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austin city-wide church planter assessment Friday, May 30, 2008 |

Wednesday I had the privilege of being a part of a meeting to discuss the idea of doing a city-wide church planters assessment for Austin. It was hosted by Tim Hawks and John Herrington of Hill Country Bible Church, Glenn Smith of New Church Initiatives and David Smith of the Austin Baptist Association. Also participating were Jonathan Dodson representing Austin City Life and the Austin Area Church Planters Network, several baptist pastors, and myself and Joey Shaw representing Austin Stone Community Church.

Tim is the Senior Pastor at HCBC and it is obvious that he bleeds for the expansion of the Kingdom. You can tell what keeps him up at night - expanding the reign of Jesus through church planting. John is the Church Planting Director at HCBC, is sharp as a tack, extremely wise, and has a passion for seeing the city of Austin saturated with churches. Glenn is the guru of assessing and training church planters. David is one of the most kingdom-minded people you'll meet, who is able to effectively utilize his platform within the ABA to extend the influence of new and existing baptist churches. Don't let the title fool you - he's more Kingdom-focused than anyone you'll meet. Jonathan is one of the smartest and theologcially astute church planters you'll ever meet, but also has a huge heart to shepherd other church planters. And Joey, besides being fluent in Arabic, is an incredible catalyst, church planter, mobilizer and would-be statesman in his own right - not bad for a 24-year-old.

There are several reasons why stuff like this is cool:
  1. It smells like the Kingdom: anytime gospel-centered churches pursue a vision to work together to plant churches Jesus seems to show up.
  2. It's a good start: many of the folks at that table are very experienced in successful church planting. This isn't their first rodeo, so they know what works and what doesn't
  3. It's raises the right kinds of questions: soon after the meeting began it became evident that assessment was only going to be one slice of the church planting pie, although that is what brought us together - the opportunity for a city-wide church planter assessment. It became clear that there would need to be other "engines" and facets of church planting we would need to work together on, including coaching, supervision, funding, research, and training.
As we pilot this city-wide church planter assessment (probably August 25-27) we'll no doubt have to tweak and change things. We'll need to bring more than just white guys to the table for this to truly be a "city-wide" endeavor. We'll need to bring house churches and house church networks to the table for this to truly be a "city-wide" endeavor. And we'll need to give different folks from different backgrounds the same voice in the process.

Hooray for good starts.

image: Austin, Texas-no place like it! by: texas to mexico

a conversation on barriers to a movement in the U.S. - part 1 Friday, May 02, 2008 |

I recently had an email conversation with Tim Ahlen on the barriers to a church planting movement (CPM) here in the U.S. Tim was quick to point out that has yet to be a verifiable church planting movement here. And here are his initial observations as to why:
"It seems that there are a number of realities impeding CPM’s in North America.

There is so much “deviant DNA” in North America that rapid discipleship is very difficult. What I mean by that is: in remote areas of Africa, China or India, the only voices competing with Christianity are those of the dominant culture: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, animism. When Christian teaching is introduced to these cultures, it stands by itself against the dominant cultural religion. In North America, if you teach Calvinism, you will be contradicted by other Christian voices who are Arminian. If you are a dispensational premillenialist, you will be contradicted by a host of other millennial views. If you are a Trinitarian, you will be contradicted by JW’s, Mormons and other cults. IN addition, the long history of Christianity in North America has established certain institutional and educational expectations in people’s minds that are very difficult to overcome. Bottom line, it takes a lot longer to communicate the simple and essential message of Christ in North America.

Related to the above issue, many , if not most, North Americans have been inoculated with a Christianity that is weak, anemic, institutional and cultural. However, it is strong enough to hinder people from getting “infected with the real thing.”

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What do you think are barriers to seeing a movement of the gospel here in the U.S.?

image: the wall by: macieklew

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