EP 149 – Planters and Replanters – Interview with Matt MacNaughton
Welcome back to the bootcamp. This week we have a special guest, Pastor Matt MacNaughton. Matt is the founding church planter and pastor of Grace Life Church – https://thegracelifechurch.org
Matt joined JimBo at the Calvary Family of Churches Non-Ignorable Conference in Denver, CO. JimBo and Bob interviewed Matt MacNaughton to discuss what lessons a church planter can learn from replanters and what lessons replanters can learn from church planters.
One of the things we discussed was the importance of developing partnerships. We discussed this episode 47 – https://replantbootcamp.com/podcast/ep47/
Matt also shared that church planters often have a visionary mindset and can learn from replanters about an emphasis on shepherding. Bob and JimBo discussed some cautions for visionary leaders in a previous episode – https://replantbootcamp.com/podcast/ep93/
In today’s connected culture your church needs a functional and strategic web presence. Our great sponsor One Eighty Digital can get your Church a website up and running in the right direction.
Show notes powered by Descript are an approximation of the verbal content, consult podcast audio for accuracy
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] All right here we are back at the bootcamp, Bob. I hope you’re ready for the next episode, coming to you live from Denver, Colorado. Uh, as we record this, it’ll come out a few weeks after we record. but we’re here in Denver for the non ignorable conference with mark Haack and, the cavalry family of churches.
And I’m gonna tell you, man, every time I come to Denver, I am always surprised when I go for my morning walk. Of how many, just random rabbits there are everywhere. Like, I probably, I probably saw 15 buddy rabbits on my walk yesterday morning.
Bob Bickford: so time out here, I, I just, are you really seeing bunny rabbits or Jimbo? Are you imagining them because you now have a rabbit living in your house.
JimBo Stewart: Nope. Nope. It, it did feel a little like home. We’re watching a friend’s rabbit for a month, uh, that. Breaks free out of its cage and rums free through our house randomly. and so I’ve, I’ve become accustomed to just randomly seeing rabbits in places. I don’t expect them to, but [00:01:00]still a little surprised as I got here in Denver.
Bob Bickford: Well, it’s pretty awesome. I’m uh, here in sweaty St. Louis, where it’s a heat index of over a hundred degrees and it’s a Jimbo, it’s a two shower and about three shirt day, every day here St. Louis. So I’m a, I’m a, you know, Jimbo I’m, I’m not a little fellow, I’m kind of a big guy. And, so.
JimBo Stewart: Had a big engine.
Bob Bickford: Big engine got a big engine and, uh, it gets hot.
I get sweaty and, I wanna be a friend of the people and available to people. So I have to shower and change the shirt every once in a while. But I got another pressing burning question, for you, Jimbo. What is the, what is the hug count to date from happy huggy, holic.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So triple H has, uh, given me four hugs, we were only there for two sessions. Yes. Yesterday was the beginning of the conference. and, and I’ve already received four hugs, I assume by the end of the week, I will be in a full chest embrace with my head on his chest.
Bob Bickford: Yes, you will be. And if, if you have, if you don’t follow me on social media, we we’ve broken that [00:02:00] down for you. I think in Twitter and on Facebook. And we’ll put it up again, on the, the process and just kind of what you can
expect. Yeah. The infographic, there you go. Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. Hey, I’ll tell you what, being at the conference, I also got to meet some replant bootcamp, followers, fans that have enjoyed listening to one of the nation’s leading podcast. According to page 97 of the Booker reports. But, no, I, Ryan Durham and his wife were here from Nebraska. had a great conversation with them, man.
And, and so they just wanted to express their gratitude. And so I wanted to give them a shout on out on here. And, man boot campers, we’d love meeting you when we’re at conferences and out and about. And, if you’re a listener, we love to know that and it encourages us to keep going. grateful that we are able to, be an encouragement and clipper to some.
Bob Bickford: That’s awesome. Pretty awesome. When we, when we’ve been out on the road, you know, for our first, the wrapping up this, uh, travel season from last, last, Semester. So to speak, met some, some bootcamp [00:03:00] fans in North Carolina and Alaska. It’s just great to see those boot campers. And we’d love to hear from you.
Please drop us a line, let us know you’re out there listening, let us know, you know, how the podcast is making a difference and, if there’s a topic that you would like for us to cover, we love to, we love to connect with you guys when we we’re out in the.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely Bob today. I wanted to bring on, I’ve got with me from Jacksonville here in Denver. Good friend of mine, Matt McNaughton. I don’t really know what to call Matt. he planted a church, sometime ago, but we’ve, we’ve discussed this before Bob, at what point? At what point are you no longer a church planter.
And do you graduate to becoming actually a pastor? And so, so Matt, are, are you a church planter or are, I mean, what is there, is there a process in which you do you have to go through an initiation? Do you, do you get beat up out of the gang, to no longer be a church planter? Or how do you guys distinguish?
Matt MacNaughton: I think. It totally comes down to who I’m talking to. Okay. All right. And depending on what I’m talking about,
Bob Bickford: is [00:04:00] it? does does it have anything, does it
have anything, to do with, like, does he have skinny jeans on Jimbo or air Jordans or is his hair spiked? Is that like, is that some of it or.
Matt MacNaughton: it? Yeah. I mean, I still, I’m not wearing skinny jeans right now, But
Bob Bickford: Well,
JimBo Stewart: you do own, I do own a pair of skinny jeans.
Bob Bickford: yeah, after you pastor for a while, you can’t wear, you can’t wear skinny jeans after a while when you’re a pastor for a while. Cause you’re meeting people and eating so skinny jeans don’t look good, but
Matt MacNaughton: that’s true. I’ve wore ’em out. So I had to retire them. So I don’t actually own the pair of skinny jeans. Oh, may have just graduated. witnessing the.
Bob Bickford: go.
JimBo Stewart: Finally
Bob Bickford: Congratulations.
JimBo Stewart: to bring that on here today because when we talk about replanting, we’ve talked about how philosophically and practically it’s somewhat like the center of a Venn diagram between church revitalization and church planting. Right? On this podcast, [00:05:00] we have, really swung a lot further on the revitalization side of that conversation, of that Venn diagram.
And, mainly cuz it’s just a much, much better enjoyable world, than church planting. But, we should give some attention to the world of church planting and I can’t think of anybody better than my good friend, Matt aughts. Matt, tell us just real briefly, introduce yourself, tell us about your church, and all of those.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah. my name’s Matt grew up in clay county, Florida, which is where we moved back to, to plant our church, married to Julie and got two kids. And seven years ago we planted grace life. We moved back home to just reach friends and family, with the gospel and did not expect ever church plant. It was never.
On the radar. So total God things we’ve been there seven years met in a school, met in a shrine club during COVID and moved into our own space. And. Just been working towards making [00:06:00]disciples, raising up leaders and reaching the people around us. I think this Shriner club was my favorite of y’all’s locations because it had the, it had the big hat out front.
and I really, I was really hoping you guys would’ve built a good enough relationship there that we could’ve borrowed the little bitty dune buggies at some point, but, uh, that never, that never happened. Well, they would usually go get the bug. During service. Oh, of course. So yeah, you could hear, ’em start it up in their little garage and you’re like, well, they’re getting the buggy out.
It’s a nice day. I think that might have been my least favorite of all our locations.
Bob Bickford: Likely so.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So talk to us about, we’ve talked about this before Matt, but what are some of the things you see? let’s just start with, what are some of the things you’ve seen from the replant and revitalization world that you think would be good for church planters to know,
Matt MacNaughton: you know, when you’re going through that process leading. So launching a church, planting the church, it’s all the church plant world, but I probably the last [00:07:00] four or five years, I’ve learned so much from the replant world, mainly as we joke about it earlier. But as I’m, you’re transitioning into thinking more pastoral and caring for people. So from a church planner’s perspective, Right from the beginning, your mindset isn’t necessarily people.
You don’t have any people you’re preparing for a launch Sunday, so you can learn how to relate to people. The, the good, the, the, the difficult, how to pastor and shepherd people that, need pastoring and shepherding how to lead them. Well, in all sorts of context, you can, I think get a glimpse of. Just the difficulty of future seasons of your church and to prepare and plan and, be on the lookout for those seasons and, and what leads that.
Plus at the same point, you, the re planters I’m around are highly encouraging to me, mainly because there’s such a. [00:08:00] a. A deep, not that church planners don’t have this, but the re planners have just this deep desire to see a church flourish. And that’s always been encouraging to me. I mean, there’s a host more that we can spend learning of learning to do ministry without things.
And that’s okay. learning to do ministry with. little and being very creative in a different context that God led you to. And knowing that he put you there for a specific reason, reason, and trusting in his faithfulness. So yeah, so much you can learn from a church planter. You can learn from a re planter as a church planter.
Bob Bickford: Matt, one of the things that church planters, have a burden. For two, two burdens I think, is to reach lost people with the gospel and then to make sure that their church grows to a state of viability. Right? So the, those are from as a, as a replant or I’ve seen those, would you resonate with [00:09:00] those is, is two significant burdens that a planter feels.
And then how, how did you navigate that when you, when you felt the pressure of those.
Matt MacNaughton: Yeah, it, our whole call to plant grace life stemmed from out of the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, Nehemiah won. He’s heartbroken for his hometown. And that was, I was reading that when I was wrestling with the call to plant I’m like, Lord, are you calling us back home through? And I have friends. And people I’ve grown up with, I know this community and there’s a there’s lostness there, even though it’s disguised as religiousness, we came back to plant because we wanted to see people come to know Jesus as, as savior.
And that’s what launches into this church. What we’re still trying to chase after and pursue obey. You get, you start. And then for us it was, we moved, it was my wife and my two year old son who likes to [00:10:00] say that he was the first kid at our church. It’s kind of a, that he’s getting older. So he’s, he’s wearing that badge.
in knowing like, okay, in order for our church to grow, we have to reach people.
We have to go out and meet people and invite them. And. I didn’t realize at the time, but all the people that I thought would come to our church never did. Cuz I thought you knew me. You’d come to our church. that didn’t happen.
So I had to go meet new people and, part of that is knowing, Hey, there’s a, this model that Jesus laid out for us to go and make disciples is okay, I have to go. I have to meet people. I have to share the gospel with them and I have to bring them with me in order for us to see a church grow. And that has changed over the years.
Just I think as I’ve gotten older, of my expectations and the reality of church planting and the world and pastoring and, the times where. I looked out, uh, well, I just, I was telling Jimbo our first 4th of July service, we had 14 [00:11:00] people and the only people from that service that are still with us is my wife and my son.
So, and, and in this past, past, 4th of July service, we had, we packed. The our, our new space is one of the, the most people we’ve had in our new space since we’ve moved into it. And I’m like, what a stark difference, of seeing these people that we’ve baptized. And, but there are seasons. We were like, did I miss God’s call here was, but sticking to the mission of going and, and reaching people in order to. Disciple them.
JimBo Stewart: One of the things that I have seen, church planters naturally do kind of like we were talking about evangelism and growing a church to a state of viability and so a heavy focus on outreach. That’s great for re planters and revital to learn from. But one that I see not enough re planters and revitalizes learn from church planters is developing partnerships.
and, [00:12:00] I mean that financially, I mean that networking wise with other so like church planters, from what I’ve seen, Know that part of their role is to go fundraise, to get mission partners, to send mission teams, to help them do outreach, to build networks of friendships with other church planters.
So they can learn from each other and, figure out how each other’s doing things better than, and, be able to improve what they’re doing because of what they learn. and more I’m seeing it happen more than I have in the past, but speak to us about. That the benefit of, that seeking partnership.
Cause I would love to see more re planters and even revitalizes take a focus on developing partnerships in all those directions. So when we planted or when we wrestled with that call to plants, my background’s independent Baptist. So the idea of partnership was somewhat foreign to me. So when we connected, when we moved back to town and connected with our association, it was, uh, you see the value immediately of, there [00:13:00] are people who have gone through this before us, or they’re right here with us and they have, they know they they’ve been there and you don’t want to.
Matt MacNaughton: What I love about our association is you don’t pastor. And the first event that I went to, I have, I’m like, still not sure if this is even something we’re gonna do. And someone came up to me and said, are you Matt? And I said, I’m Matt. He said, can I just pray for you? Mm-hmm that was the first thing I’m like, well, that blew my mind.
He says, you’re wrestling with this. This is a big deal for you and your family. And I just wanna pray for you. And that kinda laid the foundation. I can’t do this alone. I need to build relationships with planters and pastors outside of the whole, I need partners to help us just do ministry within the church.
So just from a, a personal spiritual standpoint, if I had to do it alone, I would’ve quit. I know that for those first couple years, I’d have been like, this [00:14:00] is. Just too difficult, the encouragement, but from a partnership standpoint, having people step in and just say, Hey, you, you know, you’re building, a team, but you, you, you wanna pull off an event.
We can help do those things for you, which takes immense pressure off. just checking in to see how the family’s doing. We’ve had. Just how encouraging is to the, to my kids to see other pastors and other churches understand the difficult reality of planting a church. So I, I, I could honestly say I wouldn’t be here planting still pastoring grace life.
If it weren’t not for the partnerships early on, right away, and still going on to this day, checking in with me and just saying, Hey, how are you doing. what you reading in your Bible. That’s outside of sermon asking questions that help just give in toward inventory of my own heart. And that’s the importance of those partnerships.
Bob Bickford: Man, one of the things that, that planters and re planters, I think, experience when Jimbo talked about, you know, there’s an overlap [00:15:00] of the Venn diagram is isolation and discourage. Right. And so I think discouragement for different reasons, like a re planters discouraged, typically because of all the challenge he has and all the inertia that he has to overcome and all the battles that he has to face to help write the ship, so to speak and get people pointed in a direction.
And then from a planter’s like, if you could name the top two or three distract the, uh, discouragements, like what would those be? That a planter has to deal.
Matt MacNaughton: Oh, I think early on, just from, I’ll give my.
Bob Bickford: yeah.
Matt MacNaughton: To, because of the partnership aspect and not connecting, it was early on right away. I did it full time. So you’re thinking part of this is I, I have to take care of my family and when things were not going the way I thought, and then seeing just. There’s no, for one, I didn’t, if I would’ve known early on that, Hey, when you reach new people or, or lost people with the gospel and they become Christians and you’re baptizing them and you’re discipling them, they don’t give right [00:16:00] away.
So you have the dis the, the discipleship runway. So the discouragement for me was, from a somewhat of a financial standpoint early on of providing for my family, just the unknown and. I I struggled with this is, and this is all my backgrounds, just watching other church plants, what I thought really flourished. And they were not realizing that our church was flourishing too, just in God’s way in God’s timing. And I think that compare and contrast. Can really be a discouragement to you.
JimBo Stewart: So early on, I learned don’t get on social media and pray for ’em and that helped fight that. And now I’ve built great relationships with a lot of these men who love Jesus and realize that it’s just a tactic to enemy uses to discourage. Yeah. I think that moving from competition to cooperation piece is so huge.
and I see that becoming less of the church planting culture these days. and I would even say less of the replanting and revitalization culture, [00:17:00] but man, it’s so important. And thinking back to the, what we talked about just a few minutes ago on the developing partnerships piece. I try to encourage rep planters from revitalize all the time, man.
There’s nothing that says you can’t fundraise or find partners like a church planter. I think guys just assume, oh, I’m a revitalizer or re planter. And so I can’t fundraise. Here is what I tell guys. A lot of times, you, you gotta have a clear and compelling reason as to be able to communicate a clear and compelling reason as to why someone would wanna partner with what you’re doing.
You can’t, you can’t just go ask people to help you paint your boat. That’s sinking. it’s not gonna, no, nobody wants to come help you paint your boat. That’s that’s starting to fall into the ocean. But if you have clear, outward focused, and one of the errors I see guys make in this is they immediately start trying to fundraise for facilities, maintenance.
We need a new roof, we need a new AC things like that. And what I’ve found is, is people are not going to help you fund that most likely, But if you will [00:18:00] start developing partnerships through getting people to help you fund ministering to your local elementary school or middle school or high school, doing block parties and reaching out to the community and partnering with your local, doing a job fair to help people find jobs, if you’re in a low income area or, but like, there are things like that that I believe that I’ve had.
Success and seeing others have success in getting mission partners to help you with that. And then as you develop that ministry partnership, and that’s where if you’re a replant to revitalize. Go learn from a church planter, ask them how they do that because they get trained to do that. And, and they’re expected to do that.
And so they’ve figured out a lot of the ways, most likely of how to develop those partnerships, how to communicate well to partners, make sure they know what’s going on. Go learn as much as you can from church planters that are doing that and apply that to your context and understanding. That once one.
Now what I’ve seen at Redden at the church that I led as a replant, we started with all outward focused outreach focused, but over [00:19:00] time, as we developed partnerships with churches that cared about our church, that even after I left, they did end up needing a new roof. And I was able to help reach out to some of those ministry partners.
And most of them chipped in to help pay for a new roof. But if that’s the first ask. You’re probably not gonna get very far and you’re gonna get, you’re gonna be frustrated. but also that’s not that doesn’t, that doesn’t need to be your first ask. And that’s what we were saying earlier. One of the things we can learn from church planters is by necessity.
They start out outreach focused. because no one there’s no one there. And so like, you think you got no one there at your church on Sunday morning, church planters often start with their wife and their kids in the living room. Um, and they’re begging their friends and their cousins and their mom and dad to, just be here.
So it’s not just us. and they’re starting with nothing most times. And so. Those are some things we can, we can relate to those guys on and learn from them. and so that’s one of the big pieces I think. We could, we could sit with learn, develop friendships, our boss, mark Clifton often [00:20:00] encourages guys, man, go make friends with a bunch of church planters and, just develop those relationships, learn from them.
Matt MacNaughton: but what I’ve heard you say the past couple days, Matt is church planters ought to be coming to learn from some re planters and yeah. Talk, talk to me a little about what, what have you seen in the replant resources that have appealed to you? This goes back to the question right out the gate. It was, when are you a no longer a church planner and a pastor? What I didn’t realize at the time is that when you, you spend so much time focusing on launch Sunday, so it’s very oftentimes system oriented. You’re getting those systems in place and then people show up, well, right away, you’re called to pastor them. And. You don’t think that that way oftentimes, so a lot of the resources from a replant revitalization aspect deal so much with pastoral care and, and leadership. And so I find the, the encouragement of. Of learning to pastor people [00:21:00] where they are, what they’re going through, pointing them to Jesus, sitting with them is good. And I think we can learn as church planners a lot from, from men who have just who love pastoring, God’s called them to do this. They understand the challenges and they’re gonna show up and do it regardless of the difficulty.
And then, and realizing that, Hey, ultimately, it’s you see in, Paul writing the, the qualifications of a, of an elder, not the qualifications of a, of a church planter. So realizing that, Hey, this is, this is what God’s called me to do. I’m yeah. I’m still a church planner at heart, but nobody a lot, some there’s families at our church now that don’t even realize I planted the. That’s a master map. So learning how to pastor people well and doing so in a way that honors the Lord and continues to carry out that just desire to keep the church plant DNA in our church, I think is what I, I, I’ve [00:22:00] learned a lot from the replant resources and navigating difficult waters, cuz we’re seven years in and it things come up where you’re like, well, this isn’t. Everything’s supposed to be great. Why, why are we having conflict here? This is, we’re not old enough to have conflict, but if you look at, uh, so my daughter was born a month after we planted the, our, for our launch service a month later, which was a terrible, no one on our assessment team told us, wait another year.
It would be so good. so, and I’ve told my professors this, like, you could have just said, just wait one more year. But I look at my daughter and I look at our church and they’re the same age and we definitely have conflict at times with, I love her to death, but it’s just raising children and we have this somewhat elementary school aged church plants.
And there is at times conflict. It doesn’t have decades of history maybe, but. Navigating conflict is often something you can learn from those replant revitalization
Bob Bickford: Man such, such good stuff. And, and I think over, over and over, just [00:23:00] my kind of recurring thought through listening to Matt and tell his story is there’s a lot more similarity than difference between a planter and a re planter. And so most of our audience is, I would say, you know, re planters or revitalizes the majority.
Right. And so what I would just say is guys, when you, when you have opportunity, Push back the opportunity of getting to know some planters and connecting with them and, listen to their story. They’ll listen to your story and, uh, we’ll see a good brotherhood forge and, and move forward. Hey, one of the things I’m really excited about Jimbo is at the end of August, we have the replant summit and the theme is replenish and reset and.
We are super excited about some of the speakers. We’ve got Frank Lewis, Bob bum garner, Jordan Rainer. And so I just want to put a plug in there, for the great work that Jimbo’s doing and the team preparing the summit for you guys to join us last week and August there sales a few spots available. So you can go to replant, summit.com [00:24:00] and we’ll put the link in the show notes, but we love to see you guys there.
And I look forward to, uh, get to know some new folks and look forward to encouraging.
JimBo Stewart: Hey, we’ll even allow church planters to come to the replant summit. if you want to
Matt MacNaughton: I plan to be there.
Bob Bickford: yeah, don’t wear skinny jeans.
JimBo Stewart: Oh, man, it’s a different crowd. it’s a different crowd. All right. Boot campers. if you do come to the replant summit, man, come tell us, Hey, let us know that you listen. let us know how we can continue to be an encouragement to you and how, we can be an equip equippers to you and what we can do to help if there’s anything specific we can do.