Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Week in Review

Interview of The Grace Place pastor, Patrice Turner
                                                                                                                                  I interviewed Pastor Patrice Turner, the lead pastor of The Grace Place. You can also visit her online at I want to share with you her thoughts.

How did you know you were supposed to plant this church?

God told me to. I fought it hard and was pretty certain that I was hearing God wrong. But His call was clear and His confirmation was compelling. When I first knew what I was hearing Him say, I spoke to one of my mentors about it and said an emphatic, "No!" He encouraged me to pray about it and for a long time I refused to do so. My reasoning? As long as I didn't ask God a direct question, He wouldn't give me a direct answer and I was running from this responsibility big time.

Was this a difficult choice to make?

Yes and no. Yes - Because I had worked so closely with pastors I knew firsthand the full scope of their call. It was very hard for me to believe and then to accept that God would call me (this little Muslim girl from the West Side of Chicago) to this monumental and awesome task.

No, because once I did pray about it and knew with certainty that this was what God had for my life, the decision was no longer mine. His Will always has its way.

We all know when we desire to do the things of God, the devil gets busy to try and discourage us, or stop us, how did you handle any difficulties?

Let me tell you, when I finally said yes the devil got BUSY! Men and women who have known me and worked with me and prayed with me and praised me all of my saved life, all of my ministry suddenly either wouldn't speak to me at all or said cruel things about me and my ministry. Some, who knew and were in prayerful agreement with the church plant, quickly changed their tunes when others began to speak against the church. Worse still, some praised me to my face and rip me and the church to shreds behind my back.

I knew it was coming and I purposed in my mind early on that (1) God had not made a mistake in His purpose for me - Period. (2) I would handle all opposition, all demeaning comments, all roadblocks, all the moves of the enemies with grace and class. (3) I never, ever let anyone see me sweat.

What steps did you have to take to get the church opened? And how long was the process?

The process was about two years long from hearing God's voice to the opening service.

I am a huge proponent of reading. Books are the most economical, most easily accessible form of education available. I read every book I could get my hands on about God's will, church planting, leadership, church growth and prayer.

I set up a network of coaches. These men and women (some local, some all over the country) have been an unbelievable source of strength and advice. All are Senior Pastors, some are monumental in the COG Movement, and some are former church planters. Together they supply me with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that is invaluable. Every church planter should have a team of coaches and support.

I attended conferences specifically for church planters and surrounded myself with people who have successfully planted churches.

I shared my vision and built my team carefully using discretion and prayer. I searched for and selected a facility. I prayed a lot.

Who helped you or inspired you in this endeavor?

God. The coaches mentioned above. My Senior Pastor. My family (husband and four children). CMA - the Church Multiplication Association. Dr. Ron Fowler. Bishop C Milton Grannum. Far too many people to list.

Now that the church has been open for a while, what things have you seen that encourages you about the work? What do you hope to accomplish?

The genuine interest in a different way of doing church. God's Word is unchanging, but the methodology that we use to reach His people does have to change with the times. The slow but steady acceptance of The Grace Place has been very encouraging. My family (mother and siblings) acceptance of the church is an amazing source of encouragement to me. The most encouraging thing, hands down, is the look of the face of someone in the congregation when the Word 'clicks' for them. Way cool.

What is it that the body of Christ can do to help you in this mission?

The extended Body of Christ can help me in this mission in simple ways. Be accepting of my role as Lead Pastor. Be accepting of my congregation. Be willing to share resources. If none of those things are possible, the next best thing to do is to just let us be - just let us be whom God called us to be and pray for us that His Will be done - that's my prayer for the Body of Christ worldwide. Period.

We often think of missions as going over seas, but what would you tell someone about reaching the lost "in their own backyard" or the mission being where God plants them?

I firmly believe that the church does have to be missional, but, yes, I think that has to start at 'home'. Look around you and see what needs there are in your community. Meet the real, day-to-day felt needs of God's people rather than giving them what you think they need. If you ask people, they'll tell you and if you pay attention to them, they'll show you.

Be original too but don't reinvent the wheel. For instance when we do our back to school drive, rather than handing out a back pack with all purpose school supplies, The Grace Place will invite parents and students to bring in their school supply list and then we'll purchase the items on that list. We'll also extend back to school time to our local community college and buy college text books for selected students. Often that added cost is prohibitive for many. Also, we might not cut grass but we will paint trim, or install new windows or give a single mom a day off from mommy-ing, or a married couple a chance to have a date night.

You mention that reading was a key instrument that you used to help you, what books would you recommend for someone interested in church planting? As well as what books would you recommend to use even to help one in their devotional life? We know the Bible is key, so what other books would you recommend?

Whew! I'd recommend any and every thing written by John Maxwell but especially Talent Is Never Enough, The 360 Degree Leader and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

Any and every thing by Chuck Swindoll. Brilliant!
Any and every thing by Steve Sjogren. Good. good stuff.
The Big Idea by Dave Ferguson. Simply wonderful. Common sense on paper.
Unchristian by Dave Kinnaman. A good look at what the past and current generation thinks about church and how we can help shape that view and best meet those needs.

Planting Fast Growing Churches by Stephen Gray.
Transforming Church by Kevin Ford. Courageous reading for courageous pastros.
Shaped by God's Heart by Milfred Manitrea. Good reading about the mission of the church.
Did I Get Out Of Bed For This? by Dave Edwards. Encouraging and humorous.
Ten Most Common Mistakes Made By New Church Starts by Griffith & Easum. I'm a firm believer in learning from other peoples mistake, so as not to repeat them.

You mentioned that your family has accepted the Grace Place and that has been encouraging for you, what specifically do you think drew your family to the church?

I think they came to support me and in the process of that, are opening up to the Word of God and its effect on their lives. The reason anyone comes to church is not as important to me as the fact that they come and that they keep coming and let God lead them to change their lives.

You mentioned that the body of Christ can help in several ways, sharing resources, acceptance of the body of believers there at Grace Place and your role as her pastor. As a minister what resources specifically could I lend to you to help your work at Grace Place? What about a lay leader, or a believer that simply wants to see you succeed in this mission, what specific things can we do to help?

Pray, pray, pray! Then visit, encourage and invite others to visit, sow a seed.

I love your ideas regarding meeting the needs of people, such as filling the children's list for back to school. This shows a clear look at where people are, why do you think this is important for a pastor and/or church to understand?

Decide whether its more important for you to help than it is for someone to be helped. Too often churches and even people in every day life help in ways that don't really help. Rather than give people what you perceive their need to be, ask them, or better yet pay attention to them, and give them what they actually need.

As a new church, what are some of your methods to developing leaders, ministers, etc.? And do you think it is important to develop and train leaders?

One of the most asked questions in the world is, what on earth am I here for? People are looking for ways to serve. It's important that we develop leaders in two directions. Leading out - finding what the Body of Christ needs and being willing to meet that need. and Leading in - finding out what God's purpose is for you and taking the lead in getting the training needed to fulfill that purpose.

You mentioned one of the most important things is to see when the word clicks for someone, why do you feel this is so important?

A sermon is just a lecture until it moves in someone's soul. When the message reverberates in a person for the first time and moves them to change their lives - there is no more important moment in life for that individual or for that pastor or leader who lead them to see the absolute need for Christ.

While we cannot predict where we will be in the next year or two, what is your vision for The Grace Place for the next year or two?

I pray that God will lead us right to where He wants us to be. That might be in a 2,000 seat church ministering all around the world. It might be in a 100 seat rented facility meeting the needs of our community. In two years I hope we are meeting needs physically, emotionally, spiritually, even financially as needed in the live of God's people. In two years I want the GP to be a felt presence and a place where real people encounter a very real God.

I forgot to ask this first, but what did you chose the name the Grace Place for the church?

I wanted people to understand that this new church is a place of acceptance and compassion. None of us are perfect or worthy or deserving of the favor of God but we're all recipients of His love and grace. I chose the name The Grace Place because all of us are hanging on by the grace of God. "There but for the grace of God, goes I."

In closing, I am thankful for Pastor Turner's time and my prayers are that God continues to bless.

The Week in Review

A Paper of Reflection of God’s Mission

God is the originator of mission. God brings men and women into his plan to take their place in missions. Believers are not able to successfully carry out God’s mission without the understanding, training and equipping for missions. When believers do not have the right motives or prepare properly for missions, there can be problems. Author, Bruce Wilkinson’s experienced problems in Africa and returned feeling defeated. The pitfalls of his trip will be discussed using the mission material covered.

God continually seeks to draw fallen men and women back to a right relationship. God’s plan for redemption was in place even before man walked upon the face of the earth. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Ephesians 1:4).

The question is, who is the originator of mission? Author Gailyn Van Rheenen, in his book, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions states, “God the originator of the mission of deliverance, then sought a person to carry out his mission” (15). In this example, Moses has been given the assignment to be God’s missionary of deliverance to the Israelites (Ex. 3:10). Moses looks at himself and finds faults in himself that would prevent the mission from being completed. Moses complains that he would not know what to tell the people and that his speech is not good enough. Moses has the wrong idea about missions. This is the problem with many believers today. Believers think it is in their power they will accomplish the task. God was telling Moses it is not in self, but in God that the mission is accomplished.

Rheenen states it this way, “At least five specific applications of the ‘Mission of God’ can be made: First, if mission flows from the character and nature of God, it cannot be neglected by the church…Second, since the mission is of God, God will equip people for the task…Third, the ‘Mission of God’ enables Christian missionaries to understand themselves under God’s sovereignty…Fourth, the ‘Mission of God’ implies sacrifice…Finally, this perspective enables the Christian communicator to recognize that because the mission is God’s it will succeed” (19).

An important step for a believer to take in becoming successful on the mission field is to understand how Jesus accomplished the mission. Robert E. Coleman, in his book, The Master Plan of Evangelism states, “ Not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of his goal. That is why it is so important to observe the way Jesus maneuvered to achieve his objective. The Master disclosed God’s strategy of world conquest. He had confidence in the future precisely because he lived according to that plan in the present” (24). If a believer is to fulfill the mission of God, he must like Jesus, never lose sight of the goal. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul speaks of having Christ as your goal and pressing toward that goal. Everything else is a secondary or defective goal. It is the same with missions. The primary goal should be out of the love for God and his purpose. Secondary motives, which are based on preaching Christ for humanitarian or personal reasons, are not correct motives but they do not have to stop one from being effective for the Lord (Rheenen, 42).

Jesus called men to him and set about showing them by his actions and his words how to live for God. “Hence, Jesus did not urge his disciples to commit their lives to a doctrine, but to a person who was the doctrine, and only as they continued in his Word could they know the truth” (Coleman, 56).

Coleman explains the process Jesus used to prepare his disciples for the mission of evangelizing the world. Jesus selected his disciples, not based on background but on willingness to follow. He then associated with them and allowed them to see him living out the mission. Jesus then equipped them (consecrated and imparted to them) with what they needed to achieve the mission. He also demonstrated to them how to do it. He prayed and gave them an example of what prayer looked like. He next gave the disciples an assignment to go out two by two. He gave them the instruction to follow on the mission. Jesus supervised them with the purpose of reproducing himself within their hearts and actions.

This is still the process that one can use today to equip others to understand the truth of the Bible and prepare them for missions. When presenting the message, one must be willing to meet an individual where they are. This is how Jesus spoke to the people. He gave them models that they could understand. He used the things they were familiar with and explained the deeper things of God. He took time with them and in love showed them the truth of God. In the book, Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult, the author Nick Pollard states, “I shall always remember a student telling me how he had become a Christian in one of my missions. He said that it was the open debates which had made the difference for him. But it turned out that it wasn’t any clever answers to the difficult questions that helped him especially. Rather, he said it was the loving and gracious way in which I had treated the aggressive questioners who where trying to have a go at me” (25).

Recently, I read an article about the Prayer of Jabez author Bruce Wilkinson. The article was in Christianity Today regarding his leaving Africa. I want to first state this is not a condemnation of Bruce Wilkinson or his vision only an observation of what pitfalls he encountered because of a lack of preparation.

In an article in Christianity Today titled Mr. Jabez Goes to Africa, the author Timothy C. Morgan, talks about Bruce Wilkinson’s decision to go to Africa. Wilkinson describes how he felt God’s call on him to go into missions. He immediately organized a company, CoMission to educate ministry in Russia (5). He set about creating the finish line (his goal), which was to train 120,000 Bible teachers to influence the top 2 percent of the world population (5-6). By the end of 2002, WorldTeach had 33,374 Bible teachers in 82 nations. WorldTeach was a bottom-up strategy. Strategy as defined by Rheenen is “the practical working out of the will of God within a cultural context. Missionaries ask, ‘How does God desire that we minister within this context?’ Seeking God’s will for the culture, they work with national leaders to develop creative, God-centered, biblically critiqued strategies with well-defined goals” (140).

When one looks at the numbers, this seems to be a great success and the future looks good. However, Bruce Wilkinson leaves Africa in 2005 because he is discouraged, and spiritually broken from the ordeal. What are some of the things that went wrong? Again, this is not a criticism of his method but simply an observation of the methodology he uses.

After his launch of WorldTeach, he began to move towards the next project, which was in Africa. He said God gave him a heart for the children of AIDS/HIV parents of Africa and he wanted to do something about it. In Christianity Today, the article, Jabez Author Quits Africa, Timothy C. Morgan writes, “The center would house, educate, and feed children whose parents had died of AIDS. It would also have a golf course and other tourist attractions. Swaziland, located between Mozambique and South Africa, is one of Africa’s smallest nations and has one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rates. Dream for Africa had hoped to house 10,000 children on a 32,500-acre complex by the end of 2005” (1).

While this seems like a great project there are flaws within the planning of this endeavor. First, Bruce Wilkinson’s motives were not the fundamental motives needed for missions. The fundamental motive needs to reflect the will of God (Rheenen, 38). Wilkinson’s motive was to help people’s physical needs. Even though this is an admirable undertaking, this motive is a secondary motive. Rheenen states, “Westerners are frequently touched by the poverty of the world in comparison to their own wealth. They are drawn to missions as a response to human poverty. They desire to use their medical, technical, and teaching skills to upgrade the physical and socioeconomic conditions of people…sometimes, however, this response is no different from that of philanthropists who desire to improve the world” (42).