Coffee – a gift from God!

Jesus

coffeetree-2jvxey8I was sipping a cup of Pike Place coffee yesterday morning at a Starbucks in the Miami International Airport. With little else to do while waiting for my flight home to Philadelphia, I mused about the origin of coffee. So, I decided to “Google” it – the scholarly thing to do. I discovered that no one knows exactly how or when coffee was discovered, though there are many legends about its origin.

An Ethiopian legend

According to the National Coffee Association of the USA (http://www.ncausa.org), the coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. Coffee trees still grow as they have for centuries in the Ethiopian highlands, where legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans.

It is said that Kaldi discovered coffee after noticing that his goats, upon eating berries from a certain tree, became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.

Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery who made a drink with the berries and discovered that it kept him alert for the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and slowly knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread. As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey which would spread its reputation across the globe.

I thought about the energizing power of the Gospel. Does it still energize me so much that I don’ want to sleep at night; or, at least, I can’t wait to wake up to scatter the seed? I mean, do I get a headache or feel sluggish or feel unfulfilled when I don’t have the opportunity or time to meet with Jesus? Does the Gospel still energize me? If not, why? Is the problem with Jesus? No! He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

So…me? Yes.

Then I thought of first love; of a discipline of time spent with Jesus. Of prayer. Of meditation. Of Bible time.

So maybe, for me, that cup of coffee first thing in the morning along with my Bible and dedicated time to meet with Jesus is a good idea. A great way to start the day. To get energized. A gift from God!

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Proven Qualities of Successful Church Planters

Church Planting

Characteristics for Successful Church Planters

Researcher Charles Ridley has identified a list of essential characteristics for successful church planters. While these characteristics can be developed or even shared with relative strength among members on a church planting team, a lead pastor who possess and/or values the majority of these traits enters the new role with a significant advantage.

1. Visioning capacity

  • being a person who projects into the future beyond the present
  • developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry
  • persuasively selling the vision to the people
  • approaching challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles
  • coping effectively with non-visioning elements
  • not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously
  • establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision
  • believing in God’s capacity to do great things

2. Intrinsically motivated

  • having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence
  • stick-to-itiveness and persistence
  • having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations
  • having a willingness to work long and hard
  • being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing
  • having a high energy and vitality level; physical stamina

3. Creates ownership of ministry

  • helping people to “buy in” and feel responsible for growth/success of the church
  • gaining commitment of the people to the vision
  • establishing a congregational identity
  • avoiding stereotyping of congregation by imposing unrealistic goals

4. Spousal cooperation

  • having an explicit agreement regarding each partner’s respective role and involvement in ministry
  • having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office
  • evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children
  • functioning as a team through individual and collective action
  • having a strategy for dealing with strangers
  • modeling wholesome family life before church and community
  • agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision
  • deliberately planning and protecting private family life

5. Relates to the unchurched

  • communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched
  • understanding the “psychology” or mentality of the unchurched
  • functioning in the “personal space” of the unchurched without fear
  • quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level
  • breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched
  • handling crises faced by the unchurched

6. Effectively builds relationships

  • responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people
  • displaying Godly love and compassion to people
  • getting to know people on a personal basis
  • making others feel secure and comfortable in one’s presence
  • not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people
  • appreciating and accepting a variety of persons
  • spending quality time with present parishioners without neglecting them for new people

7. Committed to church growth

  • believing in church growth as a theological principle
  • appreciating steady and consistent growth without preoccupation with the quick success factor
  • committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth (more and better disciples)
  • recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating
  • establishing the goal of becoming a financially self-supporting church within a specific period of time
  • not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance
  • seeing the church project within the larger context of God’s kingdom

8. Responsive to community

  • understanding the culture of the community
  • identifying and assessing community needs
  • responding to community needs on a priority basis such that resources are most efficiently used
  • determining successes and failures of other organized religious attempts to respond to community needs
  • not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer
  • acquiring and understanding of the character and “pulse” of the community
  • adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community

9. Utilizes giftedness of others

  • releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry
  • discerning of spiritual gifts in others
  • matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities
  • delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation
  • avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively
  • not prematurely assigning ministry assignments before people are adequately equipped
  • not placing unwarranted restrictions on other’s spiritual giftedness

10. Flexible and adaptable

  • coping effectively with ambiguity
  • coping effectively with constant and abrupt change
  • adapting oneself and one’s methods to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project
  • shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth
  • doing “whatever” is necessary “whenever” necessary

11. Builds group cohesiveness

  • developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation
  • quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships
  • engaging others in meaningful church activity
  • monitoring the morale of people
  • utilizing groups effectively
  • dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully

12. Resilience

  • experiencing setbacks without defeat
  • riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance)
  • expecting the unexpected
  • rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure

13. Exercises faith

  • possessing a conviction regarding one’s call to church planting ministry
  • believing in God’s action
  • having expectation and hope
  • having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests

Charles Ridley

Chuck Ridley is professor of counseling psychology at Texas A & M University. Previously, he has taught at Indiana University and the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. A licensed psychologist and Fellow of the American Psychological Association, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has consulted with a variety of organizations conducting jobs analyses, managerial and executive assessments, assessment centers, outplacement counseling, executive coaching and counseling, and training and development.

Dr. Ridley is an avowed scientist-practitioner, one who applies sound social science principles to individual and organizational functioning. He also is deeply committed to the integration of psychology and theology. As a faculty member at Fuller Seminary, he developed the Church Planter Profile. As a researcher, he has published many articles, chapters, monographs, and books. His book, Overcoming Unintentional Racism in Counseling and Therapy (Sage), was the recipient of the Gus Meyers Center Award for Human Rights.

Chuck lives in College Station, Texas with his wife, Mary, who also is a professor at Texas A & M University.