14550 Lee Rd, Chantilly, VA 20151

Newsletter December 2022

Word Power

Patrick Bradley, Director of Operations, Passion for PlantingHow’s your stewardship? Not of your time, money, energy, or gifts, but of your words? Are you being a good steward of your words?

Words are a gift from God. They allow us to communicate our hopes and fears. Ironically, scripture uses words liberally to encourage us to use them conservatively. Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is prudent.” James 1:19 commands us to be slow to speak. Proverbs 17:27 says, “The one who has knowledge restrains his words.” Time and again God’s word reminds us of the power of words and admonishes us to keep a tight rein on our tongues.

Ralph Bennett, a retired editor for the Reader’s Digest, once told a group of our church planting residents, “Gentlemen, words are free; it’s how you use them that may cost you.” Have your words ever cost you? Mine have.  

As church leaders we need to be careful with our words, not just because they have the power to tear down, but because they have the power to build up. God has given us words so we can communicate our thoughts and feelings, and so we can cast vision. With our words we can paint a picture of a preferred future and invite others to join us in making that vision reality. In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua, “Words create worlds.”

God created the universe with his word, and he’s given us words to follow his example, inspiring and instructing people towards a common goal. It’s no wonder that when God wanted to impede the construction of the Tower of Babel, he confused the language of its builders.

As a leader you know how a breakdown in communication leads to frustration and stalled momentum. Just as the builders of the Tower of Babel needed a common language to see their vision fulfilled, so you as a church planter need to develop shared language among the people you’re leading. This common language will help them see the vision and work together towards that same end. 

What kind of shared language do you need to develop as a church planter or leader? We offer several ideas in this month’s newsletter. Enjoy!

-Patrick Bradley, Director of Operations

December 2022 – Contents

  • What’s a Disciple? 
  • What’s Success? 
  • What’s Your Message?  
  • What’s Your Mission?  

What’s a Disciple?

Every church has the same mission: Glorify God by making disciples. We may word if differently from church to church, but on the most basic level the mission of every church is to make disciples. If that is your mission as a church, wouldn’t it be handy to have a clear definition of what a disciple is, contextualized for your time and place? You’d have a clear target to aim for. 

If someone at your church were to ask you right this minute what a disciple is, what would you tell them? Do you have a shared definition of what a disciple looks like? If you don’t, how are you ever going to know when you’re successfully making disciples? At New Life Christian Church (Passion for Planting’s base of operations), we define a disciple as someone who hears and follows Jesus. We based this upon Jesus’ words in John 10:27. 

This definition directs our ministry efforts as a church. We’re constantly thinking about how we can help people hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and obey him. This simple definition helps every member of our church work together towards the same disciple making goal. Is it time for your church to develop a shared definition of a disciple? If so, read The Definition of ‘Disciple’ by Bobby Harrington for ideas on where to get started. 

What’s Success?

Is it possible to define what a disciple of Jesus is in one sentence? It’s certainly a difficult challenge. However, for the sake of clarity and simplicity, so more people can take ownership of the mission of the church we think developing a concise definition of a disciple is important. To support that definition, we also recommend churches develop several “Life Marks” or measures that characterize disciples of Jesus in your context. 

The idea of Life Marks come from the book Church Unique by Will Mancini. According to the book, Life Marks serve as a “set of attributes in an individual’s life that define or reflect the accomplishment of the church’s mission.” They provide a bullseye that everyone in the church can aim towards. Once defined, these set of characteristics will portray what spiritual maturity looks like in your church. If you’re ready to paint that picture, follow the guidance of The Real Measure of Making Disciples to get you started. 

What’s Your Message?

If there was one message you’d want your community to hear from your church, what would it be? Would you say, “God is crazy about you,” or maybe, “You belong here”? Those are two popular marketing messages churches have used to grab their neighbors’ attention and build bridges to communicate the gospel with them. The key to effective marketing like this is consistency.

You want the same message being communicated over and over again, so it becomes contagious. If your church doesn’t want to be the best kept secret in your neighborhood, it’s helpful to develop a marketing strategy that’s built to communicate a consistent message. This message should speak to the heart and minds of the lost in your community. Developing this concise message and training your launch team to share it empowers them to be ambassadors for Christ and His church. Get started crafting the message you want to share with your community, and your strategy for communicating it to them, with the help of our Marketing Strategy Template.

What’s Your Mission?

What is the mission of the church? If you asked the average person in your congregation or launch team that question, would they offer the same answer as you? As a church, it’s crucial that everyone understand the ultimate mission of Jesus’ Church. If they don’t know what the church’s mission is, how will they be able to live it out?

Don’t make your congregation guess what your church is ultimately trying to do. Clarify the mission and communicate it consistently. Do you have a mission statement that’s clear, concise, and compelling? A rallying cry that your people embrace and embody? If you aren’t sure, or need some help developing a shared mission statement for your church, read Carry The Holy Orders by Will Mancini.  

Photos by Glen Carrie, Gift Habeshaw, Robert Linder, Greg Keelen, Anastase Maragos from Unsplash.