Is BiVocational The Future For Church Leaders?

My BiVocational Story And How You Can Take The Next Step To Greater Impact And Increased Income

In August 2014 my wife and I left a steady and somewhat comfortable position to launch into the uncertain waters of church planting. Our former church financially supported us for four months, but we otherwise didn’t know how we’d survive.


5 Benefits of Multiethnic Churches

THE Answer to the "Race" Issue of Our Time

Racial tension and conflict has flooded the news lately. Rather than point fingers and cast blame, I submit THE answer is quite simple. Not easy or quick, but transformational.

Racial tension


Racial (I prefer using the word ethnic) tensions exist in large part because we don’t listen to one another. It’s hard to understand someone who is different without knowing them. How many ethnically and culturally different people do we really know?

Restoration Church Next Steps

Excited and scared! Those words describe how my wife and I feel about this season of our lives and ministry. We are excited to be on a church planting team, and to be raising prayer and financial support. We are scared as we step out in faith like never before! Have you ever felt that way? Here’s my personal update and a few lessons I’m learning that might help you navigate a similar season of life.

Restoration Church

After years of preparation that included doctoral studies, reading stacks of books, attending conferences, church planting boot camp, and formal church planter assessments… we’re stepping forward to be part of Restoration Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland!

Change Ahead! A look back, a look forward!

My blog has been dormant for a while! I’ve been working as a seasonal UPS Delivery Car Driver since October. There were a few stretches the last few weeks I didn’t see my kids for a few days! Change ahead!


New Years gives us all an opportunity to reflect back and look forward. 2014 was a year full of change for me and my family. 2015 will be an even bigger year of change.

BIG Transition: Plans to Launch Restoration Church!

Life is full of transitions. From each stage of physical growth, schools, friends, marital status, churches, housing, and jobs. The last few months has been full of BIG transitions for our family. It’s a lame excuse, but that’s what’s kept me from writing. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve written a post! I apologize for not keeping you updated! This post outlines the transitions we’re going through that will culminate in launching Restoration Church in October 2015!

Restoration Church

Highlights from the 2014 Exponential Church Planting Conference

The #Exponential Church Planting Conference is top flight all the way. Great content, great people, and always full of surprises. This year was my fourth year attending and the experience lived up to everything I hoped it would.

Exponential 2014 highlights

Here are some of my notes from various speakers in the pre-conference, main sessions, and workshops.


Matt Larson (@Matt_larson): Creating a Culture of Reproducing and multiplication
  1. Giving away leadership demonstrates that its not about you.
  2. Its all about and for God. Are you okay with that?
  3. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak to others in ways that may not be completely in line with what you were already thinking.


Shawn Lovejoy (@shawnlovejoy) – Simple Systems That Work

7 things we need to think through to keep the system simple…

  1. Think through the WHY behind the WHAT
  3. Think CYCLICAL not LINEAR.
  5. Create SIMPLE Steps
  6. Leverage the worship service for sign ups
  7. Be RIDICULOUS about follow up!


Nicky Gumbel (@nickygumbel) – Can the Nation be Changed?
  1. Cleaning nets is important, but its not the purpse of the nets. The nets are for catching fish.
  2. Enough infighting in the church. We need to unite around Jesus!
  3. Just because things are going down doesn’t mean they will continue to go down. #ThingsCanChange.


 Dave Gibbons (@davegibbons)
  1. You don’t have to be big to make an impact.
  2. The Holy Spirit is the X factor of loving people
  3. Evangelism and discipleship are all about supernatural love. Then it becomes FUN!


Vince Antonucci (@vinceantonucci)
  1. It made Jesus sick to see people without God. Does it make you sick?
  2. If you’re not living for His cause, you’re not really living!


Jim Burgen (@JimBurgen)
  1. What level of lostness are you comfortable with?
  2. The number one question asked of Jesus: why does He hang out with sinners?I won’t follow wimpy Jesus! I want to follow KING Jesus!
    1. Do you really want sinners in your church?
    2. If you do, they will show up.
    3. Don’t plant a church that promises bread but serve up rocks!
    4. You okay with sinners coming into your church? It’s a mess!
  3. Let’s plant some churches that drop the rocks and give hungry people bread.


Larry Osborne (@larryosborne)
  1. The people who are best at drive-by guiltings are often the worst at reaching people.


Alan Hirsch (@alanhirsch)
  1. We will fail unless we get discipleship right. Most churches suck at it!
  2. The church growth movement basically misinterpreted the great commission. Thought it was all about evangelism, when the commission is making disciples who obey Jesus!
  3. If the Great Commission IS all about making disciples, where did we get it all wrong?
  4. Incarnation, God became a man. What ever happened to this part of the equation, HELLO?
  5. Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Jesus!


Damian Boyd (@damianlboyd)
  1. God doesn’t want us to hide the light, He wants us to put it on display.
  2. Our job as church planters is taking the gospel to places that are dark.
  3. Doing NOTHING should NEVER be an option!
  4. Your voice is necessary! They should know your name. You matter!


Michael Frost (@michaelfrost6)
  1. If we don’t get the opportunity to announce the rule and reign of Jesus, then we aren’t being #missional.
  2. Col 4:2-6 – two-pronged to approach to role of the evangelist:
    1. There are some who are gifted evangelists who have either a local or trans-local call. Paul asked for prayers for those gifted as evangelists.

    • Then he says, as for YOU who are NOT gifted as evangelists.

    2. Paul doesn’t think we are all evangelists, we are not all going to boldly proclaim the gospel. For most of us, our primary mode of proclaiming the gospel is in response to people’s questions.

    • This implies we are living lives worth questioning! This is your primary missionary lifestyle.
    • If you live like them, then what do they have to question your life about?
    • Live a life that evokes curiosity, that’s so freaking weird, that people around you want to know who you are, to invite you to their parties!
    • A fine upstanding middle class suburban lifestyle is not intriguing!
    • If no one is asking you questions, you’re doing it all wrong!


Hugh Halter (@hughhalter)
  1. The way of Jesus…


  1. True godliness deeply dives INTO the world!
  2. The MOST righteous one ever walked without judging sinners.
  3. We’ve got some work to do folks. #DIVEIN
  4. Don’t be afraid, the people around you should actually like you!


DJ Strickland (@djstrickland)
  1. The Holy Spirit is always interrupting our plans, that’s how we know the Spirit is a woman!
  2. If we’re honest about what witness is, we’re going to have to change the way we SEE!
  3. Jesus sees people no one else sees
  4. We need to see Jesus the way He really is so we can see people the way they really area.


James Meeks (@revjamesmeeks)
  1. The key to our success in getting results = preaching the announcements
  2. Whatever it is you want people to do, make it a sermon


Matt Chandler (@mattchandler74)
  • Luke 15
    1. What makes preaching distinctively preaching is the Word of God.
    2. Jesus enters into the world views, and then reconstruct them redemptively. Gospel preaching deconstructs and reconstructs.
    3. When I was growing up timeout was what happened after dad knocked you out!
    4. Don’t be sharing other people hanging out with lost people stories
    5. Summary points
      1. Don’t live vicariously through others
      2. Trust the bible. You don’t have to be cute
      3. Trust the Holy Spirit.


Andy Stanley (@andystanley) – Communicating with Unchurched People in the Room

Approach to preaching – “approach is everything”

  1. If you don’t care what people do with what you say, you don’t care about people.
  2. If you’re really committed to reaching un-churched, non-Christains, then from time to time we have to change our approach
  3. I can’t make someone fall in love with Jesus, but I can set up dates.
  4. Challenge: Avoid the phrase “The bible says…” and instead substitute the author.
    1. This communicates that the Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith. Therefore, if there is an error, a problem, a conflict, then there goes the whole Christian faith.
    2. The foundation of the Christian faith is an event… the Resurrection! VITAL!!!
    3. The problem with “the Bible says” is what else the bible says. It’s NOT all equally applicable and relevant.


Choco de Jesus (@PastorChoco)
  1. Engage your church
  2. Engage the community
  3. Engage the city
  4. Engage the world.


Tim Cathcim (@TimCatchim) – Building Effective Teams for Missional Impact: The Fivefold Giftings of Ephesians 4:11 in Team Building
  1. Simple definitions
  • APOSTLE: sent + extend
  • PROPHET: questions + reforms
  • EVANGELIST: tells + invites
  • PASTOR: protects + provides
  • TEACHER: explains (topic) + trains (task)
  1. Hold diversity/unity tightly together. They go hand in hand. CANNOT have a cloning culture. Stay away from cloning, competing or congregating cultures.
  2. The ideal/sweet spot is a collaborating culture.
  3. When common mission glues unity & diversity together = collaborating culture.


QUESTION: (1) for those at Exponential, what were your top highlights? (2) for those NOT at Exponential, what’s your favorite highlight from above?

Exponential East 2014 Preview: 3 Reasons it’s a MUST

The Exponential East Church planting conference takes place April 28-May 1, 2014 in Orlando, FL. This is the largest gathering of church planting leaders in the world. The conference theme is “Seek + Save” and will feature 100+ speakers125+ workshops15+ tracks, & 5,000 church planting leaders.

Exponential 2014 will take a fresh look at evangelism — proclaiming the Good News — as we rethink and challenge some of our old paradigms and rediscover some of Jesus’ old truths. Within the context of discipleship, we will press into five key areas of evangelism:

ReThinking Evangelism | ReThinking Outreach |

ReThinking Witness ReThinking Preaching | ReThinking Commission


This year will be our (my wife Laura and I) fourth year attending Exponential. Every year it’s been challenging, encouraging, and inspiring. This year it has a much different feel though. I can’t let the cat completely out of the bag, but I’ll just say that in the next 12-18 months we believe God wants to use us to launch something new! Much more to come on that in the weeks ahead.

Attending conferences is great. But there are a few things we can do to get the most out of it. Check out this post, 5 Do’s and Don’ts to Make the Next Conference You Attend Radically Beneficial. HERE is another helpful post from @revchadbrooks.

Here are 3 reasons the Exponential Conference is a must: 

1. The Content

There is SO much amazing content offered at this conference. WAY too many options, LOL! But it’s such a mix of people, churches, seasons of life/planting/launching new churches, etc., that there is something for everyone. 

The content at Exponential is broken into at least three categories…

1. Pre-Conference

Two half day sessions before the main conference begins. 
I will attend the Beyond the Call Pre-Conference hosted by Passion for Planting

The description: “developing the launch plan, building a launch team, marketing/outreach, leadership/staffing and creating/funding the vision. We’ll also dive into those practical “have to” topics like legal documentation and your portable church equipment. We all know church planting is hard and we’ll address issues head on with the topic of Planter Heath.”

I’m super pumped about these sessions. The topics deal with the main questions we have about next steps.  

There are 6 other pre-conference tracks. Each of them is loaded with great content.

2. Main Sessions

All of the main sessions will be streamed LIVE and FREE. For dates and times (EDT) of all 10 webcast sessions, consult

The main session topics and speaker line-up:  

Rethinking Evangelism: Nicky Gumbel, Dave Gibbons, Vince Antonucci, Ed Stetzer, John Teter, & Louie Giglio. 

Rethinking Outreach: Jim Bergen, Choco DeJesus, Larry Osborne, Alan Hirsch, & Damian Boyd. 

Rethinking Witness: Michael Frost, Hugh Halter, Danielle Strickland, Craig Groeschel, Jeanne Stevens, & Greg Nettle. 

Rethinking Preaching: James Meeks, Andy Stanley, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, & Dave Ferguson. 

Rethinking the Great Commission: Dave Ferguson, Greg Nettle, Greg Surratt, Matt Chandler, Dave Travis, Oscar Muriu, Dave Ferguson, & Bill Hybels.

3. Workshops

Over 125 workshops are on the menu! Overwhelming??? But amazing opportunities to hear leading practitioners up close. And they’re all recorded and podcast-ed FREE. I listen to workshops from previous years regularly. LOADED with great content.


2. The People

Content is great, but life and ministry is all about people! There are a LOT of people to meet at Exponential! Two groups of people are especially important…

Network Leaders

It’s one thing to fill out forms online, talk on the phone, and Skype. But Exponential gives us the opportunity to meet leaders in person, both formally and informally.
My wife and I will attend an informal BBQ Mon hosted by Stadia, a banquet Tues evening hosted by Stadia, a luncheon Wed hosted by AmbassadorNet and the EFCA, and a dinner party Wed evening hosted by NewThing.

Friends (old and new) 

For the third year in a row my wife and I will be with her sister and husband (my bro-in-law). They planted a few years ago and are praying about being a part of something new. It’s an honor for us to share this week seeking God and dreaming together.

There are many other old friends we look forward to seeing, sharing, laughing, and maybe crying with.

No doubt we will meet and make many new friends. Only God knows the divine appointments that await all 5000+ of us attending!


3. The Experience with my Wife

I’m blessed to have the opportunity to attend Exponential with my wife Laura. We’ve done this the last several years and it’s a highlight every year. We love to debrief and talk about all we’re learning, hearing, and experiencing together. And of course it’s nice to unplug & unwind after hours with my best friend and closest ministry partner!


Exponential Main Sessions STREAMING FREE!

If you’re not able to attend you can watch the main session for FREE! Register HERE. 

This year I will be part of the #Exponential Social Media team. From Mon-Thurs I’ll be tweeting (@ed_choy using #exponential) from the pre-conference, main sessions, and workshops. 


QUESTION: what’s the most significant or favorite church planting resource? 

Should Your Church Be Multiethnic? Consider Demographics and Beauty

There are at least three reasons many churches should be multiethnic. Last week I shared some biblical reasons for multiethnic churches. You can read that HERE. There are at least two more reasons to consider.


The biblical rationale for a multiethnic church is strong. But there are other reasons. Here are two you should consider.

1. Demographics are Shifting SIGNIFICANTLY

There are massive shifts in diversity in America. It is increasingly difficult to say there is little diversity in most places. For example, in November 2005 the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education noted the sweeping changes in the U.S. workforce:

The U.S. workforce (generally ages 25 to 64) is in the midst of a sweeping demographic transformation. From 1980 to 2020, the white working-age population is projected to decline from 82% to 63% (see figure 1). During the same period, the minority portion of the workforce is projected to double (from 18% to 37%), and the Hispanic/Latino portion is projected to almost triple (from 6% to 17%).

While Caucasians are still a large majority, most live in areas where more than 20 percent of the population is non-White. If the church should be a reflection of the community, then most churches should reflect the increasing diversity. When possible, churches should make intentional effort to be multiethnic.

In a November 2013 WSJ article, Conor Dougherty states,

Whites will comprise less than half of the U.S. population by 2042, about eight years earlier than previously thought, according to a report to be released by the Census Bureau.”

In the same article William Frey, senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank added,

We are going to become more diverse in more parts of the country and in more of the age structure sooner.

Gerardo Marti, in his case study on Mosaic Church LA A Mosaic of Believers
(Erwin McManus) says,

The United States continues to become more and more diverse in every societal sphere, bringing a new challenge of integration to both civic and religious organizations.

He goes on to cite three major demographers who suggest that by the year 2050, and some say sooner, America will have no single majority group. The changing face of most domains of society is feeling this shift. However, the majority of churches in America do not yet reflect this new reality.

Consider what McIntosh and McMahan say in their book Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community,

The new ethnic marketplace is forcing government, businesses, and churches to rethink how to speak the language and adopt the culture of the new multi-ethnic and multicultural reality.

The multicultural and multiethnic reality cannot be ignored.


2. Multiethnic Churches are Beautiful

When people from diverse backgrounds come together it’s beautiful! One of history’s great ethnic divide’s was and is between Jews and Gentiles. However, through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that “wall of hostility” or separation has been torn down.
In Ephesians 2:14-16 says,
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Then the Apostle Paul paints a BEAUTIFUL picture of what happens when the two come together,
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
He goes on to say,
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
There is nothing more beautiful than hostile people coming together in peace and unity. Multiethnic churches have the opportunity to put the gospel of grace and peace on display. Imagine what the watching world will think when it sees diverse people walking, working, and worshiping together in unity!

QUESTION: Does your church reflect the demographics of your community? Why or why not?

Velocity14 Reflections

For the last two days I have been in Atlanta, GA for the Velocity14 church planting conference. Last week I wrote about what I was looking forward to. Below are a few of my reflections and take aways from Velocity14.

The theme of Velocity14 was PACE. My core take away is from Shawn Lovejoy. He said “Winning requires running the right race at the right pace.” Everything else revolves around this theme.

In the first main session Shawn Lovejoy challenged all 800+ attendees to write 1, 2, 3. Then, throughout the conference to write down three specific next steps. Here are mine:

1. William Vanderbloemen (@wvanderbloemen) is the founder and CEO of the Vanderbloemen Search Group. His challenge was to take the first 30 minutes of each day to listen to the Shepherd’s voice. Do this for the next 30 days. Feeling the noise of too many voices, I am taking that challenge. I commit to spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word before looking at or listening to anything else.

2. Aubrey Malphurs (@amalphurs) teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary and founder of The Malphurs Group. In his pre-conference session on Leadership he challenged us to clarify our leadership development process in writing. I am going to work on that one day every week for the next month.

3. Derwin Gray (@DerwinLGray) is the founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church. In his breakout session on vision he talked about how to grow as a vision-caster. In the next six months I will spend part of my personal retreat day clarifying God’s vision for my life and ministry.

Here are a few main session and breakout highlights…

Dave Ferguson (@daveferguson)
In his main session Dave asked, “How do we lead a reproducible and sustainable life? Based on Jesus’ example from Luke 2:52 he created 4 gauges. Dave challenged us to evaluate these areas regularly/daily:

  1. Relational – always have time for your kids. “If you blow it at home you’ve blown it!”
  2. Physical – rest/refreshing, exercise & diet
  3. Mental – read, doubt, explore new ideas & dream
  4. Spiritual – relationship with God, the church, and the world

Shawn Lovejoy

  • “Too many pastors want the fame of game day without the pain of training.”
  • “You’re not winning because you’re not training and disciplining yourself to win!”
  • “Train now win later!”
  • “Winning requires running the right race at the right pace.”
  • “Do I trust God enough to run at His pace? Be the best you, faithfully!”

Jeff Vanderstelt (@JeffVanderstelt)

  • “It’s a big mistake to try to go and DO incarnational ministry without the work of the Holy Spirit.”
  • “Do not lead your church in such a way so that your people don’t need the power of God!”

Derwin Gray (@DerwinLGray)

  • “Talking about “I’m going to plant a church!” Huh! Jesus already planted His church 2000 years ago!”
  • How do we keep up with the pace of grace? (Phil 3:7-11)
    1. “Unceasing worship! Is your ministry worth less than Jesus?”
    2. “Identify our idols. Name them and build walls and boundaries.”
    3. “Need to be the CEO of our own spiritual health.”

Shawn Lovejoy & Blake Stanley (@blake_stanley) – Breakout session 3 “Simple Systems That Work”

  1. Think cyclical not linear:  there are multiple entry points into your ministry.
  2. Create simple steps: Make easy on ramps.

Breakout Session 4 – Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson)

  • “Wise men come bearing gifts – give generously”
  • “There are ways of doing church no one has thought of”

7 lessons learned

  1. Enjoy the journey
  2. Get a life
  3. Was trying to be a pastor but not I’m trying to be myself
  4. Think long
  5. Don’t let your budget determine your vision – dream beyond your abilities and resources
  6. Offend Pharisees – you’re going to offend someone right!
  7. Curse barren “fig trees”
  8. BONUS: Your primary ministry is not people, it’s to God!

My soul was deeply refreshed and newly challenged. There were many divine appointments. New friends were made. Many challenges taken.

THANK YOU Velocity14 and Mountain Lake Church for an a great experience!

Velocity 2014: What I’m Looking Forward To

Velocity is premier church planting conference hosted by Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, GA Feb 17-18, 2014. The emphasis of the conference is the speed or pace in church planting. It’s not about being fast or taking it slow. It’s all about keeping pace with the Holy Spirit!


I’ve attended the Exponential Church Planting Conference in Orlando, FL several times. Every time I’m challenged, encouraged, and inspired. But this will be my first year attending Velocity. There are several things I’m looking forward to…

1.The Content.

I’m looking forward to hearing the main session speakers. This is a top flight lineup. Listed in alphabetical order: Mark Batterson, Jeff Bethke, Rick Bezet, Dave Ferguson, Derwin Gray, Brandon Hatmaker, Pete Hise, Shawn Lovejoy, William Vanderbloemen, and Jeff Vanderstelt. If that’s not enough the list of breakout speakers is goes on an on. Every one of them brings a ton to the church planting and leadership conversation.

Add to that the four pre-conference conversations: marriage, missional, financial, and leadership. I am excited to participate in the leadership conversation with Aubrey Malphurs. I’m sure the other three conversations will be solid too.

I’m looking forward to hearing what God is doing around the country and world. With all the bad news in our world, I’m excited to hear how God’s Kingdom is expanding.

2. The People.

I’m looking forward to meeting church planters and leaders from all over. It’s one thing to read a book, blog, or listen to a podcast. But church planting is challenging and it’s easy to feel alone and isolated. Velocity is a great opportunity to connect with old friends and make new ones.

3. The Surprises.

I’m looking forward to being surprised. My prayer is for divine encounters and connections. I can’t wait to be surprised by the Holy Spirit! Who knows what life altering encounter Velocity will bring into my life!

4. The Next Steps.

I’m looking forward to discerning what next steps God is calling me to take. The trip won’t be worth the investment just to sit and soak. God will be speaking. I pray for a listening heart and courage to act on what I hear.

QUESTION: if you’re going to Velocity 2014 what are you looking forward to? I hope to see/meet you there!

If you’re not there in person every main sessions will streamed live. Join the conversation. Then I’d love to hear your take aways and next steps.