Then, we sent out the entire package via FedEx this week.

It was no suprise that my top spiritual gifts results included Worship Leading, Administration, and Leadership. But not all the tests were as straightforward. We're just praying for accurate results so that the assessors can help us correctly identify our weak areas. :-)

We have been humbled by the response to our prayers for help getting to Atlanta. After we paid the initial Assessment fee, we had 5 different people/organizations step forward with enough combined help to cover all the expenses for the trip. We are so grateful to God, our prayer partners, and those who were able to help.

We thought you might want to know more about the ARC Assessment itself so that you would be better equipped to pray. Basically, ARC will be assessing us in three areas:
  1. The strength and alignment of our marriage. How they feel Andrea and I will stand up against the challenges and struggles as church planters.
  2. Our possible strengths as church planters. How do our strengths and weaknesses line up with what they have found to be successful church planting situations.
  3. Our "fit" with ARC's vision as an organization. Are we the type of church planters they want to partner with? Is our vision a "fit"?
The ARC assessment is specifically focused on determining planters that ARC will provide financial help with start up funds and post-launch needs. At the Assessment in Atlanta, there will be those who are recommended and those who are not.

In their assessment invitation, ARC was clear in their intention to help church planters whether or not they invest financially. They wrote...

"Whether or not you are recommended to be an ARC sponsored church plant is not a conclusion about whether or not you are called. Nor does it diminish our desire to work and fellowship together."

Finally, we have seen the Lord opening new doors of opportunity as it comes to support, partners, and sponsorships. While I do not quite feel at liberty to go into detail yet, please be praying for His continued blessing as we seek to launch this new ministry in Helena to bring more people into His kingdom.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Proposal Meeting Update

On Monday, November 10, I was privileged to answer questions from the Hannaford Elder Board regarding our church plant proposal. We believe that this church plant is an opportunity to reach people they're not reaching, and to be a part of leading unsaved young people into growing relationships with Jesus. In addition to general congregational encouragement and prayer support, we're praying that Hannaford will partner with us as an ARC Sponsor Church.

Statistics show that new faith communities are six times more effective at bringing unchurched people into growing relationships with Jesus than established churches. We know that if God does want this partnership, He will help Hannaford step out of it's comfort zone and partner with us as a way of removing some of the barriers to reaching those who are turned off by traditional approaches to church.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

More News! Elder Proposal

It has been an interesting and inspiring week in the Powell world of ministry and church planting. Having recently met for prayer and encouragement with other church planters and leaders here in Helena, I am sure that God is moving His people to help our community to encounter the love and grace of Jesus like never before.

This week I was privileged to begin working with Hannaford to move them forward in their new efforts to better connect with young adults attending there. It is exciting to see that God's people all over Helena are recognizing the need to engage all age groups.

With everything else, I am also preparing to finally answer questions from the Hannaford elders about our Encounter church plant proposal I submitted nearly two months ago. I am very excited and nervous to be able to share my full passion with the elders and I am praying that the Spirit gives me the words to effectively communicate God's vision for Encounter. My heart breaks for those young people in Helena that do not know Jesus and who have been turned off by traditional approaches of church.

Please be praying this weekend that God's Spirit is already working in the hearts of the elders to see beyond what man can do, and to have faith in what God can and is already starting to do through us and Encounter.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Exciting News! ARC Assessment

We recently received some encouraging and exciting news ... ARC has invited us to be assessed as church planters (read more about ARC here and here and here and here).

This is a great opportunity that could open matching funds for every dollar we raise for the Encounter church plant. It will also help Encounter meet our budget within the first year after our initial launch.

In addition, statistics show that while church plants only have a 68% chance of surviving through the fourth year, ARC church plants have over a 90% survival rate. That's one of the reasons we feel that partnering with ARC is a great opportunity to help get this church plant off the ground.

When we first got the invitation, Andrea and were doubtful we would be able to gather the needed funds to travel to Atlanta, Georgia by December 1. But after making our need public, we've had several people step out to help - covering over half the cost of airfare.

While there is still more to raise, we are having faith that God will provide the rest of the funds before we go. Out of that faith, we have confirmed with ARC and will be completing the necessary pre-assessment applications and evaluations as soon as they arrive in the mail this weekend.

We know that things are difficult for many these days, so we are not asking for any one person to "sponsor" our entire assessment. But if we can gather another $400, we can fly to Atlanta and avoiding the hazardous driving in winter weather.

God's plan includes the efforts of more than one person, that is why we feel compelled to encourage each of you to get involved. So in addition to your prayers for God's work through Encounter, if you feel led to help sponsor our church planting assessment through ARC, please let us know as soon as possible.

Stay tuned. There is more to come...