Category Archives: Church

Wheels Up! (The Launch of Harvest Fellowship)

That’s what some people say when the airplane they are traveling on lifts off the runway and the pilot engages the switch that causes the landing gear to retract into the undercarriage of the plane. Well, it’s wheels up for Harvest Fellowship. We have officially taken off!

As with most, if not all, church plants, we had our share of bumps and jerks as we picked up enough speed to eventually begin to lift the nose off the ground.  We had people who initially expressed interest in joining our core group/launch team, but had a change of heart or circumstances. We had to move locations a couple of times. We had to adjust our plans after our church planting prospectus was designed and printed. And the list goes on.

But in spite of all that, God blessed us – an independent church plant – to have a good launch on yesterday.

To all those who prayed for us, supported us financially, and encouraged us: We thank God for you!

We understand that we are just getting started. And we know there is sure to be turbulence up ahead. But we know that as long as Jesus is in the cockpit, he will with perfect wisdom navigate us through it all.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

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Countdown to the Launch of our Church!

On Monday, January 25, 2016, my wife and I held the first interest meeting concerning starting a new church in our city. I stood in our living room before about 20 people to share with them how God had brought us to this point in our lives and why we were sensing His leading to plant a church here in Desoto, TX.  A handful of people signed up that day to become a part of our core group (aka: launch team). The others committed to be supporters: praying for this new work, making themselves available to periodically offer assistance, and/or giving financially as they were able.

After that initial meeting, we hit the ground running. We gathered together as a core group every other Sunday for Bible Study (This Sunday, April 2, 2017 will conclude my year-long teaching series on our church’s DNA – i.e., our beliefs, mission, vision, values, priorities, and distinctives). And then we added meeting in Fellowship Group on the other Sundays when we were not having Bible Study. So on one Sunday we would meet for Bible Study at the rented facility and then the next Sunday we would meet in the home of one of our core group members. I know that might seem like a weird set up, but, by God’s grace, it actually has worked out great in instilling one of the main components of our discipleship mechanism in the hearts and lives of the core group: biblical community in small groups.

Additionally, we began to engage our city with good works and with the Good News by volunteering at city-sponsored events and conducting our own Share Jesus outreach efforts. I must admit, when we nailed down where we would start this new church, the southwest region of Dallas wasn’t very appealing to me. Why? Because this area is saturated with sister churches, which in many ways is a good thing and something that we celebrate. But as I looked at the demographics and as we began to engage with people, it became quickly evident that there were still plenty of people in this area who did not know Jesus or were unchurched/de-churched.

So here we stand now, only two and a half weeks away from the launch of Harvest Fellowship! It has been a slow and arduous work, but a rewarding one nonetheless. And I won’t even go into detail, but I will just say that spiritual warfare is real and sobering. But thanks be to God that we have victory in Jesus!

April will be a busy month for us. Will you join us in praying that God would bring much fruit from our Spirit-dependent efforts to reach people who are far from God with the Gospel of Jesus and to connect them and others to our church?

And if you live (or someone you know lives) in or around our area in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and are not connected to a church, we would love for you to be our guest at our launch service:

Thanks for your prayers and support as we seek to lead people to trust and obey Jesus.

The Final Leg to Our Church’s Launch

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A lot has transpired since introducing Harvest Fellowship and holding our first interest meeting in January 2016. We’ve been praying and hard at work laying the groundwork for our new church.

We have been going out into the community seeking to reach those who have yet to trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord with the Gospel.

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We have been serving the people of Desoto, TX, and look forward to a continued partnership with the city.

We have been studying the Bible together, as I have been laboring to lay a biblical foundation for our church.

We began to conduct test runs for our Harvest Kids ministry (K-5th grade).

We held a special Family Christmas Worship Service.

And a few days ago we held our first (of four) Preview Service.

We are now in the final leg headed to the public launch of our church, which will be on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. Please pray for us as we endeavor, by the grace of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to lead people to trust and obey Jesus.

If you would like to learn how you can support us, please go to www.harvestfbc.org/support.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Introducing Harvest Fellowship Baptist Church

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If you are wondering why my blog activity has slowed down this year, it is because we have been led of the Lord Jesus to start a church. This idea of planting a church has been years in the making for me. Having attended a number of church planting boot camps and conferences in the past, coupled with much prayer, consultation, and recent providential circumstances, we believe God has given us the green light to launch out on this endeavor. So allow me to briefly introduce you to Harvest Fellowship Baptist Church.

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As with all Christian churches, our mission is based on Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

And so we state our mission this way: We exist to make and grow disciples of Jesus.

Simple and straightforward.

We are humbled and grateful that God would choose us to join other fellow Christian churches here in the southwest region of Dallas, TX (and beyond) to reach non-Christians with and grow Christians in the Good News of Jesus.

We can’t wait to share more with you in the days ahead. We are in the process of working with a webhosting company to develop our website. Until then, please connect with us on the following social media outlets:

Facebook: Harvest Fellowship Baptist Church

Twitter: @harvestfbc

We ask that you will join us in praying that God will continue to open doors of opportunity for us to share the Gospel with non-Christians, that He would continue to send Christians who will join us on mission, and that He will provide the plans, provisions, and strength we need to have a solid launch later this year.

If you would like to learn more about Harvest Fellowship, join our Launch Team, and/or financially support us, please contact us at harvestfbc@gmail.com.

Blessings to you!

What Does PETCO and Pastoring Have in Common?

Petco

I am not what some would call an animal lover. At the moment, I don’t have any domestic pets. But if I did, there are two standard rules I live by: 1. I do not allow them to sleep in my bed, and 2. When it comes to licking, my face is off-limits.  But I do like them. My father and mother had two dogs during my adolescent years. Both were Cocker Spaniels. They were great family dogs. And my wife and I had a Toy Rat Terrier in the early years of our marriage. Now that we have a child the thought of getting another one has come up in conversation a few times. Because of this I have begun to pay a little more attention again to anything related to pets.

Enter PETCO.

The other day while I was watching television, a PETCO commercial came on. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it, except the tagline. Take a look for yourself:

“What We Feed Them Matters.”

When I heard that tagline, the preacher in me took note. I said to myself, “There is an illustration in that.” As I began thinking about it, I immediately saw a connection between that PETCO commercial and our calling as pastors.

The Bible depicts us elders as being shepherds and the church as being sheep or a flock (Acts 20:28-30). As the Apostle Peter writes, we are called to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willing, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Shepherding the flock of God entails a number of responsibilities. As Jeramie Rinne writes in Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus, “Elders manage, lead, admonish, and keep watch over members.” (p. 74) But central among these tasks is teaching; teaching the word of God (1 Timothy 3:2 – “able to teach”; also see 2 Timothy 4:1-2). Rinne affirms this assertion, “If elders shepherd Jesus’s sheep, then their most basic task is to feed the souls of church members from the Scriptures.” (p. 45)

But in teaching the word, we must commit to rightly handling it (2 Timothy 2:15). I have been in ministry long enough to know that everyone who is teaching the Bible ain’t teaching the Bible. It is important that we prayerfully strive to rightly interpret the word, or cut it straight. Our desire should be “to give instruction in sound doctrine.” (Titus 1:9) That word “sound” means healthy. Take note, brothers: healthy doctrine produces healthy disciples. So let’s, by God’s grace, feed them the pure, unadulterated word of God.

May the Lord Jesus’ command to Peter in John 21:17 be applied to our calling as pastors as well, “Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.‘” (emphasis mine)

What we feed them does indeed matter.

Engaging Men for Jesus

Working as a full-time staff pastor for about 11 out of 20 years of being in ministry, I have run into the reality of too many men who are, what I call, fringe Christians, strolling along the border of commitment to Jesus rather than running hard towards the center of full devotion to him. It honestly at times can be frustrating, discouraging and tiring. But I am nevertheless drawn to them.

I am not sure when God began to burden my heart to see men embrace Jesus and follow him wholeheartedly, but it burns in my soul constantly. This is not in exclusion of women; after all, God calls all types of people – women, men, boys, girls, black, white, brown, etc. – to Himself in Christ for salvation. I’m just a guy who longs to see other guys so rocked by the Gospel (i.e., Good News of Jesus) that they will willingly and daily submit their lives to his Lordship; pouring their lives out for the cause of Christ.

This post, however, is not about bemoaning the spiritual lethargy of some Christian brothers but rather how we as pastors, ministry staff and leaders can engage these men for Jesus. What can we do to encourage Christian men to strive to live a life of complete surrender to the Lord Jesus? Here are three brief suggestions:

1. Pray for them

The work of enlightening Christian men to the Gospel’s effect in their lives (forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God and others, adoption into God’s family, etc.) and transforming their desires and devotion rests ultimately in the hands of God the Holy Spirit. And so we need to humbly approach God in prayer, full of faith, passionately appealing for Him to graciously awaken brothers out of their spiritual stupors.

2. Challenge them to biblical discipleship

Jesus didn’t shrink back from speaking of the requirements of being his disciples to those who followed him during his earthly ministry and expecting them to strive to live up to them (of course with the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit), and neither should we. Christian men need to know that since our risen God and Savior Jesus gave his all in death for us, we should, by God’s grace, give our all in life for him. Don’t cheapen the costs of discipleship.  Don’t lower the bar. Call them to reach for it through prayerful dependence on God in Christ.

3. Model a life devoted fully to Jesus

Men will more than likely be more open to our challenges for commitment to Christ when they see us exemplifying it in our lives. As pastors and ministry staff and leaders, we need to follow hard after Jesus. We should be obeying his mission to make disciples, both locally and abroad. We must be in submission to and involved in the life and ministry of our respective local churches. May what Paul said be true of us, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17; ESV)

I pray God will use our finite and feeble efforts to lovingly provoke those brothers who are sitting on the shore of carnality and indifference to plunge themselves into the ocean of Gospel-bred devotion to Jesus…where they belong.

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