Welcome to Missional Journey

...thoughts on Missional churches, missional people and how a church planting movement might be fostered in the Texas District, LCMS.

Some have been gleaned from others who are writing, speaking and living with church planting everyday. Some are my own thoughts from my own experience with church planters and missional churches. Your comments and reactions are welcomed.

God's Blessings as you continue on your own missional journey.
Paul Krentz
Mission and Ministry Facilitator
Texas District, LCMS

Monday, January 20, 2014

Can My Church Plant a Church?

That's a question Faith Lutheran Church; Georgetown has been asking itself for the past several years.  Faith Lutheran Church is where my wife Becky and I have worshiped, served and been nurtured in our faith life for more than 18 years.  God has blessed Faith with healthy growth, caring Pastors and DCE's and leaders who are willing to risk for the sake of Kingdom growth.

A major focus of my work for the Texas District is in serving as a catalyst, resource and mentor to churches planting churches and to church planters.  When I was asked to chair a Church Planting Parenting Team at Faith two years ago, I was excited and just a little bit scared as I was to find out first hand whether all the things I had worked on with other churches in would be a blessing in my own church.

Two and a half years later, Faith has been led by God to move forward with launching a church plant.  Our staff, elders, church council and voters each voted unanimously that we should do this.  Members are looking at this as an investment in the Kingdom rather than as a loss of resources.  That's exciting to me!  I again have been blessed by being asked to chair the Call Committee for our Church Planter and we continue to move forward as Jesus leads.  We are excited to see who God brings as Planter and as the people to be discipled.

We learned some things along the way.  Here are a few of our key learnings leading up to our decision to plant a new church:

  • Disciples in the local church must passionately believe that the church exists for those not yet part of God's Kingdom or they will not move toward planting a church
  • Churches planting churches don't lose people; they invest them in the work of gathering a harvest.
  • Parenting a church has little to do with size of a churches attendance but rather on the size of its heart.
  • A byproduct of a healthy church is the willingness to invest in reproduction.
  • God calls some to go and plant a new church. He calls others to stay and keep the parent church strong and healthy.
  • Church planting churches give up the "myth of acquisition."  (Examples: "We will start a new congregation after our building project is paid for;" "Once we have added a couple of new staff members we will be in a position to try this;" "If we can increase our budget to X dollars, then we'll be ready to plant a church.")  Instead, they have learned it is about God's time to plant.  They have learned that it is much like having children; "If you wait to have children until you can afford it, you never will."
  • Churches planting churches have already cultivated a culture of missional generosity.
  • Churches planting churches care more about the people in the new field of work than cloning a replica of their current church in a new location.
Not all of these statements were true about our church when our team began its work, but we have seen how the Spirit has faithfully been working in our leaders and disciples so that right now we are eager for a planter to arrive and begin this work with tons of support and prayers.  We can't wait to see what Jesus will do with us.

What could be done if your church wanted to begin a discernment process of your own?

  • Charter a Church Parenting Team who would work with your Texas District Mission and Ministry Facilitator to research, study and make a Spirit led recommendation to your leaders and congregation.
  • Communicate a Biblical understanding of parenting a church to your congregation.
  • Create awareness of the process of change needed.
  • Carefully wait for the Kairos time for a Spirit led decision by your congregation.

    Is the Spirit prompting you and your congregation to explore church planting?  Let me know how I can help.  I am ready to meet with you and other leaders at any time.  It is the highest priority!

Friday, September 13, 2013

When Less is More - Gideon and The Church

When it comes to investing in the mission of Jesus to bring the Gospel to people, the "church" is often tempted to think in the following ways:

"It would be nice to plant a church, but we don't have the financial resources."

"We could do outreach to that community, but our people are busy enough just keeping our local church going."

Satan loves to tempt followers of Jesus to function from a mindset of scarcity rather than a confidence in God's abundance.

Gideon, when told that he was chosen by God to defeat the Midianites operated from a mindset of scarcity.    His response was 

Judges 6:15 

"But Lord, " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

God's answer was

Judges 6:14 - 16
The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you? . . . I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together." 

With God's promise Gideon gathers an army of 32,000 men.  God twice reduced Gideon's army because He knew Gideon was seeking to operate out of his own human strength.

Judges 7:2-3 
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, {3} announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'" So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

Gideon obeyed but once again God reduced his army

Judges 7:4-7 
But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." {5} So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." {6} Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. {7} The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place."

When by all human calculations, it looked like Gideon should lose, he was nevertheless obedient.  God gave victory.  No mindset of scarcity here - just a confidence in God's abundance.  Truly Less was More!

It is absolutely true that God provide all that is needed to accomplish His mission in the world.  It will be done regardless of whether we take action or not.  But, I for one don't want to miss out on the exciting Kingdom adventure God has in store for me as I have the privilege of being part of that adventure.  That is what Jesus wants for every believer and every church.  While we might be tempted to think there is not enough to be in mission, God takes what may appear to be little and shows us that it is enough.  He did it with Gideon and He will do it with you and your church.


Friday, September 6, 2013

How Is The Money We Give for Missions Used?

  • Does the money your congregation give for missions go to prop up a tired institution?
  • Is most of the money used for administration and staff salaries?
  • Is the Texas District LCMS a good steward of the financial resources contributed by my congregation?
  • Should we continue to provide funds to the Texas District?
I believe the Texas District is a faithful and prudent partner of its congregations and missions, using the provided resources for maximum Kingdom impact.

Look at the pie chart below.  It tells the story of what I believe to be mission focused resource use.

Total annual budget for 2013: $7,120,000

  • Percentage allocated for missions and church planting: 73.8%
  • Percentage allocated for helping congregations with the call process, school ministry and other ministry needs: 17.8%
  • Percentage allocated for administration and finance: 8.4% 

Mission Facts
  • Mission funds given as ministry grants (non-returnable) $3.5 million (49% of district budget)
  • Mission funds (returnable dollars) loaned at 0% interest: $840,000 (11.8% of district budget)
  • Mission consultation and church planter assessment $877,449 (12.3% of district budget)
  •  Texas District Missions fund and facilitate nearly 50 missions with over 100 missionaries reaching nearly 9,000 people weekly with the Gospel.
  •  Additionally, the Texas District sends $1,745,000 to the LCMS for Missions, Seminaries, Universities, Human Care and others (2nd to only the Michigan District who has double our baptized membership.
Your gifts to the Texas District are needed and carefully stewarded for maximum mission impact.  Thank You!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Open Your Eyes to Harvest in Unexpected Places - My Recent Experience


One out of five non-Christians in North America doesn't know any Christians.  A just completed study found that 20% of non-believers in North America really do not "personally know" any Christ-followers.  That's 13,447,000 people—about the population of metropolitan Los Angeles or Istanbul. (Christianity Today, Abby Stocker, 08.19.13)

One of the reasons for this reality is that disciples of Jesus don't always believe the words of Jesus to His disciples in John 4:35 "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest."  The context for these words of Jesus was the woman at the well of Sychar in Samaria.  The disciples had gone into town to buy bread while Jesus gently led this Samaritan woman to faith. Verse 27 tells us that "his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman."  They start a conversation about physical bread and he says "Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields!  they are ripe for harvest."

While Jesus sat at the well, tired from traveling, whom did the disciples pass on the road to the Samaritan village to buy bread?  In all likelihood they passed the woman coming to the well.  They missed her while Jesus found her.  They saw the same person as Jesus but they assumed there was no possibility of a Spiritual harvest with a woman from a Samaritan town.  Jesus tells them to open their eyes.  Don't say that the harvest is four months away...it is all around you right now.

Too often, I have assumed the people I meet in everyday life are not "harvestable" by the Holy Spirit, passing them by, believing that they couldn't possibly be interested. That is probably why so many non-believers don't even know one believer!  I am thankful that I get occasional wake-up calls from the Holy Spirit that challenge my assumptions.

Just two weeks ago, a doctor whom I have been visiting for three years told me "I have something exciting to tell you.''  He said it with a big smile.  For background, this man is brilliant and educated.  He has an MD a PhD and an MBA.  He comes from a non-Christian background and an ethnic group different from mine.  We have had ongoing conversations about Jesus, church, Christians, etc. for 3 years.  I would not have thought he would be interested in a conversation about Jesus, but each visit over the last three years turned to Spiritual matters.  Each visit found me thinking "Oh, if I had only said this...or only said that."  I guessed I had made no difference.  Now for his announcement!  "I have something exciting to tell you...in April the Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me that everything I had been hearing about Jesus was true."  He told me he knew some might think him crazy, but he had no doubt at all who was speaking to him.  He has since been baptized and gone through instruction in the Christian faith.

He even told me that I was one of only two people he had ever discussed faith matters with and thanked me.  I cried when I got into my car, overwhelmed that Jesus could use me in even a small way to walk with him on the path to faith in Jesus.

So, for me, the phrase "Open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvests." has new and richer meaning.  I am asking God to open my eyes and help me to make no assumptions that neighbors, ethnically different, generationally different or socio-economically different people are uninterested in Jesus.  I am praying that everyone I meet will hear and experience Jesus from their interactions with me.  I don't want anyone around me being able to say "I don't even know a Christian."  It is a big prayer but we have a big Savior who wants all to be included in His harvest.