The Mt. Bethel Project Update-No. 7

One thing we know for certain…

There is a lot we don’t know about how to multiply churches.  When I think about that I take refuge in Bruce’s statement that, “we don’t have precedent, but we do have promises.”  But here is one thing that we do know for certain: we will not multiply churches until we begin to train church planters.  

I want to encourage you to just get started with a class to train church planters.  There are people you know already and people you are going to meet in the near future who can plant a church.  Just gather some people and start training them.

There are many ways to get started, but here are two ways that you can get started immediately:

1. You can use the Omega Church Planting course that is available for free from Bruce’s material.  This is a five volume church planter training course that has been used to train thousands of planters around the globe.

2. You can also get started by gathering a group and using Bruce’s “Member Mobilization” materials.  This is an eight week course that trains people in the basics of following Christ and assists participants to start their own group over the eight weeks.  Larry and Jack have been using this in Walton, NY.  After the eight weeks you will have a good idea which members of the group have demonstrated faithfulness and are worthy of investing time in formal church planter training.

Both the Omega church planting material and the Membership Mobilization course are available free on the Reframe website.  Go to www.Reframeconference.com and click on “Overview” to get access to Bruce’s materials.

It is better to start a class and fail than to never have tried to multiply churches at all (or however that statement goes!)

Bruce is Returning

June 9-11, 2013 are the dates for Reframe Conference.  Bruce will be returning to continue teaching us and we are working on bringing the Free Methodist Superintendent from Ethiopia to speak also.  I want to encourage you to bring as many people from your church as possible to Reframe Conference.  I believe that there are many people God wants to call to the ministry of church planting, but most of them are not yet aware of the need for new churches and have not yet considered the possibility that God may be calling them to plant.  God calls people to ministry that see the need. Reframe is an excellent opportunity for you to help your people see the need.

Opportunity for peer learning

Do you want to share stories with others who are trying to start a church planter training class? Do you want to discover what is working and what is not working?  I would like to schedule a day in the second week of December to do this. We will meet Waverly Community Church, 101 Carbondale Rd, Waverly, PA, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This church is just a few minutes off Interstate 81.

  • I am using Doodle.com to choose the best day for this meeting. Please click on this link:  http://doodle.com/f355si9ttku2sfcu and select which day would be best for you to attend. I believe you will have to enter your name and then select which day(s) you would be available to attend

You are welcome to bring anyone from your church with you. Lunch will be provided.

Be With Him

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 18:14

One of the great goals of spending time with God is to learn how to submit fully to him.  As we are with him, God more and more delivers us from needing to exalt ourselves and heals us so that we can humble ourselves and submit to him in more and more areas of our life. As we submit more and more God exalts us, both in terms of giving us greater spiritual authority in the world, and in making us a more effective part of achieving his will on earth.  If God is calling you to be part of a multiplication movement, he is calling you to be with him in a way that enables him to exalt you and your ministry.

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The Mt. Bethel Project Update-No. 10

Meeting with David Nelms

Al Sones and I met with David Nelms and his assistant Greg Kappas this week.  David updated us on his church planting work, and our project in Ethiopia. (Their work can be seen at www.ttionlline.org). As you know, I first met David on an airport hotel shuttle at midnight in San Diego; it was a divine appointment. David was the first person I met who had produced rapid Kingdom expansion. Some months after this event I met Bruce Bennett in Thailand. These God-directed meetings provided the impetus for our Mt. Bethel project,–a project to plant thousands of reproducing churches in the United States. This project was born last June at Reframe Conference where both David and Bruce served as our speakers.

While meeting with David and Greg this week we were discussing our beginning efforts to start a movement. They had both read the Mt. Bethel Update No.8 in which I mentioned that we have about thirty people in church planter training. Greg said to us that no one in Unites States has 30 people in church planter training, not even Bob Roberts. Bob Roberts is the author of book “Multiply” and considered by many to be the leader of those trying to start church planting movements in the US. He was a keynote speaker at the Free Methodist Church General Conference in 2011.  Greg Kappas said that Bob Roberts, who is his friend, would “give anything” to have 30 people in church planter training. I was thankful to God for the start he has given to us in the Mt. Bethel Project.

Faith, Faithfulness and Finishing – The keys to starting a church planting movement (Community Church Planting Manual, 9.7.2)

Pray for increased faith to discern God’s Kingdom’s plans in the communities around you and what he is calling you to do to accomplish those plans.

Be faithful to your call.

Finish the task set before you.

Viral Churches

To start a church planting movement will require a culture in which believers, especially new believers, understand that God has called them to expand the Kingdom. If you have read the book “Viral Churches” by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird you know that it is a summary book about efforts to start a church planting movement in the United States.

In discussing the rapid church multiplication that happened in the early days of the Vineyard movement they discuss this rapid Kingdom expansion culture that was built into the movement from its genesis. They attribute this rapid expansion to the fact that new believers were taught that God had a call on their life to expand the Kingdom, and they needed to obey that call.  Stetzer concludes that, “A return to the salvation=call=obedience equation of the Christian life will have a dramatic impact on your church’s chances of seeing a multiplying movement occur” (pp’s. 60-61).

This concept is also one that Bruce stresses in the Community Church Planting Manual.  Bruce understands 2 Tim 2:2 as a command and says that Christians are called to be obedient to this command.  This obedience is what fuels a church planting movement.

“And the things you have head me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Tim 2:2

Bruce sees a total of 15 people in that verse who are trained:

Paul                             First generation          One person

Timothy                       Second generation      Two people

Faithful men                Third generation         Four people

Others                         Fourth generation       Eight people

Total                                                                Fifteen people

When we obey this command everyone will have at least four generations of people trained to start new churches as a result of their obedience. If you understand this verse as a command, then we need faith and faithfulness to finish the task God has commanded.

Last Call for Mt Bethel “Sharing our Stories” meeting

On Wednesday, Mt. Bethel practitioners will be gathering to share our stories.  We want to learn what has been happening, what is working, what is not working.  We want to leave with a clear list of questions that still need to be answered and what issues have arisen as we have tried to learn how to start a church planting movement.

The meeting will be held at Waverly Community Church, 101 Carbondale Road, Waverly, PA 18471.. We will meet from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. A pizza lunch will be provided.

Prayer Team

Thanks to all of you who continue to respond to the commitment to pray for the Mt. Bethel project and the leaders of the project. One of the few things we know for certain about starting a church planting movement is that it cannot be done without a solid base of prayer.

Updating the “Update”

The “Mt. Bethel Update” that was started ten weeks ago as an e-mail that I was sending to eighteen people has now grown to an email list approaching 70 people. We are looking to move to an improved format and to make these updates available on a blog or web site.  Watch for updated formats and Internet access for the Mt. Bethel Update in the next few weeks.

“Reframe” Conference progress

The planning for the second annual Reframe Conference is well under way. One of our long-term goals for the conference is to create an event at which we can gather people from all over the country interested in church multiplication. Reframe conference is committed to reframing the concept of church in the United States in a way that it will accommodate rapid multiplication.

Under the leadership Jeff Wojtaszek, Reframe Conference continues to grow and evolve.  As you know Bruce Bennett will be returning as our main speaker. Jeff’s goal is to continue to take Reframe to the next level of effectiveness.

Be With Him

More from “Viral Churches:” in a discussion of why some mission agencies start with great effectiveness and then lose that effectiveness Stetzer concludes that:

“…Missions without a doctrinal framework tend to lose the Gospel’s transformational power.” 

Truth (or doctrine) that keeps the power of the Gospel present in our words and in our work for Jesus is dependent on our maintaining an intimate relationship with Jesus. Without that intimacy we can work for Jesus but will see little transformational power.

The Mt. Bethel Project Update-No. 9

Starting a Multiplication Movement… “Pushing forward while you wait”

To create a multiplication movement takes great energy. It is sort of like trying to push a car.  Once you get it rolling it moves easily, but it takes all the energy you have to get it rolling.  But starting a multiplication movement also takes waiting; waiting for the Holy Spirit to bring together the right combination of circumstances, events, people, words and processes that will accomplish his supernatural plans to multiply believers and churches.

We must do both of these things at the same time.  We must be moving forward while waiting for the Holy Spirit to do supernatural work among us. Remember that it took Bruce Bennett four years before he had any success, but during that time he worked constantly to develop a system and move it forward.

What do you need to do differently to push forward?

What do you need to do differently to wait for the Holy Spirit?

“Share Your Story” Meeting Set

We are gathering on Wednesday, December 12, 2013 to share together what we are learning about creating a church multiplication movement. The meeting will be from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the Waverly Community Church, 101 Carbondale Rd, Waverly, PA, 18471.

Thank you to everyone who went to Doodle.com to let me know when you were available. The greatest number of people were available on Wednesday.  We will gather and simply talk about what we are doing, what we think is going well and what is not going well, raise some questions, and compare our work to the structure that Bruce has given to us.  Hopefully we will be able to draw some conclusions and improve our efforts to multiply the church.

The Unlearning Continues

Encouragement is one of the seven values of a multiplication movement.  It is also the summary statement regarding how Christians are supposed to interact with other believers.  When we talk about encouraging other believers we often place great emphasis on getting people to church.  We take Hebrews 10:25 and make the end purpose of that passage the instruction to meet together. But in fact we are to see encouraging each other as our primary task (the end) and meeting together is one way of doing that (the means to the end).  If we don’t understand that encouragement is primary and meeting together is secondary, getting people to church will become the rule by which we measure our success. People will attend church out of a sense of duty and will go to church with no agenda to encourage other believers.

How would our work be different if people went to church because they had a heart to encourage other believers?

Encouragement is also at the heart of the “to do” list that people with which we should leave every meeting.

The Seven Values

Starting a church multiplication movement requires value based actions.  The values that we need have been identified by Bruce Bennett’s work. If your actions are consistently based on these values, you will achieve the goals of a multiplication movement.  Bruce’s system has seven values which we will need to teach continually.  There are power point presentations available linked on the reframeconference.com website to teach each of these values.

1. Vision

2. Call

3. Faith

4. Faithfulness

5. Encouragement

6. Hospitality

7. Planning and Administration

The Steps to Fulfill Your Call to Multiply the Church

1. Pray over a map

2. Go to the town God directs you to go to

3. Find a person of peace

4. Lead them to Christ

5. Work with them to lead others in that community to Christ

6. Start a group that can become a church

7. Train your group to talk about their faith

8. Start a training group for planter/pastors

9. Help some of the members of the training group to start the process over with step No. 1 above

Be With Him

“He appointed twelve—designating them apostles,–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”   Mark 3:14

The Mt. Bethel Project Update-No. 8

Want to start a church multiplication movement?  Start training “hospitalitists” instead of pastors.

“Christianity spreads through the hospitality of believers”

During my recent hospital stay I was introduced to a new word—“hospitalist.”  When I first heard the word I thought it was a strange and awkward word; it sounded dumb.  It turns out that a “hospitalist” is a doctor who works only with patients who have been admitted to the hospital and the hospitalist is trained to make a quick and accurate diagnosis of the illness of someone about whom they usually know very little. The hospitalist works with a physician’s assistant and together this team enters into intensive work to understand a problem and then prescribe a plan to restore the patient to health. I came to learn that this hospitalist concept broke my stereotypes of the typical hospital doctor.  My experience had been that a hospital doctor would come into the room, ask a few questions, make a few notes on a chart, and prescribe some pills and leave.  But thanks to the hospitalist and her assistant I had a very different experience.  I learned more about my health in a few days from them than I had learned in years of regular doctor visits. I learned about both short term and long term issues in my health and was presented a path to deal with those issues.  By the time I was discharged I came to have great appreciation for the hospitalist and her assistant who worked together vigorously on my behalf.  I also came to appreciate how this hospital has successfully reframed the role of hospital doctor. They are so serious about this reframing of the traditional doctor’s role that people in the hospital rarely use the word “doctor” when referring to a hospitalist.

I have been thinking about this in terms of the use of the word “pastor.” If the Gospel spreads through hospitality, why don’t we train “hospitalitists” (not “hospitalists”) instead of pastors. Perhaps we could reframe the role of pastor in much the same way that the term hospitalist has reframed the role of the traditional hospital doctor. Would there be a difference in the people we train if we told them we were training them to spread the hospitality of Jesus in the world rather than telling them we are training them to be a pastor? Would there be a difference if instead of deploying pastors we deployed “hospitalitists?”  I realize that it is a strange and awkward sounding word–even dumb, but maybe the hospital was on to something significant.

Putting Bruce Bennett’s system into our cultural context

I am indebted to a conversation between Storm Hutchison and his coach Dan Greider for helping me put some of the thoughts in the above section into words. We are continually seeking for God to show us the ways in which we need to contextualize a multiplication movement. Dan Greider (who is the speaker for our Multiplication Training Event in March) suggests that part of the contextualization process will be helping people to unlearn some of the things that the church is doing that are preventing multiplication. He believes that our concept of the role of pastor is one of the things we need to unlearn.

Storm is putting some of the ideas on paper that he and Dan have been working on.  We will include more of this discussion in future updates.

Sign up for the Mt. Bethel Prayer Team

I have learned since starting this work that church multiplication can only succeed if we build a spiritual base for our physical actions. The battle is won in prayer before it is won in a new community. I am asking you to be part of the Champion’s Prayer Team that would fast one meal a week to pray for me and for all the people involved in the project. Bruce Bennett has said that this project needs to be led by a Champion. I am serving in that role until the Lord reveals the permanent Champion.  But we all need God’s protection and provision. Satan has been battling this project in various ways, and we need your prayer support.  Please respond with an email to me at dharveymer@aol.com if you can be part of the prayer team.

Last call for the sharing your story event

I am scheduling a time for a peer learning event in the second week of December. We will meet Waverly Community Church, 101 Carbondale Rd, Waverly, PA, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This church is just a few minutes off Interstate 81.

I am using Doodle.com to choose the best day for this meeting. Please click on this link:  http://doodle.com/f355si9ttku2sfcu and select which day would be best for you to attend. I believe you will have to enter your name and then select which day(s) you would be available to attend

You are welcome to bring anyone from your church with you. Lunch will be provided.

Please fill out the form by this coming Monday, November 26, 2013.

Where God is at work… or, “Learning to see the footprints of Jesus in new communities”

We are told in various ways in Scripture that we should “follow in His steps.”  We go into new communities confidant that Jesus has been there before us preparing the way (see Paul at Troas, 2 Cor. 2:12).  We need to develop skills that enable us to “see” where Jesus has been. Here are some brief updates on our recent work in new communities.

Casa de Oracion, Clifton New Jersey – Camilo and Myllar have started a class to train new church planters and they now have established two new groups (“initiated churches” in Bruce Bennett’s lingo). They have established groups in Bayonne, NJ and in Patterson, NJ. Each of these groups has a person of peace who will become the leader.  Camilo has a model in which he trains pastors and while he is training these pastors he (Camilo) forms new groups in the communities in which the class members live.  He then makes the person in his class who lives in that community the pastor of the new group. Camilo has successfully done this many times in Venezuela.   This system will multiply when the pastors of the new groups start their own pastor training class and the form new groups out of that class, replicating the method Camilo has used.

Shamokin, Pennsylvania – Al Sones, along with several other people, has made two trips into Shamokin to see if God would reveal a person of peace. While they met a number of people and had significant conversations with them, they did not find the person of peace.  In the meantime, Shari Turner from the Nescopeck church had enrolled her son in the Shamokin School district because of the support the school district has for her son’s needs.  While talking to a school administrator Shari shared that she felt God had brought her to Shamokin to start a Christ-centered support group for parents of children who had the same needs as her son. This public school administrator immediately responded to Shari by saying, “That’s not what I hear from God when I pray. I hear that God brought you to Shamokin to start a church.”  The public school administrator had been praying for a new church in the town. We now have a new group (initiated church) in Shamokin.

Al Sones describes this group as starting not by the person of peace model, but by the Cornelius model.  God called someone into the town to start a church through the prayers of someone already in the town.

Port Carbon, Pennsylvania – Storm Hutchison and Al Sones set aside a day to seek a person of peace in a new community. They met in the morning and prayed until Jesus revealed the community that they should go into.  As they prayed God revealed to Al a physical attribute of the person they were to meet. They left and went to that community.  They encountered a number of people through the day but none was the person of peace. Later in the day as they were walking down a street in the town they encountered a mother and her little children who were facing a menacing Rottweiler dog.  As they were trying to intervene in this situation a neighbor came out of a house to assist them.  As they talked with this neighbor it was clear he was open to the message of Jesus.  He invited them into his house where they told him about Jesus and prayed for family members who were sick.  Perhaps this is the man of peace.  Pray for Storm as he follows up on this.  And by the way, yes the man did have the physical characteristic God had revealed to Al in the morning.

We can learn more about the details of these and other stories about seeing the footprints of Jesus in new communities at our meeting in the second week of December.

Thirty New Church Planters in Training – While I don’t have a firm number yet on how many people are currently in training to plant a church through the Mt. Bethel Project, I am confident that there are at least thirty people in training classes. Virtually all of these people are currently lay people who have some sense of God’s call on their life.

Be With Him…

We should be with him so that we know what to do when we go into a new community.

Here are Al Sones’ three questions to ask Jesus when you go into a new community:

1. Where should we go?

2. Who should we look for?

3. What should we do?