I just read an excellent post from Steve Sjogren entitled “12 Lies Church Planters Tell Themselves” on the blog I always love Sjogren’s  honesty and deep spirituality. Here are a few of those lies (in bold) with my own commentary on each:

If God blesses this plant, we’ll be up and running in no time flat. Steve uses the analogy of growing asparagus to emphasize the unpredictability of these things. I agree. God’s timing is not our timing. There are ways to speed up the process of building momentum in a plant, but ultimately God causes the growth. That’s in his time, not ours. I don’t think this means the planter ought to sit passively waiting for God to move. I’ve always believed the “work like it all depends on you/pray like it all depends on God” philosophy.

Since great preaching is vital from the beginning, I’ll spend quite a bit of time in message prep from the beginning of the plant. Preachers love to preach – I get that! But I have seen way too many planters launch too soon and focus too much on their speaking ability. I’d say the number one reason planters launch too soon is that they want to be “in the pulpit”. They can’t wait to be preaching regularly. The reality is that during the pre-launch phase you have the freedom to put all of your time and energy on things you will never have enough time and energy for once you are doing weekly services. Use that time wisely!

We’ll figure out how to take care of our money accounting details as soon as we have real money coming in. If you are even thinking about planting a church, go immediately to and sign up for their regular emails. These people are experts on all things financial and legal in the church. They will scare the mess out of you with their stories of church plants who didn’t handle these things well. To quote the great Mr. T, “I pity the fool” who doesn’t do this right from the beginning.

These are just a few of Sjogrens Lies. I encourage you to read his full article with his own commentary on these points.


Where Did the Young People Go?

I hear it all the time, “We wish we had more young people in our church.” In my last post, I spoke about signs that point to a future of decline in a church. One of these is the lack of young people being developed into leaders. Actually, it isn’t just small, older congregations that have this problem. Actually some fast growing young congregations suffer from the same symptom. They aren’t developing leaders.

Developing leader means more than throwing some poor kid behind the sound board and saying “How about mixing the sound today?” Or, “You are good with computers, make us a new webpage.” What I am talking about is an intentional process of developing leaders. Churches more often use people rather than developing them. They get in this desperation spiral of trying to throw everything together every week and never develop a process.

Churches that have an ample amount of young leaders tend to have a few things in common:

1. They have a process. They take people from Point A to Point B and then to Point C. This process is repeatable and reproducible. It is written down and clear.

2. They have people who are dedicated to developing leaders. There are people whose calling is to coach or mentor – and they focus on that calling. These people aren’t overloaded with a bunch of other responsibilities.

3. They have a clearly defined outcome. They know what they are trying to achieve in a young leader’s life, and they know what it looks like when they get there. Expectations from the church to the young leader and from the young leader to the church are spelled out.

4. They develop more than skills. They are interested first in developing character and a servant’s heart, and only then in developing skills. Most churches only teach skills (Let me show you how to run the sound board).

5. They allow young leaders to try. They are willing to take appropriate risks with young leaders, knowing that sometimes they are going to fail. These churches will sacrifice Sunday morning “excellence” in order to allow “air time” for developing musicians, teachers, etc.

So the next time you ask yourself “Where did all the young people go?” many of them are at that church down the street that practices these five things. They are being stretched and challenged. They are being allowed to grow and develop. They will become bored with a church that offers them anything less. Wouldn’t you?



Young people say to church: You Lost Me

I had a great time recently learning from David Kinnaman at a conference hosted by National Community Church in Washington D.C. Kinnaman (@davidkinnaman on Twitter) is president of Barna Group  and author of unchristian and You Lost Me Of course, National Community Church  is the multi-site church pastored by Mark Batterson and his latest book is The Circle Maker   Are those enough links for you?

Kinnaman has done major research on the generation alternately called “Mosaic” “Millennials” and “Gen Y” depending on who is doing the talking. This is the generation that is coming into adulthood. Everyone these days wants to know what makes this generation tick. Marketers are constantly trying to figure out how to get their attention, colleges want their money, and churches are wondering where they are. Kinnaman’s first book unchristian focused on those young people on the outside of the church. You Lost Me is more about those young people who have left the church.

He began his talk by saying “It’s complicated” (an obvious reference to Facebook postings on relationship by many young people). His point is that the world is a complicated place, and the church isn’t helping them navigate through this complexity.  He made the comment “We’ve given them just enough Jesus to get them bored, but not enough to get them transformed.”  In the survey of 18-29 year olds with a Christian background, they found that 59% of them have dropped out of church, 38% have significantly doubted their faith, and 32% had considered rejecting their parent’s faith.

I’ll share more from Kinnaman in upcoming posts.