What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

I found this book very helpful in pulling together all the good parts of different productivity systems and combining them in a way that keeps the gospel and working out it’s implications as the primary focus of our lives.

The book is very systematic and detailed, with helpful summaries and action points for each chapter.

If you’ve read much Steve Covey, David Allen and Scott Belsky, you will find a lot of his productivity theory familiar. I was able to skip over some bits that I’ve previously read and already benefited a lot from, from the other authors.

A few things I found particularly helpful:

  • schedule my whole week, and not just 9-5, so that I can actually give prayerful thought to how I can plan to do good
  • no man has a right to be idle. Be productive, so that I can do more good
  • integrate prayer in all aspects of productivity and planning
  • serve up (those above me in authority), and serve down
  • if you have the planning and architecting of your life right, at any given moment, you can ask the question ‘what’s best next’ and proceed in that way
  • planning my week is about maximising myself

You can buy this online from AmazonHere is the table of contents.

Some of my notes and key take-aways:

The book is all about combining theology and time management.
Productivity is about

  • effectiveness (not efficiency)
  • character (not technique)
  • God and others first
  • engagement (not control).

Measure productivity by results not activity
Focus on outcomes, not activities

This is about doing all things in the best way to the glory of God.

We need to learn how to work and be effective in a knowledge economy, where work is not defined, and we need to manage ambiguity and overload.

Do the RIGHT things, not just more of the wrong things in an efficient manner

The most important reality is a person, not a principle.

Being productive is maximising my stewardship of time, talents and resources.
It is in the mundane things we do everyday that we serve God and others
God wants us to do good works (Matt 5:16), so be productive to do as much good as I can

Be abundant and liberal in doing good
Be useful! Be joyful in obedience
Love is the guiding principle of productivity. Put others first
Character manifests itself in action (By their fruit…)
Let all your debts be motivated by love

Get everything out of your head in prayer
Only secure people can serve (i.e. justified by faith)

Decide what really matters, and then do it.
Do one thing at a time, and do first things first

What is my purpose – overall reason for existence – glorify God and enjoy him
What are my principles – the things I would live and die for
What are my core beliefs – gospel
What are my life goals – the things I really want to do and God wants me to do

Create a structure and routines for my week
Time is like space, it gets filled up, it needs to be managed well
To get more done, reduce – schedule to 70% and focus on getting each thing done.

Delegation is great because it’s also an act of love to empower others

Pray, pray, pray as I plan.

If I find I am procrastinating too much, maybe I am doing the wrong job?

Don’t spend all my energy climbing the ladder only to discover I am on the wrong ladder!

Be proactive – intentional, planned, prepared – about doing GOOD!

  • who will I intentionally seek to bless this week
  • what opportunities do I have
  • what blocks or risks are involved
  • what do I need to do to prepare today

Christian love disposes Christians to be public spirited – Jeremiah 29:7

Be creative, competent and audacious in doing all the good you can in the world

Make being useful the main design and ambition of your life, so that the world would be better for us having lived in it.

World War Z review

I am a big fan of zombie apocalypse fiction, and the whole post apocalyptic genre in general. I don’t understand why, and I’ve continued to avoid self analysing too much. But I agree it’s a strange genre for a Christian to be enthralled by. I’ve seen all the movies and the TV shows, and so this was my first Zombie novel. I picked it up for cheap from Amazon for my Kindle as some light holiday reading, which indeed it was. I hear there has been a movie made, and it’s entertained me enough that I will no doubt watch the movie at some stage, although I’m in not great rush.

Things I didn’t love:

  • The entire novel is made up of a series of very short vignettes. This approach does bring some advantages (see ‘things I did appreciate’ section), however what it fails to do is create characters that you get to know well enough to care about in any kind of cathartic way
  • Related to the above, the novel doesn’t give enough detail into the specific drama of the Zombie war. Even with all the stories combined, the overall narrative doesn’t feel like it has enough ‘meat’ on it that I can connect to or care about or really picture in my mind’s eye
  • Probably mostly to do with the reasons above, the story didn’t enthrall me. I was interested enough to finish the novel, but it wasn’t a book that I ‘had to finish’

Things I did appreciate:

  • The vignette approach meant that the story was able to easily jump from one character in a particular situation, to another entirely different part of the world with no connection to the first. This meant that the novel was able to tell a very broad and expansive story. I enjoyed seeing the action from all different perspectives and feeling like each small story unveiled another small piece of the larger story. However see ‘Things I didn’t love above’ – this meant there was great breadth at the expense of depth.
  • You never knew what was coming next – each new chapter was ‘fresh’ in that it introduced a character you hadn’t met before giving their perspective on the same story you’d been following all the way through. I like how this worked
  • It felt like the author had really considered how the world could realistically end up responding to an event like this. He considered the strengths and weaknesses in existing ideological, social and cultural structures, and how they may respond to a Zombie crisis.
  • The author kept a focus on the most interesting elements of the story – individual stories. He didn’t get caught up trying to explore all the nuances of how the world would respond. He kept it tight and personal
  • Like all good Zombie apocalypse fiction, there was plenty of ‘action’ throughout – plenty of references to different ways to kill them, and different ways to get killed by them
  • I feel my Zombie worldview has expanded a little now. I’ve got some interesting new data on how they operate and what the world around them might be like e.g. the ocean would be full of them, there would be a LaMOE in every town, they would freeze stiff in cold places in Winter (so escape North!), and tricking them into ‘suicide’ might be a good battle tactic…

If you are a Zombie fiction fan, I suggest you give it a read.

The masculine mandate: God’s calling to men by Richard D. Phillips

My highlighted notes below:

Very few of us fit stereotype of man’s man, but all of us can fulfill God’s mandate for men: bear fruit for his glory in this fallen world;

Be a Godly man, a loving husband, a good father and a faithful friend i.e. Be spiritual men placed in real-world, God-defined relationships, as lords and servants under God, to bear God’s fruit by serving and leading.

Work and keep i.e. Genesis 2:15 mandate.

Invest my time and energies and ideas into bringing good things into being. Work/build and keep/protect everything placed into my charge

Colossians 3:17

There can be no higher calling in live than to cooperate with God in being further conformed to his image.

Daily grind: read, pray, work, play

Greatest most powerful passion a father can give his children is passion for the Lord and his gospel of grace.

There will come a day when God will pull down the scaffolding of world history and then point to his masterpiece: Jesus Christ. So, fix your eyes on that day that all our labour is directed: when God will fully manifest his glory.

Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K.Dodson

My notes and comments from this book below available on amazon.

  • Focus on being a disciple (noun) rather than discipling i.e focus relationship on Christ rather than on me
  • We can be imperfect Christians because we cling to a perfect Christ
  • The gospel saves and sanctifies therefore no need to distinguish between evangelism and discipleship?
  • All Christians are disciples. Disciples learn the gospel, related in the gospel and communicate the gospel
  • Work at diagonal discipleship i.e. grown in holiness (being like God) and mission (living for God)
  • Role of confession in discipleship is important i.e. 1 John 1:9. Confession is not for absolution of sins but a prayer to return to authentic self
  • Drink deeply from the cup of costly grace and fight to live lives of obedience to Jesus. We are not bound to rules, but bound to Christ. Put Christ at the centre of discipleship.
  • Drawing towards the master should delight us
  • God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. See Psalm 16:11
  • Repentance is one movement of turning away from to Christ in obedience
  • Holy spirit is presence and power of God
  • Fight for faith, depending on power and direction of holy spirit
  • ‘Be’ the church, rather than ‘do’ church i.e. be a Jesus-centred community
  • Reconcile people to God, and people to each other
  • Jesus Christ is better, richer, deeper and sweeter than anything else in the world.
  • Know your sin, fight your sin, trust your saviour

Preach: Theology meets practice by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert

My notes and comments below based on the content of the book. Available on Amazon.

Aim of the book is to show reasons from the bible why expository preaching is important. 3 specific reasons why this book:

  1. Increase confidence in preached word of God
  2. Increase confidence in biblical exposition
  3. Improve reputation of expository preaching

Ch 1: God speaks

God speaks,  therefore we preach. See Romans 10
Isaiah 41-44 God mocks other non-speaking Gods

Preaching = express/reflection of a speaking God

Ch 2: Power of God’s words

Power of God’s words: creates, judgement, commands, heals
Ezekial 37 – Dry bones reference
2 Cor 5:20 – be reconciled to God through the proclamation of his word

Ch 3: Centrality of expositional preaching

Expose the main point of the text. Must be tethered to God’s word
Examples: Nehemiah 8, Luke 24, Acts 2, Acts 7
The pattern is: read God’s word, explain it, call people to respond (apply it)

Ch 4: what preaching does

The message of the gospel is counter cultural, offensive, status quo challenging i.e. sin , judgement, repentance i.e. christian preaching must therefore seek change.

Two main aims:

  1. Edify
  2. Evangelise. See Luke 4:43

Isaiah 55:11 – My word will not return empty

Ch 5: what to preach on: mixed diet

Ch 6: Sermon prep
Aim to: understand, explain, apply
Develop exegetical outline (main points in order they occur) then preaching outline
Get to the gospel: biblical theology (history) and systematic theology (doctrine)

Ch 7: structure of sermon

Introduction, exegesis, illustration, application, conclusion

Ch 8: delivering sermon

bring light and heat
Logic on fire
People won’t remember the details but still impacted by God’s word by his spirit

Tone: biblical, humble, clear, convicted, sober, joyful confidence

God is good and gives grace and strength to those who preach his word

Conclusion: Proclaim the only true message of salvation. Declare the glory of the saviour and king Jesus Christ.

Iron Sharpens Iron: Leading Bible-Oriented Small Groups that Thrive by Orlando Saer

iron-sharpens-ironA refreshingly short and easy-to-read book on leading bible study groups (link to the book on Amazon). The book is helpfully structured and easy to read. It contains some material that will be familiar to those who have already read the Growth Group material from Matthias Media.

The title of the book is a reference to Proverbs 27:17 that says: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Here are my notes and idea summaries from each of the chapters.
Chapter 1 Small is beautiful
Pitfalls of growth groups:

  • The vertical pushed out by the horizontal: they can turn into little more than social groups.
  • The message sidelined by the method: members can become addicts to one way of encountering God.
  • The blind led by the blind: meetings can become simply opportunities to pool ignorance.


  • The New Testament abounds with instructions to Christian believers to do things to ‘one another’. For example, we are to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16), to pray for one another (Eph. 6:18), to carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and to work with one another in evangelism (literally ‘with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’, Phil. 1:27 KJV).
  • A good place to listen to God: each can help the others study the Bible.
  • A good place to talk to God: each can pray for the others in an informed way.
  • A good place to care for one another: each can carry the others’ burdens.
  • A good place from which to reach the lost: members can work together to advance the gospel.

Chapter 2 – preparing for leadership
Its leadership qualities rather than details that have the biggest impact in your life
Suitability for christian leadership depends on an all-round godliness of life.
Leadership is for those with a proven record of practical godliness and doctrinal orthodoxy.
Leadership can be approached with wrong motivations and misconceptions.
Leadership involves setting goals for others.

Set a high bar like Paul
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:28-29)Chapter 3  Managing the group
Stages (like an airplane)
  • Taxing
  • Takeoff – food, welcome input and discussion on the group
  • Climb – social events, model vulnerability
  • Cruise  – functioning well, develop leaders, weather turbulence
  • Descent – inevitable? New members, new leaders?
  • Land – avoid crash
Chapter 4 Map out the study
Lead the group to new discovery like finding a hidden city!

What does it say? – be prayerful, reflective, inquisitive. What is intention e.g illustrate, exhort, instruct etc
What does it mean? – chief point and scaffolding points
What does it mean for me? –

  • truth to be believed
  • attitudes to foster – feelings, heart attitudes
  • behaviour to be modified
    • Alert
    • Bold
    • Concrete
Pinpoint the main point – what do I want the group to come away with??

Be creative about the method. Direct questions are one way, there are others… Address questions, summarize, reenact… Keep your nose in the text. Use questions to lead to the heart of the passage, don’t squeeze out everything.

Types of questions

  • Kickoff question – goal oriented and engaging
  • Probing – dig deeper
  • Context
  • Summarise
Chapter 5  leading the meeting

Crib sheet
Keep asking questions
Identify and handle all the different roles
Develop trust, harmony, loyalty

Chapter 6 Prayer, Care and Personal Nurture
Like penguins, keep each other warm – Christian fellowship
Model the behavior/set the tone/set the pace e.g. model vulnerability, decision making process,
1:1 – Colossians 3:15. Putting to death via sniper fire
Work hard but play hard

The Viral Gospel: How Finding Your Person of Peace Accelerates Your Mission

“In this new eBook, missional leader Alex Absalom offers a thorough explanation and exploration of the “Person of Peace” strategy that Jesus used throughout His ministry.”

short, free, and intriguing e-book on the idea of the ‘Person of peace’. I’d never heard of this particular evangelism and missional strategy before. It’s biblical basis largely appears to be Luke 10 where Jesus sends out the 70 disciples on mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

I enjoyed the way the book opened with a chapter on the broader context of being missional – how we should move from being ‘for’ to ‘with’ to ‘one of’ to finally being ‘in’ i.e. becoming one of the particular group of people who we are focusing our missional efforts on. This reflects the revelation and relationship of God to humanity. God is for us generally, God is with us in specific ways, God became one of us in the incarnation, and God is now in us through Jesus as we welcome the Spirit.

I appreciated the reminder that by definition, being a follower of Jesus means that we are disciple making disciples. That is part of our DNA. It is who we are. Mission is who we are, and here is the ‘viral’ link – “the core of our faith should be highly sneezable!”

The main meat of the e-book though is devoted to unpacking the ‘person of peace’ concept. The big idea is that this is a missional strategy based on working with those whom you find it easiest to befriend and share your faith with, as you share you life with them. The author summarises it as “They like you, and you like them”. Who are your ‘people of peace’? To answer this question, identify the people in your life whom you would most love to see become a disciple of Jesus’, or ‘Who are you called to love intentionally?’

A person of peace is someone who is at the time a non-Christian but who:

  1. Welcomes you
  2. Receives you (and thus unknowingly receives Jesus)
  3. Serves you
  4. You intentionally invest in
  5. Operates as a gatekeeper, opening relationship doorways into their network of relationships

If you have read my reflections so far, and aren’t familiar with Luke 10, stop, go and read that now…

Can you see how the 5 principles above come out of the passage? I think I can. This is not of course is the only, or even necessarily the best strategy for evangelism (it may be, but the authors don’t claim that), but it is certainly a refreshing and inspiring, and I think helpful strategy, for me.

It is a very actionable and assessable strategy – it is inclusive and empowering to Christians like myself who struggle to work out what living for Jesus amongst non-Christians should look like. Lisa and were both able to read this and immediately apply it to our lives by identifying people who would be a match, or a potential match. It is true in my experience, and true biblically I think, that we are required to be wise in the way we use our finite energy and resources, and so we should be wise in the way we live, trying to maximize our God-given opportunities for sharing our lives i.e. focus on those with whom it seems easiest and there is the highest likelihood of impacting with the gospel.

There was plenty of helpful reminders throughout the book to be dependent on God in prayer.

I appreciated the point that we are to invite Jesus into the unexpected little moments of the day as we share our lives with our ‘people of peace’. This just means being authentic and real – if you see an opportunity to pray, pray. If you see an opportunity to relate a situation to a biblical truth, then do so. Later on they refer to this as being ‘naturally supernatural’.

There was mention of how we should not be too quick to pull non-churched people into church. Disciple people in their existing cultural context – this is where you can more easily be real, share your real selves, and disciple in quality, rather than too quickly need to try to mould your disciple-in-the-making to fit the particular cultural norms of your church. This is coming out of the missional church kinda mindset, and I get that, and I think I generally agree with the sentiment.

To keep mission on the agenda with our people of peace, they provide 4 key questions for you to be asking your person of peace as you share life with them:

  1. Can I pray for you?
  2. Can I serve you?
  3. Can I share my story?
  4. Can I share God’s story?

I thought this list was helpful, and again, reasonable and realistic questions that can come up quite easily within authentic friendships.

i think that’s about it – I’d reckon you spend the hour of your life and give it a read, particularly if you have not heard of this ‘person of peace’ strategy before, or even if you have, but would benefit from a simple short primer on how to apply it to your life.

The Complete Evangelism Guidebook: Expert Advice on Reaching Others for Christ


I can’t remember how much I paid for this book, only that I picked it up for cheap from a Koorong stand at Belgrave Heights Men’s Convention a couple of years ago.

From a brief glimpse at the back cover and contents, I could tell it was a pretty good deal – over 70 chapters of practical advice from nearly 60 evangelism experts covering a whole range of considerations and tactics and statistics and apologetics and types of people and angles to consider…

It has been great Summer reading – 70 short chapters, each by a different author, and each chapter covering the topic of evangelism in a slightly different way.

Here are some of the notable nuggets of wisdom I jotted down:

  • Evangelism is about saving people from dying without Christ. But it also about saving people from living without Him.
  • There is no greater thrill, privilege and joy than leading people to Jesus
  • Matthew 22:37-39 – Love God, love people – this is why we evangelise
  • Put your faith in He who is faithful (Lamentations 3:21-23). We are saved by faith, not works. But our works are a response to our saving faith.
  • Servant evangelism – evangelise through acts of service and love e.g. paying for customer behind you in drive-through
  • Someone suggests individuals usually experience 12-20 ‘anointed moments’ before they come to Christ i.e. 12-20 experiences of Christian love and truth in action
  • You don’t argue people into the kingdom of God, you show them
  • Show before you tell. Touch the heart before the head
  • Ours is an experiential culture i.e. people want to see and understand Christianity in action before/as they believe it’s propositional truth
    • Does it work for me?
    • Does it make me feel good?
    • Does the experience work?
  • Every revival there has ever been has always been grounded in an explosion of prayer and evangelism
  • The most effective evangelists and the most obedient and faithful, not the best trained
  • THE POWER OF PERSONAL TESTIMONY – nobody can argue with your own subjective experience. But use it to clearly make Jesus the hero.
  • You may not be able to argue the theology perfectly, but you can still tell of your own authentic, real, heartfelt experience of being lost and hopeless, but now you are alive and with purpose
  • Look to integrate your faith into the fabric of your everyday experience. Look to illustrate the gospel in how you live i.e. what does it look like to love your neighbour, what does it look like to have peace and eternal security?
  • Tell AND show AND do i.e. not enough to use just words, but consistent actions and attitudes as well. Witness with our lives as we witness with our lips
  • 1 Peter 3:15 is a key verse
  • In the NT, the witness of believers always demonstrated fearless, intentional, passionate sharing about Jesus out of the overflow of radically changes lives
  • If there is a problem, the gospel has an answer
  • Before there is a harvest, the seeds must be planted e.g. 2 years before amidst rejection and seemingly unsuccessful evangelistic efforts
  • Be encouraged – we are not commanded to be successful, but to be faithful
  • 1 Peter 4:14 – Don’t fear rejection. Expect it.
  • The problem is not that we have limited opportunities to bring up Jesus. My day is full of opportunities.
  • What is the best way to encourage someone in their faith? It may be different depending on the person e.g. modelling, direct instruction, experiential?
  • Christianity is not ‘caught’ – it needs to be actively shared, spoken, taught
  • Make it personal – tell people what has happened to me, and not just abstracted objective truths. This is a way of being non-confrontational and articulating your own worldview without ‘imposing’
  • Be faithful, steadfast in prayer, compassionate, and believing He is in control
  • Men are searching for significance
  • The bible is full of characters who are working full-time in the workforce, yet still on mission for God
  • Relationships are at the very centre of life, so we should work hard at them
  • 80% of time adults become Christians through the influence of a trusted friend
  • Jesus used everyday objects to explain truth. Work with the context you are in.
  • Don’t just disciple people who are just like me. Consider Jesus – a friend of sinners. He didn’t just gather people like him as his disciples – he deliberately sought out people furthest from him
  • Be bold. Don’t try to be their buddy first. People need Jesus more than they need you as a friend
  • In John 4, it takes Jesus about 37sec of conversation with the Samaritan woman to share the gospel
  • Building long term relationships is the best way to lead a man to Christ – win trust, stick in for the long haul, treat him like a man

Am I called? The summons to pastoral ministry

By Dave Harvey.

I was actually quite helped by this book in thinking through questions and ideas about calling and ministry. My notes below

If the spirit is pulling on you and you think that pull is towards pastoral ministry, let the spirit of God (thru this book) bring clarity to that tug.


  • A call away from one thing, to another – the most glorious and strategic thing a Christian man can experience: pastoral ministry.
  • God isn’t haphazard in whom he calls and what he calls men to do
  • I just want to know the saviour and learn to worship him with my life
  • Connect the call to ministry to my identity in Christ i.e. be who I am in Christ and respond to his call to serve him.


  • The call is about the caller i.e. it’s God’s initiative, who calls us to himself before he asks us to do anything.
  • The call is God calling people to himself i.e. effective call i.e. salvation call before anything else
  • The gospel of Grace – God at the bottom of it all. We seek him because he sought us, bought us.
  • There is no call to ministry that is not a call to Christ
  • The gospel supplies my identity. The call to sonship is greater than the call to pastor.
  • The gospel is adequate – I’m not. So turn your eyes away from own inadequacies, and see God’s glory displayed
  • God arranges ministry so it flows from weakness.
  • The gospel sets priorities – pursue God passionately in private before the pulpit.
    The gospel really matters – so preach, apply, value it in everyday life – this is pastoral ministry
  • All Christians are called to full-time ministry – to bear fruit as a disciple of JC.

3. THE CONTEXT OF THE CALL – the local church

  • Spend and be spent – 2 Cor 12:15
  • A man called to pastoral ministry will pulse with ambition/aspiration to this end.
  • The church is not career path but place to give your life away.
  • Biblical qualifications for pastoring are character based. But the local church better place to assess/train character than Bible college.
  • The best and most proper place for education and preparation of pastors is the local church
  • “Although the work is too great for you…the cause is good – better than life. The campaign is short. Being found faithful, you will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away”


  • God’s call upon a man delivers the grace necessary for the godliness ahead, and so God’s work in a man demonstrates God’s call i.e. you will know called men because grace is already active to create godliness.
  • God’s standards are not burdensome; they confirm God’s sovereign purpose and active grace.
  • Objective standards: Character must be above reproach to maintain credibility of life and doctrine – See 1 Tim 3, Titus 1
  • Note that qualifications for ministry also mean you can be disqualified for ministry.
  • Biblical leadership is competencies + character (unlike other professions where competency is enough)
  • A pastor is a Christian summoned to serve God’s people.
  • Do I want self fulfillment, or to serve others/God?
  • Lead through your life, as well as through your lips i.e. do as I do, not just as I say e.g. consider Jesus’ life and ministry – deed and word i.e. talk about scripture through how I apply it.
  • Greatest need of the church is my personal holiness i.e. pastor exemplifies high water maturity mark
  • Your doctrine will be their doctrine when you live it out before them.


  • A vital sign of the summons: a home managed well
    Note significance of domestic life in 1 Tim 3, Titus 1.
  • Quickest way to determine if qualified to lead church is if they are leading the home well.
  • exemplary marriage
  • supportive and accountable wife – 1 Tim 3:11 – summons on wife as well not to lead but be example
  • faithful children
  • The family culture is one of respect, obedience and Godward orientation.


  • 1 Tim 3:2 – the only non character-based attribute i.e. the only specific skill is ‘ability to teach’
    PREACH THE WORD 2 Tim 4:1-2
  • Preaching – the God ordained way to save, sanctify and strengthen his church.
  • Consider impact of false teaching on early church i.e. every letter mentions false teaching/false doctrine.
  • So preaching is vital to preserve/cherish the gospel
  • Preaching is not just conveying content – it’s content that reveals JC – see above. Must lead to changed lives
    • study diligently
    • be ready to suffer – God will ordain trials to help you pastor and teach
    • be vigilant – watch, evaluate, welcome scrutiny. the unexamined life is not worth living

Essential 5

  1. gospel clear?
  2. bible handled well?
  3. people eager to hear him?
  4. people helped?
  5. cohesive?
  6. outsiders impressed?

Make God’s word plain, understandable, compelling and applicable.


The summons is not first about what you must do, but about what God has done in Christ, and what God provides for those who lead his church

Ideas based in 1 Peter 5:1-4 (Note JC command to Peter to shephard)
A real shepherd works hard (24/7), gets dirty, jack of all trades

Care – willing and eager, careful, diligent watching (oversight) – a guardian with boots on the ground
Love – preaching and the people you preach to – not one or the other. Sturdy, biblical, trutful
Connect sheep to the chief shepherd – in ordinariness of life – warts and all
via preaching
via ‘follow him’ factor
via finding solutions
via vision-casting
via creating order/purpose/plan
via mobilise the troops i.e. delegate
via growing to lead better
via godly ambition i.e. do it all for the glory of God and advancement of his kingdom

Enjoy team ministry – the NT consistently witnesses to shared pastoral leadership. Isolation risk is real

Keep Christ first. Only Christ is what people really need – bear witness to his suffering, remind them of his return to get them, counsel boldly of his power to change them


Charles Spurgeon – If sinners be damned, let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, perish with our arms around their knees. Let not one go to hell unwarned and unprayed for.

A call to ministry is a call to laboring among the lost.

But at the same time, a bit removed from front lines i.e. strategic – equipping the church for evangelism

2 Tim 4:5
DO – if you don’t want to reach people with the gospel, you aren’t called to pastor
THE WORK – upward, outward and inward – all 3 in balance. To have a cultural impact, 1/4 of growth needs to be from conversions
OF AN EVANGELIST – heralds of the good news. Live as if you are one-word away from a life-changing encounter every moment

Charles (again) The ambassadors for peace should not cease to weep bitterly until sinners weep for their sins.


The threefold independent cords of calling

1. internal calling – involves character, gifting, preaching capabilities, a heart to care, a love for the lost. Must be compelling and enduring. Sometimes creeping, sometimes suddent
2. Preparation – what to do inbetween calling and geting confirmation
3. external confirmation – process of evaluation by the church affirming/validating God’s call

Have faith in God’s abundant goodness and wisdom.
A key signs of the summons is godly ambition that’s being channeled into action. Calling is revealed in service.
Rest assured that the office will come to the man who is fit for the office.
Love God, serve others, grow in grace, trust God.
The ultimate test of called man is whether he cares more for advancement of the gospel more than his own ministry.

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community


The world forms its view of Jesus by looking at Christians

How do we ‘do church’ in a postmodern and post-Christian world?
– In a easy-to-see, easy-to-understand, ‘come-and-join-me’ kind of way?


  • Church as a production line of programs and people?
  • Church too hard – too many rules of engagement, too many responsibilities?
  • Does Christian maturity make you look and feel less and less alive?
  • Why is there such a dividing wall between the insiders (Christians) and outsiders?

Key principles

Two centres:

  1. Gospel is content
  2. Community is context

Evangelical church can be too truth focused, without application (community)
Emerging church can be too community focused, without being guided by the truth (God’s word)

What this might look like:

  • Church as identity, rather than a place/responsibility
  • Less events and more life shared
  • Growing by planting, rather than by getting bigger
  • More mess, more real, less pretending

1. Why Gospel?

  • God rules through his word, and extends his rule through his word
  • We trust and obey his word, and are a light to gentiles
  • You cannot be committed to gospel without proclaiming it
  • The spirit applies God’s word
  • Head and heart
  • All of life is living the gospel – every place, every relationship
  • ‘Train and release’, rather than ‘convert and retain’
  • Model ‘whole-life, gospel-centred missional living’

2. Why community?

Christ died for his people, and we are saved when by faith when join those people

Christian distinctives:

  • I am a child of God by grace
  • I am to love God and love others
  • I am a person-in-community (as God is three-in-one)

God’s primary missionary method is his covenant people

In order for church to be a light to the world, it needs to be distinctive – a radical living collective community. Just another community club won’t do. Needs to be a reality that can’t be explained by anything other than the gospel, and thus can’t result in anything by praise to Father in heaven.

What to do? Start about working out what community looks like in your own practice, without being a pain to others and complaining.

3. Evangelism

The gospel is good news, a message, a truth, words, a story – it needs to be told.

Before you are a teacher/church planter/preacher, you are a lover i.e. Jesus commands to his followers at the Last Supper.
Our ‘cross-love’ for each other proclaims the gospel i.e. the gospel community is central to evangelism

People are usually attracted to the Christian community, before they are attracted to Christian message
Christian community is hermenutic/apologetic of the gospel.

Don’t be concerned that your community is not perfect. We are not witness to perfect community but to grace of God so it is precisely because we are not always loveable yet are loved that is powerful.

3 strands:

  1. building relationships,
  2. sharing gospel,
  3. introducing people to community.

This is not a sequence. Shows the role of community in different members contributing different roles e.g. clear gospel explainer, social organiser, community member i.e. evangelism is a community project

Gospel ministry is ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality. Goes beyond events, schedules, but is 24/7 i.e. gospel saturated life.

Must aim clearly to reach the point in relationship when the bible can be opened, or else it’s not evangelism

Meetings feel more like family gathering than religious service

There is desperate need for authentic, bold, credible communities of God i.e. churches, living as an outpost of Heaven as a watching and apathetic and skeptical world looks on.

4. Social involvement

The first will be last and the last will be first – God’s future great role-reversal. We need to align ourselves with the grace of God to the marginalised, weak, despised, poor.

Within Christian community we are more able to live radical (reversed) lives

Danger of ministry becoming our idol.

Evangelism and social action inseperable. The distinctive Christian position is to reconcile the poor through the proclamation of the gospel.
Start with felt needs, but move to the gospel.

If our churches are filled with respectable people, have we grasped the grace of God? Church has become for the middle class professional.
Why across the world is the church growing in disadvantaged areas, but not in Western church?
God gives the gift of faith unproportionally to the poor

The poor do not just need something now – need to address their isolation, vulnerability, powerlessness. Do this thru community!

5. Church planting

A strong emphasis on church planting as the mission of the church. Church planting was mission for Paul

Is the purpose of church ‘worship’, or ‘mission’. Both. i.e. we worship God by singing God’s praises to the nations.

Over time churches move to maintenance mode – so many jobs need to be done just to keep the place going i.e. trellis i.e. move from mission to maintenance. Church planting is a way to shift focus back to mission.

Church is not a convenient way of organising and associating God’s elect – the church is the bride of Christ

NT presupposes community as context for Christian life.

Church planting is the link between church and mission.

Puts strong emphasis on Christian community and it’s character of love and unity as being most significant hermeneutic of the gospel. Christian community makes the gospel a plausible contender to the false normality of modernity/plurality/secularisation.

Christian buildings were not around till after 2nd century. The early church grew by planting churches in houses i.e. household churches.

Note that small household churches mitigate against the risk of large churches falling into maintenance mode. They are also more inclusive, intimate – expressive of the priesthood of all believers.

A vision for church growth must be a vision of church planting.

Don’t assume church plant needs to be a clone of it’s parent. Don’t bring assumptions about what church should do i.e. failure to church plant can be failure of imagination, of thinking outside the norm e.g. bigger is NOT better i.e. less than 10% of people attend church. Why replicate models of current church if they aren’t working!

Through mission the church can break free of external conformity to culture, and internal conformity to tradition.

We don’t want 2nd generation Christians. These are those who have lost the gospel edge. A 50th church anniversary may be cause to lament i.e. lost it’s mission i.e. teach and release, not convert and retain

Every local church should be in a cycle of transplanting churches. To grow is to plant

6. World Mission

The vision of Isaiah which is then taken up by Apostle Paul is for all the nations to come to God. See also Psalm 67
Taken up by JC in great commission also.

Mission flows from the logic of JC death and resurrection.

We demonstrate by our lives together what it means to live under the lordship of JC, and we invite others to do so also.
Proclamation of the gospel word must be central.

The very best we can do for others is to turn their gaze towards eternity.

A good apple tree is proven by it’s fruit. Same too of Christian church.

The church is God’s mission strategy.
Mission was part of earlychurch’s DNA. Paul assumes churches he plants will be planting missional churches

Consider effectiveness of terrorist cells – hard to contain small groups of likeminded motivated people.

7. Discipleship and training

Evangelism and discipleship are the same process i.e. good news that converts is the good news that transforms. Same as ‘faith’

The disciples response to Great Commission was to plant churches

Experience teaches – inverse rule of relationships – the larger the group, the more superficial the relationship

It’s easy to make a club, it’s hard to create a community i.e. love, trust, sharing, accepting etc

Being ‘word-centred’ is more than being ‘sermon-centred’
cf. Jesus method of teaching – discussion, stories, dialogue
The word ‘preach’ means proclaim gospel – not necessarily in sermon but any form of communication

Sermons arose after establishment of Christendom when large numbers of nominal Christians came to church and therefore no longer possible to reliably have small groups of Christians discuss God’s word together

Great teaching means nothing. Putting it into practice means everything i.e. concentrate on good learning and good putting into practice.
i.e. bring teaching from the pulpit and embed in everyday life.
Again, looking to Jesus’ ministry is instructive.

Truth cannot effectively be taught outside of close relationships, because truth is dynamic

Formal college education vs learning on the job. Consider the demographic of most trained theological candidates vs early church mix!

Apostle Paul defines leaders based on character, rather than skills. The only skill is teaching i.e. applying God’s word to life i.e. not necessarily sermon

Full discipleship – living life together essential to training

How to be accountable to each other? share life together.
But more than this, take responsibility for each others godliness i.e. speak the truth in love.

Need a day off from church? Do you need a day off from family as well? Isn’t it a sign of disfunction?

8. Pastoral care

The word of God, skillfully applied by the Spirit of God among the people of God is sufficient for all needs
The gospel word and the gospel community do not fail us when it comes to pastoral care

Is the gospel sufficient for all of life and godliness, including all pastoral care issues?
Or is there an element of ‘natural’ law as well i.e. science, psychology etc that needs to be applied
2 Peter 1:3-4 says ‘everything we need for life and godliness’

We need to hold the gospel and the power of God as sovereign over all other factors of influence in our lives
The other factors may be significant, and may involve a daily struggle, but they are not supreme factors.

I may not always understand but the cross assures me that he is altogether good and his grace is magnificently sufficient

Consider the temporal troubles of Paul – 2 Cor 4:8-18 but he makes no mention of anything but the gospel sufficiency

Prevantative pastoral care i.e. occurs during ordinary life – intentional about exhorting with the gospel

9. Spirituality

Biblical spirituality is not contemplative and silent, but focused on the gospel word in mission/community
i.e. biblical spirituality cannot be separated from the word of God

Spirituality based on contemplation/reflection/solitude is works-based.

Spirituality is not withdrawal from the world. Biblical view is that material and spiritual are interwined – both now and in future i.e. biblical spirituality is of the everyday
Biblical spirituality is activity of mission i.e. declare His praises.

The beauty of the faith in prayers of supplication

Consider telling the gospel story – individualistically vs family/community/nation i.e. difference between an invitation to accept Christ, and an invitation to accept Christ and in so doing join the people of God.
i.e. I have a relationship with God because we have a relationship with God

In practice:

  • Pray more in public with others (over alone)
  • Don’t separate my relationship with God from relationship with others
  • Daily exhort/encourage/live with others i.e. gospel people reminding each other of gospel grace

Need to be Christians daily, always, in all relationships, in real life – open, intimate, real

10. Theology

Missionary encounters creates need to do theology
Theology = dynamic as you encounter living God in his word

Theology is the task of the church/all believers

The bible text is only properly understood in community i.e. community hermeneutic
Theology needs to be done at the coalface i.e. connected to life i.e. theology must pass from head to heart to hand, or else be useless to us.

11. Apologetics

We know God because God graciously reveals himself to us in the message of the cross.

The role of rational apologetics is not to convince people they are wrong, but to demonstrate that unbelief is a problem of the heart rather than a problem of the head i.e. strip away excuses and expose rebellious hearts.
It is not a rational problem, it is a relational problem, and if relational, requires a relational apologetic:
i.e. our relationships with each other are what the world uses to judge whether our message is true.

* often less important what you say, than how you say it i.e. with love, graciousness and respect

The medium is the message i.e. the people of Israel were the medium of God i.e. holy priests, and also the message.

Apologetics is answering the questions raised by our lives i.e. this is not individualistic but collective.

A list of proofs for Christianity won’t convince people if their hearts are against God. We need to make it attractive first, before it is desirable, before it is believable.

12. Children and young people

God does his work through his word, so measure of good youth work is not attendance but gospel fruit

The church is a phenomenon that can only be explained by the operative grace of the Holy Spirit

Rule of thumb – if you do it as a family, do it as a church

13. Success

Smaller groups make it easier for ‘one anothering’

church/community vs a ‘preaching centre’ i.e. large church where you hear a sermon, nobody knows you, and you leave

Planting churches offers most biblical and most effective way to reach our town for Christ

Model the grace of God rather than the goodness of me

Leadership as performance is sinking sand

Success is to be faithful to Christ and his word

We are wholly dependant on the soverign grace of God

Small, poor, unseen – remember Jesus’ images of Kingdom of God are all small.

Conclusion: A passion for God

Glory of God and grace of God are hearbeat of church

Christianity is not a strategy or principles but a relationship
It all needs to come as a heart response to God

Simply: love God more than the world.

Gospel is not information but a relationship with Christ.
Community is central to bring gospel to bear in our lives

Planting Missional Churches

By Ed Stetzer. On Amazon

Overall thoughts: Presents itself as a comprehensive guidebook to church planting. Although a fair assumption that people reading this book would already be supportive of church planting activity, the first few chapters do a good job of building the theological and evangelical rationale.

Written with a firm North American target audience. Some of the details were a bit specific to that audience, but most of the content overall has broad application. Could do with a firm edit – several ideas and references are repeatedly mentioned. However the benefit of this approach is that it is easy to dip in and out of chapters without needing to have read all the chapters preceding.

I am not sure how I feel about the chapters on marketing and advertising  – firstly, the methods feel a little out-of-date – lots of talk about bulkmail and cold calling. Hardly any mention of online marketing, despite the benefits of geo-targetting and cost-per-click activity which makes it very measurable and cost-effective. Secondly (and more importantly), I think the message starting to feel like ‘use whatever means necessary to get more people to turn up on launch day’. Whilst I don’t think that is the overall argument, I would have appreciated more nuance and balance to the list of tactics that more helpfully promoted the role of personal relationship building and evangelism ahead of secular promotional methods. I am also slightly uneasy about the emphasis on numbers – the numbers at launch day, the ratio of core team/guests, the % and numbers required to be long term viable etc – all begins to feel like a numbers game and not distinct from a secular business. I understand the importance of numbers though, and found it all quite interesting; but these parts of the book did feel a little lost in the mindset of today’s business strategy.

Lots of helpful stuff to think through on vision casting, the predominant importance of prayer and preaching the Word, the concept of prenatal, birth and then after birth stages, systems for follow-up and assimilation… lots more.

Overall a really useful resource.

Totally unedited raw notes from each chapter:

Chapter 1 – basics of church planning

Goal – glorify God, grow his kingdom, develop healthy churches with new converts

  1. Missional – plant a church that’s part of the culture you are seeking to reach i.e. you are not only a church planter but a missionary i.e. this is the posture
  2. Incarnational i.e. being among people
  3. Theology (obviously!)
  4. Eccelesiological (church matters), and
  5. Spiritual – Christ centred, transformed by the gospel


Large church mentality. BUT new churches are more effective than large churches in evangelism

Parish-church mind-set. BUT new churches aren’t being planted to match population growth/changes

Professional-church syndrome. BUT professionals expect FT salaries and MAY be inverse relationship to education and evangelical effectiveness!
Rescuing perishing syndrome. Need to do both – revitalise and plant.
Unchurched myth. We need to assume people lack biblical worldview i.e our neighbourhood is mission field. Christendom has come to an end.

Chapter 2 – redeveloping a Missional mind-set

Recent emergence of megachurch movement, but no suggestion culture has been changed i.e. in being highly attractional, we have lost transformational edge.

Church planting movement gaining energy. Advantage of the edge of Christendom is that the gospel is now distinct from culture i.e. has more cut through

Christ’s metaphors for his kingdom are all modest ones – yeast, salt, light.

Don’t rework programs – rediscover mission – intentional and deliberate about reaching others (great commission)

Steer between staying distinct from culture, and not connecting with culture.

High biblical content with high cultural relevance (Hughes scale)

Become a futurist – look beyond culture now to see what is best for church in the future

Don’t focus on technique. Focus on making disciples.

Good theology should motivate evangelism.

We need to be exegete our culture, like Paul in Athens (Acts 17). What is the worldview, how does this culture view Christianity, what redemptive analogy works best for this culture etc.

The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planning new churches.

Chapter 3 – the biblical basis of church planting

Church planting was normal in the life of early church – recorded in Acts, explains church growth through Roman Empire.

The biblical church is the one where the cross is the only stumbling block for the unchurched

Seek the unchurched (like Jesus)

Be like Paul (as he is like Christ) – personally prepared, evangelist, entrepreneur, team player, risk taker etc. “Everything to all men”

Chapter 4 – models of church plants and planters

Apostolic harvest – Paul, circuit riders – church plant to church plant

Founding pastor – Peter, Rick Warren – other planters may come from here

Planted pastor

Entrepreneurial planter – build, launch, reach out, move on

Team planting – gift mix, lead pastor

Chapter 5 – What makes a church planter

Patterns in NT

  • Teams
  • Individuals
  • Laypeople
  • Agencies and denominations
  • Churches

Assessment (SHAPE)

  • Spiritual gifts
  • Heart/passion
  • Abilities
  • Personality type
  • Experiences

Chapter 6 – church structure

Church is led by pastor-elders, some of whom teach. Bible full of flock images

Church governance should function like a human skeleton – as necessity for structure but invisible to naked eye.

Nothing can take the place of effective leadership.

Chapter 7 – Planter-Pastor leadership issues

Desperation is normal experience of church planning

Put prayer first

Weekly schedule

  • Outreach – 15hrs
  • Sermon prep – 10hrs
  • Administration – 10hrs
  • Ministry – 15hrs

Don’t focus on those that are available, focus on those who are reproducible

Culture shock in outreach focus – fish out of water

Thinking – need to help people think of themselves as missionaries. If I was dropped into this neighbourhood with the desire and mission to plant a church there in 6mths, how would I act?

Relationships make leaders. Wise leaders create learning relationships

Leadership is essential. Good preparation and support or no, God of eternity is faithfaul.

Chapter 8 – involving lay leaders

Laypeople must be involved before launch i.e. growing in the womb. Operational systems need to be fully functional by time of launch.

Don’t rush filling spots. Get right people. Limit leaders to those who are essential.

5 key systems (lay people ministries) – in addition to pastor:

  1. New member assimilation
    Help people connect and move more deeply
  2. Network evangelism
  3. Spiritual gifts mobilization
    Developing volunteers, match gifts and ministries. Focus on service
  4. Children’s ministry
    Start with preschool as priority
  5. Worship team
    Striving for level of creative excellence that will facilitate an authentic encounter with the creator of everything
  6. Welcome coordinator
    Forced socialised seating, interactions (3mins) etc
  7. Financial organiser

Chapter 9 – understanding cultures and models

Exegete the culture – study the culture to receive guidance for how to live in it

What is distinctive about our culture, our demographics

Chapter 10 – church planting in emerging culture

Focus on biblical faithfulness first, then an expression of that which is culturally relevant

Every cultural thing: either adopt, adapt, or reject

Emerging: no universal worldview. Church needs to reach postmodern people without being postmodern. Not knew – 1st century world was more pluralistic than even now.

We must be missionaries. World will not come to us.

Rejection of meta narratives like Christianity. So people reject Christianity because they feel it is imposing something unnatural on their own mini narrative.

10 traits of impactful postmodern churches (post seeker age)

  1. Unashamedly spiritual
    Generic spirituality that impacts all of life, not just 1hr Sunday service. Popular.
  2. Incarnational ministry – authentic, participatory. Not ‘is it true’, but ‘is it real’
    Don’t hear about Christianity, but see it in action. Therefore being Christian is not a label, but a real way of life
  3. Engaging in service. Volunteering is popular. Where can we make a difference?
    Programs with a purpose i.e. stop trying to impress with a show, but involve with acts of service
  4. Experiential praise. Worship (music) provides a way for people to participate.
  5. Narrative expository preaching. The power of story. People are used to complex stories. (Perhaps more in stories of Jesus than epistles)
  6. Ancient patterns. Connect people to the mystery. Backlash against seeker services
  7. Visualising worship. Not entertainment, but engagement. Not professional, but real
  8. Connect with technology. Use online to enhance interpersonal interactions.
  9. Living community. Church well placed to meet cultural need of community. There is no church without community. Community = love of God manifesting itself.
    Engage and allow spiritual journey to begin before conversion.
    Can’t fake it – reality of relationships. The pagan will not come to Christ until the love of Christ annihilates their worldview
  10. Leading by transparency and team. Participatory culture. Representative culture. Teams are messy and hard, but worth it.

Chapter 11 – Choosing a focus group (who will the plant reach?)

New church evangelism needs to be focused on people group. Church planter focused on everyone.

Focusing acknowledges that people come to Christ without crossing demographic boundaries.

Focusing helps… focus!

Every choice involves excluding some e.g. contemporary music, English language

Whilst evangelism focused, fellowship is NOT (revelation 7:9)

Use demographic data to make decisions


  • Who lives here?
  • Who are the receptive people? Vulnerable, in need, looking for connection?
  • Poll the community. Informal focus groups. Ask and listen.
  • Consider style, values, music, attraction etc.

Start with felt needs, but move to real needs.

Note that new churches attract low socio-economic

Whilst the bible determines the message, our audience determines when, where and how we communicate it.

Understand what the concerns are, objections are, stumbling blocks, and consider how to address them e.g. is church a cult, will it run all day, are the people wierd

Chapter 12 – a church planting fault line

Fastest growing Christian movement is nodenominationalism i.e. churchless Christianity. Fall of Christianity or revolution/reawakening?

A lot of it sounds good i.e. removing the gap between talking about Jesus and walking with Jesus.

E.g. house church, relation-based church, emerging church

A church is not just a meeting of Christians. It has more to it that makes it distinctive:

  • A covenant community. There are those that are part of it, and those that are not. Those that are part, have obligations to each other.
  • Meeting. Face-to-face
  • Biblical leadership
  • Ordinances. i.e. commanded celebrations. Baptism and Lord’s Supper
  • Preaching.

Missional church has overlap of 3 spheres:

  • Christology
  • Missiology
  • Eccelesiology

Abandon model specific vision, and answer the question of what ‘cultural containers’ will be most effective

Chapter 13 – Missional/incarnational churches

Rather than plan to plant a church, answer the question ‘what does following Christ look like’, and that is driving church planting.

The Missional church is about living out ‘who is Jesus’, not about being attractional i.e. ‘come and see Jesus’ rather than ‘come to church’

Sow seeds faithfully in the places God puts you, and pray and wait for the harvest.

411 example. NY city. Prayed and served for 18mths before opening a ‘church service’

Evangelical attractional church is extractional i.e. draw people out from their culture into a church culture

Missional/incarnational churches are slow. Therefore not paid staff. They don’t need strategy, time line, funding – the planters need jobs!

Dangers with this approach are that it lacks ecclesiology and therefore lacks a spine, but if it can find it’s church structure will keeping strong Christology and missiology, then it is good.

Chapter 14 – Koinos churches e.g. house church i.e. face-to-face relationship

Commitment to truly live life together

Note in much of the world, this kind of church is how God works. In USA, often people disgruntled with big church who go looking for this i.e. normal pattern is – when free to do so, Christian meetings grow in size, unless under persecution or difficulty when they shrink.

Koinos models have not proved very effective in breaking through into culture around them i.e. missiology.

Attraction to this model of church comes from it’s simplicity and faith. Church is just when people see themselves as church, and functions as a church.

Chapter 15 – Evangelism in Church planting

Intentionality. Develop a plan. If no plan, it just doesn’t happen.

CRM – prospect list. Record the time and nature of interaction. Takes 3 interactions to establish a relationship

Two way – people invests in unchurched, and the church invests in helping to lead people to Christ

Engel scale – way to measure people in process of coming to faith.
note that people average are moving further back on the scale in the West.

Stetzer Evangelistic Journey

The basic idea is seek to understand where people are in the process, to help them get to next stage.

With few exceptions, people come to Christ after they have journeyed with other Christians

Christian community is the greatest argument for, and the greatest argument of Christianity


  • Understand the worldview issues
  • Address those issues
  • Encourage the listener to consider Christian truth claims
  • Invite the listener to journey with the faith community
  • Invite the listener to make faith commitment

Us all tools at your disposal. The most effective are: commitment, hard work, and spirit-led prayer.

Chapter 16 – developing a launch team

Terminology of ‘launch’ rather than ‘core’ so that launch team don’t have to stay for long term.

Prenatal phase. Crucial for certain systems to be ready to operate effectively from day 1.

Launch to crowd ratio of 1:10.

Don’t dismiss door knocking e.g. 15,000 houses

All sorts of advertising and recruitment ideas – email, phone, mailers etc.

Core team must ‘sign on’ to mission, vision and values

Chapter 17 – Small groups

Acts 2:42-47 – fellowship, teaching/learning, prayer, worship, praise

Include – song, prayer, bible study, fellowship

Goal of 60% of church in small groups

Chapter 18 – Finding and handling finances

See this chapter for an example of a church planing proposal

People give to vision, not to need

You have not, because you ask note

Chapter 19 – choosing a name and logo

The only reason your church has a name is to appeal to outsiders

The only thing people may know/hear about your church is it’s name, so it needs to make a good impression

Name and logo must be inviting. It must ‘give permission’ for unchurched to attend.

Chapter 20 – Finding a meeting place

Schools may be obliged to allow themselves to be used by churches (at least in US)

Chapter 21 – LAUNCH – birth of a new church

Launch day is ‘birth’

Direct mail – will it work for my focus group? Not much competition in ‘church’ market. Great for exposure to local community. Leaflet drop
Design as ‘invitation letter’. Why not doorknock then as well?

Telemarketing – cause the church’s reputation to suffer?

Preview services – up to 3 prior, monthly.

In a postmodern world, is mass communication less effective. Personal relationships are best.

Churches that start big are more likely to maintain larger attendance throughout first 5 years of life. Is bigger better? Only in some ways…

Newspapers – local community paper – Yes! Local billboards etc.

Gather a large group – all people’s friends and family
BUT no more than 10x size of core group.

Chapter 22 – Worship in the new church

In this church age, ours is a mix of the faithful and unbelieving in our gathering.

Need to get the balance right between being ‘seeker friendly’ and edifying for believers.

Example of Willow Creek. Sunday is evangelistic event. Believers are edified in mid week groups

Good worship services should do all 3 (but in this order of priority)

  1. exalt God
  2. edify believers
  3. evangelise

Christ-centred, bible-based, spirit-led worship

Must be comprehensible to seekers, and make them feel comfortable, but not driven/shaped by these concerns

Remember though, the cross is not ‘seeker sensitive’

Effective evangelism takes place when God’s people authentically worship God.

Be clear that we accept, but not approve sin – hard to do.

Anyone can come to church, but coming to Christ requires radical life change.
Love as Christ loved, but call people to life-changing discipleship, just like Christ did.

Music – intense power in engaging spirit and transmitting truth
There is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics

Engage the heart and the mind.

Chapter 23 – Preaching in the new church

Transform lives with the truths of Christ’s life-changing presence.

Ground preaching in the biblical story of redemption.

Truth > application. Application comes from truth

Let agenda and shape of Scripture determine the message

Expositional – explain the meaning and intent of the Bible.

Don’t make statements and look to bible for support. Bible is central in setting agenda.
(not necessarily verse by verse preaching)

Preaching is a journey:

  • Start by making sure everyone knows where we are going, and why we need to
  • Build tension as to why we need to go there
  • Go to a passage of Scripture that addresses it
  • Stay there long enough till people understand it
  • Talk about what to do about it. application

Preaching in 3 questions

  1. Who is God
  2. Who is he revealed in this text
  3. What are natural inclinations to deny that truth

4 kinds of expositional preaching

  1. verse-by-verse
  2. thematic/doctrinal -a series over weeks
  3. narrative – this will grow. May be best suited to postmoderns. Jesus preached in this way
  4. topical – once off e.g. mothers day. not recommend. hard to capture full counsel of God

In early stages of church, messages will be more evangelical and ‘simple’, without being simplistic.

Purpose of sermon is not education but an encounter with God

The cross is enough to save, to heal, to give hope, to give peace, to give joy, to overcome all.
Get to the cross in every message. You don’t need to know it all, but you need to know and preach the cross.

Chapter 24 – Spiritual formation in the new church

8 characteristics of an incorporate member

  1. list 7 new friends (important that new Christians have 7 or else statistically more likely to leave)
  2. identify their spiritual gifts
  3. involved in at least one task/role/ministry
  4. involved in growth group
  5. regular financial commitment
  6. understand and identify with church goals
  7. regular attendance
  8. identify and take steps towards bringing others to church

Discipleship. Not by accident. Need a culture where this intentionally happens.

Without an intentional plan, the church will become ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’
Note distinction between what is said, and what is observed. What is observed trumps what is said.

Need for membership classes. They can actually be effective in evangelism (don’t assume people Christian)
L.I.F.E course example – takes through some of the steps above

The specific model is not as important, as that it occurs and is relevant and appropriate.

Encourage members to have balance, to do all 6 areas of Christian life

  1. Worship
  2. Ministry
  3. Evangelism
  4. Education
  5. Fellowship
  6. Missions

Note – need a program, and also need specific discipleship relationships

Set high expectations. People want to attach themselves to something bigger and better. People will rise to meet high expectations

Most unbelievers come to Christ during a time of crisis, therefore emphasis Christ as the ultimate stability

God uses disciple makers to sharpen and shape new disciples in Christ.

Chapter 25 – growth in the new church

The day after launch you need to start ‘growing’ – follow-up process is required

Prepare core group for the complexity of growing after launch e.e. some leaving, loss of control, pastor/planter focusing on new visitors instead of core group, risk of mingling with unchurched etc

Involve people – people who are busy rowing the boat generally are not the ones also rocking the boat.

Monthly leadership meetings – focused on recasting of the vision

Weekly need to be casting the vision before the church, in different ways, building credibility and momentum.

Peak-to-peak principle of casting a vision when you are at the top of one experience i.e. max attendance today, but let’s aim for bigger.

Valleys will come

Vision casting is vital – need to secure people’s confidence and involvement

Unlike establish churches whose size projects an appearance of stability and purpose

Chapter 26 – Children in the new church

The importance of children’s ministry – importance of imparting words of Christ, security, impact on parents, fun and educational, peace of mind. Preschool age most important

Chapter 27 – Congregational formation

This is about official (legal) recognition. Not essential.

Church plants from a mother church generally establish a relationship of interdependence

Chapter 28 – church planting churches

This about the role of a church in sponsoring church plants i.e. church planting churches. This is APC.
We want to create a tradition, a legacy of churches being planted.

We have some work to do in APC of casting the vision of church planting i.e. getting people to think as missionaries, seeing the evangelism of church planting etc.

The kingdom best advances through multiplication, not just addition

Disappointed when gifted church planters have not planted again after 3 years.

Need to communicate church planting vision through preaching i.e. through God’s word, not just ‘announcements’

Church must catch the vision, adopt it, and promote it as their own

Although many in the community may not attend a church, your presence represents God i.e. God’s ambassadors

Chapter 29 – Church planting movements – breaking the mold

Prayer, Jesus’ purposes and the spirits presence – the heart of church planting

Prayer, prayer, prayer – the best preparation.

Jesus will build, Jesus will purify: HIS church

Church = the ones who are called out.

Authors personal testimony of his church plant – Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Ps 127.

Characteristics of church planting movement:

  • Prayer
  • abundant gospel sowing
  • intentional church planting
  • scriptural authority
  • local leadership
  • lay leadership
  • cell churches
  • churches planting churches
  • rapid reproduction
  • healthy churches
    • worship
    • evangelism
    • discipleship
    • ministry
    • fellowship

Ephesians 3:20-21. He is able to do more. To him be the glory.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Another cheap Amazon kindle purchase

Some key takeaways:

  • The right approach is personal – everybody different. The approach of this book is to provide a playbook of best practices for producing great work
  • The problem is usually not external – it is internal e.g. your own routine
  • So much of ‘work’ now is just reactionary. Time to take control and go proactive


  • Create a framework for productivity through routines
  • Don’t wait for the right moment.
  • Switch to creative work first, reactive work second (daily schedule, weekly schedule)
  • It’s OK to dissapoint people a little along the way if it’s for your greater good
  • Limit daily to-do list to 3 things, and make sure I do them
  • Establish hard edges in my day – start/finish times, goals to achieve
  • Small daily labours trumps sporadic bursts. What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while
  • Follow my body’s rhythms. Be aware of the need for renewal – daily! Disengage from the stream and enjoy downtime moments

Finding focus

  • Information consumes our attention.  A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention
  • In a world filled with distraction, attention is our competitive advantage
  • Lack of clear work metrics means that difficult to know what to do, and assess what is valuable. Just because there is ‘some’ benefit, it does not necessarily outweigh the cost
  • Create large daily focus blocks of scheduled time to do work. Ignore other things at this time
  • Effective multitasking is a myth. Cycling between tasks not only ineffective in the tasks themselves, eats into effectiveness of real work on either side of the ‘cycle’ (hangover effect)
  • Even resisting temptation to get distracted brings mental drain, need to remove temptations altogether
  • Don’t waste my most productive time in the morning by doing email
  • Doing email is not working. Email is random reinforcement
  • What are my progress markers? How do I know when I’ve made real progress?
  • Self control can be developed and improved with practice – so, practice!
  • Kill the background noise

Taming my tools

  • Easy to blame the tools, but the real problem is us
  • Have long term goals in view at my workstation
  • distracting goals have to die for your most important goals to live
  • Don’t let ‘mindlessness’ be my default state
  • Be mindful of my motivations e.g. why share this? record it, or live it, am I lonely, am I bored? am I looking for validation?
  • Don’t bring technology into the bedroom
  • Technology displays it’s benefits loudly and proudly, but hides it costs
  • Learn to filter
  • Working at a computer discourages deep regular diaphragmatic breathing
  • Self respect and etiquette nudged out in lieu of convenient connection
  • There are still parts of life that I do not need to ‘do better’ with technology

Sharpen the saw

  • Practice unnecessary creation i.e. this blog! use it to take risks, explore, fail
  • Cultivate disengagement through familiarization i.e. taking the same route every day at the same time lets your mind switch off (or wearing the same clothes every day)
  • Constraints are good for creativity. (Converse is also true). Love your limitations
  • Work hard to stay a step away from complacency
  • Satisfaction from work when you only know about 50% what to do.
  • Sometimes solutions are startlingly straightforward… once you clearly understand the problem

Call to action

  • Work solid for 1 hour, then repeat that. Next step, finishing what you start. Next step, repeat the whole process.
  • A professional shows up, works, no matter what. The work gets simpler and less self orientated as you go.

True Spirituality by Francis Schaeffer

How to live for Jesus moment by moment

Foreword by Charles Colson

I’m intrigued by Chuck’s summary: “It is a probing, penetrating search through the Scriptures for what it means to be truly Christian”.

Introduction by Jerram Barrs

The series of lectures that form the material for this book was born from a time of spiritual crisis in Francis’ life. He was concerned with the lack of Christian reality that he saw in himself, others and Christian organisations – a lack of fruitfulness, lack of transformation, lack of joy.

Basically his starting question is, once born again through faith in Christ, what does it look like to live the Christian life? And I think in summary, the answer is – living the Christian life looks remarkably like the way we started the Christian life – justified by faith, sanctified by faith i.e. we live by faith.

Another point Jerram makes which I have found to be true is that Francis has a unique writing style and form of theological insight that feels a lot more philosophical, psychological and sociological than what I am otherwise used to, whilst still being biblically grounded.


Chapter 1: The law and the law of love

Big idea

The Christian life starts with being born again. Living the Christian life is more than external/outward behaviour – it is inward (not to covet against God and man is the climax of 10 commandments). And it is not ultimately a negative inward (i.e. do not covet), but it is positive (i.e. being alive to God, on a true personal level, in this moment of time)

Big takeways

  • I am not saved by faith. Faith is the instrument by which I accept the free gift of salvation
  • Faith is not a jump in the dark but is believing the specific promises of God – “raising the empty hands of faith and accepting the finished word of Christ”
  • Just like a baby being born, so too with being born again – that is just the beginning – the important thing after that is how you live
  • Living as a Christian, we are free from trying to live by trite lists of rules, but we are ‘free’ to a much more confronting thing – the Law of Love i.e. love God and man
  • The last commandment (do no covet) summarises the rest. When you break any of the others, you break the last commandment as well.
  • Love God enough to be contented in “all things”
  • Love fellow people enough not to envy (even of good things)
  • True Christian living is internal, not external
  • Matthew 22:37-39
  • There is to be a positive exhibition in present history of our future resurrection

Chapter 2: The centrality of death

Big idea / key takeway

I am to face the cross of Christ in every part of life and with my whole man. The cross of Christ is to be a reality to me not only once at my conversion but all through my life as a Christian. This is the ‘negative’ of the Christian life – now to the positive…

Chapter 3: Through death to resurrection

Much discussion of the reality of transfiguration and resurrection of Jesus as real events in space and time – and how in these things Jesus is the ‘firstfruits’.

Big idea

  1. Christ died in history
  2. Christ rose in history
  3. We died with Christ in history
  4. We will be raised in history
  5. We live by faith as though we have died
  6. We live by faith as though we raised from the dead

Romans 6:11

Key takeaways

  • Live now as though I have died, been to heaven and come back again as risen
  • This is a moment-by-moment thing
  • If no one preached Christ today, it would make no difference to the fact that he is raised, he is glorified
  • In the present life, I am to live now as though I am dead now (to sin), and alive to God (Romans 6:11)

Chapter 4: In the Spirit’s power

Big idea: Reality of Christian resurrection (for those who have died), and translation (for those still alive), previewed in transfiguration (Moses, Elijah)


  • Only two realities for Christian – in this life with Christ living in me, or with the Lord. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord
  • I am to live by faith now rooted in things that have been (Christ death), is now (unseen stream of spiritual reality), and what will be (bodily resurrection or return with Christ)
  • The power of the crucified, risen, glorified Christ is with the dead in paradise now, and lives in us now bringing forth this fruit
  • I will not be ashamed experientially when I act on the reality of the spirit of God living in me
  • ‘active passivity’ – e.g. Mary, Jesus mother – ‘be it unto me according to your word i.e. according to your promises, bring forth your fruit in me.

Chapter 5: The supernatural reality

Big idea: There is to be an experiential reality, moment-by-moment of supernatural world – in our relationship to Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by faith


  • Our world is naturalistic and will easily crowd in on our Christian thinking
  • Supernatural and natural worlds are part of same reality e.g. transfiguration, Jesus resurrection e.g. road to Emmaus, 2 Kings 6:16
  • Christian lives in practice in the supernatural world now – this is the life of faith, moment-by-moment

Chapter 6: Salvation: Past – Future – Present

Big idea: Justification is past, sanctification is present, glorification is future – a single piece, a flowing stream – the same base (Christ), the same instrument (faith) – one in history, the other moment-by-moment


  • The one thing that heaven will not contain – the privilege of living a supernatural life now by faith
  • Salvation is a unity between me and trinity – restores my relationship with Father, new relationship with Christ, and indwelt with Spirit
  • Christians are to be a demonstration to the world until Christ returns of the supernatural world
  • Justification must be understood as irrevocable. I cannot be more or less justified

Chapter 7: The fruitful bride

Big idea: Christian life is bringing forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the agent of the crucified, raised, glorified Christ as my whole man (will, mind, emotion) believes in God’s promises, moment-by-moment


  • If I am not bringing forth fruit, I am being spiritually unfaithful
  • Parallel between justification and sanctification – both via instrument of faith, both happen in a moment. Justification in a single moment, and sanctification in an ongoing series of moments. The only way to live the Christian life is moment-by-moment
  • It is not doctrine alone that is important, but doctrine appropriated i.e. made real


i.e. wider considerations of the True Christian Life

Chapter 8: Freedom from conscience

Big idea: God means for us to have as one of his gifts in this life, freedom from a false tyranny of the conscience.


  • Before we can concern ourselves with freedom from results  of bonds of sin, we must be sure we understand and believe how we are free from bonds of sin i.e. the gospel, or else all that follows becomes just some psychological trick
  • In considering freedom from conscience, there are two dangers to avoid – sinless perfectionism, and secondly an almost resigned acceptance of the presence of sin in the life of a Christian
  • Our conscience is like an iceberg – 1/10 above the surface (conscience) and 9/10 below (sub-conscience)
  • At the point when I fall into sin and my conscience is in trouble, I seek a way back to God and it is familiar – confess my sin (1 John 1:49)
  • If we have sin in our lives, and we go on, and God does not chastise us, then we are not children of God
  • Get specific. It’s easy to want God’s will in a general sense. It’s important to want God’s will in relation to our specific sin
  • God is not an abstraction or a doctrine. He is a person, really there.
  • The reality of the fact of the blood of Christ has meaning in our present life – bring specific sin under the blood of Christ
  • There must be death before there can be life
  • As I consciously say thank you to God for a completed work on the cross, my conscience should come into rest as I have been supernaturally restored
  • Reality is meant to be experienced, not understood in creeds or doctrines

Chapter 9: Freedom in the thought-life

Big idea: True spirituality always begins inside, in our thought world and in the thought world is where the spiritual battle occurs


  • First comes an idea, then comes the outward result. True spirituality is a matter of our thoughts. The external is the expression, the results i.e. the battle is won in the mind, not in the actions (Matt 12:3, sermon on mount, Mat 15:17-20)
  • The reality of communion with God must take place in the inward self – personality
  • Battle for men is in world of ideas, not behaviour
  • 3 steps
  1. Internal is first
  2. Internal causes external
  3. Morally, internally is central (remember 10th command)

Chapter 10: Substantial healing of psychological problems

Big idea: As Christ’s death is infinite, all the true guilt in us is covered, and guilt feelings that remain are part of the psychological miseries of fallen man


  • Substantial does not mean perfect
  • The Christian position states two things: 1) God is there, this infinite-personal God; and that 2) you have been made in his image, so you are there. From here, you can make intellectual sense of your place in the world
  • Who am I? I am personal, rational, moral. Personality – like God, Finite – like creation
  • The rebellion of man is trying to live outside of the circle in which God has placed him
  • Got a bit lost in this chapter. Seems to be arguing that without Christian understanding, in all the deep elements of man within himself – rationality, morality, emotions – he is damned i.e. conflicted
  • In the fall, man is divided from men, nature and himself i.e. the curse causes this internal conflict within self
  • There is psychological guilt, and there is moral guilt. Remember iceberg. Not always possible to know which is which. All too often evangelical tradition tends to try to ignore the iceberg below the surface. Our part is to function in that which is above the surface and confess whatever sin I know to bring under the finished work of Christ on the cross
  • Gradually as one does this, the Holy Spirit helps one to see deeper into themselves (below the surface)
  • All people have a psychological problem. They differ in degree, but since the fall, all people have a problem

Chapter 11: Substantial healing of the total person

Big idea: To live moment by moment through faith on the basis of the blood of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit is the only really integrated way to live – communion with God, not divided against self, in my place as creature before creator in a fallen abnormal world


  • God may miraculously heal a person, but does not heal his total physical self i.e. substantial healing and not perfect e.g. heal hernia but a headache that night
  • Be the creature, not try to be the creator
  • The Christian doctrine is not just rational answers, but in practice provides healing to the whole self e.g. not just theoretical psychology but practical
  • For the Christian, there is never fear of the impersonal because the personal infinite God is really there
  • Simple profound truth: “Do not be afraid because God is here”
  • No fear of non-being. I know that I am, and who I am – I have a valid existence
  • No fear of death. For Christian there is continuity of life from here into the world to come. Death is not a chasm, as we have crossed the chasm at new birth
  • Whilst in the moment of experience, these truths can be difficult to apply, at least we have a rational framework in which to process this.
  • We must help each other to think and live in the light of the truth of the total unified Christian system
  • False integration points – false idols – functional saviours. Money, sex, religion etc. Like a garbage can trying to fit in a man. False integration points not big enough to account for the whole man
  • Roll all your cares onto him (1 Peter 5:7). A personal infinite God, Matt 11:28
  • Justified in Christ, but present communion with God requires constant bowing in intellect and will

Chapter 12: Substantial healing in personal relationships

Big idea: God is personal and infinite. Human relationships will not be perfect (the Fall) but on the basis of the finished work of Christ, human relationships can be healed, joyous. Christians are to show forth a personal God to the watching world, and demonstrate real personal relationships, that can be fun!


  • God deals with us on the basis of who he is, and how we made us.
  • Man is called not to be justified, but to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, strength
  • Just as our end point with God must not be truths about him, but relationship with him, so too in our relationships we must not settle for anything less than real personal relationships of love and communication
  • But I need to accept myself as an equal to all men before I can turn outward
  • We are called to demonstrate God to the world. To do this, we must demonstrated personal relationship
  • If I love neighbour, I will love for him to be right. Even if he is wrong, I will not rejoice in being right.
  • Confess to God first, then confess to man. And because our integration point is God rather than ourselves, we can admit we are wrong because our ‘centre’ is Christ
  • Our confession to God and to man must be as open as Christ’s crucifixion on a hill. We must be ready for the shame as well as the pain.
  • If you seek for all that you need for human relationships, you will suck them dry and they can never satisfy. But Christian sufficiency in infinite personal God relationship

Chapter 13: Substantial healings in the church

Big idea: The church, as Christ’s body, should exhibit him to the world until he returns – acting in moment by moment, based on sound doctrine, but in practice, flowing out into the total culture


  • Unity is not about equality, but that all areas are controlled by the one head
  • The church should represent the supernaturally restored human race in reality
  • The church should seek to retain its spiritual purity in the visible church
  • The communion of saints is not just a creed. It is to be exhibited
  • The church cannot just teach in words, but in practice it must consciously demonstrate supernatural world
  • If all that the bible teaches concerning prayer and the Holy Spirit was removed from the bible, would practical difference would it make to how our church functions? Answer, hopefully: A lot!
  • 3 universal promises of God to the church for this era:
  1. Power in the holy spirit Acts 1:8
  2. Fruit of the spirit Galations 5:22ff
  3. Christ will be with the church through the HS John 14:16-18
  • These promises are what the world should see when they look at the church!
  • Prayer is the place where the church is the church i.e. practically operating by faith
  • We love ‘the church’ as we love the people in our local church
  • We don’t want to have orthodoxy, but dead an ugly in practice
  • Avoid cold impersonal acts as bare duty, but share whole man with whole man in love and communication
  • The church should be what is can be, recognising that the members do not need to hang onto each other, because the integration point is God

Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media

I read this short book (Kindle version) in a couple of hours rather than taking the whole weekend as the author suggests. It certainly draws on other more substantial work such as Tim Challies ‘The Next Story’. However still has some thought provoking ideas and the author’s style of writing is very accessible.

I recommend it as a useful short primer in helping Christians to think more critically about the form and function of social media – and in particular, how we each as individuals should use it.

I have consciously been using social media less and less over the last couple of years – for a number of contributing reasons, all of which the author picks up on. I have found the simplest and best approach to using social media is to stop before posting and ask the simple question ‘why?’ – why post this? what purpose is it serving? Sometimes I will have a good answer to this, most times I won’t, so I won’t post.