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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Knowing God


We know much about God, but few really know God and fewer understand Him.  We know and experience a lot of the “culture” of God, or the church.  The potlucks, the music, the jargon of God’s people,, the do’s and don’ts of faith. These things are familiar to us, yet really  knowing  God escapes most.  We understand the way to God or the Father is Jesus and His work on the cross, and resurrection, but to know the Lord, and to have friendship with God is elusive to most, never thought about to some, and pursued by the minority of those who admit to being His people.

To know someone takes time.  Sadly, I must confess, we try to know God, while investing as little time as possible.  Many families worship together now, only a couple times a month, some do some Bible reading at home, and say some prayers.  I must confess to my own lethargic attention at times to my efforts to know the God of the universe. It is no wonder when hard times hit us, we wonder where God is?  When the comforts of our modern culture are interrupted we question the very existence of God and our own faith.  Making large investments into our soul, must no longer seem impossible, out of reach, or unrealistic. It is time to take time to know Him.

I have learned and I am being being reminded (as of late), that there are no short cuts to knowing God.  There are no “hacks” or apps that make it faster and easier than daily investing some time, reserving some place in our thoughts, and making choices in our day, to carve out time to get to know our closest friend.  It is all about time.  We, I, am too much in a hurry.  We have too many things to do, and we are hurried even when there is respite and time off.  We must complete the yard work quickly, get the kids to bed, eat and do chores fast, and we never pace our lives  to enjoy the life God has given us,  for He is not separated from us, therefore, He is not separated from our daily activities of our  lives, however mundane and routine they are.   We must grasp the realization that we are living with Christ, all the time. So setting aside extra time in the day to know Him, is not that out of reach.

Being taught by the living Christ, through contemplative prayer, solitude, true study of Scripture, and prayer will lead us to knowing God  on a level we never thought was possible.  We must reserve room in our mind to think of him, and to become one in thought, heart, and soul.   We must immerse ourselves in solitude and silence, with undisturbed times from the electronics, of phones, and IPads, that ding, alert us, and drag us back to the hurried world, and out of His presence. We must rush off, making money, making friends, making our mark on this earth, but without knowing  God it is all in vain, hollow, and pointless.

We must invest in our spirit, in the same way in invest in our physical bodies.  This investment has the greatest return. We will slowly, day by day, understand the Lord, feel His heart, grow in love, and many things in the world that we have been deceived as being such a high priority begin to grow, “strangely dim”.

We make time to do so many things, that I think the “I don’t have time” excuses have no more merit. The stakes are too high. Your transformation is imperative to your parenting, marriage, vocation, and enjoyment of life if we truly want  the abundant life Christ promised us (John 10.10).

May this Psalm be the cry of our heart, and the evidence of that cry
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 63:1–8). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

8 ways to stay interested in God in 2016


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?

How to Help Guests Feel Welcome at Compelled Church . Ten things we all must do.


I heard a stat that 40% of every church turns over every 5 years.  The church in America is in plateau and decline.  Only 10% of churches in the country reported growth next year.  People need Jesus. They need a faith community of believer’s. As they are searching for God, they visit churches, and also those that love the Lord but are in transition, or haven’t gone to church in years, visit churches.  How can we, who are part of a church, receive guests in Christ’s name so they will continue their spiritual journey?  Here are some practical ways:

  1. Don’t go to a service only thinking about you.  Church is also a place for ministry from you. Remember, people are there that are guests for the first time. Your kindness and conversation, might be the one thing they remember and keeps them coming back.  It’s more than just about you.
  2. Sit in the front–park in the back. Make room for guests.  First timers will always sit in the back. leave the chairs for them, leave the best parking spots for them. We could all use a little more exercise anyhow.
  3. Don’t ask the pastor questions you can ask them on the phone or email before the service times.  Save their time to connect with guests.  Communicate business some other time.
  4. During the greeting, greet those no one is talking to. Don’t just run to your closest friends, make relationships with those who don’t know yet.
  5. Brag about your church with guests. Invite them to the “Next Step” class on Wednesdays and the next ” Pizza with the pastors”.
  6. Remember their names!  Write it down. Don’t be lazy and say “I’m no good with names so I won’t remember you.” Worst thing you can say to a guest EVER! Please  introduce them to others you know and also the pastors, use their names.
  7. Ask them questions about their family. If you don’t know if they are new ask,”How long have you been coming to Compelled?”
  8. Invite them to lunch. 
  9. Ask them if they have any questions and if they need a Bible or guest packet. Get them a mug. Tell them they can bring the coffee into the worship center. If you don’t know the answer to their questions go to the Welcome center, find their answer, and get back to them. Get them a guest packet from Nate, Tim, or the Welcome Center.
  10. If they have children, help them, and walk them back to the check in stations in our Children’s Ministry. 

Every person that attends a church, should consider themselves apart of the hospitality team. Please oh please, appoint yourself so, and let the love of Christ flow from your heart.  It will make a world of a difference in a person or a whole family’s life!  Make new friends for Christ’s sake. When a guest comes to Compelled, there is a reason. God is doing something in their lives. They have a need. They are searching. Be apart of that process!!!!  Thank you! “Compelled by Christ’s Love.”

Do you have more ways? Please add them here by replying.

Personal Post, my life the last couple weeks.


Just a personal post.  Some have said they enjoy this, some will never read it, and has no interest. That is cool. I am good with either.

Took time this morning to thank God for his presence in my life and for my wife and family, Wendy and the kids. I have so much to be thankful to Christ for. For without him, it is all futile. He is the giver of all good gifts.  The Holy Spirit is reminding me in different ways lately to develop a deeper heart of gratitude.

Last week we moved my father from our home in Morenci to Temperance. He had been there for 49 years.  I grew up knowing no other home. It was a little nostalgic for myself and my sister as we packed him up. I know Pam will miss him, as will his grandsons, as they were close to Morenci.   I believe it was tough for him to say goodbye to the place, but he is now a mile from me and I have seen him daily.  I had lunch with him yesterday. Today we will take a ride around Toledo.  Wendy has him eating good, and he is getting settled.  One thing is for sure about life, is that it is ever-changing.

I went a couple weeks ago to my first professional woodcarving lesson. It was about 6 hours. Wendy gave it to me for my birthday.  It was amazing.  I learned under an incredible young man and wood sculpturer from Rochester Hills.  His name is Alec Lacasse. He is crazy-talented and a great teacher and brother in Christ. He is only 21 years old and is carving such stunning works. Check out his stuff if you are interested.  Click here to go to Alec’s site.

I have been trying to carve more since the lesson so I don’t forget. I love woodcarving. I really sense the Lord’s presence as I carve and an undeniable peace.  The lesson helped so much. I plan on another one in December.  There are many genres in woodcarving. I am focusing in on realistic face carving.

God put a strong word of encouragement on my heart for the weekend message. If you missed it, and you are in need of a little strength from the Lord, please take a listen and let the Holy Spirit breath faith into your spirit.  Click here

Gabe and Levi won their football game on Friday. They are both on Bedford’s Varsity team and doing great. I love going to watch them. One more week and wrestling season is upon us!  Hooray!!!

Abby and Justin are busy in Grand Rapids, working, interning, full-time students and all.  We miss them and look forward to their visits. I am proud of them.

Looking forward to the rest of this day.  Praying about November Series and trying to tune into the will of the Lord for us.  I have a million thoughts sometimes so I have to really focus.

Walk with the Lord today.  Stand strong in the face of adversity.  Don’t compromise your calling to Jesus.  I leave you with some of my favorite verses.

12:1-3   Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Heb 12:1–3). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Treasure


“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Words of Jesus

As I read this I ask myself what a treasure in Heaven is?  May I offer my definition?  A Treasure in Heaven that we are to be storing up is “anything you do for Christ, because of Christ, and in Christ.”  We have decided and the church has taught that we must be reading, praying, in church, or winning the lost, and those would be considered “treasures in Heaven.”  Based on my definition “anything we do for Christ, because of Christ, and in Christ.” let me offer other suggestions.

  • Reading to your children, making them laugh, telling them you love them.
  • Honoring your marriage vows by loving your wife, and respecting your husband in every way.  Growing closer together and serving them as Christ has served us.
  • Going to work, knowing that Christ has provided.
  • Making your needs and wants last, and other’s first.
  • Spending time listening to the stories of a sr. adult.
  • Eating a meal and breaking bread with others, knowing Christ has provided.
  • Worshipping with a heart of thankfulness and gratitude.
  • Enjoying time off, leisure, without guilt, taking a “sabbath” and being in Christ.
  • Serving anywhere, anyone, because Christ is our servant.
  • Giving of time, your money, and your gifts, as you serve honor Christ.
  • Yes, reading the Word of God, and letting the “words” of God penetrate our cerebral and rest to live in our hearts.
  • Good friendships.
  • Letting go of the pain and hurt of the past and releasing others in forgiveness.
  • Sharing your faith, your journey with others, to enlighten them and draw them to the light of Chris.
  • Being creative, using your hobby, art, interests that allow us to  experience the Spirit of God, and to glorify him.
  • How we talk and communicate with others.
  • How we extend grace, as we received it….freely.

So the world says “Hoard stuff, hoard money, make yourself first!” That would be “treasures on earth.” So treasure the “Jesus” things, participate in them, live in Him, and you will store up the treasures in heaven because Jesus is where your heart is!  Keep serving Him with love and thanksgiving, joy and peace.     Nate
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 6:19–21). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Thy Kingdom Come…really?


The Lord’s prayer that Christ taught the disciples has this line for us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6.9-13).

I have heard teaching on the mostly as a proof text that God wants to heal everyone for there is no sickness in Heaven. So on this earth we should all be healed and in perfect health  ( I do not believe the Scriptures teach healing this way, but I do believe in divine healing).   I believe the intention of what our Lord was teaching is a little deeper.  Remember, usually our theology slants toward our comfort.  The Kingdom of God is more than physical healing so we can just avoid suffering in this life. It is about Jesus Christ.  His Kingdom wants to reign in us.  In you.  But there is a problem.  For that to happen, you must allow your “kingdom” to be dissolved. To live in His kingdom we must not have our own kingdom.  We must get off the throne of our life and kingdom and let Christ and his will reign, and we must live in His Kingdom.

He wants to be here in our lives, on this earth, in us.  He has to violate our kingdoms for His Kingdom to come in us.  Simply His Kingdom is His will.  What Jesus has say over. Our Kingdom is our will, it’s what we have say over.  So how much of our lives are living in Him, His will, His desires, His Words, His ways, and His goals?  Do we look to what he says, before we decide and have say over?

  • Is your time His Kingdom or your domain?
  • Is your money under your authority? Or in His Kingdom?
  • How selfish or selfless do you live for Christ.

The benefits to living in the Kingdom are awesome!  His will gets done in your life, not yours.  Our will is always janked up with selfishness, but his will is glorious. Your time and efforts will produce heavenly fruit, not earthly results which are always so disappointing.  A great marriage is a Kingdom of Jesus marriage.  Greatness is in the Kingdom. Perceived greatness, is our kingdom, and in reality, it’s self worship.\Pray the Lord’s prayer differently maybe.  With divine intentions, that may have more to do with discomfort, than your comfort on this earth. In Him, regardless, is the greatest comfort and joy.

Thy Kingdom come (in me and overtake my Kingdom)  Thy will be done (I relinquish my say and want yours)  on earth (in my heart, my mind, my words, my life, my marriage, my time, my money, my talents) as it is in Heaven (in your amazing presence!)

7 Reasons We Don’t Have Peace and What We Must Do


Why do so many of the Lord’s people live absent of contentment and peace?    Let me give you these simple seven reasons and please read the powerful Scriptures following my writing.

1. We skip our daily time with Christ- When we spend time reading the Word, thinking about the Lord and the things of God, talking to God, reading and journaling, we reap incredible peace.  Why?  Our faith increases.  We experience the closeness of Jesus and our security increases.  We know the Lord is near. We are ministered to by His Spirit. We trust, we seek, we have the confidence that life will not defeat us, as we are daily reminded, our God is in control and He never leaves us.

2. We allow sin in our life.  We will never have peace in our hearts as our peace with God is disrupted by a barrier in our heart.  Unrepented sin still steals our peace.  The Holy Spirit wants us unsettled when we are living with sin that we know it is not the will of our Father. We used to call that being “convicted” defined as “convinced” of our sin.  We repent, turn, receive forgiveness and keep growing. Have you grown “used” to a particular sin in your life?  Have you grown numb to the Lord’s voice beckoning you to desert and walk away from a behavior?

3. We have unforgiveness and bitterness in our heart toward, people, a person, the church, or the government.  Bitterness, strong feelings of hate and anger steal peace.  It does not have to be directed at one person. Guard your heart.  Allow the Lord to baptize you in love. We need more of Jesus.  Past family conflicts, X spouses, hurts in the church, or at work, let it go.

4. Watching and filling your mind with Garbage   Movies that are violent, cop TV shows where people are murdered, raped, hacked up, pornography on your computer, IPAD or phone will steal your peace. Your mind is under attack and you are what you think about and you think about what you watch.  Guard the window of your heart. Guard what goes in your eyes and ears.  Jesus saved us, and these things are not entertainment. This grieves the Lord, the fact America thinks that this is the fun thing we can do with our leisure time is a sign of how sick our society is getting.  May we as God’s holy people not participate in these deeds of darkness. Live higher, live better, walk holy.

5. Pride-We want to be in control and we are tormented with no peace if we are not.  We want to control others, and that leads to manipulation and drama…no peace.  We don’t take time with Christ daily and surrender because we have fallen for the ancient lie that we can really do a better job at our life than God can.  We lack humility and we want our way and life just isn’t like that. We don’t get our way all the time, and our peace is again shattered.  Turn from self, pride, control, and throw your life into the control of God!  You will never be sorry!  Be free of the torment and bondage of control.  As a leader, I can struggle with control, and I know that is pride. I have to repent and let God have His way not I.  The best thing to do sometimes is to just serve others.  We need to make sure we know life is not all about us, but about the glory of Christ.  Do something for others and minister Christ in this world.

6. Tough Times in life and storms.  Keep your feet on the Rock Jesus Christ during difficult times.  Surrender your desire and longing to control and acknowledge that God is in control.  Surrender the situation to the sovereignty of God.  Look to grow, learn from the dark experience.  Allow your roots of faith to be driven deep in Christ.  Don’t let the storms steal your peace!  I have to keep telling myself that Jesus is constant and consistent, my emotions and moods are not and this life sure is not!

7. Fear –Fear is a real emotion.  It steals peace, and can rule us if we are not vigilant.  We must be aware of our fears and know that 99% of everything we fear and think about, will never happen.  We must not be ruled by fear and thoughts of terrible things happening, or fear of the future, or the “what if” things we dwell upon. If I dwell on things that will not happen, I won’t only lose peace, I will lose joy, and be paralyzed with fear. That is not what the Lord wants for me or you!   Grow in faith, worship, and verbally speak the Word of God and His power over our life, our family’s lives and our future.  God has not given us a Spirit of fear.  This is not from Him.  Jesus Christ is Fearless.

Scriptures to bring the Peace of God and Freedom

Proverbs 16.7  “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Isaiah 26.2 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

John 16.33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 4.6,7  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 46.1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  

John 14.7 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

2 Timothy 1.7  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 

2 Thess. 3.16 “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 

Hebrews 12.1-4   “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;* then you won’t become weary and give up.”

10 Lessons I have learned about choices and decisions.


I have made some great choices in my life.  I have also made some horrible choices that have caused many pain, and regret in my own soul.  Everyday they say (I don’t know who “they” are!  LOL) we make 30,000 decisions.  Wow!  A lot of opportunities to make some awful mistakes, but also, some opportunities to make some great ones.  So here are some things I have and am learning about decisions and choices.

  1. When I am not closest to the Lord, my choices have the potential to be the worst and the most selfish.
  2. I need to make decisions slowly with patience.
  3. I must pray about decisions and choicest that have the potential to affect others. I must pray about them more.
  4. I must never make impulsive decisions.
  5. The enemy will try to influence my decisions, and he would like to choose sin.
  6. I must have the wisdom of God, and the mind of Christ.
  7. Some decisions need counsel, and to glean the wisdom of others.
  8. I need to look into the future, of the potential effects of my decisions, not just the immediate.
  9. I cannot allow others to try to put me in the position to make their decisions for them.
  10. I am vulnerable to make bad decisions should I not pay attention to these.

James 1.5-8 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed., Jas 1:5–8). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.