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The Church Planting Journey Is Rather Personal

It's Personal by Brian and Amy BloyeAccording to Brian and Amy Bloye, the two toughest jobs in the world are raising kids, and raising a church. And both tasks are deeply personal.

I’m a better church planter for having read It’s Personal. It’s now one of the books I’ll be pushing at every potential church planter. Why? Several reasons.

  • Calling is key, and while many books talk about church planting models and methods, few focus on the foundation, which is what matters when the going gets tough. They Bloyes make it plain. If you’re not called, do anything else.
  • Family is first. Brian and Amy share the real story of how they’ve had to fight to keep family first by establishing healthy boundaries and limits.
  • Friends are essential, and Brian and Amy give permission for the planter to have friends. One of the leading causes of the abandonment of a fledgling plant is the emotional toil the isolation often takes on a planting family. Friends aren’t optional.
  • Staff unity matters. As a lead planter, Brian helps others to understand the need to get “mean” about the vision and to tenaciously guard that vision while seeking to develop a staff that supports the vision wholeheartedly.
  • In an increasingly celebrity-oriented culture, where the church planter is often the rock star, prayer, fasting, and real devotion to God are everything. Brian and Amy give benchmarks for measuring spiritual growth in the life of the planter.

In other words, this book is personal. I was inspired by the story of West Ridge Church. I jotted down a few ministry ideas and insights as I read. But most importantly, I was challenged to examine my own life to see how the gospel is being lived out in me.

As the Bloye’s put it, church planting is a journey. It’s God’s journey, and for those who are called, no other journey will ever satisfy the longing of the soul.

Buy the Book

ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story

ReWrittenA year and a half ago, I met Bruce and Heather Moore. I had somehow caught wind of their story and was so inspired that we invited them out to California to attend Saddleback’s leadership conference. Bruce had served on staff at two different suburban megachurches, but God had called he and Heather into a new ministry venture leading a dying church. Their new congregation in downtown Tampa had one year to live, and over that year, God worked a miracle through their leadership and began authoring a new story for Christ Fellowship.

Bruce and Heather are sold out for the gospel’s sake, and God keeps using them to lead others to Jesus. NavPress wisely approached them about writing a new book called ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story. I read the manuscript early on and loved the concept. I wholeheartedly endorsed it and want to do so now that the book is going to be released to the public.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

Your life matters. It matters a great deal.

Truth be told, life will never be satisfying until you know who God created you to be and exchange your story with the story God has for you. you are God’s image bearer, which means you have the potential to accomplish something great. So does every person on the face of the earth, because we are all created imago dei—in God’s image.

Imago dei is a spiritual concept that often gets overlooked. The creation account makes for great children’s Sunday school lessons but somehow never makes the leap to adulthood. it’s nice to teach a toddler that God created creepy crawly bugs, giant dinosaurs, and tossed a few million stars in the sky. But when that toddler becomes a teen or young adult, what does he or she know about living life in order to reflect God’s image? Somehow the concept gets lost in translation, and we live our lives unaware that whatever we are in life—doctor, plumber, stay-at-home mom, code writer, mail carrier—we are first and foremost designed to bear God’s image to a world that is broken.

Problem is, most of us are not living the life God created us to live. Most of us have lives that are far from perfect. We are living out stories that are different than what we had dreamed about. We all have areas of our lives that are plagued with internal disappointments, fear, or shame. The great news is that no matter where you are in life, what God desires for you is not just a better version of what you currently have but something altogether new. He designed you for a unique purpose that only you can fulfill.

That’s why your life matters

It’s the kind of book that would be awesome to use as a message series, in small groups, or to give as a gift to anyone in need of God’s grace (that’s all of us!). Bruce and Heather have given their family and their lives to seeing others transformed by the power of the gospel – to seeing stories rewritten. Now you can enjoy the fruit of their study and their labor of love.

God wants to write a new story for you, if you’ll simply embrace Him! Check out ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story today!

Buy the Book!

14 Great Books on the Subject of Prayer

Handle with Prayer by Charles StanleyI’m wrapping up a message series on the subject of prayer this Sunday, and I’ve grown in my personal prayer walk as a result of preaching it. I’ve learned from some great sources and wanted to pass along a list of my favorites…

Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God’s Strength for Living by Charles Stanley

Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer, The: Experience the Wonders of God through Prayer by E. M. Bounds

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

Prayer, the Great Adventure by David Jeremiah

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

On Prayer and the Contemplative Life by Thomas Aquinas (currently free in Kindle edition)

On Earth as It Is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively by Warren Wiersbe

Prayer: Asking and Receiving by John R. Rice (out of print, but one of the best)

Praying the Lord’s Prayer by J. I. Packer

The Power of Prayer and Fasting and How to Pray by Ronnie Floyd

Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels

A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper

What books are missing from my library? What has inspired or instructed your growth in prayer?

How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven

How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven… and other ministry training. Michael Cheshire had me at the title! I like to laugh, and I enjoy comedy, but there are admittedly very few books that can actually make me laugh out loud. But within the introduction to How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven, I knew I was in for a delightful read!

Michael’s story is a pretty great one. It’s a success story in the church planting sense (just check out the Journey Foothills website), but it’s also a Cinderella story. You’ll be rooting for the underdog from page one (especially the moment the Journey staff are literally running from some ominous dogs after a failed door-to-door canvassing attempt). It’s an honest story. It’s a picture of what it is to take a leap of faith with few resources and no guarantees. It’s exactly what I needed to be reading at the outset of planting a new church in northwest Arkansas.

What is How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven about? According to the book’s website

true underdog story. Journey with these young leaders as they do church their way. A diner, driving school and an odd jobs company are just some of the ways this group used to build a thriving church. In How To Knock Over a 7-Eleven and Other Ministry Training, author and senior pastor Michael Cheshire brings real-life stories to out of the box church work. His humor is unmatched and the insights you get will cut to the core as you journey with him and his team as they build a church from scratch. This book takes you behind the scenes of a radically different way to build a church. It’s a valuable resource for those planning to launch a new ministry or for leaders wanting to be more innovative in their community. This is not a story of the traditional church. Michael and his team sacrifice more than a few sacred cows in their pursuit of God’s calling. If you’re determined to pursue a calling in any type of ministry, this book will only make your fire grow.

There are the lessons we learn from books, classes, and professors. There are the dissertations, seminars, and projects. But there are also those moments when we launch out and attempt something for God only to say, “well, that was stupid.” These are the lessons always best learned from the stories of others. Past this though are the stories of lives changed and people loved and a church planted and built in the foothills of the Rockies by a few people very passionate about Jesus.

This book made me fall in love even more with the idea of casting off all that I think I know and crawling to the feet of Jesus for help on behalf of a world that desperately needs to know Him. Buy a copy today.

Buy via Amazon

By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?

Throw Off the Leisure Suit: Get Unstuck!

Hang Up the Leisure Suit: Get Unstuck

Tony Morgan has released some pretty great books, many of which are available as free ebooks (which are actually books, but with an “e”). He’s just released a new follow-up book and it’s well worth checking out. Here’s his description:

The first eBook in this series, The Leisure Suit Trap: 8 Reasons Your Church Is Stuck, focused on why churches are stuck, defining the challenge at hand. This second installment addresses how your church can get unstuck. That leisure suit may have looked good back in the ’70s, but it’s time to get a new wardrobe.

Go grab your copy of Hanging Up the Leisure Suit: How to Get Unstuck.