Twelve years ago this week, we launched weekly worship services at Mountain Lake Church. Wow. What a ride! God has used me despite my stupidity, and I have learned so much along the way. Here's the first part of my top twelve lessons I've learned in the last twelve years.
1. Having a vision is easy. Sticking to the vision takes extraordinary discipline and effort.
2. Conviction and Courage is more important than strategy.
3. No plan's perfect; so work your plan!
4. People come. People Go. Go with the Go-ers.
5. God does things the way He wants.
6. In God's Story, ordinary matters.
7. Change the way people think about church.
8. Go after unchurched people.
9. Be careful what you ask for.
10. The right team in the right seats makes all the difference
11. I must measure success God's Way
12. God is faithful.
People ask me what I wish I'd known when I started pastoring. Here are 35 different things. At our church we call them plumblines. Our plumblines serve as guides for decision-making.
1. The gospel is not just the diving board, it's the pool. Christians grow not by going beyond the gospel, but deeper into the gospel.
2. People are the mission.
3. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not converts.
4. Discipleship happens in community.
5. God's strategy for completing the Great Commission is planting churches in strategic cities.
6. The church is God's demonstration community.
7. The church is God's plan A.
8. Belief unlocks the power for the mission of God.
9. The church is not an audience; it is an army.
10. The week is more important than the weekend.
Read the Rest of the List
One of the best books I've come across on interpreting the Old Testament--especially narratives--is Richard Pratt's He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student's Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives. It's quite accessible but also a substantial volume.
Pratt suggests that OT narratives can be viewed as pictures (literary analysis), windows (historical analysis), and mirrors (thematic analysis). These roughly correspond to the theological conviction that the OT is (1) canonical; (2) historical; and (3) for believers. This has some overlap with the hermeneutical triad developed by Andreas Köstenberger and Richard Patterson in Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology.
This is a helpful way to think about various questions that can be asked of the text. Within each of the three categories, there is another threefold set of questions, focusing upon author, discourse, and audience. The results look something like this:
• Text as Picture (form + content)
• Texts as Windows (portal to historical events and periods)
• Texts as Mirrors (reflection of the interests and topics of the believing community)
Today, I train and coach church planters. In our training events, we focus on developing plans to start churches by first making disciples. I emphasize the importance of actually engaging in the process of disciplemaking before you set your date for a Grand Opening. In fact, I recommend that you don't actually start worshipping on Sundays until after you have baptized new believers.
The date for worship services to begin should not be based on the calendar. Rather, as you focus on making disciples who make disciples, wait until you've multiplied disciples and disciplemaking groups before gathering to worship. Set healthy benchmarks in place that must be attained before planning your worship services.
Benchmark #1: Three Disciplemaking Groups = Start Monthly Worship Service
Benchmark #2: Four Disciplemaking Groups = Two Worship Services each month
Benchmark #3: Five Disciplemaking Groups = Weekly Worship Services