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12 minutes | a month ago
The Pastor and Social Security
Today we’re going to do something a little differently, so I hope you hang in there as I think you will be glad you did. Two episodes ago I introduced you to Danny Parmelee, Vice President of Church planting for Converge MidAmerica where he talked with us about the topic “Healthy Churches Plant Churches”. If you didn’t catch it, I encourage you to listen to that episode. Danny shared with us in that episode his podcast entitled “101 Questions Church Planters Ask”. One of the episodes he did on his podcast was sharing about “Should a Pastor Opt Out of Social Security?” I am often asked this question from pastors and church boards, and I thought Danny did a great job of explaining of the issue, so I asked him if I could share that episode with my audience, and he graciously agreed. So here is that episode. I hope you enjoy it.
29 minutes | a month ago
The Heart of the Church Planter
Today we are going to continue our conversation about church planting by trying to understand what makes a church planter “tick”. Who are these guys? Why do they decide to plant a church, and what does my church need to be looking for in a church planter when we decide we would like to plant a church? I can think of no one I’d rather talk to about this subject than Danny Flores. Danny is a church planter at “R” church in Elgin Illinois. Danny bleeds the heart of a church planter like few other guys I’ve met, and God is blessing him and his new church in amazing ways. I’m also grateful for the way he is “sold out” to seeing broken people see wholeness in Christ. · Give me the 2 minute Danny Flores story.· Tell me what intrigued you about church planting. Why did you sense this was God’s direction for you rather than an existing church?· What are three or four lessons you’ve learned as you’ve planted your church? · We often talk about the need for church planting pastors to learn from existing church pastors, and vice versa? What are some things you need to hear and learn from existing church pastors. What are some things existing church pastors could learn from planters?· What would you say to a pastor listening who might be thinking about church planting?
27 minutes | 2 months ago
Healthy Churches Plant Churches
Albert Mohler is quoted as saying, “If existing churches do not thrive, there will be no one to plant, sustain, support, and lead church planting. We cannot have one without the other.” I agree with Mohler. Multiplication must be a part of any healthy church, and church planting must be part of a healthy church’s multiplication plan. So today, we are going to press into this idea that healthy churches plant churches. In March of 2017 I began my job as Vice President of Church Strengthening with Converge MidAmerica. But I wasn’t the only hire. On the same day, MidAmerica also hired a Vice President of Church Planting, Danny Parmelee. Danny was a successful church planter in Milwaukee Wisconsin, and decided that he wanted to use his gifts to help our movement plant churches and he is doing an amazing job. More importantly, Danny has become a valued friend and partner in ministry as we work together to see healthy churches plant churches. Maybe most importantly, this podcast would not have happened without Danny’s help. · Give me the 2 minute Danny Parmelee story.· Why must church planting be a part of a healthy church’s strategy.· What are the misconceptions of church’s who plant churches? (We’ll lose our best people, we’re not big enough, etc.)· How does a church begin to think about church planting?· What are some landmines we need to avoid?
29 minutes | 2 months ago
Church Revitilization - A Cultural Revolution
Statistics state that 85% of churches in America are either plateaued or declining. For most plateaued churches, that means declining. That is a depressing statistic that doesn’t give much confidence that a church can “turn things around”. Well, I happen to believe that it can happen, that churches can turn things around, and I get up every day to help churches do just that. I believe God wants to restore churches that are broken or lost, sick or even dying, and I firmly believe your church can be one of them. So in this episode, I wanted to provide you and your church with hope from a church that is seeing a new day. Dr. Chris Dodd is lead pastor at New Community Church in Dolton Illinois, located in the south Chicago metro area. Chris is seeing revitalization happen that is not only changing his church, but his entire community. Give me the 2 minute Chris Dodd story. Tell me a bit about how you became pastor at New Community and what were the challenges right out of the gate? What is the most difficult part of changing the “culture” of the church? How long does it take? What have been the most significant changes to the church as you’ve made the changes you have? What can you say to the pastor that is in the early days of a church revitilization? What are one or two pitfalls you need to avoid in a revitilization?
27 minutes | 3 months ago
Small Church - Big Deal
In our last episode we talked about what a healthy church looks like in a small town. In this episode we are going to talk about how to make a big deal about a small church. Not every church will be a mega church. As a matter of fact, most churches will not be mega churches. Some would even say that small churches have a unique ability for gospel movement that the mega church will struggle to accomplish. So how do we make a big deal about small churches. To help us talk about this important topic, I’ve asked Chris Vitarelli, pastor of “The Road” church, a two campus ministry in Fenton and Howell Michigan to join me. Not only is Chris making a big deal about his small churches, he is encouraging pastors all over the country to do the same through a conference entitled “Small Church - Big Deal”, but I’ll let Chris share that with you. · Give me the 2 minute Chris Vitarelli and “The Road” story.· What’s the Big Deal About Small Churches?· What are the advantages to pastoring in a small church setting?· How do you keep your church thinking missionally, and not getting into the trap of being small for the sake of being small?· Tell me a bit about your conference, “Small Church, Big Deal”.
25 minutes | 3 months ago
Healthy Church - Small Town
Statistics state that approximately 80% of people in America live in metropolitan areas and there is evidence that those percentages are growing. As a result, small towns and rural communities are shrinking across America as people increasingly move to these city centers. That population shift is certainly affecting the church in these small towns. As we do pastoral placement in our movement, more and more pastoral candidates are NOT interested in pastoring in a small town or rural area, and if they do say yes, it is a “stepping stone” to a church in the big city. And yet at least a third of our churches are in cities and towns of less than 20,000. So what does healthy ministry look like in the small town. What sorts of ministry “works” in these environments, and how do we best encourage small town churches and pastors. And finally, do we need to think differently about small town ministry, even as we are needing to think differently about all ministry. To help us talk about growing a healthy church in a small town, I’ve asked Jerry Troyer, pastor of Eastport Baptist Church in Eastport Michigan to join me. Eastport is a town of 218 people and Jerry has been pastor of Eastport for 2? years. Here’s the amazing thing, Eastport is a healthy, growing and significant church, not only in the Eastport area, but within our movement in Converge MidAmerica, so I can think of no one better qualified to talk about this important topic.· The 2 minute Jerry Troyer and Eastport story.· What do you wish the “Big City” pastor knew about the “small town” pastor?· What are some of the blessings in serving in a small town versus a larger community? · What are some of the difficulties in pastoring in the small town?· What are some ways you would encourage pastors listening right now that are pastoring in the small town or rural environment?
29 minutes | 4 months ago
Reaching Out Digitally
To help us talk about using digital platforms as a tool for reaching especially young people with the gospel, I have asked Cory Ball, one of our new Converge Midamerica pastors, planting a church in St. Louis. I knew I wanted to have Cory share with us when he shared at a meeting I was at, that Generation Z (under 25 year olds) will not come to our church personally, until they come to our church digitally. That statement really hit me. But here is what I’ve learned about Cory. He isn’t just good at technology, he sees technology as a critical tool God has given, to see people, especially young people, reached with the gospel. So, Cory, welcome to Advance. I’m glad you’re here man.· Give me the 2 minute Cory Ball and Redemption St. Louis story.· Help me understand how culture has changed in regards to reaching people to come and check out our church?· How do we think through using digital formats to reach people, with the hopes that they may “check us out”? · What are two or three ideas you could give me to help us think better about using digital formats for reaching people, especially for those who are thinking that their flip phone is pretty trendy?
26 minutes | 4 months ago
The Guest Experience
Now before you write this episode off as another church growth “numbers” thing, let me encourage you to hang in there. The spiritual reality is, if we don’t work on creating an environment of welcome and follow up in our churches, we will severely limit our opportunity to reach those who don’t know Jesus, giving them an opportunity to even hear the gospel. To help us talk about the guest experience and follow up, I have asked Chris Highfill, one of our Converge Midamerica pastors, pastoring just outside the St. Louis area to join us. Chris is a church planter at his core, and God has given him a burning passion to see people come to know Jesus, and that passion is resulting in God working at his church in significant ways. One of the areas that Chris and his church spend a lot of time focusing on, is this area of the guest experience and follow up. I could say a lot more, but I don’t want to steal Chris’s thunder. So, Chris, thanks for being on the podcast today and sharing with us. The Chris Highfill and Grace River story. How should we think about dealing with visitors/guests (what should we even call them?). In other words, what should our motivation and thought pattern be in relationship to guests? What are the top two or three things we need to absolutely crush in relationship to guests? What are two or three things we absolutely should avoid? Follow up is probably the most difficult thing to really do well as it relates to guests. Why is follow up so important? What does Grace River do in relationship to follow up and how is it working?
33 minutes | 5 months ago
Worship Part two
The great pastor, A.W.Tozer wrote in his book “Whatever Happened to Worship” the following. “We are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him…Yes, worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence. That is why we are born and that is why we are born again from above. That is why we were created and that is why we have been recreated. That is why there is a genesis at the beginning, and that is why there is a regenesis, called regeneration. That is also why there is a church. The Christian church exists to worship God first of all. Everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth.” If we believe as Tozer said, that the church exists to worship God first of all, then we better give our corporate worship a serious look as we think about what it means to be a healthy church. So I thought it would be fun to bring together a group of 3 pastors and worship leaders to talk about this critical issue. Jordan Herrera is worship and group life pastor at Grace River church in St. Louis Missouri. Michelle Albrecht is worship director at Northbridge church in Antioch IL, where her husband Mark is pastor. And Abram Delgado is pastor of Casa De Oracion in Round Lake IL. All three of these leaders understand worship and lead their congregations into God’s presence in ways that bring Him honor and glory. I’m often asked what a worship leader does from a job description perspective. What does a week as a worship leader/director/planner/pastor look like? Abram, you are senior pastor now, but you were a worship leaders in the past? What have you learned about worship in the role of lead pastor that is different, challenging? Jordan and Michelle, how do you interact with your lead pastor in regards to worship planning and Abram, how do you interact with your worship leaders? A lot of pastors listening to this episode will simply only be able to dream of doing some of the things you all do in your churches in regards to worship? What do you say to the small church pastor who doesn’t have a great “talent” pool to draw from? What are some things you can share that can help them improve their corporate worship experience.
25 minutes | 5 months ago
Worship Part One
The great pastor, A.W.Tozer wrote in his book “Whatever Happened to Worship” the following. “We are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him…Yes, worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence. That is why we are born and that is why we are born again from above. That is why we were created and that is why we have been recreated. That is why there is a genesis at the beginning, and that is why there is a regenesis, called regeneration. That is also why there is a church. The Christian church exists to worship God first of all. Everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth.” If we believe as Tozer said, that the church exists to worship God first of all, then we better give our corporate worship a serious look as we think about what it means to be a healthy church. So I thought it would be fun to bring together a group of 3 pastors and worship leaders to talk about this critical issue. Jordan Herrera is worship and group life pastor at Grace River church in St. Louis Missouri. Michelle Albrecht is worship director at Northbridge church in Antioch IL, where her husband Mark is pastor. And Abram Delgado is pastor of Casa De Oracion in Round Lake IL. All three of these leaders understand worship and lead their congregations into God’s presence in ways that bring Him honor and glory. What is worship? What isn’t worship? Definition Years ago, when someone said that worship was great, they were talking about how good the message was. Today, when someone says worship is great, they are most often talking about music. I’m pretty sure neither of those statements are correct. How do you push against the “Music IS worship” fallacy at your church? John 4 speaks of worship as spirit (engaging our whole selves) and truth (based on scripture). That doesn’t give a whole lot of specific direction as to format. How do you agressively seek God’s presence in worship without getting into performance mode, or emotionalism, etc.? How do you keep yourselves from falling into these types of traps?
26 minutes | 6 months ago
The Church Board
To help us talk about the issue of the Church board, I have asked Dr. David Clark, theology professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota to share with us. Not only has Dr. Clark done extensive study and research regarding church boards, he has lived them in his own church experience as a pastor and leader. Dr. Clark has and is a great help to our movement of churches in this area of Church boards, among many other topics, so it is an honor to have him join us today. Dr. Clark, thanks for being on the podcast today and helping us sort out some of these issues related to church boards. · Let’s start by giving a simple definition of a church board. · Why do we have them in the first place?· What are the board structure options out there?· Why do solid gospel churches even within our Converge movement have such differing ideas of how to do it?· Whatever model a church decides to use, what are some must dos and don’ts as we think of our church board.· Could you share with us some resources that we could go to to learn more about the ins and outs of the board models you’ve shared with us today?
25 minutes | 6 months ago
Pastor Self Care
Today we are going to address the issue of “The Pastor and Self Care”. It is my firm belief that the single most important aspect to having a healthy church is a healthy pastor. Unfortunately, unhealthy pastors are becoming an epidemic. Even as we are recording this podcast today, the Christian world is reeling once again with the news that another pastor has taken his own life. Sadly, this is not an isolated case. Over the last 12-18 months, several stories have surfaced of pastors who have done the same. Why is this happening, and why does pastoral ministry seem to be taking an increasingly devastating toll on our emotional, physical and spiritual well being, and how do we protect ourselves as pastors from issues like burnout, losing our call, addictions and more? To help us talk about the issue of pastoral self care, I have asked Sean Nemecek, former Converge Midamerica pastor, and now (?) for Pastor In Residence Ministries, a ministry dedicated to the restoration of broken pastors. Why don’t you start by giving the 2 minute Sean Nemecek story. What does self care mean as it relates to the pastor, and why is it important for church health? What are the tell tale signs that we are not doing well in the area of self-care? What is the prescription for being “sick” in our self-care? What are some resources for pastors who need more than a “tweak” in their self care?
23 minutes | 6 months ago
The purpose of All America is to mobilize millions in the Body of Christ to pray for and connect with their neighbors until all 127 million households and every school campus in America is adopted for the purpose of praying for the expansion of the Kingdom of Christ and the Gospel. I believe with all my heart, that if we want to see a Spiritual Awakening happen in America, if we want to see the Church of Christ revived, if we want to see Justice reign and rule in our cities, it won’t happen until we get serious about praying! All America has created a way for us to mobilize as a church to accomplish this task of prayer together. Back in the winter, I had the privilege of hearing about this movement from pastor Joon Hwang. Pastor Joon is a church planter here in the Chicago area, and he is an intregal part of the All-America Chicago movement. When Pastor Joon shared the vision of All America, I knew we wanted to be in on the front end of this work of God. What is All America Chicago? How did you get involved in it, and what are you hoping to see happen through this? (Vision) How can myself and my church get involved? I know this isn’t simply a movement in Chicago? How can people listening all around the country connect with this movement? This would be a great time to connect it to Call To All if you haven’t already.
24 minutes | 6 months ago
Today we are going to address the issue of vision. It’s a term that gets bounced around all the time. We all can quote the scripture in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there Is no vision, the people perish.”, but how it effects us is very different. Some of us get super excited when we hear that term, and others want to run the other way. So how important is vision really? And if it is so important, how should we go about defining it, and pursuing it as a church? To help us work through this topic of vision I am thrilled to welcome Tom Tulberg, networking director at Eagle Brook church in the Twin Cities. Eagle Brook is an amazing story of the importance of vision. Many of us have heard of Eagle Brook, but give us a 3 minute version of the Eagle Brook story and what specifically do you do as part of the Eagle Brook team. I sometimes get the feeling that we are confused as to what Vision really is. How would you answer that confusion? What is the church’s biggest problem with vision. Is it having no vision, not playing out vision, or confusion with vision, or something else? If we need to start thinking through vision, where actually should we start? Are there a couple of tools we could sort of launch our discussion/evaluation of vision? If there is a church listening right now that would love to work on vision thru the EBA how could they connect. Quick commercial for Church Unique
26 minutes | 7 months ago
Today we are going to be addressing the issue of prayer in relationship to a healthy church. Last episode we said that preaching the Word was one of the foundational pillars of the church in Acts 2. Another of those foundational pillars is prayer. In Acts chapter six, pastors and elders are encouraged to focus on prayer and the Word in their ministries. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5 to “pray without ceasing.” In Ephesians 6, the armor of God is put on with the covering of “all prayer and supplication.” I could go on and on. Prayer is essential for church health. Unfortunately, there is no ministry of the church in America, no spiritual discipline in the life of the believer that is more difficult to sustain and grow than the prayer. Is it any wonder that so many churches in America are declining. But I believe there is a way forward for us as churches in this critical area of prayer. I believe we can, in fact, see the temperature of prayer raised in our churches. On this episode, I have asked Pastor Dana Olson, pastor of a multi-campus Converge church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to join us. Dana, not only has been pastor for many years, he has been a major voice in our movement regarding the issues of prayer. Give us the 2 minute Dana Olson story. “The church that prays together stays together”. How are we doing? Why do you think it’s so hard to pray? You’ve coined the term “Healthy Desperation” as it relates to prayer. Tell us what you mean by that term? Can you share a brief personal story of how you’ve seen a church pray with that kind of healthy desperation? You often talk about “raising the temperature of prayer” in our churches (another phrase I stole). What are two or three ways we can raise the temp?
24 minutes | 7 months ago
Scripture is clear that the proclamation of the Word is one of the most important things we do as a church. Acts two speaks of it as one of the foundational pillars of the church. Paul encourages Timothy to not shrink away from preaching the truth of scripture, just to name two. However, in the midst of a myriad of things we need to be doing as pastors, sometimes the preaching ministry has taken a backseat. To help us talk about the issue of preaching, I have asked Pastor Jeff Dryden, Pastor of a multi-campus Converge MidAmerica church in Michigan, to join us. Jeff has not only been an effective pastor for several years, he has become a major voice of the importance of the priority of preaching in our churches. In Acts 6:4 we are given the call to prioritize the Word and Prayer as pastors. How are we doing as pastors with the “Word” part? I just watched a documentary on the life of Martin Lloyd Jones, and watching it reminded me that preaching was really an “art” form. Jones’ sermons were so well crafted that they became classic books. I’m not sure how many of our sermons are “book” worthy. Has the “art” of preaching changed? How should we view preaching in 2020? We should all recognize the need to improve our preaching, so if you would, why don’t you give us two or three things we should be thinking about to improve our preaching. Tell us about Fellowship of the Word, and how can our listeners find out more about it.
24 minutes | 8 months ago
The Church LifeCycle
This is episode 2 of the podcast, and today I’m grateful to welcome back Dr. Bruce Hopler, Executive Director of Church Strengthening with Converge. Today, let’s talk about evaluating the health of the ministries within the church. How do church leaders go about evaluating that? How does the church cycle bell curve work? How do you need to lead a ministry depending on where it is on the bell curve? We’ve talked a lot about individual ministries - how about evaluating the church as a whole this way? Bruce shares how listeners can contact him for coaching and consulting.
5 minutes | 8 months ago
An introduction to the Advance Podcast. Each episode will have an interview with a pastor or leader who will be encouraging us with content that God has specifically used through them in significant and effective ways. The content will be rich, yet concise enough that it can be shared at staff meetings, board meetings, or with other pastors you are connected with. I believe we are better when we are learning together, so see these episodes as conversation starters that will help your church, and the churches you collaborate with to be increasingly fruitful for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
24 minutes | 8 months ago
What Is A Healthy Church?
This is our first official episode of the podcast, and we’re kicking it off by dealing with the question all other episodes will be trying to answer, “What Is A Healthy Church?” To help us answer this 30,000ft question, I am excited to welcome our first guest, Dr. Bruce Hopler. Bruce is the Executive Director of Church Strengthening with Converge, our parent organization. Not only is Bruce an experienced and gifted leader in our movement, he is also my friend. This episode answers the following questions. What is Converge, and what is Dr.Hopler's role within Converge. 85% of churches in America are either declining or plateaued and plateaued really means declining most of the time. A short discussion about the reasons for this statistic? What are the most important pillars for a to a healthy church to build around? How important are numbers (3 B’s) in church health? What’s more important, quantitative or qualitative health? If a church is in that 85% of declining churches, what’s the first thing they should think about?
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