Church Planting

Church Planting is for Kids

"Why should I get involved with a church plant if I have children? Don’t other churches have more stuff to offer?”

Not necessarily. They may have different stuff to offer, but a young church plant has some things to offer you won’t find anywhere else. 

In fact, here are some reasons you should prefer to get your family, including your young children, involved in a young church plant like Harvest Bible Chapel Pittsburgh North:

1. They will get to see how new churches start.

I never knew how churches started before I planted a church. Guess I never really thought about it. I just assumed back in the day John Wesley and Martin Luther just moved through the area and opened franchises. (Just kidding. I knew a little more about it than that. A little.)

What an education I received planting a church, watching it all come together as God was working! And what a great opportunity for your children to learn something they may never have a chance to be a part of again.

2. They will learn that everyone is called to actively serve.

In church plant world, we use a phrase a lot: “All hands on deck!” Being young and small, we need everyone to step up and actively get on board in ministry. Everyone! That’s Biblical, by the way. I know of many passages in the Bible that call ALL believers to actively serve (Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 2). I don’t know of a single passage that calls a believer to be a bystander. “My spiritual gift is bench warming.” No, it’s not.

Longer established churches are blessed to have had people step up and do and lead and disciple. So it can be easy for people to slip in and slip out without stepping up. God calls everyone to be involved, and your child will experience that especially in a church plant.

3. They will learn that church is where you look to give not expect to be given.

Similar to the previous point, your children will learn this valuable lesson about following Jesus that they will carry with them the rest of their lives, if you disciple them in this attitude.

We live in a consumer culture. We get lulled into a consumer mentality. What benefit ME best? Target or Wal*Mart? Giant Eagle or Shop and Save? Ford or Chevy? Coke or Pepsi?

Sadly we carry the consumer mentality into the church. When you walk into a church, and the first question you ask is, “How will this place benefit me?”, you have brought an unbiblical and self-centered mindset that is anything but the mind of Christ.

4. They will see God do some radical things in times of desperation.

We started this church with nothing. A zero dollar bank account. No place to meet. Few people. An empty trailer purchased, praying God would fill it with equipment.

I don’t have the space here to testify to God’s gracious provision that He made every step of the way. So many times, we had our backs against the wall, cried out to Him, and He showed up gloriously. Never late, seldom early. And He never disappointed us.

Not saying God doesn’t move mightily in big churches - sometimes it can seem less obvious to the congregation as a whole. Your child will carry with him/her the glorious lesson that God is a provider and He can always be trusted to take care of His children when they cry out to Him. They will get to not just hear it preached… but watch it happen!

5. They will see how the Holy Spirit grows the church.

What a glorious thing to behold. “But the Holy Spirit is growing big churches!“ Yes, praise God, He is! That’s how they got big. But growth can look more obvious in a church plant. Growth from 1500-1540 isn’t as obvious as growth from 25-65, right?

Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18). And from the ground up, your child will get to see Jesus fulfill His promise. New believers baptized, old believers revitalized, the Holy Spirit doing what only He can do, to the glory of God the Father.

So bring your children. Let them experience God at work in a way that will strengthen their faith for the rest of their lives!

p.s. - church planting = kids' stuff

Being a Part of a Church Plant Takes Radical Faith

So Erin and I went to the Pastors and Wives Retreat last week at beautiful Harvest Bible Chapel Orlando.

Pastor James MacDonald said something that really resonated with me. So much so that I told our pre-service pray-ers Sunday. Then I told the whole congregation. And now I just have to put it on here.

He was talking about seasons of ministry and how we in church planting world start small and meet in schools and eventually grow and move in to our own buildings. In the midst of this, Pastor James lauded the caliber of the people who would commit to being part of a start-up church plant. Those who would “be a part of your thing before your thing was a thing.”

He’s right. I think back on all of those who quickly committed and bailed when work needed to be done. Those who were “all in”, and left when discovering “all in” was a huge responsibility. And those who made it one lap around the track but didn't have the heart to make another.

I am so thankful for those who have walked through this journey. Everyone who doesn’t care that we meet in a school and don’t have all the bells and whistles. Those who are just coming to worship and pray and encounter the loving God and aren’t afraid to give more of their time and money because we are so young. Those who are joyful and flexible and expecting God to show Himself mighty.

I guess I knew this, but James brought back to the forefront of my mind: it takes a very special type of person to be a part of a church plant. What kind of person?

It takes someone with faith.

Church planting isn’t for someone who likes to see the fruit of what has already happened. It is for those who have faith to see what the Lord is about to do. You just have to know you are being called to it.

It takes someone with vision.

It’s easier to plug into a church where everything is established. But to be a pioneer, to establish a culture, to spearhead a new mission, to seek God for how He is calling you to step up and pass a vision on to others and equip them and coach them and train them and be patient with them and grow and adapt and lose people and trust the funds to come in and not get discouraged and not let your people get discouraged and… Well, you got to have a vision and be committed to it.

It takes someone who won’t quit.

Someone who is not afraid of hard work, or recruiting, or going the extra mile. Leadership and church planting sound like a lot of fun, but many step up to the plate and discover that they aren’t ready to play ball. So they leave. It’s too hard, we’ve had a setback, my expectations aren’t being met. Quitting is the easy way out. And it is always painful for the people who were counting on them. I am so thankful for those who are truly committed - and it would take a wheelbarrow full of dynamite to blow them out of the church. Those are the people who are an encouragement to me when my spirits are down!

I could go on. But I won’t. I am so blessed to see the people the Lord has brought… and continues to bring. And I pray they experience the blessing for their radical faith.

Because anyone can do things the easy way.

p.s. - surrounded by bulldogs

Harvest University 2011...

What can be said but “Wow!”?

Two and a half days of passionate worship (led by Micah Klutinoty on Tuesday), bold preaching, excellent ministry training, and warm fellowship. Could have stood to be there a couple more days, but we got work to do here!

A few years ago at the very first Harvest U, they had 38 people attend. This year saw almost 1600 people, from all over the world! Is the Lord moving through Harvest? You can do the math on that one.

Part of the festivities was the Graduation Ceremony for the class of 2011. Call me biased, but I was blessed to be a part of the best class ever. I may get arguments from previous classes, and someday from future classes, but I won’t hear it. In my class, I met 6 future legends.

Steve Deedrick is planting a Harvest Bible Chapel in Rochester, Minnesota. Formerly working at Harvest Naperville, Steve is a Harvest guy, through and through.

Frans Alberts was sent to Perth, Australia, to plant. He is one of the warmest Pastors I have ever met. He has a tough assignment, which is probably why he was sent there in the first place.

Josh Knipp is planting in Bloomington, Indiana. An intellectual and a NANC guy, Josh is the ultimate encourager.

Matt Townsend was sent to Philadelphia. Though I thought that might destroy our friendship (it‘s a hockey thing), I can’t see anything ever doing that. His enthusiasm is contagious.

Aaron Dogotch is in the Knoxville, Tennessee area now. The man is a genius - a Biblical genius and a comedic genius. The only thing I don’t like about him is that after I spend time with him, my face hurts from laughing so hard.

And Daryl Molyneaux is planting in Niagara Falls, Canada. Not actually in the falls, though that would be cool. Which Daryl is in spades: cool. I just love the guy. When I grow up, I want to be like Daryl. Don’t tell him. He needs to stay humble. 

It was so great to hear how the Lord is working in each plant! Here comes my bias again, but I still think I have the best Core Group in the history of Harvest Bible Fellowship. Let's keep these other planting Pastors in our prayers. 

It was great to catch up with those who poured into me during my training, see those amazing people from Joliet, and make many new relationships.

I am so blessed to be a part of such a Christ exalting, passionate ministry. And those of you who have committed to planting Harvest Pittsburgh, you should feel it, too! To God be the glory!

p.s. - made it through the Harvest Training Center with only a few scars and a slight lime

Frequently Asked Questions...

This church planting experience has been quite amazing so far... and it just keeps getting better as the Lord brings more people to join our Core Group, send other people our way, and pray for us. 

This is all a "first" for me. I never imagined I would even be a pastor... but a church planter? The Lord brought me into this, so I have no doubt He will make perfect provision and guide us every step of the way. 

There are a few questions that come up repeatedly (some more than others) when I hold Open Houses, lead Core Group meetings, and meet people over coffee. These are great questions, so I thought I would get some answers frontloaded here on the blog. (Blogging is also new to me, so I think that this is allowed.)

Q: Where is the church going to be?

A: This first Harvest Bible Chapel church plant is going to be in the Wexford - Warrendale - Cranberry area. Population growth and accessibility are just two of the reasons our leadership locally and in Chicago have determined to plant here. .

Q: Where is the church going to be?

Didn't I just cover that? Next ques... oh, you mean, like, what building? My bad. I am working on meeting location. Currently our Core Group meetings are held at the home of one of our Core Group members, e-mail me for that info. But as for what building are we meeting in on Sunday mornings when we launch in September...? I have been checking out places already and have some calls out to others. I will let you know when I have something. Pray for this, won't you? I want to be where the Lord would have us, perhaps He will give us a facility!

Q: What about the role of women in the church?

 We encourage women to be involved in every area of ministry the Bible permits! This excludes the roles of pastors and elders which the Bible indicates are roles carried out by men. 

Q: Is this just the start of another denomination? How does this plant fall under the authority of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago?

 First off, we are not a denomination. We are a non-denominational church. Further, we are a local, self governing, independent, autonomous church. Until we have our own elders in place, we are receiving leadership from "Big" Harvest in Chicago. They are gracious in their involvement to help us get going. But even after we have our own elders, we will always be part of the Harvest family of churches all over the world!

Q: Do we really need another church, especially in this area you are planting?

 Do we need another church that boldly proclaims the Word, passionately worships Jesus Christ, cries out to the Lord for His Work to be done through His people, and boldly shares the good news of the Gospel to a lost and dying world? We need a church like that on every corner. 

At Harvest, we seek clarity, simplicity, and urgency in all we do. If your question is not answered on this website or in this blog, e-mail me! You can ask anything!

To God be the Glory!

p.s. - "In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever." -Psalm 44:8