Friday, June 30, 2006

Hoops, red tape and road blocks

Has anyone noticed that Americanized Chistianity is full of hoops, red tape and roadblocks? You get a good candidate and they are ready to roll and then the red tape checks and balances of the institution start engaging.

That is the story of my entire ministry. It doesn't matter what God wants, let's see what man wants. And what man wants seems to be more important than what God wants. Am I the only one tired of this. People have positions and they want to keep control so the end result is harmful to organic Christianity.

Am I wacked out or have others been in bondage to systems and the thinking of men?

God expects much more out of us. When will we step out of the safety in the boats of human thinking and walk on the water of faith and determination to do what God wants regardless of what man thinks?

Walking on the water with Jesus will always cost us something..But stayting in the boat of bondage to the wishes of men will cost you more. I'm out of the boat and it will be up to Jesus on whether I will walk or sink. I call that faith water walking.

Give me your thoughts...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How sad!

I heard of a pastor in a recent story connected to me in a variety of ways. Well anyway this pastor wears a white shirt every day and even mows his grass in it. I don't really care what a person wears or does not wear. However, I prefer shorts and T-Shirt these days. Some days my dress up is jeans and a button down shirt. Since my Beulah pastoring days and 23 years of pastoring the institutional church I have not even had a suit on, I'm not even sure they fit my well rounded and expanding figure.

Anyway, this white shirt Pastor was invited to his family birthday celebration. Guess what? He refused the invitation while in town for a couple of days because his family drinks a litle wine "maybe" at the party. Is it any wonder the church is dying in America. As I thought about this decision "not to go for the reason stated" I was reminded of what Jesus would have done. Jesus would have gone to the party and there is a strong possibility He would also have a glass of wine. His culture permitted it and He drank it and made it. I'm not encouraging abuse, I'm making a point. Jesus loved to hang out with the "party" people.

Am I really that off track? Don't focus on the wine -focus on Jesus and His method of building relationships.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Bush Family

Todd and Yolanda Bush and their three children have sold their home in Kentucky and will purchase their home in Kansas City on July 24th. Talk about living by faith -they are joining with what God is doing in Kansas City (the Kearney area) of disciples making other disciples and trusting God to build His Church.

These pictures show the family but the little one is not pictured here. Please pray for this family.

To date we are trying to raise start up funding with Todd working bi-vocationally and helping to raise his support levels. We have targeted a $25,000 need to relocate and get them started.

Do any of you want to give toward this families start up needs?

Look to the right of this article and note the giving info. Please mark Bush Family in the memo of your check. It is a tax deductible gift with the Bush family being a Midwest DIstrict project.

We are bringing the Bush family by faith with no future income guarantees only faith. How many of you would like to move to a city with this kind of deal?

A "WOW" Resource

"Organic Church -'Growing Faith Where Life Happens'" By Neil Cole


I'm sitting on a plane the other day heading for Portland to meet with Pastors after having about 3 hours sleep the night before. Did I sleep on the plane? Hardly, I picked up Neil's book and found myself awake and reading as fast as I could as if every word was and every Scripture began to take on meaning with relevance for today.

In the book I found this amazing quote by Howard Snyder.
"The Gospel says 'GO,' but our church buildings say, 'STAY,'"
"The Gospel says, 'SEEK THE LOST,' but our churches say, 'LET THE LOST SEEK THE

This is followed by Neil Cole's writing, "It is time that we see that the Church starts in the fields, not in the barns (Proverbs 24:27). We spend so much time in building nice barns with padded pews, air-conditioned halls, and state of the art sound systems, yet we have neglected the fields. We are asfoolish as the farmer who builds a barn and then stands in the doorway calling all crops to come in and make themselves at home."

Instead of focussing on what we bring to the table we should focus on what Jesus brings to the table. The church in America has a predominant focus on what we bring to the table namely on Sunday then what Jesus brings to us everyday of our lives. Neil continues, "The better question is, 'Where is Jesus atwork in our midst?' Where do we see lives changing, and communities transforming simply by the power of the Gospel? Where do we see father's restored in holiness and responsibility? where do we see daughters reconciling with their fathers? Where do we see addicts who no longer live under the bondage of chemical dependancy? Where are wealthy businessmen making restitution for past crimes that went unnoticed? These are the questions that lead you to the presence of God's Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven."

I'm for all of us becoming the Church where the presence of Jesus is among us and where His people are called out as a spiritual family pursuing His mission on this planet."

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Exciting things are on the immediate horizon as we find leaders who will lead our disciplemaking system in Kansas City and St. Louis. As we pray for God to send workers into the metro harvest region, God is answering those many prayers. We are receiving excellent leads on workers with interest in coming to these cities. Or you could say, the huge ball is beginning to roll.

Someone told me that finding workers would be the hardest task I will face.. In reality it is proving not to be so. I have learned that God is the One who stirs the hearts of leaders and He is the One who sends the workers. (It is God's job to send the workers --It is my job to pray that God will send us the worker's.) Isn't this way too cool.

The hardest job of all in this day of consumerism is finding the resources to fund the projects. I have concluded that most of our projects will need to be bi-vocational with each planter doing a part of the fundraising needed to fund the movement with me helping them. That's great and planter's are willing to sacrifice and do whatever they can to be able to serve God with whatever He asks of them.

But in reality, most every planter family will need start up funds. That's where you come in.

Is there anyway you can release funds for our Disciple-making system to get these planter teams in place? There are initial relocating expenses and funding needs to provide finances until jobs can be secured etc.

We need to get the FUNDING MACHINE CRANKED UP! Can you give, anthing??

If the answer is YES ---Send your check made out to "Missionary Church -Midwest District"
TO: Church Planting KC & SL
Midwest District
P.O. Box 94
Bentley, Kansas 67016

This is a crucial time as I continue to work on raising my support levels while now needing to raise some start up funding for the Todd Bush family -moving to Kansas City in August. As soon as I get their pciture I will post it on my blogsite.

As I pray for workers in the Harvest metro regions - I am now praying for God to stir hearts to release resources. Some of those who will give -I do not even know. As your heart is stirred -please respond as God leads. Remember -you will be blessed by obeying God and by laying up treasures or fruit in heaven.

I love you -- Bob

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tired of (it) and ready for (IT)!

Let's just repeat the New Testament Church in America. Let's do it over and over and over again. Are you with me?

Let's just do it now! Is anyone just tired of (it) and ready to join me in repeating Acts or just doing (IT) over and over and over in America?

Just simply tired of (it) and ready for (IT).

Who says a short post is not worht reading.....?

The Church - Kicked in the Butt?

God may be kicking the tradional church in America right in the butt. I have watched God shift His blessing from place to place over the years. If one Church family doesn't want to make disciples who make disciples -God will bless others who will. If one Church family doesn't want to reach ethinc groups - God will bless those who will. If one Church family does not want to feed and clothe the poor, the widows, the orphans - God will bless those who will.

God may be kicking the tradional church right in the butt. If she will not engage this culture in a transparent, authentic and transformational way - God will bless those who will. In case you haven't noticed - the tradional church has a bad reputation for not living what Jesus taught.

I salute the Church families who clearly and correctly represent Jesus and His teachings. I admire those who place more emphasis on being the church rather than going to church. It reminds me of the preacher who stood up to preach one Sunday and opened his Bible and immediately closed his Bible. He stepped aside the pulpit and clearly looked his congregation in the eye and said, "I am not going to preach this morning, and I will not be preaching next Sunday morning, and I will not preach another sermon until you start doing and living what God has already told you to do and live. I want this guy for my pastor.

House Church Involvement on the Rise

As you know we feel God is leading us to create a new wineskin for making disciples who make disciples. By doing church differently we do not mean we will are giving up on the traditional church as we know it. Since people appear to want a choice from the traditional church and since they aren leaving her we need to reach them and all the others who will never attend a "church". In any case we know that some people will always stay or go to the traditional church. Others will choose to be the Church and worship and serve in a new winskin. So we will do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ (in traditional and new wineskin settings and forms).

However, I do believe we have a golden opportunity for a huge harvest if we will think outside of the box and do ministry and disciple-making differently. I'm not sure how our forms and practices will look in the future but I believe and have been writing for months now that it will be different for sure. I believe the Church will be the body of Christ impacting her culture in transformational ways.

In a recent article George Barna confirms a growing movement sweeping America. I have known for some time that people are leaving or not attending the traditional church and are hungry for a new way to live out their faith and practice.

Barna writes, "Americans are increasingly designing their lifestyles in ways that meet their needs more efficiently. This is true even in the spiritual realm, as evidence by the rapid growth of participation in house churches across the nation. Whereas most people continue to think of "going to church" as attending a service at one of the many church buildings located throughout their community, a new study from the Barna Group shows that millions of adults are trying out new forms of spiritual community and worship, with many abandoning the traditional forms altogether." Read more at http:///

Every week I speak with leaders/pastors who are leaving the traditional church. Last night I spoke with another pastor who says he is done, even disillusioned. He said to me, "I'm finished with playing church and the games people play politically." In some traditional settings the church is clearly not the Church. People are hungering for authentic relationships and worship where people are real and living as true Christ followers.

For me, I'm leaning more toward the new model "whatever that is" for making disciples. Call it whatever you want - it is a model closely mirroring the New Testament Church in faith and practice. I guess you could say, I'm for trying something new and fresh instead of what I have experienced in the traditional model.

I must also say that I don't even like the term House Church because it subtly implies that the church is a place to attend instead of a people ministering throughout community. I am for meeting in homes, however. I'm not for repeating the mistakes of the past. I am for engaging our culture in a spiritually transformational way, and when people are transformed let them lead others in being transformed. If this can happen in a tradional church -I am all for her. If it can happen in a new wineskin -I am all her her too.

Friday, June 16, 2006

June 16, 2006 Prayer Letter to Faith Partners

Dear Faith Partners,

Hope and pray that you are doing fine, living well and growing in your faith. As for us, we are excited by the work of God we see all around us. We continue to believe that if we are to see success in Making Disciples it will take all of God. Our contribution of time and effort is small in comparison.

We praise God for a week of great things. Several more good leads are developing. For the longest time I only had those interested in Kansas City. As of this week I received several leads expressing a strong St. Louis interest. So before long we are trusting God for teams working in both cities for the harvest.

One quick story. I received a lead several months ago and have been talking to John from Arkansas who is an experienced Church planter, who also believes we need a new wineskin ministry that makes disciples who make disciples. John kept expressing a great burden for St. Louis, and He kept saying He would like to come and work with me to engage the city here. Well, there is no way (with present resources) we can pay this guy a salary etc. The other day he called me with great news. God has provided a way for he and his wife to move to St. Louis. A large hospital offered him a very lucrative position and they accepted it. It will be interesting to see where this contact and new friendship takes us. God will work His will no matter what. We just need to keep trusting and recognizing His Presence.

Please keep praying for the Todd and Yolanda Bush and Anthony Marks as they are scheduled to move into Kansas City in August. Please pray for finances and places to live and work. Please keep praying for us as we also continue to raise our own support levels. Please pray for the 2 couples who indicate strong interest in St. Louis as I work with them.

I asked you to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth workers and resources to St. Louis and Kansas City, and God is hearing and answering your prayers. He is sending people our way.

We love You,

Bob & Michelle
Missionaries to the Metro Regions

Bob Carder
Mission District Leader
Missionary Church, Inc.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Of Course!

Of Course I believe God is working in the established Church here in America. If I didn't believe it I wouldn't spend another minute of my time trying to help her - which I do in Healthy Church Initiative. We can take a Church who has lost her way and help her refocus on the priorities of Jesus and they will bear fruit. God is at work wherever He chooses to work and His fruit comes in many many different venues, wineskins and places.

The matter at hand has nothing to do with God at work. We know God is at work. The problem in America has a really simple answer. Who is the Church and what is her task at hand. Some would argue that not every Church is a church. It may look like a Church but does it really portray the life giving presence of Christ at work? Are those present transformed,and are they in love with Jesus, are they doing what Jesus taught them to do by way of reaching the world. If all we are supposed to do is find Christ, tell me why - Jesus is leaving all of us here. Let's just get saved and get out of here.

We all know better than that. The Church exists to be the change agent, the hands and feet and voice and heart of Jesus to lead others to Him. God chooses to use people to reach people with His transforming power.

I'd like to think of the Church separate from a building. I hate it when people say, let's go to Church. How can the people who are the Church go to Church? If we are the Church as I believe we are, then everywhere we go the Church goes with us. I'm the Church when I pay for my gas, or when I mow my lawn, or when I have my friends or neighbors over for dessert, or when walk through my neighborhood saying hi to my neighbors.

Of course I applaud God's work in traditional settings and non traditional settings and setting not yet given a name. Wherever lives are transformed - I 'm all for the work and celebrate the work of Christ through them.

What burns me are those satisfied with sitting around, waiting for Jesus to return, sitting in their pews, gumming themselves to death and calling it Church. That burns me! We were never created and then saved to forget the lost people around us. If the Church is only about us -it cannot be about Jesus and His mission.

If you are associating with a group of people who call themselves the Church and it's all about them and no one is being transformed, then tell me -why are you still with them? Are you going to waste your time and resources and the joy of seeing lives transformed? Please don't tell me you like sitting around waiting for Jesus to return -while sittin in a pew gumming yourself to death.

Of course there is reason to celebrate. Jesus is Alive and He is working wherever He chooses to work. Oh, and don't forget He always chooses to work where His priorities are taken seriously.

The truth is, Christianity is in trouble here in America because far too many are more consumed with themselves and their own needs over being consumed with Jesus and His Mission.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is America Really In Trouble?

I'm pondering this thot after speaking to yet another Pastor who is disillusioned with the state of the American Church. Clearly Americanized Christianity is losing ground.

We must not forsake the millions who have not yet had the opportunity to accept or reject Jesus. It's clear that the American Church is in serious trouble because younger Pastors are not waiting until they are in their 40's and 50's to leave the pastorate , they are leaving in their 20's. Oh don't get me wrong when I say they are leaving, they are not leaving Christ, nor are they leaving the Church, they are just leaving the Americanized version of Christianity. And maybe that is a good thing! Not maybe!

It could be the best thing ever if those twenty something pastors use their passion to reach lost people in spite of the American Church failures to do so. Actually I believe there are leaders in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50', 60's and some others who with conviction are so passionate they will risk everything to see a new wineskin and a New Testament ministry developed in America.

When I speak with those passionate leaders my blood pumps faster through my veins and hope springs up within me as I see renewed hope for the Harvest in America.

Now I have come to this conclusion...The American Church is in trouble, not America. I believe God is raising up a new generation of leaders who will dare to go where no other leader has even thought of venturing. These leaders are of all stages in life but predominately of the younger generations who are fed up with games, politics, institutions and just taking care of the already reached so they can be more comfortable.

There you have my take on the deal...America is in goods hands as God rasies up a new leader for a new day to serve a new wineskin approach to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. If the American Church won't do -God will create a Church that will. America is not in trouble -the American Church is. Younger leaders will not serve a Church with such a self-serving cause. They are opting for real life transformation and incarnational ministry.

My hats off to those who refuse to be complacent and who fight status quo and who refuse to be part of such inadequate results in the Americanized version of Church or is it church. If you can't change the Church in America in becoming Great Commission in heart and practice -it's time to jump off that sinking ship. The already reached are already reached -what will we lose anyway?

Monday, June 12, 2006

God, Help Us!

We are in desperate need for God to send workers and resources to the battle-fronts of Kansas City and St. Louis. How I pray that God will stir the hearts of those who carry a passion to make disciples who make disciples. We have little to offer but the promises of God to bless and the Truth of God's Word to bring fulfillment.

Do you long for purpose and the joy of being filled and fulfilled? If so, please pray about the metro cities of America, namely Kansas City and or St. Louis. Is God calling you to make a small sacrifice for Him?

What would change if Jesus never showed up?

What would change if you had everything and everyone but Jesus on Sunday? If you did whatever you do and Jesus was not present what would show up as a major missing on Sunday.

I'm thinking that in many Churches if Jesus didn't show up nothing would change. In fact, I think the service would go on carefully orchestrated and planned out as outlined in the bulletin. Think about your service this Sunday, then go to Church and tell me if Jesus wasn't there -what would change?

I fear with some certainty that if Jesus never showed up this Sunday - in most cases, nothing would change. I call this the the difference between "our doing" and "God's Doing." For way too log the Church in America has operated in man's strength. We profess to know Christ but deny His power and control. The Church is devoid of God's presence and power.

God please forgive us and please release the fetters that bind and blind us.

Is Anyone?

Is anyone as sick as I am with the Church in America that counts offerings and people as a measure of success? Whatever happened to the Acts measure, On a given day, 5,000 came to Christ.

Is anyone sick of watching believers reshuffling from place to place? One month this Church is growing, the next month this Church is growing - with shifting saints. Why do we do all that we do?

Jesus allowed great persecution so that the Gentiles could hear the Gospel and respond. What will it take to move the saints out of the pew on Sunday into the world to make an impact?

The real measure of success is the Acts measure, daily people were coming to Christ. It wasn't fancy buildings, large offerings or a record crowd. Souls were being saved from a Christless eternity.

Did you know, I was deceived into thinking buildings, budgets and bulging crowds was the measure of success. Now I realize that success for me is a soul being transformed by the power of the Gospel. The other stuff is chicken feed. The real stuff is life-transformation at work, at play, or in our living rooms. Success is seeing Jesus' words become transformational and reproducible in the lives of others over and over and over again.

I pray so hard for that soul. I desperately need to reach that soul.

Why Would Anyone?

Why would anyone go to a place of worship on Sunday just to have their needs met and their souls fed -while supposing to worship God? Is it not true that the already reached do this more often then not? Do people really go to a place of worship -to really worship God? Or, are they really thinking of themselves and their own needs?

If people really went to places of worship on Sunday to really worship God, wouldn't they also value His commands to make disciples who make disciples? Or are we entrenched or deceived into believing that what we are really doing is right and God honoring?

Why would anyone ever go to a place of worship on Sunday just to have their own needs met. Afterall, the Scriptures are full of service to God and others. Are we really that self-centered?

Who or What?

I sure wish someone would tell me who or what the Church is. Is the Americanized idea of the Church the Church? Are we the Church, if we meet together on Sunday? Are we the Church if we do not reproduce ourselves? Are we the Church if we are not making disciples who make disciples? Who or what makes up the Church? Is it just a place to attend? Or is there more to the Church?

If you think you know what the Church is or Who she is -then tell me what she is doing right. Tell me what she needs to do better. Will what she is doing right in your opinion, keep Christianity alive in the next couple of decades? Is she really making a difference to advance the kingdom with new convert "disciple" growth.

If the Church as you know it is the Church, then is she doing what Jesus commanded her to do?

Will someone tell me Who or What the Church is?

The Dying American Church by Thom Rainer - March 6, 2006

I am by nature an optimist. I have seen the hand of God too often in my life to live in a state of despair and defeatism. But the state of evangelism in the American church is such that I do have my moments when I wonder if the church is headed down the path of many European congregations: decline and death.

The facts of a 2004 research project I led are sobering. It takes 86 church members in America one year to reach a person for Christ. Now I realize that such statistical studies are imperfect, and I make no claims of omniscience, especially in matters such as the regenerate population. But if the research is even close to accurate, the reality is that the church is not reproducing herself. In just one or two generations, Christianity could be so marginalized that it will be deemed irrelevant by most observers.

Why has the American church become evangelistically anemic? The research points to several possible factors.

First, the church and many of the Christians who serve in the churches have become doctrinally ineffective. Repentance is often avoided as a key truth of the Gospel. Hell is rarely mentioned, despite its abundance of references in Scripture. And regenerate church membership and church discipline are sometimes perceived as relics of an old and irrelevant era. When these and other key issues are avoided or even watered down, the church loses her power, and the Gospel is no longer the Gospel.

Second, church leaders are becoming less evangelistic. A survey of pastors I led in 2005 surprised the research team. Over one-half (53 percent) of pastors have made no evangelistic efforts at all in the past six months. They have not shared the Gospel. They have not attempted to engage a lost and unchurched person at any level. They have become busy doing many things, but they have chosen through their lack of actions to be disobedient to Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19, and many other clear passages of evangelistic mandates.

Third, Christians in churches often get caught up in the minor issues and fail to become passionate about the major issue of evangelism. I served as pastor of a church that spent two hours in a business meeting debating over a 5 percent differential in the cost of two similar pieces of furniture. I wish I had seen such passion for the lost and the unchurched in our community.

The numerical evidence seems clear. The American church is dying. We are not reproducing Christians. American church growth is typically the transfer of members from one congregation to another, rather than the conversion of the lost. I guess I could blame the churches, her leaders, and stubborn church members. But I must confess that I too often fall short in my own evangelistic zeal. Sometimes I get so busy that I fail to do the main thing.

Perhaps the first step for all of us is the confession of our own sins of disobedience, our own failures to take the evangelistic mandate seriously. Perhaps if we determine that the problem begins with me, then we can be a part of the solution.

Will you join me in a personal evangelistic renewal? The results of our evangelistic efforts are in the hands of a Sovereign God. But we can be His instruments for this renewal. Perhaps then the American church will see new life and new hope. Such is my prayer. I hope it is yours.

Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Prayer Letter -June 10

Dear Faith Partners,

As I write I am excited that we have some things coming up that I can share that need lots of prayer. The foundation of creating a disciple-making movement is being set. God is at work, we give Him praise.

Next week I will be in Kansas City to meet with Todd and Yolanda Bush. This couple is poised and ready to move into Kansas City to the north. They are coming to Kansas City to check out places to live, the schools for their children etc. Please pray that they will have a safe journey and a profitable time. Todd has been to Kansas City but Yolanda has never been. Please pray for Yolanda to have the clear call that Todd has for the city. No one is dragging their feet, I just want Yolanda to feel a strong leading as well. As all goes well, the Bush family will move to Kansas City the first week of August, by faith. Please keep praying for their funding needs. We have another guy poised and ready to move near the downtown area of Kansas City later in August. When everyone has been notified on his end I will share his full name. For now just pray for Anthony and for a smooth transition and for a job as he will be bi-vocational.

I'm in great need of prayer on two fronts. I also need to complete my funding. Since I am just halfway on my monthly contributions I need to raise the other half very soon and I am desperate for God to help me. I thought the fundraising component would be the easy part -but it is not. Thanks to all of you who share resources out of love for us and God's work. The second great need has to do with pulling together community leaders as we developed VisionUSA teams for Kansas City and St. Louis. We need a strong group in order to invite VisionUSA to these cities. When VisionUSA comes they will help us raise dollars for Church Planting Teams. Please pray that God will connect us to the right people as we seek to pull these teams together this summer.

Please feel free to send emails back letting us know you are still praying and anything we can pray with you about. This is the first time in our lives when we have moved to a city without moving to a different Church to pastor. So it is a different transition for us. When we hear from friends it brings great joy to our hearts. I am getting a sense for how Missionaries feel when they move to a different country. I guess we are like Missionaries to the larger cities of America.

Please stay in touch,


Bob Carder
Mission District Leader
Missionary Church, Inc.

Ministry Update:

It looks like the poison ivy has passed for now. But I remain on a mission to eleminate it from our woods behind our house. Thank God for all your prayers and for the shot in my (*) and the medicine as well. I'm surprised I'm thanking God for a shot with humiliation.

We have been busy looking for new ways to find the people God needs to bring in the harvest here in the metro regions of Kansas City and St. Louis. Ulitimately God will lead the right people to the right place at the right time. Keep praying for the Lord of the Harvest to send workers and resources to the Harvest fields.

We continue to network in St. Louis and Kansas City. We are hopeful that we will be ready to invite VisionUSA to both cities in the fall. VisionUSA is a group of busines leaders, like Al Weiss, president of Disney Theme Park -worldwide, who have a passion to reach lost people. They come in and help raise money for new Church Planting Teams.

Along with fundraising -the really slow and hard part of my job, Chel and I have been spending time with our neighbors. Yesterday an older couple invited us over for breakfast and they asked me to pray for the meal. I almost fell out of my chair. They are watching and listening! I have many stories about my neighbors and their openness to Jesus.

We continue to walk by faith...You please pray with faith for us.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My friend Bill is being led to do it!

Bill Huffhine writes...

Where From Here?

"Stand at the crossroads and look...ask where the good way is and walk in it."

I've spent the last several days posting my thoughts here about the things Lynn and I learned about the life of ministry during our time in Illinois. Though there is much more I can share, I feel it's now time to shift my thoughts away from the past and toward the future. Where do we go from here?

There have been questions that we've wrestled with over the last 10 months that needed a degree of resolution before we could give serious thoughts to the next chapter of our life in regards to ministry.

We had to hear from God about the nature of our time in Augusta, GA. Is this time here simply a brief season in which we rest, reflect, and re-orient ourselves before being moved by God to our next assignment? Or is Augusta our next assignment? Though we've received invitations to relocate elsewhere and begin pastoring, God has clearly spoken - particularly in the last month or so - and settled in our hearts that this city is indeed our next assignment.

I also had to hear from God about the nature of future ministry. Has God indeed wired me best to be the starter of new churches? Or should I be seeking pastoral assignment in an established church? Again, God has reaffirmed what I've really known all along, and that is that I could never fit into an existing church structure. I am wired best to see and passionately give myself to things that don't yet exist. Trying to fit myself into an existing church structure would be like...well have you ever seen on the History Channel when they've unearthed a mummy and unwrapped it in the lab? The constriction of the mummification process is about what fitting into an existing church structure as the lead pastor would feel like to me.

"Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

As we've spent the last several weeks settling in our hearts that this place is our next assignment, the next task has been to hear clearly from God what He desires to do through us here. It's pretty easy for me to piece together a vision of my own for ministry. But I desperately want to make sure that whatever we give ourselves to in Augusta is unmistakably God's vision for this city and not my own.

God has been faithful to His invitation. When we set ourselves first to the task of discovering the heartbeat of God for a place or a people, God will then cause our own heart to beat in rythmn with His. Out of that rythmn God is bringing to life in Lynn and me an awesome picture of what He wants to do through us.

Epic Church of Augusta has been born in our hearts and minds and we are beginning to take the first steps in fleshing out this dream for a community of people who are radically passionate about intimacy with God, intimacy with one another, and are deeply committed to faithfully carrying out the commission of Christ to make disciples as we go about our lives.

In what ways will Epic Church of Augusta be an expression of the Kingdom of God and Body of Christ in this city? We envision three facets of this expression.

First, Epic will be a network of missional house churches scattered throughout what is known here as the C.S.R.A. (Central Savannah River Area). This network of house churches will be led by a brotherhood of elders who are deeply committed to a life of sacrificial personal discipleship, deeply committed to one another, and deeply committed to missional unity.

Secondly, Epic will gather together weekly or bi-weekly as a large group with all of the house churches coming together for a worship gathering. It won't be your typical worship "service." It will be a communal worship experience designed to intertwine the sacred with the natural rythmns of life (more on that later).

And finally, we desire to see as part of this movement a 24 hour/7 day worship and intercession
initiative. As I mentioned in "Boot Camp Chronicles; On Substance and Strategy," worship, prayer, and fasting are the lifeblood of ministry. Envision if you can a prayer and worship gathering that never ends with music that never stops and a 24/7 stream of people coming to plead with God on behalf of the city.

On the sidebar of this blog under the heading of "Influences" you see links to three different bodies of believers that are living out the expressions that I've described above. Xenos Christian fellowship is a network of house churches. Solomon's Porch reflects our vision in the way they gather together for worship. And the International House of Prayer began with a group of people gathering to pray in 1999 and it has never stopped.

This is a glimpse. In the days ahead I will start a new series of posts breaking this vision down even further. Here are some upcoming blog-post topics:

1. Why "Epic?"

2. Prayer Team Invitation

3. Why House Church?

4. This Is A Strange Looking Worship Service

5. Prayer Without Ceasing


What if...?

What if you had a different kind of Church? What if you attended a Church that did not own any buildings, or have a full time Pastor, or even meet on Sunday? What if?

Did you know there is a grwing movement of house Churches across America? It's pretty neat! They meet everyweek in intimate and personal home settings. This is where they share together, read Scriptures together, hold each other accountable, invite their friends, love each other and share Jesus. Instead of Church being on Sunday, they live it every day. Sounds sort of New Testament to me. If someone has a need, the need is met in the group. Since there are no buildings or full time staff -offerings are taken and used to help the needy in the community or to send Missionaries around the world. This sounds very interesting to me. Check out for more info on this model.

Oh by the way, they do have everyone in the house churches gather once a month for a celebration time to praise God for all He has done for them.

Give me your thoughts on this approach.

New Wineskins - Same Jesus

I thought I would pull some things out of Steve Collins description of worship from the alternative worship website and just a hint, it is a lot more than projectors, new technology, programs and buildings.

Does this type of worship environment and elements interest any of you?
  • authentic faith expression that truly represents the people
  • faith as journey, to be facilitated rather than controlled
  • giving people space for their own encounter with God
  • an exploration of creativity - in everyone, not just a gifted few
  • risk-taking, experimental - openness to failure and mistakes
  • holistic - life not divided into sacred and secular
  • any part of our lives and abilities as potential material for faith expression
  • participation - involvement encouraged, passive consumption discouraged
  • minimal exclusion - shaped by whoever gets involved
  • consensus - not one person imposing their direction
  • low threshold of permission - in general if you want to do something go ahead
  • high quality, as good as we can make it - culturally aware
  • awareness of ourselves as part of God's creation, and a concern for its welfare
  • the entire expression of the faith community seen as 'church' not just one event
  • reluctance to draw boundaries that determine who or what is in or out of God's kingdom
  • openness to God's presence in any area of life or culture

How an event is made:

  • events generally planned around a chosen theme
  • everything that happens communicates aspects of theme
  • no fixed or obligatory elements
  • almost anything permitted if it communicates
  • shape of event worked out in group
  • individuals take pieces of the event to do
  • event comes together on the day without rehearsal, in accordance to the shape agreed during planning
  • high level of trust in people's ability to deliver appropriate content
  • events not restricted to conventional church timetables or venues

What usually happens:

  • event led by many people not one or two
  • relaxed, informal
  • congregation are active participants
  • discussions - small groups or whole congregation
  • rituals and liturgies - ancient eg Holy Communion or newly created
  • moving around the space
  • interaction with installations and artworks
  • periods when people can do different things at the same time
  • learning by exploration and interaction, not located in a single 'teaching' slot

What usually doesn't happen:

  • sermons or didactic teaching
  • sitting in one place all the time
  • worship bands, choirs or organs
  • one person at the front directing everything
  • Powerpoint presentations

New forms of church environment:

  • no pews or rows of seats
  • no pulpit
  • no stage
  • non-directional space - no front to face, things happen all around
  • soft seating, beanbags, sit or lie on floor
  • cafe spaces - chairs and tables, sofas, food and drink
  • intimate lighting - spotlights, candles, TVs, projections
  • installations and artworks
  • ambient music - as background to everything including speech and prayer
  • ambient video - relevant to event content but not attention-grabbing
  • creative use of available technology and media, including from home or work
  • technology and media used as environment or art as well as presentation tools
  • venue may not be existing church building
Give me your thoughts!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Would Someone Prove It To Me?

Today I continue to struggle with this whole issue of making disciples who in turn make disciples who make disciples in the established C(c)hurch in American. Recently, I was speaking with a new friend from Africa who married one of the girl's in one of my former Churches in Indiana. It didn't take me long as we shared lunch together to get a glimpse into this guys heart for making disciples. As I sat across the table I listened intently as he talked about the many Churches being started daily in Afraica homes, in fields and in other places across the continent of Africa. The expectation for every new Christian to make other disciples was clear and they are actually doing it, just like Jesus tells us to.

This couple, now living in Portland is struggling to find a Great Commission Church while here, because as you know what they are used to is not in the American Christian DNA. (Unless our Missionaries have corrupted them with our Amercian version of Christianity.) What they are used to looks more like the New Testament Church as recorded in the Book of Acts. In American, as you already know, we would rather plan a "come and see" event and hope some people come to Christ. We would rather have nice elagant facilities. We would rather have educated seminary trained leaders. Here, we lead people to Jesus then put them in a 2 year class on discipleship long enough for them to lose their passion for reaching lost people so they act and look like the rest of us pew sitters. Not so in Africa, they expect and allow all people to lead all other people to Jesus. No college degrees, no seminary education, no full time salaries, no nice buildings. Just the Gospel message of redemption and the Holy Spirit leading them. The end result; Thousands of new Christ-followers making more Christ-followers.

Then in closing my friend asked, "Do you think I should go to seminary while here in America? My answer: An emphatic "NO". "No, do not let Americanized Christianity steal away your passion or heart in exchange for Church systems, programs, credentialing requirements and hoops for American Christianity." Then I said, "Seminary may every well undo every right thing you were taught by the Holy Spirit to do in a New Testament way."

If you do not believe me, look across the America and find me disciples who are making disciples in the American Church.

Is anyone out there in blog-land making disciples who are also making disciples? Give me the full story right here if you have one.

Can someone show me where this is happening in America? Please? Can I be proven wrong?

Northwest District Missionary Church

We are done, the 100th annual district conference meetings are over. But the results of our vision casting cconference will never be over. We are heading in a new refined and refocused direction. There is renewed vigor in reaching the harvest of lost people, there is renewed interest in being healthy disciples and disciple-makers, there a commitment to make disciples who will make other disciples who will make other disciples.

As I sit in the Portland airport awaiting my plane, my reflections are numerous and very positive. It was a conference of unified vision and personal unity. We left with the challenge to pray for workers in the harvest fields of the Northwest region where nearly 13 million people live and where many of them have not had the chance to accept Jesus Christ.

It is our accepted challenge to find five church planting teams for Portland before the 2007 General Conference of the Missionary Church when it convenes next summer.

Will you join with me in praying for workers in the Harvest region of Portland, Oregon?

Was it, Is It, The Church or the church?

It all started...through Pain I cannot to this day describe in human terms.. I realized that day that I had spent 23 years of ministry in a system where the church may not have really been the Church. Oh in certain places with certain people -I saw the Church. But so very much of it was routine, stagnate and simply playing church. Oh so many looked like the Church but was it really the church? Or wasn't it?

Did we really believe in the Supremacy of the Great Commission?
Did we like church more than Jesus?
Did we give our offerings for our own ministry needs and wants?
Did we want our way, our minstries, our music?
Did we want to be served rather than serve?
Did we want to control or release?
Did we really want other ethnic goups hanging our with our kids, youth and even adults?
Did we focus on Sunday more than Monday through Saturday?
Did we hang out with the reached more than the unreached?
Did we like the holy huddle more than the unholy gathering down the street?
Did we like comfort of the Church more than the discomfort of the world?
Did we really believe we were doing it right when the world was so wrong?
Did we really expect the pastor to do what we said over what God was saying?
Did we do what was politically correct or did we do what was right?
Did we and I could go on and on and on and on.

I discovered that day that I didn't need to give my life to her anymore. If she isn't going to act like the Church - I will not call her the Church either. Is there more to this Christian life? Is there a real Church with really transformed people?

I am no longer committed to the church...I am more committed than ever to the Church.


theplanter said: I love this article and this blogsite!

I have been reflecting on a recent comment from a previous post in which Rhonda wrote: "It's very difficult to leave an institutional church. There are so many facets to the process and it took me over 2 years to do it. I look at the whole thing as more of growth than the IC being a sin."

Her point is that we are all in a state of imperfection, whether we are in or not in an "IC." The real question is, starting with where we are, are we continuing to to grow? Are we growing up? Are we maturing? Church does not do it for us... We each have the responsibility for starting where we are today... and continuing to grow.

At the same time, I want to affirm that the process of de-institutionalizing my Christian life has, in fact, provoked a challenging, and exciting growth process in me. It is not simply changing one form of church for another, it is being challenged to trade in passivism for healthy activism and to trade in letting-others-do-it for a healthy self-responsibility.

As I think about this maturing process that has taken place in my life since moving out of the institutional world I see certain points of growth that I have gone through (and that I have watched others go through). I am talking about a blossoming that takes places as we move:


Perhaps the best way to provoke others to grow from where they are to where they can be is to continue to grow ourselves. It is, after all, this maturing process that truly leads us to greater peace, joy, freedom, love, and fruitfulness. Obviously, if we are demonstrating more and more of these qualities, others will want something more for themselves as well!

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