Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Lessons Learned... Some the Hard Way!

  1. FOUNDER'S SYNDROME IS REAL! Many of your core team members will leave you in the first year. I heard other church planters say this, but I didn’t believe it. People who are attracted to a church plant are often "starters" who move on to other things. Some moved out of town, others lost the vision, and some never got it in the first place. It's hard to stomach...but it doesn't catch God off guard. He will provide. Love the people that come into your church plant, but hold them loosely!
    It really is "all about relationships". Cherish them, nurture them. Invest in quality relationships and encourage the people around you to walk with Christ.
  3. ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS/NEVER STOP LEARNING! Recent church planters are your best resource. Listen to their story, learn from their mistakes. Network, inquire, read, process and discuss!
  4. YOU CANNOT OVERCOMMUNICATE THE VISION. You have to tell your story, then tell it again, then again, etc... Develop a courageous confidence in the vision that God has given you and be ready to share it, defend it, explain it with clarity and conviction. When members of your core group begin to repeat your language...they're just starting to get it.
  5. SPEND MORE TIME READING THE BIBLE THAN OTHER BOOKS. I heard this one from a number of planters and boy is it true. Books on church leadership, strategy and planting are fine, but the best church practices, strategies and leadership ideas can be found within the pages of the Bible.
  6. CELEBRATE EVERY (and I mean EVERY) VICTORY! When our initial Bible study moved from one table to two...We threw a party. When an unexpected check came in the mail...we threw a party. Make a big deal out of each and every milestone. It will encourage your people to develop an expectant mindset. Early on, members of our core group often said, "I couldn't wait to get back together because I wanted to hear what God had done, share what God had done, and celebrate with my Faith Family all that God had done".
  7. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!!! Establish early that you cannot do anything without God. Recognize that ministry without prayer is simply a work of the flesh. Become a person of prayer, lead your people to pray, establish a culture of prayer. (more about prayer and church planting coming soon - I am currently working on a D.Min project on that very subject)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


On August 12th NorthStar celebrated baptism at the shoreline of Lake Coeur d’Alene with eight new believers publicly professing Christ. This was the third summer that the Church family gathered at the Lake. Because of the cold water, there is a very brief window of opportunity when the water is warm enough for baptism.

The setting really fits with the public nature of baptism. It is a wonderful declaration to anyone who witnesses the gathering. We’ve seen people stop their boats and jet skis to watch! What a great witness!

The church gathers at a very popular beach hangout called, “Independence Point". What a fitting name for the place where we gather. These new believers are declaring to the world that they belong to Christ and that they’ve been set free from the bondage of sin. In this unchurched community, baptism is such a wonderful way to preach a gospel message without words.

Throughout the rest of the year, the church uses a “portable baptistry” that came from the “baptistry store”. Actually, it’s a water trough that came from the co-op, but that goes hand in hand with the “whatever it takes” mindset of NorthStar!
The church has seen dozens of people come to Christ in its short lifetime, but expects to see more. We are trying to create a “baptism culture” here. We want our church family to view evangelism as lifestyle, to expect God to save people, and to celebrate new life in Christ often with those who are being baptized!

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What's In A Name?

A Church's name says a lot about its mission and character.

When we began deliberating on what to call our new church plant, we considered our calling, the community that we were planting in, our values and our mission. NORTHSTAR was the perfect fit. Here's why...
For Centuries, Polaris, better known as "The North Star" has helped wayward seafarers find direction and has guided mariners around the world safely to their destinations. In the same way, NorthStar Church exists to help people discover life's true direction....A life connected to God. A life filled with peace and contentment. A redeemed life made possible only through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
The Bible teaches that “the heavens tell of the glory of God” (Psalms 19:1). Polaris, the star we call the North Star, is actually an object lesson about our Lord? The North Star gives us guidance and direction -- so does God. From our vantage point, because of the tilt of the earth’s axis, all the heavens appear to rotate around the North Star -- God is the center of the universe. The North Star is actually three separate stars that appear to be one -- God is also three in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It all began with a google...

(Results 1 - 10 of about 2,280,000 for church planting. (0.06 seconds)

I know that we are now in the world of instant access to info on the superhighway so I shouldn't be too enamored with a google search result. But 2.2+ million possibilities in less than a tenth of a second. WOW!

So, I scrolled through a few of the choices, and here is a sampling of the sites I found

Starting a church or ministry has never been easier...


You need (brand x company)!
We are full service - We Do ALL the Work!
It's Church Planting Made Easy


GUARANTEED PROSPECTS FOR YOUR CHURCH, we'll do a telephone campaign which finds you as many prospects to your church as you desire.


Follow these 10 Easy Steps to Starting Your Own Church and You'll be on Your Way in No Time!

These online "brochures" offer an effortless and luxurious trip, but they certainly don't match up with the planting journey I've been on for the past 4 years.

Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned:

1) Church Planting is hard work. Plain and simple. First and foremost, successful planting requires an undying commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It also requires a commitment to telling your story over and over neighbors, to friends, to partner churches. It requires soul searching, pavement pounding, door knocking, personal confession, ceaseless praying, vision casting, initiative, drive, heart, guts, passion, sweat, blood, tears. It takes long hours and it takes grueling work!

Planting NorthStar Church has led me to wear the hats of accountant, secretary, worship leader, carpenter, nursery worker, sound man, painter, plumber, graphic designer, drummer, Sunday School teacher, greeter, coach, janitor, doorman, ad exec., marketing coordinator, and so much more. To all the "10 easy steps" sites, I offer this suggestion. Plant a church first, then tell me how easy it is.

2) Church Planting is a spiritual endeavor...not just a franchise or business model. As we began to prepare for our move to the Northwest and our first planting experience, we read EVERYTHING we could get our hands on regarding planting churches. Tragically, much of the information that we found on planting dealt with legal issues, tax status, mission statements, p.o. boxes, and checkbooks. Planting a church has an organizational component, but walking with God in a vibrant, interactive relationship is central.

On that same note, it is easy to fall in love with the calling and community of another pastor. One planter put it this way, "I got fired up by reading books by Andy Stanley and Erwin McManus. Unfortunately, I fell in love with their calling…and their community. God didn’t call me to shepherd the people of Los Angeles or Atlanta…he called me to shepherd the people of my community." I echo those sentiments and say that I wasted way too many days trying to be Mark Driscoll and Ed Young. Jr. when God just wanted me to be Scott Hanberry and to love on the people of Kootenai County, Idaho.

3) Church Planting is more rewarding than anything I could ever imagine.Church planting gave us the unique opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper and build the thing from the ground up. In this process we've tried to focus on what really counts: evangelism and discipleship. We studied the book of Acts, then LIVED IT OUT IN A NEW COMMUNITY! We've seen lives changed, eternity impacted, souls saved, and the Kingdom advanced.

4) You can always plant another church…you can’t always have another family. As much as I love church planting and shepherding people…I love my wife and children more. In doing all of the necessary work to get a new church start "off the ground", I wish that I had focused far more attention on the development of my family.
Now don't get me wrong...Planting NSC has been a good thing for our family! My kids have learned lessons about God that no other experience could have afforded them. They clearly understand the principle of obedience = blessing. Yet, I warn any and all prospective planters, LOVE GOD & YOUR FAMILY MOST OF ALL! You won't regret it.

More lessons to come soon...

Monday, August 20, 2007

What does it take to be an effective church planter?

Charles Ridley conducted a study of church planters in the United States and Canada. His subjects in the study represented 13 Protestant denominations. Based upon his research and subsequent field testing, he developed a list of 13 prominent performance dimensions. For over a decade, these dimensions have been used to select church planters. Here is his list of dimensions and their definitions.

13 Qualities of a Church Planter

1) Visioning Capacity - Can see God's preferred future for the new church and the community.

2) Intrinsically Motivated - Is a self-starter. Manages time effectively.

3) Creates Ownership Of Ministry - Is able to get others to "buy" into the vision.

4)Relates To The Unchurched - Is comfortable being around pre-Christian people.

5)Spousal Cooperation - The spouse supports and participates in the church plant.

6)Effectively Builds Relationships - Is a relational person who builds friendships easily and encourages others to do the same.

7)Committed To Church Growth - Pushes through the natural barriers to church growth.

8)Responsive To The Community - designs ministries that fit the community and mission of the church plant.

9)Utilizes Giftedness Of Others - understands how to help people identify their gifts and release them to use their gifts in unique ministries.

10)Flexible And Adaptable - Is comfortable with change. Can switch gears easily to adjust to change or take advantage of opportunities.

11)Builds Group Cohesiveness - understands people and knows how to get them to pull together as a team.

12)Resilient - Not Easily Discouraged - Is emotionally and psychologically strong. Is not overwhelmed by criticism or setbacks.

13)Exercises Faith - Has a consistent walk with God and trusts God to provide the resources and personnel for the church plant.

Anybody want to add to the list?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

How short is this description of real Christians! And yet how exceedingly full! It comprehends, it sums up, the whole experience of those that are truly such, from the time they are born of God till they remove into Abraham's bosom.
These are the words of John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Spoken in December 1788, they prophetically decry the state of the 21st Century western church. They certainly convicted me!

Our lives were neatly arranged according to OUR plan. Seminary degree (check) Pastoral ministry (check) a great house in a familiar environment near family...and the list goes on. My wife was working on tenure as an elementary school teacher and we were serving and working, but operating on auto-pilot (WALKING BY SIGHT)

Western Christianity has made it so easy to "include" God in our Outlook calendar, but not allow Him the right of setting the agenda and that's just where we were as a family. It wasn't intentional neglect or open rebellion, we were actively involved in ministry. But going through routine motions that sapped life from us rather than flowed from living waters inside.
Our call to plant a church in the Pacific Northwest radically changed that! The story of the call was traumatic and exhilarating (and the subject of a future blog entry) But while wrestling with God about our comfort zones, and our commitment levels, and our faith capacity...we moved into a realm of life that cannot be experienced from the shoreline or even from the deck of the boat. We stepped out into the water toward to beckoning voice of Jesus. We began walking by faith, because we were forced to. We began experiencing God's providencial hand, because we were situated to. We came to life in our faith, because we were invited to!
You don't have to plant a church to walk by faith. You don't have to move 2,600 miles or change jobs or move away from family. You do have to waive the white flag of complete surrender before God and trust that He knows best!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sounding the Alarm too Late!!

A pastor friend of mine, Ray Cummings sent the following out to his church recently.It speaks to the need for church planting!

The following excerpts are from a March 21, 2007 Associated Press story about a nursing home fire in Russia that killed 62 people: A fire swept through a nursing home in southern Russia on Tuesday, killing 62 people - At the nursing home, a fire alarm system that had not been fully installed signaled three times, but a watchman - at the facility but outside the building - ignored the first two alarms and reported the fire only after he saw flames, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Veronika Smolskaya said.In addition, nursing home personnel were absent from their posts when the fire broke out, slowing efforts to find keys and open an emergency exit, she said. The staff inside the building when the fire broke out - three orderlies and a nurse - was not enough to quickly evacuate the elderly residents, Smolskaya said; NTV television reported that the nurse was among the dead.

There are two things about this story that stand out to me:

1) The night watchman ignored the first two alarms and reported the fire only after he saw the flames.

2) Nursing home personnel were absent from their posts when the fire broke out.

What a picture of America today. What a picture of the church today. I believe that America is headed toward judgment at warp speed. The alarms are being sounded, but we are ignoring them, or worse, we're only paying attention when we see the flames. And all too often, key personnel such as the voices of conservative Christianity, morality, decency, and common sense are absent from their posts.

It was Pastor Martin Niemoeller who wrote about being silent during the Nazi years and his indifference toward the plight of the Jews, socialists and others. When the Nazis came for Niemoeller in 1937 he wrote:

  • First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a socialist.
  • Then the came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a trade unionist.
  • Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--because I was not a Jew.
  • Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

    The cartoon character Pogo said: We have met the enemy ... and he is us. And Edmund Burke said: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. The simple truth of the matter is, for the most part, the state of our churches, government, and society as a whole is no more or no less than we conservative Christians allow. If it were not so, we would push back and change things. If we really want to know who is responsible for the state of affairs in our world today, all we need to do is look in the mirror. My friend, it's too late to sound the alarm when we see the flames. I encourage you to engage. Make a difference in your world - today!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Welcome to "Simply Scott"!
This new blog will offer front line thoughts and commentary from one church planter's perspective. My family moved to North Idaho 3 years ago and began the adventure of a lifetime.
We planted NorthStar Church out of a home Bible study and continue to see God do amazing things. Life in beautiful Coeur 'd Alene, Idaho is pretty incredible, and we want to share it with you. Please come back often.

We want you to be a part of what is happening in our lives. Just a quick note...this whole blog thing is new to cut me a little slack. (bad editing, long posts, etc...) I'll get the hang of it.