How to be an introvert, starting a church, talking to strangers about God without coming across as a creepy evangelist.

So, it Saturday, and even though I missed last week, today I am going to try and be faithful in my promise to keep you all updated on our church planting journey. 


local photography via flickr creative commons andrewkuhnphotography

Two weeks ago I showed you around our lovely church, since then we’ve had a brilliant team of designers come through, one whom grew up in church and “gets it” in the best of ways.  She understands what works, what welcomes and what has been done to death. For this I am unspeakably thankful.

Also this week the boiler exploded, which caused us to wonder why more seminaries don’t offer classes on old building maintenance. Kel’s handy but boilers are beyond him #churchboilerdrama .

All this is true but it doesn’t really get to the heart of what’s REALLY going on with the church.  

Currently the main business of the church is connecting with the community.

What does this mean? It means that if Kel is at the church that he’s not doing his job. (#churchboilerdrama aside)

Because currently Kel’s main job is to go out and meet people by checking out their businesses, going out to lunch, working at coffee shops and taking walks through neighborhoods.  He’s supposed to meet with and chat up 50 new people a week. 50!

This terrified me for two reasons
1) Kel is an introvert, this could kill him.
2) I don’t see how one can do this without seeming like a creeper

But he’s impressed me every evening with his stories, all authentic and not the least bit slimy.

This begs the question: How does an introvert strike up conversation with a random stranger and steer the conversation toward the new church plant without seeming creepy or pushy?  

I think this is where I should just let Kel tell you, after all… he’s the one doing it.  

Hi everyone, it’s Kel.

So I’m going to start by telling you the story of a conversation I had this week: I was at McDonalds, not because I particularly love it (I’m not lovin’ it) but because they are one of the few places that has wifi in the area.

So I’m in line to get my large drink (which I fill with iced tea like a good southern boy) and in line behind me is an EMT.  So, I walk up to the counter and I say “1 large drink and whatever he wants” gesturing in the EMT’s direction.

He gives me a weird look but thanks me and puts in an order for an Egg McMuffin. He thanks me again and then asks:

Awesome EMT: “Do you have a busy day ahead of you?”
Me: “I kind of do but my schedule is pretty weird right now. You see, I just took a new job and I’m a pastor starting a church”

This leads us down a conversation about the ups and downs of my schedule. Then I tell him why I bought him breakfast.

“One of the things that I really want to be as a church is a place that serves the community. One of the ways we can start doing that is by serving those who are already serving the community. So buying you breakfast is a way for me to say thank you for what you do everyday.”

I could tell the guy was caught off guard. Apparently this isn’t something that happens to him everyday. Then he does something cool: he invites me to come down the station sometime so that I can meet the other EMT’s just before we part ways.

This conversation is at the heart of what I’m doing everyday, of what it takes to plant a new church.  

You see, when I started doing this nobody in the community knew who I was.  So when it came to making contacts it was important that people in the community got a feel for who I am. The best way to do that is obviously by authentically building relationships.

Every contact I make is another person that knows both who I am and that there is a new church coming to the neighborhood, that’s my only agenda.

So how do I do this without seeming like a creeper or a door to door evangelist? Its easy, I listen way more than I talk.  I ask people about them: What do they do?  Do they live around here? Do they like that sandwich?

I try to find common ground.

You see, it’s not actually about meeting a quota of numbers. Numbers to a church don’t really matter, its what those numbers represent: Each number is a story, a person, an opportunity for God to show up in real life.

That’s why its easy for me to keep perspective, As a pastor I’m the often at the forefront of those stories. I see the breakdowns, the illness, the funerals. Often I get to be the one that prays with people when they find out I’m a pastor.

For me, it is very encouraging because I get to see this community in a completely different light. This community is who I am trying to reach but ultimately it is God that changes hearts, not me.

So what is my job? To care, to love, and build relationship with the people that surround the church. To introduce them to the God that can bring about change in their lives.

It’s not about me, it’s not about numbers, it’s not about MY church… in the end it’s about God and his people and doing everything I can do to foster freedom through their intersection.

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There’s always twitter and Facebook too, you can join the conversation on all fronts. Join the conversation on all fronts, that’s my favorite.

3 or 4 marriage tips, (guest post by Kel Penny)

let’s hear from my hubs

A now a post from my husband, Kel Penny.  I’m keeping the intro short so he gets all the word count today :)

So when Leanne asked me if I’d write a marriage post for her blog, my mind went straight to Genesis chapters 1-3.  This is a biblical explanation of who we are and why we are united in marriage (“It is not good for the man to be alone”).

But, Leanne said that I should do a “top five” list and make it funny.  This is why Leanne is the author/blogger and I am just a pastor.  Scripture tells us that some were given to be Pastors and some to be bloggers (Ephesians 4:11, look it up, its there).

But anyway,  I’m here to give you some marriage advice from a guy’s perspective.  So here  goes:

1) She doesn’t need your expertise ALL THE TIME.  When she comes to you with a  problem, typically she wants you to listen and talk to her about it.  So when she comes to you saying she doesn’t like her boss, she’s probably not looking for you to give her advice on how to deal with it.

Try this: Say, “wow, that must be _________”  In the blank insert an emotional word, not a technical or logical word.  You see the big difference in the way that most men and most women communicate is that men speak logically and women speak emotionally.

Men you tend to think that logic is always better, Its not.  Don’t believe me?  Think back to your last argument.  Did it seem like your were arguing completely different things?  Its because you were, you were logical and she was emotional.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should never bring on your technical, logical mind to the table.  For example if her computer is so screwed up she’s about to take a mallet to it, for the love go God step in and help her!

2) What you do with your time matters.  Your wife loves that you bring home the bacon, I promise.  She probably even likes it that you have hobbies.  But, if you are spending all of your time away and not  tuning into your family, then she’s not going to feel loved.

This seems like such a “no duh” thing, but actually this is easy to fall into.  We have a tendency to get our priorities wrong because we’re working, something that is deemed important.

It’s important to mow the lawn, but it’s more important to be a father to your children and a husband to your wife.  Think of it this way: you can pay someone to mow your lawn, but you can’t pay someone to replace you as father and husband.

I’m not telling you to stop mowing or quit your job, just make sure you have your priorities in order.  They should go as follows:

Job / Calling

Remember, we are called to die to ourselves daily.  If you’re doing this like Christ did, then you’ll automatically go way down on the list.

3) Throw pillows at her.  Let’s say you’re sitting on the couch and she’s on the love seat crocheting or typing away on the laptop.  The tv is on and there is not a lot of connection going on.  How do you fix this problem?  You throw a pillow at her.

Aim for the face and make sure you put a little arc on it. We don’t want to “Randy Johnson” a pillow at her head, we do love her.  The goal is to get her attention.

When she gives you that venomous look, you know the one, the one that says WTH, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? Smile and tell her that you love her and just wanted her full and undivided attention so that you could say: (insert a compliment here).

Now, sit back and watch the venom melt away.  There might be a little residual frustration from you messing with her mojo but trust me, the risk is worth it.  Because now you can play and have fun together.

She might throw a pillow back, which in turn should cause a pillow fight.  Men listen carefully you never lose a pillow fight.  Actually, let me rephrase that, never lose a pillow fight unless a circumstances arise that end in some adult fun time, if you catch my drift.

4) Pornography.  I wish that I didn’t have to put this one down, but I’ve seen the stats.  They are SCARY!  Here’s what you need to know: Porn will ruin your relationship.  Period.

Every time you view porn you’re creating false, unreal ideals in your mind.  These fake expectations are impossible to meet in the bedroom (or anywhere else for that matter).

If this is a problem for you, get help, Don’t know where to go?  Try here:  They’re great and have  free software to help.

If this is your battle (statistics say that it probably is, even if you are a woman) seeit as an addiction and take the necessary steps to get help.

Well I hope you enjoyed this! I could seriously write on this topic forever but Leanne put me on a word limit, which I blew past.  So for now, toodledo!

If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section!

Also, guys, tell me what are the most important things you do in your marriage relationship?