Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday! Give to the Pentecost Offering!

Happy Birthday!

That’s basically what we are going to celebrate this Sunday, Pentecost Sunday.  It was on that day, long ago when the disciples of Jesus were gathered in a room and received the Holy Spirit.  It was on this day, that the followers of Christ ignited a worldwide movement that continues to this very day. 

We learn about what it means to be a Christian, to be a follower of Jesus through the gathering of believers called the church.  From Sunday School classes to weekly worship and communion, it is at churches in urban areas and in the country that we are formed into Christ followers.

This Sunday, churches accross the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will be collecting the Pentecost Offering which goes towards supporting new churches, new places where people old and young will be introduced to Jesus through the lives of Christians who have heard the call to plant new communities of faith. 

This offering makes a difference in the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest as we work to foster new communities of faith in Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas.  Communities like Open Source Christian Christ and Iglesia Neuva Jerusalem in Rochester, MN or Korean Dordom Christian Church in St. Louis Park, MN.  There are also planned church starts in the incubation stage in Woodbury, MN and Northern Cass County, North Dakota (just north of Fargo).  We are working to spread the good news of Jesus to all people...sharing the news in Korean, English and Spanish, which is kind of like the first Pentecost- telling the story of Jesus in different tounges.

Please consider giving to the Pentecost offering.  You can give in your churches this Sunday or consider giving online.

I’m also urging folk to visit our new church ministry blog called the Pentecost Project.  You will read stories of how these new communities are reaching out to share the gospel and find ways to support them.  I also ask that if you have a passion for new church, please consider joining the New Church Ministry Team.  If you’re interested, you can either fill out the form at the Pentecost Project, or drop me an email at

May God bless you this Pentecost and may God’s church continue to grow!

Dennis Sanders
Team Leader, New Church Ministry Team, Christian Church in the Upper Midwest
Associate Pastor, First Christian Church-Minneapolis

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Setting the Table in Rochester

The Pentecost Offering is one of the "big four" major offerings done by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  The Pentecost offering is taken up in congregations on Pentecost (May 27) and goes to help in the efforts of planting new churches.  The good folks at Open Source Christian Church in Rochester, MN did a special video for the offering, showing the work that has been done in Rochester and asking folks to give to the offering.  Watch the video below and consider contributing in your congregation next Sunday or you can donate online.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Church Spotight: Open Source Christian Church

Here is the second in our series of new churches in the Region: Open Source Christian Church in Rochester, MN.  Church planter Rebecca Haney shares what she and her husband Stephen are doing in their growing community.


Open Source (Disciples of Christ) , a newer Jesus centered spiritual community in Rochester, Minnesota has been doing all it can to build relationships and make a difference. Not only do we build relationships with God and others, but we are working to make love real in the Rochester community and beyond.

As a community, we engage both art and intellect to begin to know Jesus and the Gospel. Open Source just recently held its first Wine 2 Water event, raising funds ($700!!) for clean water sustainability in Nicaragua. Additionally, our Open Source Artist Network is selling art and sharing the Open Source story at a local Art on the Ave event next Saturday. On the very same day, we will be partnering with Christ United Methodist Church to feed hungry people lunch. This meal may be the best meal those present may receive all day.

 On Sunday, we will have a picnic, where we intend to play, laugh, tell jokes, share a meal, and then have communion. Even though the picnic is not one of our worship experiences, we acknowledge that God is still present, and the Lord’s Table is definitely a distinctive part of our community life. Even in our play we embrace the idea that “we are a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” We do welcome all to the Lord’s Table, even as God has welcomed us, and In this, we rejoice!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Church Spotlight: Minnesota Korean Dordom Christian Church

Here's the first of what I hope will be many New Church Spotlights.  Our first one focuses on Minnesota Korean Dordom Christian Church in St. Louis Park, MN just outside of Minneapolis.  Church planter Heongook Choi shares a little about what Korean Dordom is all about. Thanks to Pastor Choi and is his son Jonathan for writing this paragraph and please keep Korean Dordom and the Chois in your prayers.

Have you ever known what a Korean Church would be like? Well, come and see what my church is like for you.

The church name is "The DorDom". The meaning of "Dor" is stone, and "Dom" is fence. This is explained in John 10:7. The mission for our church is to gather believers in the fence. We have an opening prayer, praise and worship, study time, and we end with a closing prayer.

개역개정 (요 10:7)
그러므로 예수께서 다시 이르시되 내가 진실로 진실로 너희에게 말하노니 나는 양의 문이라

NIV (John 10:7)
7. Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

A strong body makes a strong mind.
A strong mind creates a strong family.
And a strong family makes a strong and healthy church.

Pastor Choi.
MN Korean DorDom Church.
1615 Texas Ave S
St, Louis Park, MN 55426
e-mail :

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How I Totally Failed in Planting a New Church (And Why I'd Do It Again)

Presbyterian pastor and blogger Landon Whitsitt shares two ways that a church plant can fail. The second one is trying to do it like you would staring a business. The first one kind of takes a motto from a certain athletic company as gospel:

For folks in the circles I typically run in (read: postmodern young adults) anything that seems like it comes from the immediate past era of church work is anathema. This especially includes strategic plans, goals, and objectives. We don’t like quotas. We don’t like benchmarks. We don’t like deadlines. And, because most of us want to do something fun and creative, we incensed at the idea that our funding will get shut off after 3-5 years. “They can’t expect us to be ‘self-sufficient’ in 3-5 years! This new kind of church doesn’t work that way!” The way churches begun by this kind of person usually gets started is the “Nike Method:” just do it. When we begin churches of this kind, we just jump in. We don’t think. We don’t plan. We just do. We live in the moment. We have fun. We talk about communities growing organically, and of trying to not stifle the Spirit. This means we don’t press too hard on one another. We don’t hold one another accountable for anything, because, usually, there’s nothing to hold each other accountable for. Why? Because we’re trying to find that one thing we can all agree on, and there’s always someone who “doesn’t feel called to that.” Believe me, I’ve sat through these marathon meetings. They suck. Hard.
As many of you know, I planted a church once. It worked for three years. And it failed. Spectacularly. I tried planting a church on the "just do it" model. I just asked some people to come together and they did. And we met together for worship for quite some time. But for a lot of reasons, this community could not sustain itself. Maybe it was too organic, but it did fail and for quite some time I felt that I had failed. I know there are those around me who tend to believe Community of Grace wasn't a failure and I get where they are coming from. But it was a failure in the sense it died shortly after its birth. I'm willing to own up to the fact that there were a lot of things I did wrong and a lot of thing I needed to learn from that experience. But even though it failed, I would do Community of Grace all over again, though I would hopefully be smarter about it. I would do it again, because I heard the call from God to start something. I would do it again because it made a difference in people's lives. I would do it again because it help me become the pastor that I am now. I would do it again because it provided insight to an existing congregation when I became their Associate Pastor. There has been a lot of talk about new churches from various leaders (here and here for example) and how they can be church. I've seen new plants that were carefully planned and fail and those that had no thought and also failed. I've seen also seen new churches thrive and grow. I think at times that what matters is not so much that a new church be successful but that we are faithful to the call. That doesn't mean that we do crappy jobs, but it does mean that sometimes we will fail in sharing the good news. A lot of new churches die within a few years, but as the Apostle Paul has said, Christ was still preached. So, yeah, following the "just do it" model is probably not the way to go in church planting; but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing.