Five Reasons for Church Planting

Church Planting, cities, Philadelphia, Urban Ministry

Scott Thomas, Pastor of Pastoral Development at The Journey Church in St Louis, and former President and Network Director of Acts 29 Network, wrote the following insightful reasons for new church development. Well worth the read no matter where you are thinking about planting a new church.


Five Reasons for Church Planting


What is Your Motivation in Asking for Financial Support?

Church Planting, Rambling Thoughts, Urban Ministry


Motivation is the driver for getting things done.

If you are a church planter and need to raise all, or part of your financial support, it is crucial to have the right motivator while raising support for your ministry. I’ve coached too many people during my years with Grace Brethren North American Missions whose misdirected motivation set them up to fail.

Near the the end of the Book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul was thanking the Philippians for their generosity, and was rejoicing because of their gift. He says, “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” Doesn’t that sound strange? A little counter-intuitive, don’t you think? Paul’s motivation in asking them to give wasn’t that he might live a lavish lifestyle. He desired that their “account” might increase.

If you’ve been a Christian very long, you know that counter-intuitive seems to be a theme in following Him. We must die to live; we must be last to be first, and so on. Raising support for ministry is no different. Your motivation in asking people, churches or organizations to partner with you is to encourage them to give, not for your sake; but, for the edification of the Body, for the glory of Christ and “for the profit which increases to their account.”

When you ask with the right motivator, you can ask unapologetically, with others in mind and convincingly. Remember. . . you are blessed to be a blessing. . .!

The Essence of Church Planting

Church Planting, Other Authors, Urban Ministry


In his article, “The Essence of the Church,” Tom Julien discussed the fact that many church planters often define the local church in terms of their cultural preference, which can lead to problems on the field. Julien admonished church-planting teams first to come to an agreement on what the local church is so they will know what they are planting.

Our problem is that we identify the local church by her cultural and historic expression, more than by her biblical essence. To arrive at a clear definition of the local church we must make a distinction between the two. Sluggish thinking here will lead to differing assumptions in the church-planting team that will affect the basic principles of any church-planting ministry. The more focused we are on essence, the less attachment we will have to any particular cultural expression of the church. On the other hand, if the form or cultural expression of the church becomes our reference point, adapting to different cultural situations will create tension.

The New Testament reveals the church both in her essence and expression. With regard to the essence of the church, this revelation is given in images and presented as fact; with respect to the cultural expression of the church, this revelation is given as example and is descriptive rather than prescriptive…

Let us come back to our original question: “What is a local church?” We have said that a local church is a visible manifestation of the biblical essence. Most of us, however, need something more concrete to work with. It is crucial that every church-planting team agree on a working definition, in concrete terms, that grows out of essence, and not expression. This definition must include those elements that are indispensable to the identity of a church, and omit those that are not. This definition identifies the seed for church planting.

Here is an attempt at such a definition. Members of every church-planting team need to be unified with respect to what they are planting, even if it takes months of struggle to agree.

A local church is an organized body of baptized believers, led by a spiritually qualified shepherd, affirming their relationship to the Lord and to each other by regular observance of the Lord’s Supper, committed to the authority of the Word of God, gathering regularly for worship and the study of the Word, and turned outward to the world in witness.”

Taken from Tom Julien, “The Essence of the Church,” EMQ April 2008.

Police Week In Washington, D.C. Honoring Our Fallen Law Enforcement Officers



As a former law enforcement officer, and citizen of Pennsylvania, I was especially pleased this week that Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senator Pat Toomey co-sponsored a bipartisan resolution, which passed the Senate unanimously, to honor the sacrifice of the 120 law enforcement officers that perished in the line of duty in 2012. The resolution also pays tribute to the more than 900,000 active law enforcement personnel who serve and protect nationwide.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as ‘‘National Peace Officers Memorial Day.” This year, more than 20,000 law enforcement officers gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to pay respects to those officers that paid the ultimate sacrifice. We must never forget the service and sacrifice of those officers that perished in the line of duty. Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our families, homes and businesses. Their honor and bravery deserves our unwavering gratitude and respect.

Frank Noonan, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police agrees: “All of law enforcement appreciates the support of our country’s leaders and the public we serve. We must never forget those who gave their lives while protecting our citizens and also the families they left behind.”

Pictured above are members of the Lancaster City Police Mounted Unit on the National Mall for Police Week. We thank them and all in our law enforcement community for their bravery and service. God bless.

Why Have I Been Drawing Attention to Israel?

Church Planting, Philadelphia, Rambling Thoughts, Urban Ministry

If you are one of the many followers of this blog; or, of my Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Linkedin accounts, you might be asking, “Why have you been drawing so much attention to Israel recently; I thought this blog is a Church Planting focused blog? And, you would be right to ask that question. After all, this is a church-planting blog. So, what’s up with this focus on Israel?

Please give me a moment to share a brief testimony. I was raised to love Israel and Jewish people. Early in my church-planting life I planted a church in Florida, in a community that had a high concentration of Reformed Jews. I was privileged to work alongside many Jewish businessmen and women. Some of my dearest friends were Jewish and remain so today. The Rabbi of a very large synagogue and I were fishing buddies. I learned to love him dearly. We were good for each other. I came to realize that God had put us together for a reason. I hope we accomplished all God intended us to do between ourselves. I believe we did.

I have Jewish friends who follow my life and who follow this blog. They know me and my missionary zeal. I believe they know I am not trying to push Jesus down their throats. I think they also know that there is nothing more important to me than to introduce Jesus and His Message to everyone in the world, including Jews. They know that I believe Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. No surprises there. So, with this minimally transparent background, I come back to the leading question of this post, “Why this seemingly sudden focus on Israel?”

3 reasons:

  • I believe it is my responsibility to bring the Good News about Jesus Christ to Jews.
  • I believe there has been an erosion of concern among many evangelicals toward Israel and Jewish people in general.
  • I believe the timetable toward Jesus’ second coming is rapidly drawing to an end.

    With that in mind, I offer the below article from the May 2013 issue of the “Israel My Glory” magazine. It is so on target, that I especially encourage you who are church planters to read it; but, not just church planters. Christian friend, there are undoubtedly more Jewish people living around you than you realize. I bet that most of them are wonderful people. Why not meet them? Why not become friends? Maybe, as in my case, some will see the love that Jesus has for you?

    For my Jewish friends, please know that I mean no offense to you. I love you dearly. My love for you is my incentive for writing this post.


    If you cannot read the article below, click here to see it on their website.


    The Blessing of God


    And I will bless the one blessing you, and curse him that curses you; and kol mishpochot haadamah shall be blessed through you. (Bereshis 12:3 Orthodox Jewish Bible)

    And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 NASB)

    Jacob Skips Rope



    Bilious and bloated, they gas, “God is gone.”
    It’s poison gas— they foul themselves,
    they poison Rivers and skies;
    thistles are their cash crop.
    God sticks his head out of heaven.
    He looks around.
    He’s looking for someone not stupid—
    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.
    He comes up empty.
    A string of zeros.
    Useless, unshepherded Sheep,
    taking turns pretending to be Shepherd.
    The ninety and nine follow the one.
    Don’t they know anything,
    all these impostors?
    Don’t they know they can’t get away with this,
    Treating people like a fast-food meal
    over which they’re too busy to pray?
    Night is coming for them, and nightmare—
    a nightmare they’ll never wake up from.
    God will make hash of these squatters,
    send them packing for good.
    Is there anyone around to save Israel?
    God turns life around.
    Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
    turned-around Israel sings laughter.
    [from The Message, Psalm 53]

    “Oh that the Yeshuat Yisroel would come out of Tziyon! When Elohim bringeth back the captivity of Amo (His people), Ya’akov shall rejoice, and Yisroel shall be glad.” (Tehillim 53:6 Orthodox Jewish Bible)

    “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” (Psalms 53:6 King James Version)

    National Day of Prayer

    Other Authors, Rambling Thoughts


    Today is the 2013 National Day of Prayer in the United States of America. Below are a list of suggested requests to bring before The Lord on this day (and other days). These were presented to the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, to which I subscribe, by the Chairman of our Social Concerns Committee:

    This is a short list of prayer values for supporting our leaders, securing our liberties, and furthering wholesome standards.

    • In the spirit of 1 Timothy 2:1-2, pray for the president, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, governors and local officials, that they might lead us wisely as God would want them to lead.
    • Pray for the victims of terrorism, in Boston and around the world.
    • Give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in America, especially religious freedom. May we use these freedoms to further the work of God as well as to enjoy living in America.
    • Pray for challenges to religious freedom in America, especially the power of government to coerce consciences.
    • Pray for people around the world who are persecuted for their religious beliefs and practices.
    • The issue of undocumented immigration is large right now. Pray that the members of Congress will open their hearts and minds to policies that do justice and love mercy.
    • Pray that government at all levels will be responsible in handling the people’s money (tax revenues) and in avoiding deficits that hurt future generations.
    • Pray that an ethic that cherishes the God-given right to life will spread throughout the land.
    • Pray that churches everywhere will strive to bring shalom (peace) to their communities through seeking justice, showing mercy, and walking humbly before God.
    • Pray that the evangelical Christian churches of America will refine our messages and activism so we will be the “salt and light” Jesus calls us to be.

    Donald Shoemaker
    Pastor Emeritus, Grace Community Church of Seal Beach, CA
    Chair, Social Concerns Committee, Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches