Posts Tagged church planting

Why Join Redemption Church?

Yesterday we announced that Second Mile is joining Redemption Church and becoming the Redemption Gateway Campus. The most common and natural question about it is “Why?” This brief video explains four of the key reasons:

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Second Mile is Becoming Redemption Church Gateway!

After much prayer and discussion, the elders of Second Mile Church are delighted to announce that we are becoming Redemption Church Gateway. This means that we will be part of the new multi-site movement in Arizona known as Redemption Church.

I’ll be posting soon with more details about this move, but for now just take a look at a vision video we put together:

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Planting a Missional Church in the Suburbs (Audio)

I recently had the opportunity to lead a breakout session for the Acts29 Phoenix Bootcamp on “Planting a Missional Church in the Suburbs.” In case you’re interested in what I had to say, you can listen to it here. You can also download a PDF of the notes I handed out here.

Additionally, you can get all the audio from the various sessions here.

My top 3 were Matt Carter on Mission, Jeff Vanderstelt on the gospel, and Wayne Grudem on Theology.

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Remembering 2 Births, 2 Years Ago

Two years ago was a pretty crazy time in the life of the Simmons family and of Second Mile Church.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 was our first of three monthly Preview Worship Gatherings at ASU Poly. Our faithful launch team of 60 was inviting friends, preparing to serve, and excited about this big step for our new church. We had a set-up run through scheduled for Saturday night, the 25th.

On Friday the 24th our trailer arrived from Portable Church Industries, filled with most of the equipment we would need in order to conduct this public gathering. By the way, I would never try to plant a church without using PCI. It was one of the best investments we made.

Sandwiched in the middle of all of this was the birth of my second child, Caitlin. She was due on October 20th, so we had figured that we’d have plenty of time to get her home, get settled, and get ready for the church gathering — after all, most second children come early. But not Caitlin. By the time the weekend came, we were still waiting for her. I started making backup plans in case I’d have to miss the first gathering, and it was a pretty wild time.

My wife, Molly, woke up on Saturday and knew that Caitlin was coming. We waited as long as made sense and then, as I was preparing to drive the trailer over to ASU, Molly said it was time to go. So I dropped the trailer off, handed the keys to John Kronwald and said, “We’re gonna go have a baby. Hope to see you tomorrow.”

Caitlin was born around 10:25pm Saturday night in good health with no complications. The next morning I woke up, went down to the hospital cafeteria to pray and run through my sermon notes, and then headed off to our first gathering.

It was a memorable Sunday. Joel Buckingham led worship. JT Trottier shared his “God Story.” Charlie Jolly read the Scripture. I taught on “Jesus’ Prayer for Glory” as part of our Jesus’ Prayer for His Church series. 177 people showed up.

But the most memorable part of the morning was probably the 100 dozen donuts that were delivered. That’s right. 100 dozen (apparently our order for 100 donuts got lost in translation).

After the gathering, I headed back to the hospital, introduced Abby to her little sister, and spent the day resting and rejoicing with Molly.

Two years later, I’m amazed at all that God has done. My little girl is two, and our little church has grown significantly. What an incredible blessing.

Happy birthday Caitlin!


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What I Learned at the Seattle A29 Boot Camp

Last week I spent a fun couple of days in Seattle for the Acts29 National Bootcamp. It was packed with lots of teaching (almost too much), many great conversations, and the opportunity to help assess a number of potential church planters. Here are a number of the key lessons from this experience that might be worth sharing:

  • “Your calling as a church planter / leader is mostly tested in your emotional life” (Darrin Patrick).
  • “Whatever meaningful help people receive they will use to help others” (Tim Lane). This is why helping people with the gospel in the context of the local church is so effective. If people are helped, they will help others.
  • “You don’t really know how somebody is growing as a disciple until you pray with them” (Jeff Vanderstelt).
  • “GL + RR + GC = MI” (Patrick). In other words, Gospeled Life (owning sin but basking in acceptance) + Relational Rent (paying relational price with people) + Gospel Clarity (articulating the gospel) = Missional Impact.
  • “If thou dost call me to resign / What most I prize never was mine / I only yield Thee what is Thine / Thy will be done” (from the song “My God, My Father”)
  • “Most marriages are not set up for a 50-year run. The most important day of your marriage isn’t your wedding day — it’s your last day” (Mark Driscoll)
  • “When you stop repenting, you stop calling others to repent” (Driscoll)
  • “Men shouldn’t make their wives carry their curse” (Driscoll). Here he was talking about the need for men to provide for their families rather than make their wives carry the toil and burden of provision.
  • “Jesus isn’t to blame for the church’s sin, but he takes responsibility for it. That’s what it means to be the head of the family” (Driscoll).
  • “Is your wife flourishing?” (Driscoll)

Another significant lesson for me was that men who want to plant healthy, gospel-centered churches would be wise to spend time IN a healthy, gospel-centered church first. I met a number of men who were in bad church situations and had a vision for something different — but they’ve never seen it first hand. As a result, they really don’t know what it looks like to participate in a healthy church, let alone lead one. This made me so thankful for the amazing years I was able to spend at East Valley Bible Church participating in ministry and serving alongside healthy, godly leaders. I can’t imagine what church planting and leadership would be like without those men and without that experience.

Which of those lessons stand out to you? Any of them need clarification?

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Bootcamps, Baby Churches, and Boys Becoming Men

One of the great joys of my ministry has been participating in the Acts29 Network, a group of churches committed to planting gospel-centered, reformed, missional churches. This week I’m in Seattle for the Acts29 National Bootcamp, where over 500 men will come to be trained, assessed, and encouraged. My role will be to help assess potential church planters, as well as spend some good time with a few guys that I’m bringing along.

The theme for this conference comes from the new book by Darrin Patrick, Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission. I haven’t read the book in its entirety, but what I’ve read tells me that it would be worth reading for any man — not just church leaders. Click here for the table of contents and first chapter.

If you think of it, pray for me this week that I’d be helpful to these men who are ready to make some life-altering decisions related to their ministry, and pray that God would raise up a continual generation of men willing and gifted to plant churches and keep leading the mission.

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Ministry Updates That Need Your Prayer

This past Sunday I shared a brief ministry update that highlighted a few key things we’d like you to pray about:

  1. Long-term ministry facility – We’re praying about God’s direction for a facility that we could use for worship on Sundays and ministry to the community during the week. Pray that God would lead us and provide something above and beyond what we can ask or imagine.
  2. Church-planting – We’re praying about the location, timing and direction of our first church plant. We intend to be a multiplying church that saturates the Southeast Valley with gospel-centered churches and are seeking God’s direction on where to begin.
  3. Leadership Development – In order to use our facility well and send out a healthy team to plant a church, we have to develop more and more leadership. We want to see men and women grow in their understanding of the Bible and their ability to use it in ministry so that many lives can be touched on a daily basis through our ministry. We’ve begun a system for developing leaders, and you can read more about it here. (Right now it’s just for men, but we are quickly exploring how to make this available for women as well).

Will you please join us in praying for God’s direction and blessing in these key areas?

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Thankful for Acts29

It has been a joy for me to be part of the Acts29 Network, an international network committed to gospel-centered church planting. The main advantage of being part of Acts29 is that I get to be connected to a number of solid men who care deeply about the most important aspects of theology and gospel ministry. Guys come from a variety of backgrounds and methodological perspectives which makes it a great network of men to learn from. Additionally, there are 8 other Acts29 churches in Phoenix and the pastors regularly get together, work together and help each other. It’s refreshing and rare.

Second Mile has also benefited greatly from a number of people who were relocating to the area and found us through Acts29. I can think of at least 3 families that serve in key ways who came to us via Acts29.

Second Mile Church was recently featured at Acts29’s website. Check it out.



10 Ways to be a Great Church Plant Core Group

We’ve been so blessed at Second Mile to have such a great core group — we called them the “launch team” — who have done so much to help us start in strength. Tomorrow morning I’m going to be sharing with a group of men from the core group at Christchurch of East Mesa, a new sister church of ours (both of us were launched out of East Valley Bible Church in Gilbert). My contention is that it doesn’t matter how gifted or called the church planter is if his team is not on board in living out the vision of the new work.

So I made a top 10 list to help these guys start the church in a healthy way:

1. Your primary job is to create a culture that you and God will be happy about 10 years from now. This is a difficult thing to do, and part of the goal behind our current Core Values series. Who you are in the early days is who you will be later. Sure, some things change. But the DNA of who you are as a church and what drives you is formed quickly. Even though many core group members eventually move on, their role as culture-creators is essential.

2. Your new pastor and church will eventually disappoint you and let you down. People get into a new church thinking it will be utopia. It isn’t. Even if it is for a while, eventually the glitter rubs off. If you find the perfect church, leave because you will ruin it.

3. Work to create an evangelistic texture to every ministry environment. Evangelism is not just one program or an event. It happens all the time as people feel comfortable inviting friends and welcoming them into the community. Tim Keller’s resource on Evangelism & Church Planting in Postmodern Cities is very helpful here.

4. Always talk as though nobody knows who your heroes are. Christianity has its own little subculture, and different churches have their own set of “heroes” that they admire and talk about. But if you mention “Piper,” “Keller,” “Crowder,” “Luther,” etc. without explanation and assume everyone knows who those people are, it creates insiders and outsiders in a way that isn’t helpful. For us, and for Christchurch, it’s important not to assume people know who “East Valley” (our sending church) or “Tom” (our sending church’s pastor) are. One lady visited a group, kept hearing from an older woman about all the things “Tom” used to say and assumed that he was the lady’s deceased husband! Either way, to people who are far from God or not from your tradition, this is unhelpful and alienating.

5. Be known by what you’re for, not what you’re against. Is the church started from a positive vision for something or as a reaction against something? It makes all the cultural difference in the world.

6. Don’t moralize your personal preferences. Sometimes people are drawn to a new core group because they think it’s an opportunity to “create the church I’d like to attend.” But if those preferences (styles, times, songs, programs, plans) become sacred and moralized (i.e. “this is the right way to do it”), you’ll be disappointed (at best) or divisive (at worst), convinced that everyone else is sinful and bad.

7. Leave your current church on great terms (or go make it right if you didn’t). For a Christian who’s joining the core group of a church plant, this is really important. Don’t leave with baggage from your last church. If you’ve been in a position of leadership or responsibility, communicate with the people you’ve been working with. Don’t disappear out of nowhere, don’t drop the ball, and don’t smear mud on people or things that you didn’t like there. If you’ve already left and you’re guilty of division or gossip or dropping the ball, go apologize, ask for forgiveness, and make it right. Don’t bring your personal junk into this new work and think it won’t negatively influence the new work.

8. Relentlessly involve new people. I’ve realized that, in general, the “80-20 rule” where 20% of people do all the work is not the fault of the 80%. They would like to be involved. But once the 20% know each other and who they can count on to get things done, they stop asking people outside that circle. That’s why it’s huge to constantly be meeting and involving new people.

9. Be ready for change. I call this the “Brett Farve Retirement Principle” or the “for now” principle. One of my mentors says you should end every sentence with “for now” because the only constant thing in a new church is change. We’ve followed this advice and it is very good (for now).

10. Direction, not intention, determines your destination. This line was stolen from Andy Stanley’s “Principle of the Path” and simply means that where you’re headed is where you’re headed, even if you’d like to be headed somewhere else. The implication is that the things you want to be true of you in the future have to be part of the equation now or they will be very difficult to implement to the culture someday.

These are things that we’re still working on and trying to develop, and I’m thankful for the men and women who are striving to make them a reality in our church. It’s made the early days of this effort a sincere joy.

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What Eternal Impact?

I’ve just finished reading the book Madness by Jossy Chacko, the founder and president of Empart International, an organization that has planted more than 1,100 churches in India in the past 10 years. It was a great story of God’s work in his life and of the beginnings of a true church planting movement that is, even now, experiencing intense persecution in cities like Orissa. Pray for them.

One of the most challenging quotes for me and for us was this:

“Why do people go to church on Sundays? For many it’s to get pumped up for another week so they can go out and do their own thing. Is this our purpose as Christians — to come together once a week for a lovely time of prayer and worship and teaching? We accumulate books and DVDs and tapes and go to our graves with all these teachings in our heads. But what have we done to reach the unreached? How many will be in heaven because of our time on earth?”

May God bless Second Mile to be a church that is more than just Sunday and is filled with people who are making an eternal impact for King Jesus.

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