Why I am glad we became Church Planters


church plantingIn 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.   nate@compelledchurch.tv

Some church-planting pics for fun.

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A Must read for pastors from my friend Chilly Chilton


chillyChilly sent this out from a writing in 2014. I reprint it here with his permission.  It deeply spoke to me and my spirit agreed.  Please read it slowly and think and reflect.  For more writings of his go to his website  Ichilly.com .  I am impacted this afternoon by this encouragement to be who God intended me to be.

Hey friend,

Today I felt led to share with you an article that I wrote for my blog in April 2014.  God brought it back to my attention early this morning with urgency and conviction. I made some minor edits and now I’m asking a few of my friends, mentors and allies to read it.  Please only read it if you have time to read it slowly and all the way to the end.  I’m not asking for a response but I certainly would welcome it. In some way, I feel as if God may be preparing me to take this message to leaders, pastors and those just beginning to sense His call.  I believe there’s an adventure being missed by MOST that God is really stirring in my heart today.  Thanks for reading this — please don’t post it (at least not yet)… I’m not sure, exactly, where to go from here.   Thanks again!

Here’s the article

When the Adventure becomes a job…

Do you remember when God called you?

  • was it after getting the results of your ACT or SAT exam?
  • did it come in a certified letter?
  • were you walking through a job fair?
  • did it come with a paycheck?

Probably not, right? It was probably more spontaneous, crazy and epic than a human designed promotion. It was supernatural, right? It made you insanely excited and totally overwhelmed all at the same time! You had the thought, ‘there’s no way I can do this’ and yet, you also KNEW, ‘ there’s no way that I CAN’T do this!’

Maybe I’m just weird, but I’m more than a little concerned about what’s happening in what we call ‘Christianity.’ Way too many pastors are burned out, depressed, suicidal, wimpy, self-loathing, excuse-making complainers. They’re lonely, hated, misunderstood, tapped-out, and overwhelmed.

Yep, I’ve been beat-up (a little bit physically, somewhat spiritually and lots emotionally). I’ve been robbed, betrayed and played. I’ve been out of money, abandoned, over-worked and super tired. SO WHAT!

It’s not like Jesus and the Bible didn’t warn us. And, it’s not like Jesus and the Bible didn’t tell us what to do when this stuff happened.

Being miserable, cynical or sarcastic IS NOT the answer!

Turning the body of Christ into God’s robot isn’t the answer, either! Our need to control is making our lives out-of-control and stressed out.

“Doing church” was never God’s plan… the church is a living organism that’s growing, changing, and functioning through with authority of God, the leading of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’m really concerned about the structure, professionalism and business-like approach to ministry that has become commonplace in our churches – and, more personally, in our lives.

Yes, many are producing churches that are big, well-oiled-machines, that function with precision and reliability. We run staff gatherings and board meetings like Fortune 500 think-tanks… little risk or faith desired or required.

Checks and balances. Budgets. Protocol, precedents and procedures. We’ve got manuals and job descriptions for everything. We can’t have chaos after all.

Hmmm… have you ever been in a healthy father’s (or grandfather’s) house? Does he give job descriptions to his grand kids? Things are messy, loud, unorganized and spontaneous. Yet, laughter and love are everywhere! Now, I’m not saying that’s, exactly, what church should be like… but, I do think Jesus was saying something when He rebuked His disciples by saying, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17 Speaking of kid’s with callings…

I’m also concerned about how we train those called. $100,000+ for a Bible College degree is the norm. Student loans, classroom lectures, test taking and term-paper writing may not provide proper training or evaluation. Remember, some of the original disciples, church-leaders and church planters were ‘untrained’ — They had not attended the rabbinical schools of their day, yet they knew how to quote and explain scripture better than the rabbis. I’m not hating on seminary – I attended one – but, it’s not the only (or always the best) way to develop the calling on someone’s life.

Maybe we’re too serious, controlled and up-tight? Maybe we’ve lost the adventure of our calling and turned it into a job? Maybe we’re more full of ourselves than we are full of the Holy Spirit?

Here’s some things that concern me about what’s happening in our churches and/or ministries…

  • We give them instructions, but not purpose.We say ‘what’ to do without answering the ‘why’ we do it. Pray this. Read this. Attend this. Do this. Don’t do this. And, then, when you complete this; do more of this! Few people seem to be discovering who they are because we’re telling them what to ‘do.’ As a result …
  • We develop systems to evaluate the success and efficiency of everything. But, we’re making disciples not employees… we’re making missionaries not machines. As a result …
  • We create check-lists, measurements and levels to show maturity and progress. We require classes, tests, attendance and conformity before most ministry opportunites can be considered. As a result …
  • We give out titles, positions and leadership like awards or promotions. There’s an elite aura around most upper-level pastors & leaders. There are people who may achieve board or staff level because of their faithfulness to a system or generosity (of time, talent or treasure). As a result …
  • People are confused about how to love God and their neighbors without losing their minds. They can operate their ministry in the church with precision but never talk to their next-door neighbors. Their cars are used for multiple church events like a soccer-mom’s van in the summer! They’re too focused and busy to play with their kids, date their spouse, go to the park, or sleep in on Saturday morning As a result …
  • Insecurity, Stress, Fatigue are having a party just on the other side of fake smiles. Ouch. Or, maybe the manifestation is pride, control and rules. Either way, both have roots in FEAR. And, fear has NOTHING to do with the adventure of God’s calling. His perfect love drives away ALL fear (1 John 4:18).

I don’t want another job. I want an adventure!

I want to wake up each day FULL of wonder, passion, energy and joy!

I want to pray because it’s fun and because Jesus talks to me! I want to read the Bible because it’s alive and it rocks my world every single time I read it! I want to make disciples because I’m called to do it and because I’m uniquely designed to reach, love, mentor, train and help others become disciples.

I want my wife, kids and friends to LOVE living life together. I want church to be about who we are becoming not what we are doing. I want the community to change through love, miracles, kindness, compassion and friendship.

I want other young Christians to WANT God to call them into the ministry even before it happens simply because they’re around the adventure of my life!

This is NOT a depressing view or rebuke of others, church, ministry or whatever … nope! Don’t get all worked up or defensive. I wrote this in my journal — and, my journal is not the Bible! Asking questions is how we get answers.

It’s just me saying that I’m CHOOSING to keep living the adventure and inviting others to join me! It WILL be imperfect, it will include failing and it will be unpredictable. It may NOT pay much in money but it will be INSANELY rewarding and super exciting!

The ADVENTURE continues!

© 2017 Chilly Chilton Ministries

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Thanks for allowing me to be vulnerable with you. I’d welcome your thoughts & insight. Your friendship is very valuable to me — thank you for believing the best … ALWAYS!

 

Honored, Chilly