Sunday, January 26, 2014

I can see clearly now, the REIGN has come!

Church Planter's Blog #7

I like talking about vision with church planters and existing congregations.  All agree having a vision to clearly see a ministry direction is important, but few really know what to do with vision.  Some may deny their need for an eye exam ("We don't need to change anything around here!"), while others simply want to wear the latest style of glasses that are available ("Let's change things up around here because that's what that other church is doing").  Some may want to just get some nice words scripted into their website to declare their visionary responsibilities are done, while others truly seek to equip the people to live out the visionary words in everything the church does--- inside and outside the facility.

This is how I "see it."  Having a vision is not so much about being able to clearly look into the future and know what's going to happen, as it is to simply ask the Lord, "now what?..and then obey His direction.

At best, we can take some educated guesses at what might happen over the next 10-years in ministry trends for our churches, our cities, our nation or the world, but there is no guarantee any trend will be God blessed.  So perhaps the best way to see what's needed for the future is simply be tuned into what's going on around you right now.  In other words, its a bit easier to go someplace new if you know where you're starting from.  (Just ask your GPS!).  Combine what issues you see around you today, with God's biblical vision for what God wants to do, and BINGO; you have a MINISTRY VISION that is missional for the future, beginning now!  What might that be for you and your church in the city in which you live?  

The LCMC Vision to plant 1,000 new congregations over the next 10-years is a good example.  I have no idea if we will achieve that mark or not...but I do know God's heart for discipling people and expanding His territory.  How do I know?  His Word says so!  Therefore, we could say that having a vision is when we seek God's preferred biblical future, today!  A preferred biblical future is to practice the Great Commandment and Great Commission.  When we love God and others by modeling discipleship, new churches will be created.  Five-years from now our vision will still be to plant 1,000 churches over the next 10-years.  The number is not our goal, practicing the vision is!

Proverbs 29:18 declares, "Where there is no vision the people perish, but happy is he who keeps the law."  A good translation of the word for vision is "a revelation of God's Word."  In other words, the Bible says In Proverbs 29:18, "Where there is no revealed Word of God (in Jesus and his cross purposes), the people will have no lasting direction.  But happy is he who obey's God's commandments by following His Son!"

Having a vision statement is a very good idea--- it keeps us focused on what we are to do and not do.  This is crucial when starting a new ministry.  But real Godly vision is living in the promises of God's revealed Word.  For when we obey it, life in the Spirit is given into all we do for the sake of the future.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, says Jesus.  Baptize them...and teach them to OBEY all that I have COMMANDED you to do!" 

The state of Wisconsin is looking to develop two new starts in Madison, one in Green Bay and one in Wisconsin Rapids.  All the sites have a planter in place except for Oregon, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison.  Right now, there is a solid "launch team" of 80 young adults.  Let me know if you are interested in such a call...OR, you know someone who might be excellent!  (

A baby grand piano is being donated to any new start that would like it.  Contact me if interested.

Next Blog: "Being an innovative church."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

News and Notes

Church Planter's Blog #6

News and Notes from Dan:
God's richest blessings are shared with Pastor Fred Schumacher and Living Hope Church of Plentywood, Montana.  Living Hope launched this past Sunday, January 19th.

Congratulations and hand claps for Pastor Jonathan Haseley, as he was ordained this past Sunday, January 19th, at St. Peter's in Sanborn, New York.  Jonathan now begins his call to create a missional community aimed at Niagara Falls.

My thanks to Pastor John Foss of the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Aliso Viejo, California.  John was the host this past week as I led a workshop on church planting with 6 local pastors.  We also shared a seminar with 23 Southern California pastors to discuss the need for our LCMC churches to be strengthened by living-out the Great Commission, and not just speaking well of it.  I can tell you that after serving for 11-months in this capacity as the national church planting coach, I believe the only way we will be able to successfully launch new churches is when our existing churches are missional over maintenance and transformational over traditional.  We must take-on the DNA of churches birthing churches!  So again, let's join together in prayer for our 700 congregations to realize that when they communicate and team-up with other LCMC churches in their city, state or district, that's when we can successfully pool our resources and bless new starts into a healthy family.

This coming Friday I'm attending a 3DM gathering, led by its international leader, Mike Breen.  I have found the heart of 3DM to be something the LCMC must beat into.  Some Lutheran Churches in Southern California and Minnesota are already moving into what I call, "a lifestyle training of being Jesus to others, rather than just developing programs of evangelism."  (Don't know about 3DM?  Check into it!)  Also, be sure look-up LifeTree Cafe.  I'm seeing it as a fantastic tool to start a new church that reaches the disconnected.

This coming Saturday, January 25th, I'm meeting with LCMC leaders in Wausau, Wisconsin, as the group starts a brand new district for the state.  What I really love about the formation of this new district, is that it's focused on planting healthy churches in the land of milk and cheese!  My challenge is for other LCMC Districts to live-out that same planting mentality!

Next Blogs: 
1. What is Vision?
2. Are you a leader, or more like a manager?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Be a church that does, "What if?"

Church Planter's Blog #5

Perhaps you've heard of author and LA church planter, Edwin Raphael McManus.  Recently he wrote, "We are residents of the future in present times."

That simple statement struck a complex chord in me.  Maybe my internal wiring is just messed up, but I've always had the habit of living for the future, rather than just settling in the present.  For example, I might preach a great sermon on a Sunday morning in the present, but I only enjoy it for a moment.  Immediately after, I start moving into the "now what?"  Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the moments I'm going through--- whether its with my family or church family, but I quickly move to future thinking.  In other words I go from "what is" to "what if...."

In my work of connecting with church leadership around the nation, I see a lot of church folks living in the past and stagnating in the present, all because they're afraid of the future.  My heart breaks over that.  After all, the hope of Jesus is to be received today for the sake of knowing his hope for tomorrow.  His hope empowers us to storm the gates of hades with confidence!  Time-and-time again Jesus says, "Be not afraid in the present, because your future is my future...and I am the way, the truth and the life to the Father!"

When churches get stuck in the past, or are stagnating in the present, they are missing the power of pushing into God's "what if" of future transformation.  That's why churches that are strategizing their discipleship efforts today are not only the ones thriving in the present, but will be the ones driving into God's preferred future.  They are "what if" church movements.  They are incubators for birthing the world's very best ideas that lead to the very best actions of faith!

So, while scripture instructs us "to be still and know that I am God," its not for going to sleep.  Yes, God instructs us to stop and smell the roses of His daily grace in the present, but only so He can engage us to join Him in unfolding a future of even greater grace.

Here's just one example of living into a "what if" scenario: Look around the nation and try to find churches that are making a daily faith impact with some lasting results in the marketplace.  I said a daily impact that is lasting.  Yes, many are doing great ministry moments, but not enough are imparting action plans that are paving into a greater future.  For instance, we feed hungry people, but hunger continues.  We assist people with money, but they still need good paying jobs.  Its almost like Christians receive all God has for them on Sunday mornings in the worship center, but forget to impart-it-out on Monday mornings in the marketplace center.

This is why I am consulting the Lord on starting a Marketplace Ministry Church for the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.  As I continue to explore this God-idea with more "what ifs," perhaps it will serve as a national model for others.  The Marketplace Ministry Movement of Minnesota would not be born to replace anyone's current home church, but to complement it.  We would still worship, but would do so on a Monday night in a marketplace setting.  We would still teach and proclaim the Gospel, but in a manner that leads to hands-on training for daily, on-going influence: in homes as well as in the schools, businesses and governmental spheres.  In other words, "what if" I were to start a church with the laser-focus of maturing current believers so they could be more effective in the harvest field with those who do not yet know the lasting love of God in Christ Jesus?  "What if" the church got ahead of the culture-curve and really led the way to lasting city transformation?

Friends: What are the "what ifs" God is placing on your hearts for planting new churches?  I certainly encourage you to enjoy the precious "what is" moments of life...but then ask yourselves, "what if..."  As you do, I'm convinced you'll become a powerful present instrument for God's preferred lasting future!
"We are residents of the future in present times."

Monday, January 6, 2014

Three Days of Prayer...for Godly Revelation!

Church Planter's Blog #4

I invite you to join 800 LCMC congregations around the world for 3-days of prayer this Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, January 7-8-9.  Obviously, we hope everyone is in prayer every day, but here are 3-days set aside to see ourselves as one body petitioning the Lord for missional breakthrough.  As Church Planters, let's pray with one voice that our current congregations are strengthened through faithful discipleship strategies so that new congregations can be birthed and supported as the result.

How?  Making new year's resolutions are just fine, although stats show only 8% of those who make resolutions, keep them.  That's because we are often relying on our own resolve for success.  That can work, but usually only for a short time.  Praying for new year's revelations is all together different.  Revelations come from the Father.  With HIS revelation power and OUR empowered faith resolve, great things happen for the long run.

With that in mind, let's use the next 3-days of prayer by asking for Godly revelation for the sake of resolving 3-key areas.  Of course, there are a million good things to pray for, but these 3 can be growth igniters of outreach for your developing church:

1. Families.  Yes, people like programs for their youth, but I believe what can set your church a part from a more established congregation with programming, is to teach families how to pray together, worship together, read scriptures, serve and give together.  More often than not, they simply don't know how to do that on their own resolve, so demonstrate for them by modeling a revelation!
(Anyone want to share an idea on how this can be done?)

2.  Marriage care.  Stats show that evangelicals are getting divorced at the same high rate as nonbelievers.  Why? Because the church may be doing a good job of telling people what to do, but not how to do it!  Create a niche in your new congregation to reach your city with marriage care.  After all, a nonbeliever who gets their life changed will start thinking your new congregation has something he/she needs!  (Anyone want to share an idea on how this can be done?)

3. Living the faith at work.  Believers all agree the Great Commission to "go and make disciples" is a good idea; but again, they often don't know how to do it.  Like family and marriage care, the church is often good at telling people the answer to life's tests, but not so good at empowering them how to get to the answer.  They need Godly revelations so human resolve can breakthrough!  (Anyone want to share an idea on how this can be done?)

Let's join together in praying with one voice during these upcoming 3-days of LCMC prayer.  Praying for Godly revelations will make us agile with resolutions in these changing times.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (revelations), according to the power at work within us (resolutions), to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations...."  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Son of God...the movie

Church Planting Blog #3:

Planters and Pastors: Besides inspiring believers, the soon-to-be-released movie, Son of God, can be used as a wonderful way to invite your casual Christian, or non-believing friends/colleagues, to a movie date.  What follows, may very well be a miracle as the Lord will use your love of Jesus and your love of your friend(s), to get a healthy conversation going about your faith.

The movie is set to open in national theaters on February 28th.  Between now and then, start praying and implementing a strategy of outreach grace.  For more information on the movie, or how to promote, see   

Use Son of God to reach your whole community!  I remember doing this a couple times when I was planting Rejoice! Church in Northfield, MN.  We partnered with another smaller church in town to buy-out a local theater for two Kendrick brother's movies: FireProof and Courageous.   From those two flicks, our people invited all sorts of outside-the-church friends to the movie, followed by dessert dialogue and even into small groups!  The movies hit the subjects of marriage and manhood--- two elements of life that everyone is interested in.  In my mind, people will try a movie that another friend invites them to, and perhaps even gifts them a ticket.  From there, the Holy Spirit will take over...and great things will happen.

"Not since the Passion of the Christ ten years ago have I been this excited about a movie."
Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of A Purpose Driven Life.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014...planting one day at a time

Church Planter's Blog #2
Abraham Lincoln once said, "The best thing about the future, is that it comes one day at a time."

Happy New Year Everyone!  As humans, we may fuss and fret about what's going to happen in the future; but as Christians, we can live each day with the faith confidence that the Lord is indeed our Good Shepherd--- calling us daily to follow him so we can boldly move into his desired future of day at a time!

Such it is with this new blog for the sake of encouraging church planting within our LCMC association.  My hope is to bless you with thoughtful coaching--- one day at a time--- in order for you and your new congregations to move into a faith-filled future as light that dispels darkness.  After all, church planting is not for the faint of heart.  There is vision casting, executing strategies and fostering relationships.  There are financial decisions to be made, leadership challenges to be conquered and expectations to be met.  Not easy to accomplish in the flesh.  Not easy to do as a lone ranger either.  In the Spirit of Jesus, however, we become the Body of Christ and are more than conquerers through him that loves us!  That's who we are--- as together we plant 1,000 new congregations over the next decade!

Again, my hope is this new blog will challenge you with biblical inspiration to guide your prayers and fulfill God's promises of the Great Commandment and the Great day at a time.  Here's the deal: as the LCMC's Coordinator for New Ministry Development, I will gladly strike the match to ignite fired-up planting conversations.  In return, this blog will serve best when everyone participates!  In other words, when a "blog thought" hits your heart and head, go ahead and respond so that everyone can benefit from collective wisdom.  Ask questions.  Share ministry ideas.  Exchange helpful links.  I don't mind if we hold each other accountable with some tough love, but let's just make sure its God's love.  Not PC love, but JC love.  Not bummer, but blessing.  Good Friday death moments are welcome because they are needed for Resurrection Day breakthroughs!

My new year's resolution for 2014 is more like a new year's revelation for our collective future.  That's because the Lord seems to be down-loading something really big into me these days, but I'm not exactly sure what it's suppose to look like.  I guess, with you, I will have to lean into the future with the fortitude of day at a time.  So, starting within the next couple days, I'll share a new blog on what it means to be innovative for the sake of the gospel.  Then you can respond as you are led.  Have fun.  Soon after, I want to speak to leadership vs. management in the church and in the marketplace.  All important topics for the start 2014 and beyond.