Archives For Brandon Cox

Stephen OlfordThere various viewpoints on the bestchurch planting model. Some launch fast and large to attract the masses. Others launch slowly and intentionally with more of a one-on-one disciple-making mentality. There are probably cautions with any approach to planting, and one of the cautions I would raise is simply don’t neglect the power of preaching, even in a brand new church plant.

When we began the work of planting Grace Hills, I was reading everything I could and consulting every church planting leader I could reach about the best strategies for beginning a new church from scratch. I learned plenty about starting small groups, structuring our new church’s systems for leadership and communication, and gathering a launch team to carry out the ministry and mission of the church. What I didn’t hear much about was the role of preaching.

There is an eternal principle to be remembered when planting a new church: “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those…

Continue Reading

 

manyhands Everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or several of each). That is, we all need to be learning from mentors and mentoring learners. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone just behind us. It is the role and responsibility of a leader to give another leader a lift.

So how can we, in a practical way, give another leader a lift?

1. Call a fellow leader on the phone and mentor them without even telling them you’re doing it. Just ask them a ton of questions about how things are going in their soul, their family, and their realm of leadership. Then offer encouragement and perhaps a little bit of advice. And pray with them.

2. Connect a fellow leader into a valuable relationship. I’m forever saying, “Oh, you need to know so-and-so.” It’s my way of putting people together when I think they need to learn from one another. How many connections is too many? I’ve been connecting with leaders and connecting leaders to other leaders for years now and my capacity to learn and be led by others…

Continue Reading

 

FaithFundraising is no fun. Most Pastors I know say it’s the one aspect of supporting a church’s ministry they find most difficult. Having launched into church planting, I tend to agree. The least pleasant task I have is asking for money. So let’s just stop it. We don’t have time to raise funds. But we do have time to raise faith.

Instead of asking for money, help people grow. You can ask for money and if you do it well, you’ll probably receive it. But if you raise the faith of others, you’ll help create kingdom-minded givers who understand that stewardship is what the Christian life is all about. We each have time, talent, and treasure. And as our faith increases, so does our willingness to offer ourselves and all we have on the altar to be at God’s disposal.

Raising funds is about collecting donations while raising faith involves offering kingdom opportunities. Raising funds puts us at the mercy of givers while raising faith connects giving to the mercy of God. Raising funds grows organizations while raising faith grows people.

When we began planning to plant a church, asking for financial partnerships…

Continue Reading

The biblical text should be the grand centerpiece of every sermon. But we often take what should be the centerpiece, and move it to the front of what we have to say. In most cases, reading the text should come first in importance, but not first in the order of a message. Whether you’re looking back at Plato or Jesus, virtually every culture has had great communicators who realized the power of attention-grabbing hooks.

fishhook1. Start with a deep, human need instead of jumping right into the exegesis and historical-grammatical analysis of the text. When you move from the need to the text, people have the context of its meaning for their lives.

2. Launch with a relevant story. We remember stories that are vibrant, funny, and powerful. And stories connect my heart to the text before my head grabs hold of it.

3. Tell a joke. That is, if you’re funny. I know a fellow Pastor who served a very discouraged congregation, but after years of opening with humor, they experience joy together every week.

4. Use an object lesson. You may not be able to match Ed Young’s capability to drive a…

Continue Reading

 

seven-eleven Michael Cheshire had me at the title! I like to laugh, and I enjoy comedy, but there are admittedly very few books that can actually make me laugh out loud. But within the introduction to How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven, I knew I was in for a delightful read!

Michael’s story is a pretty great one. It’s a success story in the church planting sense (just check out the Journey Foothills website), but it’s also a Cinderella story. You’ll be rooting for the underdog from page one (especially the moment the Journey staff are literally running from some ominous dogs after a failed door-to-door canvassing attempt). It’s an honest story. It’s a picture of what it is to take a leap of faith with few resources and no guarantees. It’s exactly what I needed to be reading at the outset of planting a new church in northwest Arkansas.

What is How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven about? According to the book’s website

true underdog story. Journey with these young leaders as they do church their way. A diner, driving school and an odd jobs company are just…

Continue Reading

 

weirdI’ve just finished reading the weirdest book I’ve ever read – Weird by Craig Groeschel… and I’m glad I did. I don’t ever want to be normal again. As Craig puts it, “normal isn’t working.”

We’ve used various terms for the kind of lifestyle Groeschel is calling us to live – sanctified, set apart, separated, consecrated – but the bottom line is that believers should be choosing to live differently than the surrounding culture. Why? Because being “normal” means settling for society’s status quo.

Normal finances would include being over-extended, stressed out, and failing to give generously. Being weird with our finances means we’re going to be generous givers, smart savers, and sensible spenders. The normal marriage today is either falling apart or may as well be, but a weird marriage is one in which husband and wife love and date each other and are in constant pursuit of deeper intimacy. Normal parenting is permissive, absent, or even neglectful. Weird parenting is when we get thoroughly into our kids lives and influence them for Jesus.

Normal people are falling apart. Normal is a broad path. Normal really isn’t working. So I agree…

Continue Reading

 

sleepinginpewNo, this is not a post about the loss of our religious freedom – it’s a reflection on a quote I’ve looked at many times since I first wrote it down about nine years ago at a conference on preaching…

If you think the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are desperately mistaken. It will not. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offense, and irrelevance is a disgrace to the gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals. ~ Charles Swindoll

Over the next two or three weeks, I will finish preaching from the first five books of the Bible and will move on into Joshua. I began preaching through the entire Bible two years ago and am committed to continuing the series all the way through. One of the biggest fears people had when we began this journey together was, “aren’t some parts of the Bible boring?” Yes and no.

Yes, parts of the Bible can be boring if we don’t…

Continue Reading

Pastor Rick Warren has often said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and an ounce of pretense is worth a pound of manure.” Fake faith is a pet peeve of mine, and it is certainly an issue God addresses rather directly in Scripture. I believe God is serious about it because ultimately, Christianity with pretense hurts the reputation of the gospel. So, it’s a huge relief when someone comes clean and speaks with brutal honesty about the Christian life.

Brutal honesty, plus hilarious anecdotes and some inspiring stories of redemption at work changing lives is what I encountered when I read Ir-rev-rend: Christianity Without the Pretense. Faith Without the Facade. by Greg Surratt.

ir-rev-rendAs a church planter who is trying to figure things out on a week-by-week basis, I loved Greg’s opening chapters in which he relayed plenty of advice about how NOT to plant a church, all learned in the laboratory of his own experiences planting Seacoast Church in the Carolinas. Greg would almost have us believe that the church came into being in spite of his ministry there. Nothing could be further from…

Continue Reading

 

barnNot really. Or at least I’m not sure. Church planting is a hot topic right now in western Christianity, and it needs to be with the spiritual condition of North America and western Europe. And when anything is a hot topic, it creates tension.

Tension can be good.

Out of tension flows a creative discussion and differences of opinion that force us to re-evaluate our viewpoints and emphases to ensure that we’re thinking biblically and effectively.

Right now, the tension in church planting discussion surrounds models. Should we launch large and fast? Should we take our time and build a strong core group? Should we start having church to make disciples? Should we make disciples and allow a church to form out of the discipleship? Should we be attractional? Missional? Uni-laterally bi-directionally intentional? And so we have megachurches, house churches, traditional churches, organic churches, plus a lot of dead and dying churches (unfortunately).

As we plant Grace Hills Church, here are three words that stay at the forefront of my mind, as well as the biblical phrases that these words reflect.

We Need to be Attractional (The “Come and See” of the Gospel)

The attractional

Continue Reading

 

malcoIt looks as though we’ll be launching Grace Hills’ weekly public worship services in a movie theater – Malco Rogers Towne Cinema to be exact. And I must say, I’m very excited about the opportunity ahead!

We will have three auditoriums: a 149-seat auditorium for worship (until we outgrow it) and two 83-seat auditoriums with open floor areas for kids’ worship and childcare. I have to praise Malco’s people. They offered, without our asking, to keep the slasher film posters at the other end of the theater and stated they didn’t want us to stay forever, not because we weren’t welcome but because, in their words, “if you outgrow us, we’ve done our job in helping you plant your church.” Cool.

Even before our first preview service (October 16), we are looking ahead to some of the benefits of meeting in a theater. As we thought through the decision and prayed for guidance, we listed out some big advantages…

  • People love walking into theaters. Some cultural barriers between church and the non-churchgoer are already out of the way.
  • It’s a location central to shopping, eating, and neighborhoods – it’s in the center of…

    Continue Reading