Tertullian of Carthage was born around A.D. 155. He had a fine education. His parents were pagan but he converted toward the end of the 2nd century to the Christian faith. He indicated that he was impressed by he attitudes and beliefs of Christianity. The courage and the determination of martyrs, their morality, and uncompromising belief in one God. He died an old man around A.D. 220.
Here we have one of his very profound sayings. This grabbed my spirit when I saw it. I am involved in a lot of funerals, death, hospice, etc. as a pastor. I see the struggles of family when a loved one they adore and love passes. I also see the struggle when a loved one who has led a pretty selfish life passes. They want to grief, and feel bad they don’t.
This begs some questions for us to contemplate.
- As you think of your decisions, your life, your habits, are they self-centered?
- How much do you sacrifice for family, your spouse, your kids?
- Do you spend your time wisely?
- Do you add value to others lives by encouraging?
- How do you speak to your family? Love, encouragement, fun, or are you letting anger, criticism, snottiness, be your normal communication?
- Are you doing anything missional for Jesus?
- Do you “die to self” and put others and the Lord first? Or is that uncommon?
God has so much for us, if we put Him first. Love others more. Be selfish less.
Mark 8:34-38 34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
As 2018 as arrived so have all the New Year’s Resolutions and goals. The gyms will be filled the next couple weeks, and more Paleo diet books and the like will be downloaded and fly off the shelves. We will pledge more time with family, less time on Netflix and social media. Thousands will announce their new goals to give up things, like sugar, smoking, gluten, etc. and sadly, most people will abandon these resolutions within a couple weeks.
But what kind of change do we really need and how can it happen? This verse in Old Testament gives us some insight of what the Lord is able to do. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36.26). True change is a change of our heart. Deep change comes from the inside out. So changing our hair and weight might be noticeable, change in our character and choices are more beneficial. These changes on the inside that manifest on the outside, make the greatest difference in our lives and the lives of those closest to us, those we love and need in our lives.
What deep change would be the greatest for you this year? More time with family? Freedom from temper? The way you talk to your spouse? How you use time and resources? Do you need free from addictions? Be less grumpy? Have more joy, less fear? The Lord can do a work in our hearts and deep change can happen through Christ if we will be humble and ask Him for help. He can give us the strength for all these kinds of changes and more.
I love the verse in Proverbs 4.23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Only the Lord can change a heart by His love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Pr 4:23). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
In 1996 we left ministry in Northville Michigan to plant a church in Bedford township or Temperance, Michigan, a bordertown adjacent north to Toledo, Ohio. NCA and sent us out with love, prayer, and support in every way. It has been 21 years. I am so glad Wendy and I stepped out in faith, left the comforts of being a full-time youth pastor, and went on the journey. Today we have 2 campuses, 4 weekend gatherings, with 50+ small groups, and an amazing staff. We have built a few times, and have seen many, many people come to Christ, we have started another campus, and God is moving in lives and growing people’s faith.. Here is why I am so glad I did not “chicken” out from the challenges of church planting.
- I needed to grow in faith. I had to trust God for everything. My faith grew. I can believe God for so many things as I have seen Him so faithful. I would not have the faith I have now, if I did not plant Compelled Church.
- I struggled being bi-vocational. The struggle helped me. I had to be better with time, plan more efficiently, and think ahead. I had to budget money carefully. We learned to live on less, and not lose our joy.
- I understand the pressures and challenges of our bi-vocational pastors because I was. It is hard. No one gets how hard it is.
- My children were part of the church plant and have experienced this, and it is part of their ethos and worldview. They know God is real. The love the church, and love ministry.
- The stories! People’s lives changed by Christ. I know God would have called someone else if we would have said no to the call here, but I get the privilege of being part of the spiritual journey of many. What an honor.
- Christ is so real to me. I will never forget that this is his church. He is the head. He is in charge and He builds the church. I live at His service.
- Compelled Church has been an encouragement to other pastors and leaders. They gave in those early years, they invested, they encouraged, and their fingerprints are on Compelled. I know that encourages them to continue to help and support church planters.
- We planted another campus in Toledo. Many have come to Christ, come back to Christ and God’s people had an opportunity to be missional and believe God for another “church”. The campus pastor, Tim Rabara, was saved, discipled, and sent out from Compelled Church.
- We have also supported other church plants, taken dozens of mission trips, given hundreds of thousands to missions, because of this church plant.
- We have had the opportunity to send many into ministry and missions over the years. Dozens of young people and adults, serve in ministry in so many places. What an honor to be part of their journey.
- We have made priceless relationships in the community, as we lived here, imbedded our lives here, went to the public school here, participating in sports, and the community. God has leveraged those relationships in amazing ways. I have some amazing stories.
- I met amazing mentors that poured into my life to helped me, and speak into my life. I will forever be indebted to Dean Grabill, my brother Steve, Todd Winkler, Otis Buchan and NCA, Hugh Duncan (he never stopped encouraging me, contacting me, writing me, calling me), Dennis Clanton, Marty Eddinger, Jim Rentz, Tim Dilena, Steve Miller, Joel Stocker, Brad and Tom Trask, more friends and mentors than I can even list!
- Everyday has been an adventure, in the lives, and community of faith. I would not trade it for the world. The last 21 years have been a roller coast ride of amazing, with God’s faithfulness in each season, the great ones, and the tough ones, He is faithful.
Don’t underestimate the power and leading of God. If you want to investigate more about church planting, multi-site, shoot me a note. I would be overjoyed to invest and help in anyway I can into future planters. email@example.com
Some church-planting pics for fun.
We will celebrate 5 years of our Holland Location of Compelled Church on January 29th. In the last five years I have a learned a lot and so has our team. Here are some key things we have learned.
- There is not just one multi-site model-Multi-site churches do it all differently. Live, video, site pastors, pre-recorded, livestream…..on and on. The church must decide their best way, that works for them.
- The Site pastor is the key-Much has been written about this. This can’t be under-stressed. The site pastor must be a top shelf spiritual leader, growing, with character and Christ-likeness to match. He must be a loyal, gifted, extrovert with a heart for discipleship and leadership. Our’s is and we would not be celebrating 5 years without him. Thank you Tim and Amanda Rabara.
- Not everyone cares. I have learned that our Bedford Campus (first church plant), is not 100% engaged in the missional outreach of a multi-site. Many are, some even have gone there to minister, but many don’t seem interested. Good or bad, just a reality. Communicating vision, passion, and wins, continue to help that.
- People come to Christ at Multi-site. Many believers are vocal that they would never attend a multi-site or watch a video message, but they are not the targets. We are attempting with all our heart to reach the lost, and that happens! People come to Jesus.
- Communication must increase internally and publicly. I have learned that I must communicate more. I must communicate with my pastors, site leaders, official board, both locations, etc. Without communication it all breaks down.
- The Goal is evangelism and ministry! Some get confused that the goal is to have the new site be “self-supporting” or that the new site exists independently, or that it is “cut loose” at some point. None of these are our goals. Our goals is to win souls, and help people to “love God, love each other, and serve the world.”
- A new site impacts the staff-Everyone on staff is affected and they all must grow in thinking, sourcing, and encouraging the leaders, ministries, pastors of the site. Everyone must be “all in”.
- It costs money-Investment must happen. Ministry can be expensive. The lost is worth it. Marriages saved, children and youth coming to Christ, people returning to their faith…every dollar is worth it.
- Be committed for the long haul. This has been difficult. Our staff has paid a price. Our site pastors and family have also. It would have been easy to quit a few times, but it is worth it. Be committed to not quitting.
- Long-range planning must increase by the Lead Pastor. I have learned that I must plan way out for the life and the calendar of the church as well as for the weekends. It is another layer, and with 3 gatherings at one campus and a 4th at the Holland location, planning is critical and cannot be avoided.
- You must have an associate or executive pastor that is amazing. Our executive pastor, Rick Flood, makes sure the tech, sound, planning, ideas, and so much more is thought about and implemented. We could have never done this without him.
- You can’t cut corners on tech. You need good equipment and it needs supported, updated, and protected. Your weekend depends on it.
- Video teaching is not just for the young. We have reached many older adults, many even over 60 that don’t mind video teaching at all. They are rocks at our campus. I love them so much.
Always a lot to think about to be multi-site. But seeing the lost saved makes it worth it and I believe the pleasure of God is blessing Compelled Church is so many other ways because we took a step of faith, put our money where are heart is, and truly lived “compelled by His love.” If you have any questions, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to more years and someday, more sites, and more lives changed for Christ.
Five years ago we set out on an endeavor to plant another location of Compelled Church. God gave us an amazing site pastor, worship leader, and key volunteers that have stuck in out, worked hard, never quit, and today we are expanding a growing church with life-changing ministries and relationships. Continue reading “Five Year Anniversary for Compelled Multi-site Launch”
I was at the church this morning, doing some things and getting ready for the weekend gatherings. I noticed the little birds that were up underneath the car port were now gone. They got strong enough to fly away. I then thought of Rick’s message on gratefulness. I thought of how many people over the last 20 years have been nurtured, made strong, and have “flown away”. Some of our young people have entered into full time ministry , and mission fields. I thought of many of them, and I was thankful. I saw some other things on my walk.
- I saw the empty quiet building which a few days ago was full of children every morning learning the Word of God, and trust in Jesus. I walked to the front and remember dozens asking Jesus into their heart on Thursday. My heart is so thankful for all the volunteers, leaders, and Pastor Matt and Mandie Reinhart. I pray these children will follow the Lord, and their parents will help and lead the way.
- I walked on our new floors and remembered how many hands made it possible, so thankful for servant hearts.
- I watered our beautiful flowers, thankful for Deb and Harry Welch, planting and caring for them. I prayed for her healing as I know she has been sick, and am thankful for their life, that God brought them to Compelled.
- I put up the building plans for the Toledo Campus build out on the wall. So thankful for a church that is missional, and for what the Lord is going to do as we will have 3000 more sq. ft. for children’s ministry, and for Jennifer Perkins who has agreed to be the Children’s Ministry Director there! Praise God. Thankful for Pastor Tim and Amanda’s leadership, and for the faithfulness of Curtis and Iris Klotz and so many others! God is moving in so many lives there.
- I put up a certificate on our Global Outreach Missions board that we were 371st in the nation for Assembly of God churches in missions giving. That is out of 12,000 churches! Wow!
- I looked out the window at the playground God provided. I believed for years for one for the children and young families, he gave it to us. He took care of us…..again.
- I stepped into my office and looked at the pics of my family that line my walls. I am so proud of my children and thankful to God for who they are, and who they are becoming. Grateful for Justin, that God put in our lives. Said a simple pray for continued guidance, and protection from the enemy on their lives. another prayer of gratitude flowed without words from my heart.
- I watched Jeremy Whitmill, fixing the drain and door on his Saturday morning off, he made time for the Lord’s work to help his church. I am grateful that we really love, love, and serve.So many like him, make ministry here fun, enjoyable, and a blessing. We truly value serving. Our Father sees it all.
- I got something off my wife’s desk. I thought of our 29 years of marriage and ministry. I thought of all she does for Compelled, quietly, behind the scenes, unnoticed by most everyone, except the one who has His eye on the sparrow. What he sees in secret will one day be rewarded. I thought back on the sacrifices she made so we could plant Compelled, and the church could be strengthened. I thought of her ministry to our children, who are now young adults that love the Lord. I am thankful for her beauty, love, patience, and joy in which she lives out every day. I am grateful to have her by my side in life, as best friends, parents, and ministry partners.
- I went out and washed off my brother Steve’s memorial stone. I stood choked up as I thanked God for His life and his persistence in helping my life, and showing me Jesus. I am honored and humbled to have his fingerprints on my life and ministry. I pledged to “be about the Father’s business” on this earth, as he would encourage me. I relish the day we can eat some blueberry pancakes, have a rasberry mocha together, catch upon the years we missed with Pat, and live in eternity with Christ.
- I thought of God’s goodness to me, of his great mercy on my life. I am so undeserving to spiritually lead, be adopted into His family, and to have Him live in my life. I bowed my head in humility and thankfulness for Jesus, whose death and resurrection brought me forgiveness of my sins, the guilt of my sin, the punishment, consequences, and the deliverance from the ways of this world and self-destruction without Him. What a wonderful Savior I know.
Yes, I had quite a morning of revelation, and my heart is full of God’s Spirit. Yes, the birds are gone, but the ministry here is not, and neither is the power and presence of the Lord. I heed the word of Samuel the prophet to Israel in 1 Chronicles 12.24
“Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”
Staying interested and engaged in the things of God takes discipline and tenacity. It is God’s will for us. It is His desire we grow in our relationship with him. It is easy to get out of the habits and disciplines that cause our spiritual interest and hunger to stay on Christ. It is too easy to drift and to move back to the things of this world that have nothing to offer us spiritually and add nothing positive to our life. Our old ways can creep back. Here are some practical ways to keep engaged in the Lord.
- Have a Bible reading and Bible study plan. If not, you will most likely just skip around and neglect the Word of God altogether. Reading the Word is communing with the Spirit of God.
- Serve in the Kingdom. Do something for others and for the Lord. Get out of just thinking of your life, your schedule, your finances, your health and do something for God and serve others.
- Talk to the Lord more. Pray daily. Make it a habit this year to pray before meals, at bed, in the morn, while you drive, just talk to the Lord more.
- Become a worshiper. Learn to go deeper in expressing your love to the Lord. Decide you are not going to care what anyone thinks, and worship.
- Access your life and habits. Is there anything quenching your desire for Christ? Any sin you are not being honest about? Shows and website you should not be viewing? Missing going to church a lot and you no longer think anything of it? Temper, swearing, anger, too common and needs to go?
- Do generous things. The Holy Spirit moves in us when we are generous for the Lord is so generous to us in so many ways.
- Make it a goal to grow in Christ with others. Get in a small group, host one, or lead one. Growing in life and community with others is God’s way. We were created for relationship.
- Enjoy Jesus– He is awesome. Fellowship with His Spirit is amazing. His love is great and His friendship priceless. If you are not enjoying a relationship with the living God, you may not know Him that well. Start to enjoy the Lord and His presence in your life.
Anything else you would add?