Here are two sermons I recently preached at CrossPointe.
We see them everyday. Signs, ads, commercials for stuff that is too good to be true. The majority of scams and schemes out there tell you they can make you an over night success. Many people believe these infomercials, emails, and websites, because they desire so badly to get rich quick. Others usually refer to these people ignorant, foolish, simple-minded, etc. Here are a few verses dealing with obtaining wealth.
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.
The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.
Now back to my title. What does this have to do with church? I believe the great majority of church leaders and pastors are falling for a spiritual version of the get rich quick scheme: grow you church quick. We watch videos about huge mega churches building new campuses and begin to desire to see our ministry do the same. We start reading about what other churches have done, and attempt to mimic their “success.” Millions of dollars are spent every year on book, conferences, resources, etc to show us how to grow our churches quickly. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am all for books, conferences and bettering ourselves and our ministries, but I am afraid many are walking away convinced success, growth, increase, can be built up in a year. Am i saying God can’t grow your church? No. Am I saying God doesn’t want to increase the kingdom? No. I am saying if we aren’t careful we’ll get so caught up in the “stuff” that goes along with growth, we’ll start chasing growth, buildings, success, and everything else except the main thing: growing the kingdom. Here’s my point: when a person starts trusting a scam, they start making poor decisions. When we as leaders start trusting in programs, ideas, processes instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, we will start making unwise decisions.
What is the goal? To grow the Kingdom? Let’s ask a tough question. For the kingdom to grow does your church have to have a 5 million dollar sanctuary? Or could your church send 100 missionaries and 5 million dollars around the world and do more for the kingdom? Kingdom mindedness takes the emphasis, glory, pride, possessions, away from us.
The sobering truth is this: anything worthwhile, takes a while. Apple, Microsoft, GE, Toyota, and Walmart didn’t become huge companies in one year, it took real hard work over a long period of time (sometimes generations). The hard truth is: impact takes time. People who want to get rich quick are always changing their minds. One day they want to start a business, the next they want to invest in a penny stock. They don’t stay focused on one thing long enough for it to work out for them. Many churches are acting the same way. One year the push is Upward sports, until it gets tough to find workers and growth didn’t happen as quickly as they’d hoped. The next year their main push is starting a new ministry (a new banner and cool name is all you need right?). The following year they quit that and start a TV ministry, but as that gets expensive and again nothing happens immediately, so they bail on it too. Ministry shouldn’t be a multiple personality disorder. It only shows our weakness for desiring quick easy success. There is nothing wrong with trying new things, but our generation is so addicted to instant gratification that we simply aren’t willing to wait on God to move and grow His church. We feel we must DO something NOW. Our mission should remain unchanged as we use new methods over the long haul to grow the kingdom of God. Besides Jesus said He would build His church, so why do we exhaust ourselves attempting to do what only He can do?
We love reading about church planting. We are always researching to find out what people are doing to start new churches in places people might often overlook. CrossPointe has met in a house, a hotel, an elk’s lodge, and finally a funeral home. However, there are numerous models for starting a church in a school, rec center, or even outdoors. Over the next few posts I want to look at a few of the models for starting a church. Today I want to focus on the multi-housing model.
What is a multi-housing community church model? Until a few days ago I had never heard it called this. It is simply when a group of people start a church inside a Multi-housing community (Private Apartment Communities, Condominium Communities/Community Associations, Manufactured Housing Communities, Public Housing Communities Senior Housing Communities). In this model, a church planter moves into one of these communities with the intentions of renting the cummunity center/party room/conference center/clubhouse that many of these communities have. Many of these community centers have parking for outside visitors as well. The goal is to plant a church within walking distance of 1,000+ people.
Why use the multi-housing community church model? Here are some stats from NAMB (SBC Mission Board): An estimated 57 percent of all people in North America reside in multi-housing – apartments, expensive high-rises, mobile home parks, condominiums and townhouses. An estimated 95 percent of them are lost without Christ. That works out to over 150 million people living in High rise, apartment, mobile home, and public housing communities. Most of these communities are closed. You can’t solicit, invite, or even direct mail most of them. Many are gated, walled, and closed off as a community within a community. This church planting model places the church community within a smaller community inside the bigger community. 1 out of every 2 new housing projects in America is using a community based model. It is quickly becoming the wave of the future, and people are starting to prefer living in a smaller community within a big city. The good news is: people want community- something the church has.
Another reason to use this model is the cost. If a community is looking to rent their clubhouse, it is usually very affordable. Most of them are large enough for 50+ people. The management is key. If you can form a relationship with the office staff this will help immensely.
Who is using this model? Many denominations have started using this model for new church plants, as well as a mother church models (a church adopts an apartment community in the area, and begins mid week Bible studies in the apartment community). In our denomination I have known of a few missionary teams using this model lately. One team in particular is Jeff Goodman and Josh Bennett. Recently, I asked Jeff a few question about their church plant in Marana AZ. Marana is 15 miles north of Tuscon, where 90% of the population is unchurched. They started holding Bible studies in an apartment community that both Jeff and Josh moved their families into. They are not even a year into the plant and are seeing God move in a mighty way.
Here are Jeff’s answers to some questions I had about the church model.
When you guys moved your families into the apartment community, did you know you were going to start using their facilities to meet in? Was that your goal? Yes, we moved in here planning to use their facilities. It is a community within a community. We see people getting their mail, walking their dogs, playing outside, etc. We were upfront with the office staff when we moved here about our plans, none of them went to church but they were very helpful. Building community even through a church plant helps them retain leasers.
Is it hard to rent the facility in the community? Are there times when it is over-booked? Nobody ever rents the facilities here but us. We have had superbowl parties, christmas parties etc.
Can people from outside the apartment community join the Bible study (are there places for them to park)? We have plenty of parking in the main lot and overflow if we need it inside the complex. People are allowed to come from outside the complex.
How many people at your Bible studies live in the apartment community? We are around 70% apartment people to 30% outside people. 90% of our group are unsaved and far from God, but that is the type of people we are looking for, the lost! They love each other are thrilled to have met friends and work super hard. They are all very excited about helping us launch our church about a mile away. We will still have several things at our apt. complex rven after our launch.
Is it expensive? We pay $50 per use to rent the community building it is normally 75$ but our apt. Manager got us a 25$ break and we did not even ask them to do that. We have a large open area with a kitchen, a conference room and a movie room, which we use for a nursery along with 2 nice bathrooms.
What’s been the hardest part when it comes to planting a church in Marana? Hardest part-meeting new people is always a challenge, but living here at the apt. complex has truly helped. The city of Marana told us we could not post a sign about our bible study on or near the sidewalk it is their property. The office manager at our apt. complex told us to put it next to their sign by the road. She said Marana doesn’t own that property. No other problems from the city of Marana.
What are some highlights so far for you guys? All 3 of the office staff now attend our bible study and Jessica (ast. Manager) was our 1st baptism. We love that 90% of our people are unchurched, those are the people we want to reach!
To find out more about Jeff and Josh and the Marana church visit their website http://www.themaranaproject.com/
A while back we had our first service in the new building. 92 people gathered at 2460 Pruden Boulevard for our first ever Sunday morning service in the building. The last few weeks have been busy. We spent a lot of time building, painting, hanging drywall, installing new electrical, etc. That day it all came together and it looked great. I got to thinking, there are a lot of churches looking for a place to meet, so here are some ideas we’ve run across recently:
Local bowling alleys
Here are some pictures of the process of turning the funeral home into a church.
Today was an amazing day at CrossPointe. We had communion and baptism for the first time since moving into our building. Our portable baptistery came in this week, and we had two guys jump right in and volunteer to stain and seal it. Mark Goddard and Elwood Spivey (one of the people baptized today) stained and sealed the baptistery getting it ready just in time for this weekend. Elwood, Leighann, Ezekiel, Kathleen, Lisa, and Ricky stepped out and let everyone know they were followers of Jesus this morning. It was great to have friends and family there to witness their profession of faith. Please pray for our revival next week, and pray we have to fill the baptistery often!
Our baptistery is here! Our portable baptistery arrived at our doorstep. It is a great fit for our current facility. At 30 inches wide we can roll it in for a service and out afterward. We still have to stain it, but it looks awesome. It is super easy to roll, and fills up fairly quickly. We are planning on having our first baptisms at our new building this weekend. Can’t wait to show you some pics of it being used.
It’s been crazy around here lately and I just realized it’s been 2 months since we updated our blog! Thought I’d let you in on what’s been going on at CrossPointe. 2011 is off to a great start. We have seen an increase in giving at the church. Right now we really need to get our $200,000 down payment 5 year loan paid off. It’s killing us with an almost $4,000/month payment. Some good news is that we have been awarded almost $30,000 from home missions to go toward paying it off. Want some more great news? Casie and I just got our statement from Home Missions. October and December 0f 2010 were two of the biggest months our missions account has EVER seen. October came in at 167% and December came in at 145% For the first time in a long time we have a little bit of a surplus! After spending most of 2010 with an empty account, it’s amazing to now have a little left over after 2010. He knows what we need, when we need it.
God has been good to our ministry in alot of ways lately. Our Teen class on Sunday mornings is now averaging 15 a week. This is up from our average of 10 a week. Awanas is also off to a great start this winter. We had one Sunday night (when Awanas meets) with over 75 people! It’s been great to see our kids and Teenagers growing in Christ. Our attendence is holding strong in the 80’s even in the midst of a chilly winter.
I want to ask you guys to pray for a few needs we have right now. Please pray for some converts who have now openly declared they no longer believe in God. They are very friendly and want to remain close. Please pray God would show Himself to this couple. Please also pray for us as we strive to pay off the down payment. If we can shed that debt, and increase giving by 50% we’ll be very close to being a self-supporting work. Thanks for all your prayers and support. You guys are the best!
Marc and Casie