On Episode 56 of the 200churches Podcast, Jonny and Jeff are joined by Brandon Cox, church planter and pastor of Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, Arkansas, and content manager of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. Brandon shares his blessings and challenges as a church planter and 200church pastor.
Brandon has spent about 15 years serving in small churches, so he is no stranger to the challenges pastors of small churches face.
He spent about a year at Saddleback Church, but was burdened to return to small church ministry and plant a church in Northwest Arkansas. He and his wife have been at it for two and a half years, and they see about 170 in weekly attendance.
Brandon shares the challenges of church planting, balancing life and ministry, and his passion to "pastor other pastors" through his work with Rick Warren and Pastors.com.
Brandon also has just released a book called Rewired, which says on the cover:
How Using Today’s Technology Can Bring You Back to Deeper Relationships,Real Conversations, and Powerful Ways to Share God’s Love.
You can read a great description of Brandon's book here, and shop for it on Amazon here.
Next week on the 200churches Podcast Karl Vaters will join Jeff and Jonny!
This week on Wednesday's podcast, Episode 56, we have Brandon Cox, a church planter in Arkansas. In one part of our conversation, he talks about how he was doing too many things at once, answering to too many people, and how his life had become unmanageable.
That reminds me of what Dave Jacobs was saying recently about pastors scheduling a 35 hour work week, which reminds me that the next six months of my life will be given to breathing and finishing my Master’s Program, which reminds me how Jonny and I have recommitted ourselves to prayer as the main power of our ministry, which reminds me that Jesus is the one who grows the church, which reminds me I have to put the finishing touches on the agenda for our Elder’s meeting in two days, which finally reminds that no, I am not A.D.D.!
Many of us hyper-relational, attention deficient pastors will be calmed and encouraged just to listen to Brandon talk. He has a very easy way about him that brings ease and peace to your soul. He talks about learning to focus strongly on just a few things, to bring his life back into balance.
What? Who is Brandon Cox, you ask? Glad you asked! He is the pastor/church planter of Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. He also oversees the content and online community at Pastors.com and Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. Those are his two major roles, and with Grace Hills, he is the pastor of a 200church.
Brandon is going to talk with us about his roles, challenges, church plant/community, and the need to balance life and ministry. It’s much harder to be a pastor in 2014 America than it was in 1975 America. With the rise of technology and the Internet, with social media, the number of things we have to consider, read, think about, and remember is breathtaking! Which reminds me of Brandon’s new book, which we’ll talk about on Wednesday.
Funny thing, most authors do a book tour announcing their book. I “booked” Brandon on the podcast a number of weeks ago, and it was not until the end of the conversation that he mentioned he even had authored a book – we almost had to beat the information out of him. We sensed that Brandon is quite a humble person. You will enjoy him on the podcast.
Brandon also talks about the challenges of church planting in a multicultural setting, and how his church is doing after two years.
So how are you doing Pastor? The big game is over, you’ve got the Superbowl hangover, hopefully your team won, your evening service or small group will return to its normal time period next Sunday, your church is still small, and you’re still the pastor! The people, whether they number 50, 100, or 300 have all decided to make your church their church, and you their pastor.
Jonny and I hope that you are doing well. If you are subscribed to our blog we might already have you on our radar. Little by little we are identifying each of our subscribers, connecting you with your church, and getting to know you. It may take a little while, but you should get an email from one of us. If you get a minute, email us first and tell us about you and your ministry.
We are excited about Wednesday, to share the podcast with you, and to encourage and affirm you as a 200church pastor! We ask one thing of you in the next two days… love your spouse and children – and then… LOVE YOUR PEOPLE.
I (Jeff) talked with an old college buddy today. It was soooo good! We were in the same dorm on campus a mere 30 years ago. When I got married, he was pastoring a small church near our campus, so my wife and I attended there. I had no idea I would be the pastor of that church within months.
My friend decided it was time to move to a different ministry. We were just college students, and he was graduated, so – time to go! After he left they asked me to take over for a while. Yeah. For three years! It was a small church. The smallest crowd I had was two people… plus me. The largest? Fifty! The lowest of lows and the highest of highs – ah, the memories!
Since then, my friend has served in at least four churches, two as senior pastor. He took a church of 150 to 500, but then experienced an ending that was not happy. No sin, just one of those ministry stories that ends tough.
I talked with another pastor the other day who planted a church and “grew it” to over 300. Today it’s at 100 and he wonders how he should feel about it all.
Another pastor I recently visited with said 100 in attendance would be pushing the walls out! Jonny and I are happy to be pushing up past 200 in our church these days, but not consistently. Of course, our church is a special situation. (aren’t they all??)
Are you crazy yet? Or have blogs like ours and NewSmallChurch.com encouraged you to think that maybe you are just alright after all? I think I’m not crazy anymore, no longer like the walking dead, fixated on a number and staggering mindlessly toward it. I think I’m learning how to just love God and love my people. I love my wife and kids too, and in moments of weakness, I even feel some semblance of fondness for Jonny.
Soon on the podcast, we will be joined by Karl “The Shark” Vaters from NewSmallChurch.com. We’ll be talking with him about the subject of his second Essential post titled “Your Church IS Big Enough.” That's an obnoxious title, right?
I mean, if there is one person in your community without Christ, then your church ISN’T big enough, right? Well, here I think is a perfect time to decide what the word “is” is. Really now. Today your church IS big enough. Tomorrow, if a person is seeking God and attends your church for the first time, it’s STILL big enough!
Now I’m confused. So – I’m looking forward to talking with Karl and Jonny about this soon. We’ll be looking to drill down on this a little. I’m looking for some perspective that goes deeper than the title, but something that we all need to hear and learn. Because even though we think we’re okay, we must always remind ourselves whose church it is, who we are, and why in the world we are even doing this thing called “pastoring”. Were we crazy or what signing up for this life?!
Hey, have a phenomenal weekend! And please, I will if you will – on purpose, intentionally, and with firm resolve – LOVE your people. They need you pastor, that’s why God gave you to them. Now LOVE them with all your heart. Be extra nice to them this weekend. Stop to say hi, give a touch, and a sincere smile. Or, maybe just STOP. BE with them. Hey, we get to do this – we will all have people to teach, encourage, challenge, and love this weekend. Let's go for it!
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