Monthly Archives: August 2008

If you are a church planter out there, you’re gonna love this conversation!  I decided to make a few comments on what I’ve learned about money over the last two years.  First of all, you should know that I firmly believe that money will fall out of trees if you shake them hard enough.  I have no grasp of the sentence, “We don’t have the money to do that.”  I don’t believe it and I intend to prove the world wrong.

We started this church with one $25,000 grant.  That is absolutely nothing.  It’s pretty much chump change in light of the astounding mountains to move in the church planting world.  The only reason we have not folded in failure is the consistent, faithful families that started this church with us (39 awesome people, but half of that number represents children).  We have also had a few larger checks along the way that have made all of the difference.  I’ll write about it later, but we were about one week away from near bankruptcy when New Life in Renton, Washington took an offering that propelled us to the next level.

Along the way, God has consistently provided as long as we kept putting ourselves out there.  When things looked bleak in the bank account, you could hear this sentence often, “Don’t stop spending.  Think smart and spend what you need to stay excellent.”  Don’t get me wrong, we also had to be very resourceful… became our best friend.  We liquidated anything we weren’t using to pay the bills.  We are the “greenest” church out there because we are forced to recycle everything.  A piece of plywood used in a stage set will be reused a dozen times for whatever the latest cause!  If an offering envelope falls on the floor, our vultures will swoop down to make sure it is available next week. 

And here we are again at a crossroads of decision making in the financial world.  As Mark and I pray, we feel that North Creek needs a semi-permanent residence.  Being in a school has limitations that hurt.  Advertising, perceptions, damages to our ever-moving technical equipment…it’s a constant juggling act of rental facilities and replacement issues.

As we walk down this path we have discovered that once again we need about $25,000.  Isn’t that ironic?  We are back to where we started two years ago, but with a new drive and a new direction.  And mark my words…just as God has provided before, He will again.  It’s His church and He loves this community far more than we ever will.  Why wouldn’t He find a way to give us $25,000 to change someone’s life?

So church planters out there, hear me loud and clear…shake the tree, money will fall out.  Put yourself out there with a dream, a passion, a purpose.  Walk in unwavering faith and determination.  Love people so deeply and unconditionally that it hurts…the money is not worth the time you are spending thinking about it.  Think about excellence and giving people your best.  Money is just a tool and there’s plenty of it out there.  $25,000 is just chump change to someone!  (Of course, if $25,000 is chump change to you, you can give online at …and I’d love to meet you!)

I understand the weight that terrible finances can be on leadership…been there, done that, hated it, don’t want to be there again.  But I will tell you that in the midst of crisis, we held firm to what we believe about leadership.  We believed in our team, blessed them to the best of our ability, thought with creativity, and never whined to our people about making a greater sacrifice. 

So, in the spirit of my tree analogy…hang in there!

Here’s some funny memories from Kris that will make you laugh today:


North Creek is a church of purpose.  Everything we do is for a particular and well thought out reason.  Even our stage decorations have a purpose.  In fact, the win for the Stage Creativity Ministry is to create an auditorium environment that people will tell others about when they leave.  Have you heard about coffeechurch’s crazy stage decorations yet?  If you live anywhere near Vancouver, Washington you just might!  Until then, here’s a list of some of the odd things we’ve heard said in the midst of North Creek’s preparations for our stage decorations:


1.     Joe, could you go rub Kylie’s back, I need to make 43 more cups of mashed potatoes.

2.     Doctor, can you get tetanus from chicken wire.

3.     How much paint do you need to cover six eight foot men?

4.     Where can I get 1,000 pounds of flour?

5.     Do they carry that at Target?

6.     Can you push that while you breastfeed?

7.     Mom, you drivin’ me crazy…you walking me too long!

8.     We’ll only have to have a fridge on the stage for one week.

9.     We’d only have to unplug one cable….

10.   Is somebody writing this down?

11.   I can’t take the baby chicks home, I have cats.

12.   Exactly how many rolls of sod does it take to cover the stage?

13.  If you think Mary will let you have open flame in the lobby, you’re crazy.


There is a long list of challenges in church planting.  I wouldn’t trade our problems for a traditional church’s problems, but nonetheless, the challenges are sometimes daunting.  I think that the most recent realization is the long term reality of growth.

When you open the doors of your church plant, I think there’s a hope that people will just naturally flood through your doors and the hard work will be over.  After months of planning and advertising and working, you really need to believe that after opening Sunday, you get to rest.  However, Monday morning comes with the harsh reality that you need to do everything all over again for next week…and the next week…and the next week. 

The reality is that the launch of a church is not a sprint, but a marathon.  We are right at 100 services and we have mastered some parts of this church plant thing.  Set up, tear down, budgets, responsibilities, getting people involved in ministry…we have it almost to an art form.

But what I have not mastered is patience.  I want Vancouver to be reached with the love of Jesus and my personal timeline is NOW.  However, in the irony of God, His timeline is much wider than mine.  He is more concerned about the journey…both of the individuals who will come to North Creek and the church itself.  He wants us to be molded and shaped precisely how He wants us, which might take a day or it might take 40 years!

I’m in it for the long haul, but my spirit is anxious.  Anxious to see with my eyes what God has put in my heart so long ago.

What an amazing day at church today!  We baptized another nine people at Klineline Pond this morning.  Congrats to Tamara, Kevin, Liana, Lori, Wyatt, Kylie, Laura, Lexi, and Heather! 

It was such an awesome statement of what God is doing in the lives of people!  Our God is living and active!  As I videotaped each testimony this morning, I couldn’t help but appreciate the vastness of God.  Each story was completely different and each person’s journey lead them through a multitude of experiences.  And yet God met them just where they were at and will continue to mold and shape each life as He sees fit.

I am humbled at how God has used this church plant to reach people in our community.  It is so amazing to be a part of God’s plan!  I couldn’t help but wonder how God will use each life that came out of the water today.  Even as I spoke with each baptism candidate this morning, I felt as if God was whispering to me that I was in the presence of truly remarkable people.  Both young and old…God will use their lives to change Vancouver…and beyond!

Last night Mark and I read Hebrews 11, which is the chapter on faith.  My Bible reading plan just happened to coincide with some decisions that we are making that require faith.  Isn’t faith such an interesting concept?  Faith is easy if you are sure of the direction you want to go, but what if you have lots of options and just need to go ahead with one of them?  Then what?

I laugh at the way we often times think God works.  I think we overspiritualize “choice” sometimes.  I spoke with a young woman who was trying to determine whether it was God’s will that she date someone who was in full time ministry or one that was pursuing a business degree.  She was torn about which one God had “called” her to.  As she was lamenting, she began talking about what she wanted in a man, including the exact height requirements that she would settle for.  I told her, “You are willing to tell God that you won’t marry a man under six feet tall, but you aren’t willing to just make a choice about the type of career path you want in a mate?”  Sometimes you just have to make a decision and let God bless you from there.  For example, if you are uncomfortable with the military lifestyle, don’t date someone in the army.  It’s a choice and God gave us a brain to make a choice.

The faith part comes right after the choice.  She won’t marry a man under six feet tall, so she better have faith that God can help her with that…

And I find great comfort in that.  Just make the choice with the best heart and mind that you can muster…and have the faith to believe that God will bless you for giving it your all. 

As church planters, we face such a multitude of decisions in the months and years to come.  Everything we are is temporary and it is our job to find permanence in our community.  That will take sacrifice and leadership skills far beyond what we can imagine, but I trust that as we make the choices necessary, our church will follow with a faith that moves the mountains.