Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Monthly Archives: December 2012

6 Ways to Successfully Build and Pastor a Multi-Ethnic Church

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1.  Celebrate food!  People will accept you if you love their food and eat it with enthusiasm.  It’s amazing what a pot luck will turn into with food from several nations.  It’s a lot more fun than just quiche and mini-sausages, I can promise you!  And eating together breaks down all barriers.

2. Do not appoint leaders just because of their ethnicity or gender.  Appoint the best leaders for the task.  

3. Always be sensitive to any group that is a significant minority.  It’s not easy being the odd man out.  Show that sensitivity by listening to people.  People from a new culture who come to the church are often gateway people who bring a number of people from the same culture, help them feel at home and disciple them.  Awesome.  If people are doing that job, make them part of your leadership team and encourage them to keep discipling.

4. (This is a controversial one) Never divide your small groups on the basis of ethnicity.  People need to get to know – and trust – people from every culture.  We are preparing people for heaven, which will be every tongue, every tribe and every nation.  I know some church growth strategists disagree with this, but sometimes growing people is more important than growing numerically.

5. Have a couple of people you know and trust from the different cultures and run any big ideas through them.  They may see things you haven’t seen, and they can advice you on the impact that decision would have on people who have been raised in a different culture from yourself.

6.  Remember at the end of the day, there are no white people, black people, Asian people: there are just people.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and we are all made righteous freely through the redemption of Jesus Christ.  Our similarities as Christians far, far, far outweigh our differences.  We have the same faith, the same God, the same peace, the same Bible, the same struggles, the same temptations, the same Holy Spirit.  

5 Quick Ways to Make Sure 2013 is happier than 2012

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1.  Give thanks for everything you have.  Make a list of all your blessings.  You can stop when you have filled both sides of 3 pieces of A4 paper.  If you can’t fill that much with all the amazing blessings you have in your life, you need to shift your attitude.  Keep the list at hand for days when you need your attitude lifted.

2. Get involved with helping someone less fortunate than yourself.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, help at a homeless shelter, get involved in a discipleship group at the local church. The more you share the happier you are – that is not just a platitude it is a scientific fact that has been proved in study after study: the more you help people the happier you are.

3. At the end of every day, send an email or card or text to someone who has done something positive in your life and say thanks to them for whatever they have done.  

4. Cut down on refined sugars.  They lead to sugar rushes and then a spiral down.  Rather grab an apple, or something with low GI.  You will amazed how more stable your moods end up!

5. Learn something new.  At first it will be frustrating as you go through the dip of doing something badly, but as you come through that you will have a satisfaction.  Go to night school and learn a language or a skill, sign up for a course, do an Open University module – they are very inexpensive, often free.  

5 Attitudes to Ditch before the New Year

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1. Apathy.  There was a survey done of pastors of growing churches recently that showed the one thing they had in common wasn’t their theology, doctrine, mannerisms in the pulpit – but that they worked hard.  They knew how to rest and enjoy the rest patterns of life, but they worked hard.  They were continually learning how to engage with people better, how to become better leaders, how to influence and help people more.  Apathy never lets anything grow.  Gardens become wastelands when we do not tend to them.  Are there things you know need doing?  Make a list, and start working through them one after the other.  Stop watching nonsense on the TV, and vegging out all the time.  You are creating a vicious cycle that is not helping anyone.  Set the alarm for 5 one day before the family get up and spend 2 hours working through the to-do list.  Take a few days of Facebook – no one will actually miss you and your church or business won’t implode because of it.  Apathy is a killer, the Bible says clearly that laziness arms poverty in your life.  Not just poverty of finances but of thinking, of dreaming, of relationships.  Get up and put some effort into what you want to grow in 2013.

 

2. Stubbornness.  The death cry of the church or ministry or the business or the relationship is “we’ve never done it like that before…”  If you want different results that what you have always had, you will have to do something you have never done.  If you want success that you have never had, you are going to have become more flexible, more adaptable.  Stubbornness is a virtue only if you are right – if not, it is a vice.  Find out how people who have achieved more than you have achieved it, and make some changes.  Change is your friend, not your enemy.

 

3. Noseyness.  You have the exact amount of time in 2013 to do everything God has called you to do.  He is a master planner like that, but He has allocated zero time for you to poke your nose in other people’s business.  Every time you are interfering with someone else’s destiny you are absolutely failing to be working out your OWN salvations.  The fruit of the Spirit is self-control, not other-control.  Live and let live.  

 

4. Stinginess.  He who scatters sparingly shall reap sparingly.  Unless you learn true heart generosity, you will never receive the increase you deserve this year.  Become a great giver and you will become a great receiver.

 

5. Envy.  Stop looking at what other people and what they are doing in terms that you want them to fail so you look better.  Blowing out all the other candles in the room doesn’t mean yours will burn any brighter!  When Peter was told he would die for Jesus, his immediate response was “what about John?”  Jesus told him that John’s ministry was none of his business!  It’s true – the pastors envy the evangelists, the evangelists envy the pastors; the ushers envy the Sunday School workers, the Sunday School workers envy everyone who is not in the Sunday School… it’s hard to keep focused sometimes.  Spend time thanking God for what you DO have, and it is a lot easier not to get frustrated about what you don’t have. 

10 Things They Never Tell You About Church Planting!

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10. Your house will be full of stuff you cannot store in the venue you are hiring for your services. You won’t be able to get a glass of milk without tripping over speakers, cables, leaflets, music stands, offering envelopes and boxes of Sunday School toys.

9. The first people to come to a new church are often Christians that have weak or no social ties at their existing church(es). There is a reason why that is the case – they are often people who struggle to form social ties and build relationships for a whole host of reasons.

8. The most precious resource you have – and the scarcest – is not going to be money, though money will probably be scarce at first – but volunteers. Be prepared to do everything yourself at first, from setting up the PA, to setting up the chairs, to cleaning the toilets, to opening the service, doing the notices, preaching and Sunday school. Celebrate and honour good volunteers!

7. People will come for a week or two and disappear, and you will never see them again. Don’t take it personally!

6. The other pastors in town are not going to welcome you with open arms. People who ten years ago did exactly what you are doing now for the same reasons and the love for God are going to distrust your motives and your love for God!

5. Because you are small, some people are going to come to your church because it amplifies their voice and vote. Whereas they have zero say in a church of 400, in a church of 14 they can make themselves heard. Be careful who you give your platform too, and never hand it over (again, if you missed it) to someone who attacks your vision, or wants to moan about any of the other churches they used to go to. Don’t be afraid if someone leaves just because you won’t give them a platform, let them go!

4. Your numbers will fluctuate wildly at first. Until you reach 60+ people you will not have a core group really, and the people being away will not balance out. Sometimes you may have to preach to 1. Preach like there is 100. Preach your heart out every time – people will talk, and people will hear about it.

3. You have no idea – and no amount of thinking you do will help – how much you influence and impact the entire culture of the church. People will pray the way you pray, talk the way you talk, love how you love, minister how you minister. It’s scary, eerie, but you are the leader, so keep leading. If you think people are drawn to you not Christ, keep preaching Christ, they will eventually get plugged in to Him – and eventually realize you are not all that!

2. There are hundreds of ways to advertise and promote your church. But true growth comes when you grow the people who come and get out into your town and meet people. It is hard work growing a church.

1. It is worth it. It is worth every late night, early morning, every tear you shed over someone who leaves, every fear you have it will have to be closed down, every pain you go through. When you stand up to preach one day and look over the church and see people whose marriage would be over without the church, who would still be sick, still be lost, still be hopeless, your heart soars, and it is the greatest feeling on earth.

The Network is growing!

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Not only do we have a thriving church in Dagenham and a growing church in Guildford, we are starting a third church in Watford in March 2013.

For more information, click here.

“I have joyfull…

“I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.” – George Mueller

Jesus is not the reason for the season…

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Every year we get people telling us “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. It rhymes, it sounds spiritual, but it isn’t true!

Jesus is not the reason for Christmas. Jesus has existed for all eternity as part of the Godhead. The reason the Word became flesh wasn’t for His benefit, wasn’t for His safety, wasn’t for His joy. No – God joined the human race, and submitted Himself to the form and la

ws and life of a human not for selfish reasons, but for you.

You are the reason for the season. Christmas is about a God who saw you could never do enough to impress Him, never be able to earn peace with Him – never even have enough control over your own stinking heart and flesh to be able to try! And God became human, the Word became flesh, baby Jesus was born so that you could have a Saviour who is and was touched with every infirmity, that He would understand your weaknesses, and so He could die as a human and redeem all humanity from the curse of the law.

Christmas is about you. It’s about a God who is not demanding anything from you but who wants to pour His life and righteousness and peace into you. A God who became flesh for you. The angels sang “Peace on earth”. They didn’t sing peace in heaven, because there has always been peace in heaven. Christmas is for us on the earth; it is for you and for me.

Thank you, Jesus!

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