Why Plant a Church with Converge?

I was talking with my new friend Chris about church planting at my office this afternoon. And by “office”, I mean the Starbucks I work out of Monday through Friday. I love my Starbucks! (In fact, someone even wrote an article about it and called me “The Starbucks Pastor”!) So there I was at Starbucks, talking with Chris, who is starting a new church in New Brighton, MN.

As I listened to him talk about his church planting journey I couldn’t help but compare his journey to mine. His denomination has not been able to be much of a support to him. After talking for a while, he asked me what I would do if I was in his shoes. First thing I said? “If I were you…I would join Converge and be one of our planters!”

Why would I say that? Why would I tell him to leave his fine denomination and join our small but mighty tribe?

Being a part of Converge North Central has made all the difference in the world in our church planting journey! I love my “tribe” so much! I don’t think I ever felt like I truly belonged until I became a part of the Minnesota/Iowa Baptist Conference (now known as Converge North Central).

So what makes Converge so great?

1. I feel like I BELONG 

The Converge pastors I’ve come to know in our district are super down-to-earth, normal dudes. I love that. They cheer each other on in such an encouraging way. The other church planters in our network are guys I actually like to hang out with. It is a great group to be a part of!

2. Amazing COACHING

I get to be coached by one of the greatest church planting coaches in the world! Dave Reno planted his church 27 years ago. Since then, his church has directly planted 26 daughter churches and his daughter churches have given birth to 8 granddaughter churches. That is truly phenomenal! There are 8x as many people attending a Sunday morning service at one of their daughter or granddaughter churches than attend his church. That shows the incredible power of multiplication!  And I get to be coached by Dave- the “Yoda of Church Planting”!

3. Humble and Supportive LEADERSHIP

I have gone through some really tough ministry experiences. I have made some mistakes and have also endured some really hurtful church experiences. I was ready to give up on the dream of church planting. But then I met Dave Reno and Ben McEachern (my other coach) and the Converge North Central leadership. They have supported me, believed in me, and took a risk on me. I will forever be grateful to Dan Carlson, Joel Nelson, and Mandy Johnson at the district office and Dave and Ben. Not only have they supported and believed in me, they are some of the  most humble and gracious leaders I have ever met.

There are many reasons to plant a church with Converge, but those are the top three that I came up with today. Two and a half years ago I was fertilizing lawns in Madison, WI, and didn’t know if I would ever get the chance to pastor a church. Today, thanks to Converge, I am leading a 15 month old church of 215 people that has baptized 25 people and seen dozens come to salvation in Jesus for the first time. God is so good and he has used Converge to help me in my church planting journey and to fulfill the purpose that God put me here to accomplish.

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What A Year!

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about all that God has done in the last 12 months.

It’s been quite a journey to get to this point! After many years of wrestling with God’s call to plant a church, Kristin and I decided to face our fears and trust God and take the scary step to plant Mosaic Church.

On December 20, 2014 we moved to Maple Grove, MN. We decided that we were going to put down roots and invest for the long haul, so instead of choosing to rent for a while and see if this thing worked out, we were blessed to be able to buy our first home. We were committed- no matter what happened with the church plant.

Two months later we held our first informational meeting for people interested in knowing more about this new church we were starting. 4 people showed up to our house. Not a very auspicious start! But I kept believing in God’s call, kept working hard to get the word out, and after dozens and dozens of one-on-one coffee meetings at Starbucks, we had our first Launch Team Meeting on May 17, 2015. I was so amazed that God brought together 64 adults and kids to worship God and to dream about what God could do through us! It was the beginning of God doing something really special in Maple Grove through Mosaic Church.

After lots of summer BBQs and worship nights and a few preview services, we had our Grand Opening on October 4, 2015. I was blown away to see 280 people come out for our Grand Opening! Let me tell you- that was a once in a lifetime experience. Seeing all these people I had never met before park their cars and head into Weaver Lake Elementary School. It is something I will never forget.

This winter, Mosaic Church has been averaging about 140 people each Sunday with 132 people involved in a small group. I can’t believe that we have almost as many people involved in a small group as we have attending our worship service on Sunday mornings! It’s not about just gathering a crowd- it’s about making disciples and building a church!

In the 20 weeks (is that all?!?) since we launched Mosaic Church, 12 people have come to know Christ as their savior and Mosaic has had the privilege to baptize 2 people and dedicate 10 children to the Lord. Man. It has been a wild ride! God is so good!

So what’s next? We are excited to kick off our Student Ministry next month. We are exploring what it would take to offer an Arts Camp to kids in our community this summer. We are making plans for our first mission trip to Kenya. And I am praying AUDACIOUS prayers knowing that God is ABLE to do AMAZING things through Mosaic Church these next 12 months!

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Mosaic Church Grand Opening

Planting a Church!

StartAs I held that simple sheet of paper in my hands, I knew that this was it. Everything was about to change! And that was both scary and exhilarating!  On the last day of 2014, I was given my official Call Letter to be a lead pastor/church planter with Converge North Central (Baptist General Conference).

We are so thankful that we are not on this journey alone! We have two awesome parent churches (Northridge Fellowship and Grace Fellowship) who will be coaching us and giving us tons of support.  They are letting us recruit between 50 and 60 people between the two churches to help us gather a core launch team. If you don’t know, that is incredibly generous of them! They have also committed $56,000 in financial support, which helps us get more than halfway to our goal of raising $100,000 for this new church start. Again, this is amazingly generous!

I’ll be spending the next four months as a “church planter in residence” at Northridge Fellowship in Rogers, MN. This will give me a great opportunity to continue learning about church planting as well as time to invest in relationships as we build our core team. I’m really excited about this opportunity as well as the gift of having our family plug into an existing church for a while. 

We are also very excited to be a part of a church planting group called Minnesota Grace. This is a group of Converge churches that are all daughter (or grand-daughter) churches of Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park, MN. Grace Fellowship has planted well over 20 churches in the past 25 years and is passionate about planting churches that are passionate about planting churches. As a part of this church planting group, our goal is that as Mosaic Church gets established, we would be able to partner with Grace to plant our first daughter church by 2019.

This journey has just started and we have a long and hard road ahead of us, but we are confident that God will be with us and will empower us with his Holy Spirit to use us to make an impact in the Maple Grove area for God! If you are reading this and you would like to know how to pray for us or if you are interested in joining the launch team or becoming a financial partner, I would LOVE to talk with you! Please email me or use the contact link to reach out.

Our whole desire is that we would make Jesus famous and help people in the suburbs know that its ok to not be ok. Because here’s the reality: we are ALL broken and hurting and in need of a Savior! But God is going to use us broken people to form his beautiful Mosaic. We want to plant a church that plants churches. We want to help people love God, serve others, and help make disciples who make disciples. We would love your prayers as we launch this church and as we dream big dreams. Its all about Jesus and building His Church. We are just excited to be a part of what God is doing here in the Twin Cities.  

Check out our new church’s website here: MOSAIC CHURCH

Thanks friends,

Erik

Joseph, Dreams, and Getting Out of a Pit

josephI’ve been thinking a lot about Joseph this past year or so. Not Joseph, the adopted dad of Jesus. No, I’m talking about Joseph- the arrogant, young leader who had a vision from God.

You probably know the story: Joseph shared his God-given vision with those closest to him and what happened? He ended up in a pit. That’s when his dream died. Then things went from bad to worse.  He was falsely accused and he ended up in prison. I would bet all my guitars that he started questioning God’s plan and started doubting the vision that God had given him. He was in a dark place. A hopeless place.

But you know what? God was there. God was there in the pit. God was there when he was falsely accused. God was there in the dark place of that prison. And God had a plan.

You know what I think? I think Joseph wasn’t ready yet for the vision God gave him. I think Joseph was arrogant and he needed some time for God to do a work on his heart.

 So there was the birth of a dream. Then the death of a dream. Then God did what only God can do. He re-birthed that dream in Joseph.

God had a plan for Joseph’s life. His timing was just WAY different from what Joseph probably thought was going to happen! God used Joseph in a powerful way to bring salvation to people far from God. And out of those circumstances, a people of God was formed.

So if you are like me, and you’ve had the birth of a dream and then faced the death of that dream- take heart. God is there with you. God is here with me. His timing and is ways are probably just a lot different from what we expect!

God is in the business of re-birth. Of resurrection. And even now, in that pit, in whatever hopeless situation you find yourself, God is there. He gives life and hope and purpose. We just need to trust and wait on our God. Its not easy and we will struggle and doubt- but God was and is and will continue to be faithful and true to His word. And you know what? That’s great news.

 

 

EL

Excited for the Future

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Every January, I look back to the last couple of years and I get excited about what the future might hold. Here’s some highlights from the past couple of years:

  • 2010: our son Joshua is born after 3 years of infertility!
  • 2011: we move from Colorado to Wisconsin, help start a new church, and I start a new job as a church planter with Converge/Baptist General Conference.  We also experienced our third miscarriage that summer.  Lots of ups and downs.
  • 2012: our daughter Rebecca is born– and we spend 10 days in the NICU due to her born not breathing.  But God healed her and she is doing great!  I also finished my Masters of Arts in Theological Studies and Kristin and I record an unplugged Christmas album.
  • 2013: I decide to get healthy and then lose 40 pounds.  We leave the church we helped plant and work with Converge/Baptist General Conference to try to figure out where God is leading us next.

Well, this January is no different.  In fact, with the season that Kristin and I are in, I am all the more looking ahead with great anticipation to what the future holds!  Most likely, the next 6 months will find us in a new city, a new house, and a new church and job for me!  That’s a lot of changes that we know will be happening this year!!

I know in my head that God is sovereign and that he has the whole world in his hands. But its not easy to believe with my heart. Its an intentional act of faith to trust him and to believe that he will continue to take care of us and will lead us to the right place for our family.  I pray that God will continue to lead and direct us while we are waiting in this desert place.

What A Difference 12 Months Make!

537580_10101455109262280_503419460_nAs I looked back over the last 12 months, I was amazed at all that God had done in our lives! He has proved himself faithful and walked with us through the dark nights and been there with us as we celebrated new life and growth and change. A few of the big changes in the last 12 months:

  1. 12 months ago, Ezra church was averaging 71 people each Sunday in the month of March and only had one worship service at one location. This past month, Ezra Church averaged 242 people each Sunday and now has FOUR worship services at TWO locations each Sunday! As the pastor who oversees all our worship and tech, my job has become a lot more complicated in the last year! Now I have to schedule and oversee two different tech teams and two different worship teams each week. However, its been great watching more people get involved in our worship and tech area.
  2. 12 months ago, I was overseeing 40 people in 4 Growth Groups (small groups). Now we have 85 people in 8 groups! Again- as the pastor who oversees our Growth Groups, things have gotten a lot more complicated but I love seeing more and more people get IN COMMUNITY!
  3. 12 months ago, I was still in grad school, trying to finish up my Masters in Theology. I graduated last May and it feels so good to have school done!
  4. 12 months ago we had one kid- and now we have two kids! It was a crazy journey with Becca spending 10 days in the NICU, but God was faithful and he was with us through it all and I believe he healed our little girl.

I’m excited to see what God does in and through our family and our church the next 12 months!

Its Been A Wild Ride

This past Sunday our church went multi-site and we had over 200 people connecting or reconnecting with God!

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Lindeen Family- June, 2011

Less than two years ago, we felt God call our family to move from Denver, CO to Madison, WI to help change the spiritual climate of this city by planting churches.  It has been a wild ride!

We moved here September 1, 2011 and joined our friends Pastor Dave and his wife Becky and a core group of about 20 adults to help launch Ezra Church.  After we moved we heard that Madison was known as the Church Planters Graveyard.  Fun stuff. Our first Sunday we had about 50 people show up to worship with us.  We thought- “all right, here we go!” Read More