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Somewhere only He knows March 14, 2009

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Tulsa.
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During our trip to Tulsa this last week God showed up – perhaps not in the way we expected, but His presence and hand were evident to us.

Over the course of the trip, a sense that something wasn’t right began to grow in my mind and in Brad’s. I didn’t (and don’t) question Brad’s character or vision – in fact I still whole-heartedly buy into his dream of what could be in Tulsa. It was more of a question of compatibility – wondering if we would really be able to work well together and complement each other. Church planting can be a very trying and stressful endeavor. As planting partners we would be spending a lot of time together in a pressure cooker. We both realized that in this environment – we might not be the best fit.

We talked on Wednesday afternoon openly about our concerns, agreeing to talk further with our wives and pray about the decision. Friday afternoon we both agreed that we needed to step away from this partnership. While it was a difficult decision, we both felt like it was the wise choice. Thankfully, our friendship is intact, and we were able to part ways encouraging one another and committing to pray for each other’s future.

I do not regret for one moment the time I’ve spent over the last few months planning and dreaming with Brad. He sharpened me and helped hone my vision for church planting. I believe it was vital for us to spend time together this week. We’ve communicated regularly over the past 5 months, but phone conversations and e-mails aren’t very conducive to discovering chemistry. I think the people that will be most disappointed by this development are our kids. They had a blast playing together this week.

So what does this mean for the Carter’s? At this point I don’t have a clue. We still feel that we are right where we are supposed to be for now – helping Carey’s mom run the bed and breakfast in Duncan, OK. We will continue to seek God’s face and his will regarding our lives and our future. We believe that because of the things He’s placed in our hearts, our future still lies either in church planting or in a church that has a vision and commitment to plant churches. Proverbs 16:9 says “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

We can’t wait to see what God has in store, and we trust that He is in control.

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Tulsa again March 6, 2009

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Tulsa.
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Most of the Carters are leaving tomorrow morning to spend a few days in Tulsa.  We’ll be meeting up with our partners in planting – Brad and Holly Andrews.  It will be the first time Carey and the kids have been to Tulsa to look more specifically at the area we’re honing in on.  Lots of meetings with local people to get a better feel for the city and gain more insight for our cultural exegesis.  Brad and I will be working on our prospectus during our spare moments to begin presenting to churches and individuals about partnership and support.  Don’t know what type of blogging time I’ll have – but I’ll definitely post an update or two if the opportunity arises.

Another bright spot to our weekend is stopping at OBU on our way to Tulsa.  We’ll be eating lunch with one of our favorite people in the world, Amanda Layman, and showing the kids where the Clint and Carey story began 🙂

Good news November 17, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Church Planting, Tulsa.
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The first thing we were really excited about is that Noland Road is going to continue to partner with us in this church planting adventure.  Carey and I sat down with the church’s Global Focus National Team and shared our vision for Tulsa.  They were very encouraging and offered monthly financial support.  So we officially have our first ministry partners which is awesome!

The best part isn’t the funding (although that’s vital to this endeavor).  The best part is that they are taking a vested interest in our call and want to be involved on an ongoing basis.  We covet their prayer support and the chance to host teams from NRBC in the future to sponsor ministry projects and opportunities to serve Tulsa.

Why does Tulsa need another church? November 3, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Church Planting, Tulsa.
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Whenever I mention that we’re looking to plant a church in Tulsa, people look confused.  They think “Tulsa is a part of the Bible Belt.  It is a learning center for the charismatic church.  Surely there are plenty of churches to go around.”  Let me throw some numbers out for you to consider.

In 1990 those who regularly attended church in the U.S. numbered 52 million.  In 2006 those who regularly attended church numbered 52 million.  So the church held it’s own – overall it didn’t grow nor did it decline.  But while the church plateaued, the population in the United States grew by 52 million.  Meaning that in 1990, 21% of the U.S. population attended church – and now 16 years later only 17% of the population attends church.

Tulsa – from 1990 to 2000 the population in the Tulsa Metro Area grew by 94,000 people.  During that same period Evangelical church attendance in the Tulsa Metro Area only grew by 1,500 people.  125 new churches would need to be started just to reach the population increase of that decade.

As of the year 2000, the overall population of the Tulsa Metro Area was 803,000.  Only 20% or 162,000 of those people regularly attended an Evangelical, Mainline, or Catholic church.  That means that there were 641,000 people in need of the gospel.  Six hundred and forty-one thousand individuals and that number has continued to grow over the past 8 years.  See the largest slice of the pie below – that’s the number of Tulsans not connected with the good news of Jesus Christ.

There are many other reasons for planting churches and I will be diving into them right here over the next few months.  But first I wanted to show the expanse of the need.  As Jesus said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.” Matthew 9:37-38

All of these figures are based on the research of The American Church Research Project.

Tulsa Trip 4.0 October 31, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Tulsa.
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Monday morning was an early (at least it felt early) breakfast with Art Rogers.  Art is a local pastor with a strong vision for his church and a heart for Tulsa.  I can definitely see a significant friendship forming and an opportunity to partner in the gospel with him.

We met with Ed Gungor and Andrew Ardnt just after lunch.  They serve at People’s Church in South Tulsa.  They were incredibly gracious and supportive.  Ed was enthusiastic not only about our endeavor but also about the gospel.  I hope after I’ve been in ministry for 30-40 years that I still approach the task with joy and encourage those around me like Ed.  He challenged us to find our voice and share it – be ourselves and let God call people through the message.  Ed also encouraged us to begin praying into the “who” more than the “where”, “what”, or “how” of this church plant.  That’s a good word for me – being an idea guy and a plan guy – it’s important that I keep the “who” in front of me.

After our meeting with Ed and Andrew we headed to Saint Louis for the Lead for the City Conference.  It was an incredible weekend in Tulsa.  God used encounters and conversations throughout the time to confirm a call in my heart to the city of Tulsa.  So why plant a church in Tulsa – a place where there are more mega-churches per square mile than anywhere else in the U.S?  I will begin to answer that question in my next post.

Tulsa Trip 3.0 October 27, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Tulsa.
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Sunday evening we visited The Gathering.  It is a church attempting to reach urban professionals near downtown.  We happened in on their 2 year anniversary.  It was exciting to see how God is using them and to hear their vision for the future.  We need churches like this that are committed to the city.  I came across this quote in a recent article: Protestant (evangelical) Christians are the least urban religious group and thus have the least impact culturally. Three kinds of people here affect the future: a) elites, b) new immigrants, c) the poor. The single most effective way for Christians to ‘reach’ the US would be for 25% of them to move to two or three of the largest cities and stay there for three generations.  This is exactly why we are moving to the urban core of Tulsa.  We want to be used by God in an area of maximum impact.  We want to be an encouragement and support for The Gathering and other churches who are committed to the good of the city.

After The Gathering, Brad and I met with Michael Bates who writes for the Urban Tulsa Weekly.  Michael was a wealth of information about all things Tulsa.  We learned a lot about what’s happening downtown and the surrounding areas.

Tulsa Trip 2.0 October 24, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Tulsa.
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Sunday afternoon we got tickets to the documentary Before They Die.  It told the story of the race riot in Tulsa in 1921.  300 people died and the Greenwood community that was the home to 10,000 African-Americans was destroyed.  It was the most affluent African-American community in the U.S. at that time – it was nick named ‘The Black Wall Street’.  This event has been left out of the history books – partly because the police and the national guard were involved in the destruction, some through aggression, many through passivity.

The mayor of Tulsa was present and issued an apology on behalf of the city to the victims and their descendants.  She issued a call toward unity and working together.

Tulsa seems to be more segregated than any city in which I’ve lived (KC,STL,DFW).  Brad and I walked away from the viewing with a desire to be used by God to reach into North Tulsa (a predominantly African-American community) and bring the hope of Jesus and a better quality of life.  As of now, we don’t know what this means or what it might look like – we need a lot more input from people in the area as to what the specific needs are.  But we are committed to starting a community of believers that value social justice and actively pursue it.

Tulsa Trip 1.0 October 23, 2008

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, Tulsa.
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Finally back in KC.  It was good to see Carey and the kids last night.  Talk about an energy overload – they were jumping up and down, running in circles, hanging onto me, and simultaneously telling me everything that had happened over the past 5 days – the kids, not Carey 🙂  It is an unspeakable blessing to have a home where I’m so loved and wanted.

Jump back 4 days.  Sunday was the day that God gave me a vision for what should be and could be in Tulsa.  We attended Rivendell Fellowship on Sunday morning.  Steve Denton, one of the co-pastors, was incredibly gracious and encouraging throughout the weekend.  He provided a lot of insight into the area and the needs of the community.  We ate lunch with a band of Rivendellers who were excited to hear about what God was doing in our lives and wanted to aid us however they could.

Let me just say – there is nothing as sweet and encouraging as fellow believers who are not territorial and see the church through Kingdom lenses.  That is, they recognize that God’s work is bigger than their own and are most interested in what He’s doing.  I hope our church always responds the same way.