Category Archives: church planting

Lessons from Church Planting

Now that I am here in Lincoln Square laboring to see a family of disciples live out the gospel here and praying that church into existence, here are some lessons I’ve learned the few months I’ve been here.

1. Freedom is found in experiencing failure.

…Failure is inevitable. Accept it. Learn from it. And know there are worse things that can happen. Take a long-term view of planting. Set your pace to plant churches for 50 years, not 50 days.

2. Church planting is much like the old verbage, “Put up your sails and let the Holy Spirit blow them.” 
… Reflect on the sovereignty of God. We cannot make the wind blow. We simply get to follow where it takes us. It is our job to be faithful until the wind blows (and while the wind blows) rather than forcing God’s Spirit to move. I spent years reading about church planting (I know, years…weird right?) Relying on academic models isn’t the plan in the New Testament. All the authors you  have read never planted a church in your neighborhood with your giftings. Rather than plowing hard to the ground or pulling methods from books, push hard into hearing the voice of God and ask the Spirit, “What’s next?”

3. Church planting is never worth planting a dysfunctional family.

If not careful and guarded, the church will become your mistress. One, the church is Jesus’ bride, not ours. Two, our bride doesn’t want (nor can handle) hearing every detail about church planting. Do whatever you can to leave your thoughts at the door from the day so you can be fully present with your wife and kids. Also, church planter…remember you get to go and meet with several people a day and have meaningful, purposeful adult conversation. Carve out time for your wife to have the same quality time with others.

4. Know your personality and your model.
… There are so many different ways of planting and everyone’s way is of course right. So know your context, know yourself, and know the Scriptures. Be clear on what kind of church you will plant. Whatever trajectory you set in the first year as a church planter is the trajectory with which you will live by forever.

5. You need a team.
… For support, for diversity of gifts, for accountability, for encouragement and for stopping you from doing stupid things.

6. Ideals need to become flesh.
…Some people never move from planting a church in their heads to planting the gospel in their context. We must live out in everyday life.

7. Jesus is your Savior, not your ministry.
… and remind yourself in the hard times.

8. Locals are better than me.
… The men and women who have lived in your neighborhood for a significant amount of time will always be better at disciple-making, introducing others to community, and spreading and showing the gospel. Spend more time equipping them than being the thread to everyone.

9. Read the Parable of the soils
… No matter how dark of a place you live, no matter how broken, no matter how anti-belief, be clear about your conviction that the Word of God, though small, is powerful and will bring life.



Missio Dei strives to see every follower live as a family on mission. This family the gospel creates practices routines and rhythms together. They live out the mission of Jesus. Gospel Communities are the heart of church life and church at the neighborhood level. They are where community, mission, care, prayer, worship, and the application of God’s Word take place. They deconstruct the idea that church is a one-hour weekly service and revive the truth that everyday church happens in a network of relationships who are intentional about JESUS while having a strong sense of shared life and mission. The following rhythms help us add gospel components, community components, and mission components to our everyday lives:

STORY-FORMED: We intentionally shepherd both those in the family and those on their way into faith, love, and obedience to Jesus through the Gospel.

PRAY: We set aside regular times to call on the Lord and listen to His leading.

BLESS: We intentionally bless God and others through acts of generosity and service.

EAT: We regularly eat meals with one another and invite others into the family to eat with us.

CELEBRATE: We regularly gather together to celebrate God’s extravagant blessing.

These ideas aren’t really new. They are just ways of expressing the Biblical principles that have always been a part of the authentic Christian life. Consider CS Lewis’s routines & rhtyhms. Shortly after CS Lewis’s conversion, he began to bring gospel intentionality to his schedule, though he would never have worded it this way. His routines and rhythms demonstrate the Christian life in practical, tangible terms. His typical schedule demonstrates space and margin for Gospel Community to evolve. This is CS Lewis’ typical schedule in 1931 a few months after his conversion:

7.15 – Wake up, tea, bath, shaving & pray the Psalms outloud while pacing around the house. {PRAY}

7:40 – Short stroll {LISTENING}

8 – Chapel and The Dean’s Prayers
8.15 – Breakfast with others. {FAMILY}
8.40 – Answer notes, letters, etc.
Lewis made a vow to God to answer every bit of fanmail. Lewis was internally torn and confessed to his friends he thought he could have written more books if he didn’t make this commitment because it led to often writing over 100 letters in a week. Through these letters and notes, Lewis counseled several with the truths from Jesus. {STORY-FORMED}
9 – 1 – Teaching students in classes.
1-5 – Typically a stroll around some nice scenery/park {LISTEN}
5-7 – Listen to Gramaphone Records.
 Lewis and his friends had a love for Gramaphone records. This was a way for Lewis to celebrate with others who were not believers who had an appreciation for the same music. He loved a wide-range of music , but he disliked church music intensely. He said this is because the churches were singing “fifth rate poems set to sixth-rate music.” {CELEBRATE/RECREATION}
7.15 – Dinner, sometimes with students or colleagues {EAT}
8.30 – Time with other students, dinner with colleagues, or speaking or writing. {CELEBRATE/FAMILY}
11 – Bed.
One not mentioned on the schedule is {BLESS} because for Lewis, blessing others came as the need arose. He did this repeatedly as he paid for others college tuition and provided basic utilities for those in need.

Serving at Party in the Park

A few weeks ago, seven of us volunteered at Gross Park’s Annual Party in the Park just as a way to serve and bless others. Blessing others is a normal rhythm of life for Missio Dei. It isn’t an add on or something we do for self-promotion.