Pretty Good Church 2

Pretty good church Discoveries

2. We learned to begin from where we were with what we had.
My friend Doug met with some church planters all stated, 'We don't have the funding to sow seeds.' Doug was stunned, he then asked what business they were in? He clarified, ‘we are spiritual farmers, we sow seeds it is what we are called to do’

...He then told them about what he did during the early days of the Dayton Vineyard, how he began to care for the community with 7 bags of groceries, and cooking hotdogs on street corners, and how his simple beginning grew into a 1.5 million dollar per year enterprise supplying over 50 other ministries with food and reaching over 150,000 people a year.

The principle, begin where you are...with what you have.

If you wait for tomorrow before you begin to reach out to your community, you may have a long wait, for your tomorrow may never come.

He encouraged them to use what they had, to begin now, to invest in the community, to fling seeds, to invite, to encourage, to challenge the people to do the same, and to experiment with what they had.

Last week I talked to a church planter who is beginning where he is. They went out to a local laundry mat to feed some quarters into the machines and to talk to the people...only people...many leaders would have become discouraged and quit...He, being a good leader, led the small group to a coin operated car wash and fed quarters to pay for the car wash...after touching several lives with kindness and having some great conversations. They returned from the adventure encouraged.

Later, when I was asked how can he and his church begin to kick up the volume? I answered, ‘by inviting people to become shareholders.’ I gave a tip...Invite the people to bring outreach items to the weekend meetings...

This month is granola bar, trail mix and packs of peanuts. When you go shopping pick up a box or two of the above items we will store the items for our monthly outreach.
One month ask the question, “Are we a coke church or a pepsi church or a water church?” (I did this in Cincy and we raised 28,000 drinks for a summer outreach.) Encourage the people to bring cokes, or pepsi, or water to the church each can or bottle is a vote...plan a 4th of July drinks outreach...and use the drinks as your outreach items.
3. We learned we needed to be spiritually smart.
What’s being spiritually smart?

Learning that all of life is an adventure.
Learning to take risks and to experiment.

Letting some ideas bubble.

Not chasing fads, or ‘spiritual’ side tracks.

Remaining focused on the main and the plain. (The Great Commission)

Guarding your heart and your talk.

Being who you are… all the time.

Value people.

Not fixing what’s not broken.

Being humble enough to learn from others…a life long learner.

Not reinventing the wheel.

Understanding your God assigned area /city/regional culture then adjusting your methods to reach out accordingly.

Being consistent in outreach.

Being consistent with the weekend services.
No pastor tricks, bait and switch, or being weird on weekends.
Praying much.

Taking the time and the cash to develop a vibrant children’s area.

When trouble comes your way, be honest and explaining/communicating with those who are affected by the issue.
Nurturing a few key worship leaders.

Worshiping the God who is, because He is the God
Who is.

Using humor to make a point, or just for the fun of it.

Deciding there will be no more staff mercy hires.

Making strategic in sync staffing hires.

Learning to trust your team, then releasing the team, to do the stuff.

Developing a membership track that works. 

Working what works.

Learning to drop certain areas that are not producing according to your vision / DNA or alignment.

Establishing positive consistent energized outward focused traditions.

Encouraging and modeling a lifestyle of serving others.

Inviting and allowing all who want to play in the game, to play in the game at some level.

Taking field trips when life seems stale, or when you want to launch something new.

Encouraging your team to use all of their vacation days.

Understanding your church seasons, energy levels and then plan accordingly.

Not canceling, period.

Learning that God blesses outward focused-ness.

Doing the stuff Jesus did / does.

Not taking yourself tooo seriously.

What's a pretty good Church?

A pretty good church

So what makes a pretty good church? Discoveries along the way?

1. We understand…evangelism is a process?

If you want a harvest, you must sow many seeds.
See Mark 4:15-16
Jesus said, 'Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.' Later He said, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.' When challenged by His disciples He then added, 'Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?'
He went on to explain the parable. In short, the sowers are men, the seeds are God’s words and the four soils are the hearts of men and women at various degrees of readiness.
Later, He continued to explain the Kingdom of God and described how the seed grows. The seed, when planted and watered, matured and produced grain by the 

All By Itself Principle.

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain-- first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." Mk 4:1-29 NIV

Actions, Words, Attitudes 

The seeds we sow can be defined by what we do: our actions, and by what we say:our words, and how we relate to the people within our sphere of influence: our attitudes.

We sow seeds by actively serving our way into the heart of our community. We find a need and seek to meet it. We see a hurt and seek to bring some relief the pain. It might be a cold drink on a hot day, to quench someone’s thirst or feeding the homeless helping them to be filled, or by praying for the emotionally wounded bringing encouragement and hope.


Sowing is hard work...consistency is the by day, 
week by week, month by month, year by year.

...Jesus said, 'I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.' John 4:38 NIV
Most of the time the seeds we sow don't spring up in a day, sometimes it takes weeks, months, or years to see the harvest. 

Sowing and reaping is a spiritual principle,
foundational to developing an outward focus.

What we sow into our lives will bear fruit someday...That's why it is so important to continually sow positive, good things into our into the core of our being.  

Positive inflow=Positive outflow.

It is also why it is imperative that we sow seeds into the lives of the people in our communities... 

The principle: no sowing, no harvest.

We(mainly a bunch of guys), went to a low income housing area. We delivered groceries and offered prayer. At one door one a single mom with 4 kids opened the door...she burst into tears...she didn't have any food...When she was prayed for she sobbed. At 5 pm a van drove up in our parking lot. I noticed a lady who looked lost so I went and greeted the lady and the 4 kids in the van. It turns out she was the lady who had been served and prayed for. She was so moved by her experience that she felt she just had to come and see who we were. She also said thanks. She cried again as I prayed for her and her kids.
It is wonderful when something like this's not the norm.

Most of the time the seed we sow is hidden within the ground of a persons heart. How it grows? Nobody really knows, it is a mystery.

Watering Planted Seeds

I was washing my car. A guy pulls up in a truck. He then gets out asks me about the house next door. He mentions his parents are returning from Vietnam that night, they are missionaries. I noticed he was a searching, needy guy. After our lengthy conversation about lawn care I asked if I could pray for him. Startled he agreed. I grabbed his hand and prayed blessing prayers over his life. That God would crown him with favor just as God had given favor to his mom and dad and family; that God would provide for him; that God would open doors for him. At the end of the prayer he said, 'You know, you're not the only person who has prayed for me lately.' .
My job and your job, is to sow seeds of kindness. How? By our actions, through our words and by our attitudes. We are also should seek water the seeds already sown into the hearts of men, by our actions, our words and our attitudes. Some how this process allows God to brings the increase.

A pretty good church is a church that understands the principle of sowing and reaping.

Visibility Revisited

visibility evangelism

consistency is the key...

over the years I've read just about every book concerning effective evangelism, all point to one important key... consistency

David Wilkerson in NY was always there...going, talking, encouraging, taking risks.

Dino Rizzo has developed Servolution that is sweeping the USA and parts of the world. They are helping others redefine who they are to their community.

Billy Graham really didn't change...simple, direct to the point month by month year by year.

Loren Cunningham mobilized the youth of his generation encouraging them to pray, believe, to serve, to care.

Steve Sjogren served, and served and still serves and encourages others to do the same.

Mike Pilivochi and Soul Survivor UK serve, worship and share the good news, impacting Manchester, London, now on to Durban.

How do you know your serving has impacted a community? 
People you talk to begin to define your church in a positive manner. hint: we are all defined by our community, both positive and negative...we can create a positive vibe by serving our way into the heart of our community.

Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson in The Externally Focused Church, their big provocative question was “If your church were to close its doors, would anyone in
the community notice — would anyone in the community care?.

If you want to know how your community defines your church, just ask.

A sample question: When you hear the name of our church (say name of church)what comes to your mind?

When I was living in a city in FL and asked the question, we were defined as the church that no longer existed. That definition has changed now, they are well known as a positive forward moving church...
having four different locations and growing.

In their(Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson) new book The Quest they ask, “How can we be the best church for our community?”

A few months ago, lost phone, went to phone provider with an old phone to activate..i was asked, 'what name is your phone under?' I said, the Dayton Vineyard...the lady standing next to me exclaims: 'oh you're that pretty good church that serves the community. I've heard about what you guys do.' 'What have your heard?' I asked. she then defined us with a list of the positive things she and others have heard and seen...I reply,' yep that's us we're just pretty good.'

How does this happen? Simple 19 years of hard work. sowing, caring, praying, going, in season and out of season. 

We are consistent and have gained favor with our community.

God's Favor is what propelled Daniel, Esther, Joseph and Jesus to impact their community. In fact the early church 'had the favor of all the people' and Jesus 'grew in favor with God and man.'

How do you gain favor?
1. You ask God for it? Favor is a gift that increases with character.

Favor brought Daniel, Joseph, Esther, Jesus before Kings, shut mouths of lions, delivered a man out of prison, spared a race of people, and crucified a savior...all because of God's favor.

2. You serve where you are, with what you have.
Do a word study on the phrase good deeds...The study is pretty revealing, especially in the pastoral epistles...(the epistles were written as instructional guideline for local church pastors... Timothy and Titus)
3. You serve with the attitude of Christ. see Phil. Chapter 2. 
Serving with humility, genuine love, with a great attitude, and with a servant heart opens hearts to the good news.

Jesus said, don't hide your light under a bushel basket... let your light shine in such a way that when they see your good deeds they will glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Peter said, let your good deeds shine in such away that they will glorify God on the day of His visitation.

What's visibility evangelism?...good deeds, done in the name of Jesus, consistently with the love and grace that God provides, being out in the community in which we live, day in day out, moment by moment = Consistent = High Visibility.

There is no great secret why our pretty good church is thriving, and's simple: someone is praying, someone is serving, someone is loving, someone is caring, someone is going out into the community and sharing Gods love to the people in their sphere of influence in practical ways. Over time seeds are planted and the harvest is realized.

How are you being defined in your city? Your work place? Your community?

Easter Recap

Whew! busy weekend... 

Hundreds of people showed up to our egg hunt... no cold weather, but we did have wind that began to blow after the set up... lost two tents, kids flying through the air, pop corn in a wind storm, flying hot dogs and donuts, etc... I had been praying for the Lord to blow the rain through for a couple of months... I probably should have stated, gently please... anyhow it was a great day. Many Vineyard people serving helped make the event a great success.

Families with kids, children having fun... One kid exclaimed, "This is my best day, ever!" Kids live in the moment. She probably stated her reality. Interesting that the Kingdom is for such people. Those who take the best out of every moment. I think I need to start living in the moment. I might then have some, 'this is the best day ever', days as well.

Our Bring your Peeps weekend was really good. I've very glad that people chose to visit at Easter. The message was great as was the worship. Energy, Life, Love... over all a great Easter.

pics by R Joel Hinton