CNLP 167: Chris Goeppner on Defying the Odds and Planting a Thriving Church in Rural Vermont

Chris Goeppner, his wife Penny and a couple of friends left South Florida to plant a church in New England – something Chris had earlier said he would never do. Chris shares how they overcame obstacle after obstacle to become a church of 1,000 today that’s launching new locations.

Welcome to Episode 167 of the podcast.

Guest Links

Chris on Instagram

Chris on Twitter


Links Mentioned

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Breaking 200 Without Breaking You

CNLP 150: Rural Multisite: Overcoming All The Odds To Create Vibrant Churches in Small Towns and Villages with Chad Merrell, Paul Smith and Philip Thurman

3 Insights from This Episode

1. People find empowerment in a rescue 

In a culture where people act like everything is fine and they have life all together, there tends to be a deeper layer of desperation beneath the surface. 

The broken are more open to rescuing than many would think. Once freedom is experienced in a safe place – where it’s okay to have flaws – people become empowered by the rescue and want to know more about how to live in community with others who want more than a fake life. 

2. Planting a church well means staying true to who you are and investing in the community beyond your doors

Planting a church is difficult enough, but navigating through unknown territory complicates things even more. Chris accepted that challenge. He went completely out of his comfort zone and offers great advice:

Be You – Don’t change in an attempt to fit in to a new place. God made you who you are and will use you wherever you’re called.

Get Involved – You’ll show people that you’re there to serve beyond your own agenda by taking the time to invest in their community.

3. We can view the unchurched as a lost cause, an enemy or a great opportunity

There are three ways you can view the unchurched living around you.

As a Lost Cause – Your doors are open to people who look and think like you. Stick together closely and discuss how sad it is for the lost around you who don’t know Jesus. 

As a Culture War – Your focus is on actively protesting the sinners around you.

As an Opportunity – You’re finding ways to build bridges with people whose methodology is different than yours. 

Whether your church is a new multi-site, opening locations throughout a large region or a long-standing, established part of a community in a single building, take time to look at the heart of your evangelistic motivation. Are you sympathetic, but at an unwelcoming arm’s-length? In dramatic protest and shaming a lifestyle? Or do you see the unchurched as an opportunity to show others Jesus?

Quotes from This Episode

Some Help For Your Church

So you would love to reach more people, but how? Your church just can’t seem to sustainably grow past the 200 barrier. And you’re really not sure why.

My new online course called Breaking 200 Without Breaking You is designed to help senior pastors and their boards and leadership team break through the barrier 85% of churches never move past: the 200 attendance barrier.

So many leaders who try to break it either get stuck at 150-250 in attendance or burned out in the process of trying.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Believe it or not, the reasons most churches never break 200 aren’t spiritual reasons, they’re practical reasons. Strategic reasons.

So whether your church is 50, 150 or 250 in attendance, the principles will help you gain the insight you need to break the barrier more than 85% of churches can’t break.

Click here to get instant access!

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Next Episode: John Ortberg

So many busy leaders struggle with intimacy in their marriages, in friendships and in their relationship with God. John Ortberg talks about why that is, how to address it and we also unpack his decades-long friendship with Dallas Willard and how his writings and life continue to impact so many.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 168.

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