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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Big Changes for the Lindeen Family!

1150192_10151917742004673_1234282678_nA little over two years ago, God called us to leave our friends and family in Colorado and move 1,000 miles away to Madison, Wisconsin, to become Church Planters. I came on staff with Converge Great Lakes (formerly known as Great Lakes Baptist Conference and part of the Baptist General Conference) as a Church Planting Intern. Our desire was to learn more about church planting with the thought that someday God might call me to be a lead pastor and to possibly plant a church as the lead planter. For the last two years, we have served with Ezra Church and it has been awesome to see God build and establish His church!  In the past two years, Ezra Church has baptized 14 people, helped over 85 adults find community through being a part of a small group, and grown from a core of 50 people to a church of over 200 people! Your support, encouragement, and prayers helped make that possible!

Through the guidance and direction of Converge Great Lakes and the Ezra Church Leadership and after much time in prayer, I feel that God is calling me to step out in faith and to take a position as a senior pastor! We are going to take the next couple of months to pray and determine if God is calling me to (1.) be a lead church planter and to plant a new church with Converge or (2.) if God is calling me to go to an established Converge church that is looking for a new senior pastor.

We have finished the Pre-Assessment Phase of the church planting process with Converge. The next step of our journey in determining if God is actually calling us to plant a church is attendance at the nationally renowned Converge Church Planting Assessment Center next February. This four day intensive assessment looks at potential church planters through a grid of sixteen non-negotiable traits that Converge has found to be essential for successful planting over the past twenty years. Once we complete this assessment, we will have clear confirmation one way or the other concerning whether I am called to be a lead pastor in a church planting context or a lead pastor in an established church setting.

Converge (Baptist General Conference) also has a Pastoral Placement Process (P3), which helps match pastors like me who feel called to be a senior pastor and churches that are in need of a new senior leader.  I have finished my P3 assessment and we are waiting and praying to see if God is leading us to an established church.  We have told Converge that we would be open to going to a church in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, or Colorado.

We want to thank you for your prayers and encouragement over the last two years! We could not be on this ministry journey without you! We would appreciate your continued prayers over these next couple of months as we wait on God and prepare for wherever he is leading us next.

Thanks and God bless,

Kristin and Erik Lindeen
Fellow Laborers In Christ
Madison, WI.

Getting Stuff Done

Everyone has their own system for getting things done.  However, some people are more effective than others!  Your system is designed to get you the exact results you are currently getting.  Maybe its time to try something else.  Check out this great blog by author Donald Miller on his system for getting things done:

Blessed

Josh and BeccaI’m feeling incredibly blessed right now.  I have an amazing wife and two great kids.  Super supportive parents and a great extended family.

Lately, however, God has really blessed me.  In the last couple of weeks, I have been able to upgrade from a VOX AC-15 (electric guitar amp) to a VOC AC-30 and to upgrade my phone from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5.  Because of a gift card I received, and because I was able 944590_10151709364999673_1481022486_nto get a killer deal on the AC-30 and because I was able to sell my old amp and phone, it ended up not costing me any money to upgrade my amp and phone!

IMG_3088God blessed Ezra Church with new offices…and the best part is that we are getting about 3,000 square feet of office space for FREE because someone in our church is donating space to us! WOW! God is good!

After almost two years of being a one car family, we were able to get a second car.  We were blessed that someone in our small group works for Toyota and IMG_3057he was able to get us a great deal.

As church planters/missionaries, we rely heavily on God’s provision to meet all our needs, but its really nice when he also blesses us above and beyond our basic needs!

How has God blessed you lately?

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!

Book Review: Forgotten God

Forgotten God by Francis Chan:

I read his more famous book, Crazy Love, a couple of years ago and had really mixed feelings about it.  I have a few friends who loved Crazy Love and that book literally changed their lives.  I struggled with it and thought Chan was taking some potshots at American Christians and offering some nice ideas without offering a plan on how to live it out.  Therefore, I put off reading Forgotten God for a while.

I liked this book better than Crazy Love.  Francis Chan is never going to be compared with great Christian writers like C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, or even Mark Driscoll, but he writes a decent devotional book and he strives to challenge his readers.  Those who are fans of David Platt (Radical) would like this book. Read More

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