Tag: health

Stages in a Replant: Watering

NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS PART 3 IN A FIVE-PART SERIES ON THE STAGES OF A REPLANT.

Replanters and Revitalizers Must Water Seeds Faithfully

In our series, we have looked at 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 each week. This week, we will focus on the work of Apollos in verse 6: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” What was the work of Apollos? What did it mean that he watered? Let’s see what the scriptures tell us about Apollos in Acts 18:24-28:

“Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in (the) spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus… he greatly helped those who through grace had believed,  for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”

Apollos’ work was primarily in the work of discipleship. He was learned in the scriptures as he had been instructed in the ways of the Lord. Simply put, he had been discipled. This created a passion in him to also disciple others, as the word says he “helped” those who believed. Apollos proclaimed the gospel and was empowered by the Spirit for the help and edification of believers and the defense of the faith to skeptics and doubters. He performed that role intentionally – watering the gospel seeds that had been planted.

If a church is not watering these gospel seeds, the church will remain at surface level, with no real growth or movement. And just like a seed that has taken root, if not nourished, the seed  will eventually die. Both in Bob’s article and in Ep. 165 of the podcast, Replant Bootcamp talks about some components that may be absent from a declining church: 

  • Consistent and clear communication of the gospel message
  • Exegetical teaching from God’s word
  • Spirit empowered preaching
  • Practical application of God’s truth to everyday life
  • A powerful apologetic for Jesus in the culture

If we truly want to see growth in our work of ministry, we will have to commit to long-term, continual watering.

We have to be committed to the following: 

  • Sermon preparation and evaluation
  • The centrality of the Gospel in their teaching
  • The devotion to and reliance upon The Spirit in all of the processes involved in preaching (Prayer, Planning, Preparation and Proclamation)
  • Equipping and challenging the congregation to respond in obedience in everyday life

Commitment and Consistency

Replanting and Revitalizing churches is not for quitters or “greener grass syndrome.” Once you start, you truly do have to be committed for the long-haul. 

It takes the average person 7 times hearing the gospel before a conversion. It takes the average church replant

5-7 years to be self-sustaining. It takes explaining a vision for ministry again, and again, and again before a church finally sees what you see. Replants must have consistent leaders who will be faithful to the calling on their lives.

When farmers plant their seeds, it takes long, consistent work for the fields to bring a harvest. Sometimes there are cycles – years when crops produce and years where they don’t. You can’t let the difficult seasons turn you away quickly. There is a sense in which replanters and revitalization must have “thick skin” and bear the complaints of some to endure and produce a harvest for later.

The Grueling, Dirty, but Necessary Work of Discipleship

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to finally lead a friend to Christ. We had an encounter months ago that was a divine appointment from God. It began a friendship over several months that resulted in him making a profession of faith and getting baptized alongside his partner. We had spent so much time together and I was witnessing a dramatic change in this young man’s life. And then, life got busy.

 

Life got busy for both of us, and everytime we tried to find time to hang out, we struggled to connect. After a while, I started noticing that our friendship was drifting, and he was falling out of regular fellowship with the church. But in God’s own time and in his own way, he’s brought us together again. When I had the chance to lead him to Christ, I told myself, “My life is committed to this brother. And the calling God’s given me is to disciple him.”

Where did this discipleship-mentality come from? It came from an elderly man named Cleo. During my freshman year of college, I began visiting a church. Cleo decided that for a year, he would pour his life and soul into me, and teach me how to obey Christ. Cleo helped me understand that discipleship was woven into the fabric of scripture. He taught me what Christ meant when he said, “Follow me,” and, “…teach them to observe everything I’ve commanded.” The impact he made in my life has been an eternal impact. Because of him, I want to pour my life and soul into others.

Disciple-Making 101

In the past decade, there has been a major uptick in the work of disciple-making. In a previous generation of Christian living, much of the emphasis on Christian responsibility has been in the world of evangelism. But these two worlds should never have been disconnected, for in the Great Commission, Jesus explains how a disciple is made.

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded.” (Matthew 28:19)

Most scholars will agree that the main focus of this passage is on the Greek word mattetuous or make disciples. If this is true, we should find in the text an answer to this question: How is a disciple made? Jesus explains that it is by going, baptizing, and teaching. Going is related to Evangelism, and teaching all things is related to the word Discipleship. 

Simply put, here’s how a disciple is made: Go to them with the gospel. When they convert, baptize them as a public declaration of their new identity. Then, start the hard work of teaching them to obey Christ. Therefore, the work of making disciples includes both evangelism and discipleship, not one without the other. 

Let’s say you and your spouse have news of pregnancy. You might “prepare the ground” by getting ready to have a child: you buy a bassinet, decorate a bedroom, and purchase diapers and wipes. Then, that child comes into the world. When you bring the baby back home, what happens next? Do you leave it alone, hoping it will find its way in this world? In the words of Paul, “God forbid!” You would take care of that child by nurturing, caring, feeding, giving it safety, as he or she grows and matures year after year.

Even then, we never finish the process. In his book Multiply, Francis Chan says, “It’s much like raising a child: though there comes a day when she is ready to be on her own, the relationship doesn’t end. The friendship continues, and there will always be times when guidance and encouragement are still needed. In addition to that, God continually brings new people into our path, giving us fresh opportunities to start discipleship all over again.”

Water is Needed for Survival

Human beings cannot survive 3 days without water. Plants can shrivel up and die if they aren’t given enough water. And just like seeds have to be cultivated with water to grow, so do we. Except our spiritual nourishment does not come from Dasani or Aquafina. Our spiritual nourishment comes from continually feeding and drinking in the word of God as others teach and share with us. 

When we are connected to the written word, we are connected to the Living Word. In the words of Jesus, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)


If you’re looking for the perfect model of watering seeds in discipleship, look no further than the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus spent nearly three years with his followers, teaching them, feeding them the word, explaining to them, being patient with them, and leading them. It was a difficult work. The disciples often fell into pride and sin, but Jesus did not give up on them. And we cannot give up on watering seeds and investing into the lives of others around us. If God uses his church as a vehicle to reach the lost, he uses his followers to disciple others in the faith. 

For more information on watering seeds, discipleship, and growth in the faith, check out the following resources: Multiply, Growing Up, Rediscovering Discipleship, Discipleship Essentials, Transforming Discipleship, and The Master Plan of Discipleship. Among the plethora of others, The Navigators have great discipleship resources, as well as TGC.

Spiritually and Organizationally Healthy

What Measures a Healthy Church?

When someone says, “We have a pretty healthy church,” what do they mean? For some, this could mean they have an increasing average attendance in their weekly worship. For others, their finances are in pretty good shape and they have plenty of money to remain open. But if we think much deeper, and we look to the word of God, we will find that attendance and giving are not the only rubrics for church health.

And while attendance, finances, and facilities are important, we cannot use them alone to identify a healthy church. A church can have great attendance and wonderful giving, but be spiritually filled with sinful behavior, disunity, and immaturity. How, then, do we gauge what a healthy church looks like?

Spiritual Health vs. Organizational Health

In many of Paul’s epistles, he does not give advice on numerical change, suggest input on budget outflow, or concern himself with a church’s number of events and ministries. Although these things are important, Paul is much more concerned with the overall spiritual health of their congregation. In 2 Corinthians 13:11, Paul concludes his letter by saying, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 

Again in Philippians 2:1-2, Paul says this: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

These scriptures, among several others, teach us that the spiritual markers of a church’s health are Love, Unity, and Maturity. Read the following passages of scripture, and evaluate their context: Romans 12:9-13, 1 Cor. 16:13, Galatians 6:1-5, Ephesians 4:1-7, 1 Thess. 4:9-12, Colossians 2:12-17. In these passages, Paul was not addressing one certain individual, but he was addressing the church as a whole. When writing his epistles to Corinth, Philippi, Colossae, or Ephesus, Paul wanted the church to be unified, loving, mature, and living holy lives for God’s glory. 

If we evaluate Paul’s epistles, Jesus’ interaction with the Temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12-16) or Jesus’ letters to the churches in Revelation 1-3, we find a common theme: Jesus cares deeply about the health of His church, and his concerns are primarily spiritual.

Should we just forget about attendance and giving?

While health concerns of a church are primarily spiritual, that does not mean that other factors are unhelpful to observe. Spiritual Health is of first importance, but Organizational Health is also helpful and necessary. 

Organizational factors are unavoidable. If you are in a building, if you draw a salary, then you are in an institutional church. And if you want that organization to be healthy, there are different markers to help gauge that just like there are to the people of God inside the church. A church will have difficulty succeeding if they have troubles with their finances, attendance, or facilities.

Markers of Organizational Health

In Ep. 144 of the podcast, Jimbo and Bob talked about three major ways we can understand a church’s organizational health:

Decentralized Leadership means that the responsibility of leadership does not all rest on one person. The importance of team leadership is invaluable in a church setting. When leadership is done by a team, better accountability exists. Ideas are more thought-out and sustainable when working together to understand the best models for ministry. God can use different experiences, personalities, and leadership styles to move a church forward together.

Next, a church needs Dependable Resources. Having dependable resources means finances are reliable, vital staff members are paid well, facilities are dependable, and church policies and processes ensure that ministry runs effectively. In Revitalization, many churches get hung up on this particular topic. But, if spiritual health is the primary concern, the outflow will contribute to these factors as well. For example, if a church talks about the heart of giving, sacrifice, and ministry, they will contribute more to the kingdom of God. Or if a church captures the heart of evangelism and disciple-making, higher attendance is a result.

Lastly, a church needs De-Personified Alignment. This means that the mission, vision, and ministry philosophy does not all come from one person. When the whole church gets behind their mission, and they are unified in their ministry, they are much more likely to be about the work of the ministry. However, personality conflict with one leader can derail a church’s mission. They must be all together. 

Both Trellis and Vine

When we talk about the health of a church, we have to ask the right questions: are we talking about the organization? Or are we talking about the body of believers? In organizational health, we must recognize some common concerns when the church is in decline. We have fewer in attendance, fewer people giving, and our facilities are falling apart. Some people might say, “Let’s just not worry about numbers.” Saying that would ignore very important aspects of organizational health. Why are we declining in attendance? This question must be asked.

The organization is only the scaffolding or trellis for the vine. While they are both important, spiritual health should drive organizational health, not vice versa. In a book called The Trellis and the Vine, Colin Marshall says, 

“…most churches are a mixture of trellis and vine. The basic work of any Christian ministry is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of God’s Spirit, and to see people converted, changed and grow to maturity in that gospel. That’s the work of planting, watering, fertilizing, and tending the vine. However…Christian ministries also need some structure and support. All christian churches, fellowships or ministries have some kind of trellis that gives shape and support to the work of the ministry. Management, finances, infrastructure, organization, and governance all become more important and more complex as the vine grows.”

Putting it All Together

We are responsible to steward well what we have been given. We can’t focus on one aspect of this to the neglect of the other. If we just focus on organizational health, the body will be there just to serve and sustain the organization. Unfortunately, that’s the attitude of a lot of dying churches. Their major concerns are those things. We also can not neglect organizational health and only focus on spiritual health. If we do this, we will have no structure, there will be confusion and chaos. Being a health and balanced church means that we are focused on both spiritual health and organizational health.

For more information on church health, see the following resources: Ep. 144 and Ep. 136 of the Replant Bootcamp Podcast. 12 Healthy Characteristics of a Healthy Church, a resource developed by Brian Nall in Pensacola Bay Baptist Association. Pick up Mark Dever’s well-known book on church health, or Bill Henard’s helpful book on understanding why churches decline. If you think your church is in danger of closing, take this church health assessment. This self-assessment is meant to help assist you in determining the current state of your local church. Another way to get started is by taking an introductory course that will help anyone understand what church replanting is and how it provides hope for dying churches.

EP 136 – ANALYZE THE CONDITION OF YOUR CHURCH

Replant Bootcamp
Replant Bootcamp
EP 136 - ANALYZE THE CONDITION OF YOUR CHURCH
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The Bootcamp is coming at you from the Big “D” Dallas TX. Jimbo and Bob were on the road along with big boss man Mark Clifton, leading a conference for the Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches. Our thanks to Dr. James Kang, our translators and the many great Pastors, Staff and leaders we met while there.

Today we get down to the important business of analyzing where your church might be in terms of its spiritual health. Bob opens the discussion-here are some of the highlights.

We often ask one another; “How is your church?” We may not want to answer or have categories to answer.  Here are four important areas to examine the health in your church.

  • Spiritual health: prayer, members are Christlike, demonstrate fruit of the spirit, obeying the commands of God, personal devotion to God by regularly participating in worship, prayer and bible study
  • Financial health: members supporting the ministry by giving regularly and sacrificially of their resources to the work of God in the local church and beyond, the church is able to compensate its pastors and staff
  • Missional health: members of the church regularly engage non-Christians and unchurched people in the community, and communicate the gospel clearly. The Church as a body knows, loves and serves its local community.
  • Relational health: the members of the church are unified in the gospel, they are not filled with divisions over their differences, they love and care for each other, they meet each other’s needs as need arises. They give, serve and love one another-the testimony to those outside the church creates interest and brings praise to God.

Some important things to note:

  • Numbers are something-they aren’t everything.
  • Most Churches, read that-most churches right now have experienced decline – you are not alone.
  • You can’t define health from numbers alone.

Here are some questions to analyze the health of your church:

  • Is our love for Jesus the primary motivation for the actions or work of our church?
  • Where is our love for Jesus leading us to risk and step out in faith to follow him making the gospel known in our community? 
  • What preferences and barriers are hindering our love for Jesus and our ability to follow him faithfully?
  • What is something that Jesus asking me (and our church) to die to, in order to follow more faithfully?

Bonus Material-The Stolen Slides from Keelan Cook

You probably need to analyze your church website. Get with our great sponsor, One Eighty Digital, they can help your website move forward and connect with your community.

Drop us a line, leave a voicemail, remember to like and share with your friends-thanks for being a Bootcamper.

 

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EP 132 – STAYING HEALTHY AS A REPLANT PASTOR

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Replant Bootcamp
EP 132 - STAYING HEALTHY AS A REPLANT PASTOR
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The Bootcamp boys continue the ATL Bootcamp series and are joined by none other than Pilot Mountain’s own, Walker Armstrong. Walker serves as the AMS Leader for the Pilot Mountain Association and is one of the leaders who helped create the Replant Practitioner Training. Listen in as they discuss what it takes to be healthy as a Pastor serving in a local church.

Staying Healthy is challenging when:

  • Pastors/Leaders become isolated and alone
  • When they persist in the hard work of ministry without any breaks
  • When they don’t have a coach, mentor or friend
  • When they ignore their own health (physical, spiritual, financial etc.)

What can be done to address pastor health?

  • Develop a regular practice of “check-ups” and “Check-in’s”
  • Join a pastors cohort group-where proactive care and focus are given to members
  • Develop a list of conversational questions aimed at discussing the issues of life, ministry and spiritual growth

Great quote from the episode: “You are only as sick as your secrets.”

Guys, don’t Pastor alone, connect with other Pastors. your Associational Leader or check in with us here at the Bootcamp. Drop us a line, send an email reach out today.

Need help? Pastoral Care Line: 1-844-PASTOR1 is a free, confidential, dedicated help line for pastors. Trained, professional counselors are available every day from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. (ET). Confidentiality is ensured by Focus on the Family.

The Practical Shepherding Pastor’s Cohort

Replanter’s Wife Facebook Group

Checkout Walker’s writing here: WalkerArmstrongwrites.com

 

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EP 129 – HEALTHY CHURCH PARTNERSHIPS – with special guest Dr. Casey Williams

Replant Bootcamp
Replant Bootcamp
EP 129 - HEALTHY CHURCH PARTNERSHIPS - with special guest Dr. Casey Williams
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Joining the Bootcamp bros on this EP is Jimbo’s longtime friend, Casey Williams. He is the lead pastor of North Trenholm Baptist Church in Columbia SC. Listen in as they talk about how church partnerships develop as an outgrowth of church health.

Healthy Church Partnerships

  • Begin when a church becomes healthy itself
  • Flow from a sincere desire to help other churches become vital
  • Are possible when deep relationships form between pastors and sister churches
  • Require a “the kingdom first” mentality

When a city is filled with more healthy churches, there are more opportunities for neighboring, serving, proclaiming the gospel than if a single church simply grows larger.

Listen in as Casey describes the vision God has given their church to help develop healthy, gospel centered, mission focused and autonomous churches to reach their neighborhoods.

Recommended Resource: Partnership Profile Tool via the Resound Network of the Missouri Baptist Convention – thanks to Brandon Moore Director of Resound. Check it out as a helpful guide for your church as it considers partnership.

Partner Profile Tool

 

We would love to hear your feedback, drop us a line, a voicemail share your comments.

Every church needs a partner to help them develop their website. Our great sponsor, One Eighty Digital is the partner you need. Connect with them today and let them know you are a Bootcamp listener.

 

 

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EPISODE #106 – GETTING HEALTHY

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Replant Bootcamp
EPISODE #106 - GETTING HEALTHY
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The “Bob” is back in town from his hiatus and joins Jimbo at the Bootcamp to discuss health. Grab an Iced tea or a water and sit right down for a bit more transparent discussion about health, diet, weight and why the boys are taking steps to trim down, shape up and how they are going about it.

Why Address your Health?

  • You might be physically uncomfortable
  • You could be endangering your future
  • Your health impacts your ministry, your family engagement and it’s a stewardship of the body God has given you.
  • You can be so busy in ministry and justify your poor health and poor habits.

Taking some practical steps

  • Get a plan and work it
  • Know your relationship with food-you have one, do you know what it is?
  • Get active and moving (walk, bike, etc.)
  • If you don’t address your health before a crisis, a crisis will cause you to have to address it.

What would you add?  Drop us a line, voicemail or text and let us know.

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.

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