Monday, July 31, 2006

Is it Possible?

Is it possible to speak to the needs (expectations) of the American Church and also be relevant at the same time?

As I sat in a campmeeting service this evening those thoughts crossed my mind. Forgive me but the message spoke to the church (with all the churchy comments and terminology) - it did not speak to the needs of our culture. I'm perplexed, can the message in churches meet the needs of the church members who attend and also meet the needs of the culture who might be visiting? Is it possible? Are they separate messages? One speaks to the needs of the already reached while excluding a message to the unreached. Is it possible to speak to the reached and a relevant message to the unreached at the same time? I know I am pushing it -but wil someone tell me I am not crazy?

I fear that we are speaking a correct "expected" message to the already reached while excluding a relevant message to our culture.

Tell me, is it even possible? Tomorrow morning I speak a message to the church that will cause wiggles in the seats as I challenge status quo. Please pray for me and I'll be back to tell you what happens if I survive.

That will be 10:30 a.m. central time. Prayer are appreciated very much.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What is church to you and what do you think needs to be different?

What is church to you? What do you think needs to be different? I cannot wait to read your thoughts. And the comments will be vastly different depending on your age, perspective, experiences and lack of experiences in the church. Some will find the church a wonderful safe haven of rest. Others of you will find her very dissatisfying. Others of you will surprise me with a perspective I never thought of.

To wet your appetite Neil Cole writes, "While it may seem revolutionary, the model of bringing God's message where people are rather than expecting them to show up at church - is in keeping with the message of Jesus, who lived among the people of his time. We must return to our ancient roots by letting the church be alive, organic, growing, spreading in the most unlikely places."

The Americanized version of church is a "Come and See" ministry. We work all week pouring all of our energy into a service or two or three on Sunday. Some people come -some of the people who come are already reached. Many are never reached and will never be reached in a Come & See environment. What needs to change? Who is the church and what is her purpose anyway?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mega Church is out

The Mega Church may be history in the near future. Well, those who are established will live on (for a while) but other maga models may be out.

Current trends show that the mega church is out of business. Yet, unreached people want transparency and genuine relationships that are not found in mega systems. This makes the mega church the odd guy out. Mega ministries are a trend that will be replaced with close personal relationships in a smaller setting. Young people (20 - 30 s0mething's) long for transparency and genunine relationships with Jesus. They are not impressed with institutional Americanized Christianity. They are not impressed with large. They are impressed with real and transparent.

If you do not believe me, ask them.


I am among thousands who find themselves disturbed with the Church in America overall. Oh, there are some bright spots, but as time goes on our culture further disengages from the institutional Church in America. Or maybe it is the Church in America who is disengaging from our culture.

It is true that in my recruiting efforts I am finding people every week who are disturbed by what they have experienced or are experiencing in the institutional church. Some are laypeople who love Jesus and others are pastors or former pastors who love Jesus. But they are Disturbed! Where do they or we turn?

This past Sunday I did my own experiment. I drove through my community. Some of the Churches has a pretty good parking lot of cars, while others did not. What impacted me most was not how many were attending Church but those who were skipping. I saw people in great numbers at WalMart, gas stations, grocery stores, driving down the road, working in their yards, golfing, swimming, walking their dogs. Just to mention a few Sunday activites.

These church skippers were certainly not lazy. The ones I saw were not lazy - because what they were doing proved that. They were out of bed doing stuff. And, they were not uncommitted, I saw the opposite. Everone I saw skipping Church (if that was truly what they were doing) they were certainly not uncommitted. Everyone I saw was committed to something. They were giving it there all.

My point! I'm just disturbed with the focus of the church in general. We build everything towards Sunday and we leave the rest of the world out of our lives. Is this really what Jesus had in mind? I'm disturbed by our ineffectiveness to reach our culture in America. I'm disturbed about so many things in the church that I cannot write them all down.

I'm disturbed! Maybe you are disturbed. Maybe some of you are disturbed about what I write about being disturbed about. Are you disturbed enough to tell me what you really think?

Some of you may even be disturbed by the fact that I was among the church skippers in America this past Sunday.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Quotable Quote

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein

Death of a Movement

Man-led versus Holy Spirit led ministry:

The Progression of Man-Led Ministry

God begins with a man
The man chooses men
The men focus on methods
The methods require machinery
The ministry becomes a memorial

Sounds alott like the church in America to me.

What is the Purpose of the Church?

A Survey:

What is the purpose of the Church?

89% of the church members said, "The purpose of the church is to take care of me and my family."
11% of the church members said, "The purpose of the church is to win people to Christ."

90% of the pastors said, "The purpose of the church is to win people to Christ."
10% of the pastors said, "The purpose of the church is to take care of the people."

Here's my prayer:
"Lord, help those in the church to realize that they are commanded to carry out your mission of redeeming a lost world."

Think about this: If the 11% of the church members and the other 90%% of the pastors were instead, in a new wineskin (unrestrictive) that allowed them to freely follow their passion of winning the lost, we would see rapid muliplication of disciples and churches for Christ. I invite all of you who find yourselves out of place (in ineffective churches) to participate in the movement of Jesus taking us back to His original plan for all of us. We must not let the institution hold us back from the fulfillment of our God given dream and directive.

The church is not predominantly called to care for her own, we are called to give 100% to changing our world. Wherever there is a "take care of us" mentality, there is decline and ineffective mission.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Quotes of the Day...

"For many years now I have taken to going to church less and less because I find so little there of what I hunger for. It is a sense of God that I hunger for." Frederick Buechner

"Christianity has been buried in the walls of churches and secured with the shackles of dogmatism. Let it be liberated to come into the midst of us and teach us freedom, equality and love." Minna Canth

From Institution to Mission

Missional Church article -from

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Planter writes: "I picked up this article from www.//"

The article sites some great characteristics of missional churches:
Minfred Minatrea studied a number of missional churches. He defined missional churches as "Reproducing communities of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim His kingdom in their world." He noted nine practices that they have in common (with explanatory phrases in parentheses by exagorazo in his blogsite.):

1. Having a high threshold for membership
(high expectations for believers)

2. Being real, not real religious
(being transparent, authentic, with one foot in "the world.")

3. Teaching to obey rather than to know
(a practical faith)

4. Rewriting worship every week
(Creative, participatory Sunday morning services)

5. Living apostolically
(each believer as a missionary)

6. Expecting to change the world
(aggressively engaged in transforming communities)

7. Ordering actions according to purpose.
(Ruthless aligning of resources with mission)

8. Measuring growth by capacity to release rather than retain.
(Not megachurches but multiplying churches)

9. Placing kingdom concerns first
(in contrast to denomination first. Thus, cooperation with other churches)

Am I Really Part of the Problem?

As part of the Church in America am I really that effective? Are you? Is your Church? These are just a few of the questions that I'm pondering these days. And, these questions always come back to me. Am I effective as a Christ follower? Do people see Jesus in me? Do I want to make a difference in the world or do I want to make the world different?

As a Pastor for 23 years serving in "turn around" settings, I am part of the problem. I engaged and embraced Americanized Christianity that led people away from authentic New Testament Christianity. I'm guilty as charged, I did what I thought was right, what was expected of me, what I had seen over and over again in the Church in America. Much of my time was spent trying to get more people to accept Christ and faithfully attend our services. We had great success in leading people to Christ and growing larger Churches. We even built a 3.3 million dollar addition on the last church I pastored. Success? Hardly! God was not impressed.

Now as I reflect, success is not measured in buildings, crowds, or even numbers of people attending our services. Those things may make us look good in the eyes of the American Church. But really, I failed to teach them and new beleivers that being a Christ follower was to be in the world -changing her. I now regret that when I led people to Jesus - I didn't do more to lead them to believe that being a Christ follower in the world was more important than attending Church and serving in the Church (building) -like four walls - for us to have a better "Come and See Event" on Sunday, (something we geared up for with most of our energy through the week). This really happened in my ministry.

I'm stretched in my reading these days, even convicted. Theologian Leslie Newbigin rightly says, "The church is sent into the world to continue that which Jesus came to do in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God. " (John 20:19-23)

Neil Cole calls us back to our roots (Organic Church) writes, "Let the Church be alive, organic, in the flesh. Let the church be birthed in places where it is needed most. Let the church be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth as Jesus intended, as He paid for."

Leonard Sweet (Soul Sunami) writes, "Can the church stop its puny, hack dreams of trying to 'make a difference in the world' and start dreaming of God-sized dreams of 'making the world different'? Can the church invent and prevent, redeem and redream, this postmodern future?"

If the American Church is in trouble today, then I have helped to make her that way. I grieve at what I have helped to produce. And now for the rest of my life I must be devoted to being involved in a new wineskin for ministry that is over 2,000 years old. I'm tired of our version and now I return to His.

Any thoughts?

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm Tired of Babysitting Fruitless People

Is anyone like me, tired of babysitting fruitless people? The Bible makes clear that there are four types of soil. Three and one! Three unfruitful and one full of fruit.

The first type of soil is hard and unresponsive. The seed never penetrates the soil's hard surface. If that is not a description of Missouri soil where I live, I don't know what is. Talk about hard -my yard without water is clay like concrete.

The second type of soil is shallow. The seed grows but with blistering sunshine it will die for lack of deep roots. Again, Missouri soil where I live - When I moved here, my yard was full of rocks and limestone. When the grass dies, I can always find the culprit, little soil and rock underneath.

The third type of soil is thorn infested. This represent the plant that grows and hears the truth but the truth is eventualy choked out. Part of my yard is reclaiming part of the woods into a yard. Roots are everywhere, so many that digging was next to impossible. Whatever I do plant -well you know the story. We know people like this, they believe, but they also have things in there lives that choke God out.

The fourth type of soil is the good soil. This is the soil that bears fruit, some thirty fold, some sixty fold and some a hundred fold. As I told you before I have clay in my yard. But in my flower beds I hauled in great topsoil. Guess where my stuff is growing best? You guessed it, my flower and shrub beds. God wants each of us to bear fruit that lasts. Call it witnessing or disciplemaking nonetheless it is deliberate fruit making.

Can I dare ask? Why would anyone spend their lives investing in soil that will not produce fruit? I don't know a farmer in the world who would invest in seed, fertilizer and hard work for a fruitless crop. What do you think about this? If ten people accept Christ and only two bear fruit, I am not investing any time in the other 8 people. I'm spending all my time in those who bear fruit. Radical for us -you better believe it. Radical for God -He is always pruning the dead and fruitless branches from the vine.

Here's my point: Our churches are full of fruitless people. And sadly, most of our ministry is to those who are fruitless which also makes our ministry fruitless. What do you think would happen to the Church in America if we instead invested in the fruit bearers and left the rest to fend for themselves in their fruitless misery? I guess I really do believe that I should invest everything in those who will bear fruit. Oh, I'll give everyone a chance to prove that they will not bear fruit. But imagine this, if all the attention went to the fruitbearers, how much more would all the other fruitless ones get off there butts and get into the harvest fields. When I focus on bearing fruit and spending my time with fruitbearers- eventually all the fruitless ones will take notice and start their working or whining. I suspect most will engage in whining. I know, I spent 23 years listening to it.

Perhaps it is time to wipe the dust off of our feet when we meet those who want us to waste our time in fruitless living in hard, shallow ad throny soil.. If Satan can get us focussing on unfruitfulness and loving it -He has succeeded.

I'm tired of babysittin the so called saints in Churches of unfruitful soil. Anyone out there as tired as I am?

A Brief Summary - Towards Community Transformation

Ten Paradigm Shifts Toward Community Transformation
by Eric Swanson

A small cloud is on the horizon. The winds of change are beginning to gather strength and with certainty a storm is coming…change is coming. All over our world there is a quiet movement of the Spirit of God that is causing believers to re-examine how they “do church.” Churches are throwing out the old measures of success. It’s no longer merely about size, seeker sensitivity, spiritual gifts, church health, nor the number of small groups. It’s about making a significant and sustainable difference in the lives of people around us—in our communities and in our cities.

There is a growing awareness that we cannot continue to do the same old things and expect a different result. If we want to be the salt and light, we as the church were created to be, we have to do something different.

Ten Paradigm Shifts on the Horizon:

1) From building walls to building bridges. “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13,14). The first paradigm shift pertains to where we, as the church, see ourselves in relation to our communities. Will we remain outside of the community inviting people in or will we go to our communities, seeking to be a transforming agent? The church is called to be separate in lifestyle but never called to be isolated from the people it seeks to influence.

2) From measuring attendance to measuring impact. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast...mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33). In a post-modern world most people are neither impressed with the size of a church or its commitment to “truth.” Yet from the cover of TIME magazine to the front page of the Wall Street Journal, transformational community-centered ministries are grabbing the attention of the American people. Perhaps, in this century, the greatest apologetic for the reality of Jesus Christ living in a community will be observational more than propositional. To have a faith that can be observed is to be living out the truths we want others to grasp and the life of the Savior we want them to know.

3) From encouraging the saints to attend the service to equipping the saints for works of service. “It is (God) who gave some to be…pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…” (Ephesians 4:11,12) In the typical church, lay people are asked to serve in five or six capacities:
Teach a Sunday School class
Work in the nursery
Lead a home Bible study or small group
Sing in the choir
Be an usher or greeter
Serve on a board or committee
Little wonder pastors lament that only 20% of their members are “active.” Could it be that the service opportunities are not broad enough to engage the energies and passions of people in the church?

4) From “serve us” to service—from inward to outward focus. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give…” (Mark 10:45). Several years ago Chuck Colson made the observation that when the Communists took over Russian in 1917, they did not make Christianity illegal. Their constitution, in fact, did guarantee freedom of religion. But what they did make illegal was for the church to do any “good works.” No longer could the church fulfill its historic role in feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, housing the orphan, educating children or caring for the sick. What was the result? 70 years later, the church was totally irrelevant to the communities in which it dwelt. What Lenin did by diabolic design, most churches have done by default. But the result is identical. Church is irrelevant to most people. Take away service and you take away the church's power, influence, and evangelistic effectiveness. The power of the gospel is combining the life-changing message with selfless service.

5) From duplication of human services and ministries to partnering with existing services and ministries. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Nearly every community has a number of human service agencies that are morally positive and spiritually neutral that are doing their best to meet the needs of the underserved and under-resourced people of the community. Such agencies include the local food bank, homeless shelter, emergency family housing, and safe houses for abused women etc. Equally true there are church and parachurch ministries that are effective in ministering to specific target audiences (business community, youth, college students, etc). Rather than starting a new ministry, why not form partnerships with existing groups as “partner ministries” of a local congregation? Chances are that people from your congregation are already serving in many of these organizations. Why not use the current community energy to create synergy?

6) From fellowship to functional unity. There is a strong case to suggest that there is really only one church in a city or community (made up of all believers) that meets in several congregations around the city. In Philippians 2:2 Paul implored, “…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Only unity of purpose around the vision of a transformed community is strong enough to unite pastors and churches of different denominations.

7) From condemning the city to blessing the city and praying for it. Jeremiah 29 begins by saying; “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem…to those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” What follows are instructions on how to live as aliens in a foreign land. Listen to his admonition: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (v. 7)

For too long we as the church have positioned ourselves as adversaries to our communities. We not only need to bless our communities but we need to pray for them as well. T

8) From being a minister in a congregation to being a minister in a parish. “As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it…” (Luke 19:41). A congregation is made up of people who attend a local church from a community. The minister typically feels that this congregation is his flock whom he must baptize, marry and bury. They consume his time and energy. Being in a parish is different. A parish differs from a congregation in that it is a geographical scope of concern and responsibility. A congregation is a subset of a parish. So what difference does that make? Being in a parish gives one the God-given right to minister to anyone in the community, whether they are part of one’s congregation or not.

9) From anecdote and speculation to valid information. Two pieces of information changed the course of Nehemiah’s life that resulted in the transformation of a community. In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah learned that the walls and gates of Jerusalem were broken down and her people were in great distress. These two pieces of accurate information were catalytic to Nehemiah’s prayers and plans to restore a broken wall and a broken people. His burden to transform the city came from accurate information. We too need correct information about the real needs of our community as well as the resources we have to meet these needs. Do we know the demographic information of our community? Do we know the number of churches? Do we know the spiritual history of our community?

10) From teacher to learner. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19). It is interesting to note that for the historic African-American churches, the concept of holistic ministry is not a new concept. They have never suffered from trying to split effective evangelism from social justice or meeting the needs of those around them. It’s how they’ve always done church.

To read the entire article with effective examples of paradigm shifts go to:

Interesting Story!

Excerpt: Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God
Apparently satanic can be a synonym for relevant.
by Mark Galli | posted 07/07/2006 09:30 a.m.


The Unexpected
Love of an
Untamable God

by Mark Galli
Baker Books
192 pp.; $17.99

I had a chance on a recent trip to attend one of the most successful churches in America. It packs in more than 20,000 people at its weekend services. Its pastor is the author of bestselling books and is a world figure. The church is inspiring, effective, and relevant.

Fortunately, it became impossible to attend there, and instead I was blessed to end up at an irrelevant church. Our family arrived promptly at 10:00 A.M., and we were greeted by a woman who was getting up from pulling a few weeds in front of the church sign. She welcomed us warmly and escorted us into the nearly empty sanctuary. After we were greeted by two other people, as well as the pastor, a handful of people straggled in and worship began.

We were led in music by the weed-puller, who now had a guitar strapped on. She was accompanied by two singers and an overweight man on percussion. They were earnest musicians who, frankly, were sometimes flat or a little stiff, as if they were still trying to learn the music. The service, which included maybe 45 people, bumbled along—that is, by contemporary, professional, "seeker-sensitive" standards. The dress of the congregants suggested that there were some people of substance there, as well as some people on welfare. Some blacks, mostly whites. In front of me sat a woman wearing way too much makeup (at least according to my suburb's refined standards), pouffy hair, and an all-black outfit.

Communion was introduced without the words of institution—a bit of a scandal to my Anglican sensibilities. The pastor took prayer requests, and petitions were made for illnesses, depression, and a safe journey for my family.

It was during the announcements that I began to suspect I was in the midst of the people of God. The pastor sought more donations for the food closet, at which time he noted a new milestone: The church had served 22,000 people with groceries in ten years. Everyone applauded, then settled in to hear a clear and truthful sermon about God's love for us despite our sin.

Afterwards, my family was warmly greeted by another five or six people, one of whom invited us to lunch. It was evident that they really didn't care that we were not coming back. They just wanted to make sure we felt welcomed.

Nothing slick. No studied attempts to be authentic or relevant or cool. Just a small bunch of sinners, of all classes and races, looking to God for guidance and reaching out to the community in love.

This little church will never make the list of the top ten churches in America. It will never be featured in Time or Newsweek or even Christianity Today. Its musicians will not go on to record a cd; its pastor will not be invited to national preaching conferences. The church will not likely grow into the thousands.

I'm sure that had I attended the megachurch, I would have been inspired by the music, moved by the message, impressed with the professionalism and efficiency of the service, and made to feel comfortable sitting next to people who dressed like me, an upper-middle class suburbanite.

But it was a more godly experience to go to that little fellowship, because I believe that for all the good megachurches do, this little fellowship manifested the presence of Jesus in a way that is unique and absolutely necessary in our age.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Dream

We have a Dream! Our dream is that of creating a disciple-making movement that could result in God giving birth to churches of all kinds and shapes and wine-skins. We are calling this- Project: St. Louis and Kansas City. It is our intention to reach back into the metro regions of America to make disciples who will also make disciples who are the Body of Christ.

When thinking about Project St. Louis and Kansas City we will begin by bringing in whoever God sends our way, people who are willing to put everything on the line and come by faith and trust in God. Some of these people - teams will be from St. Louis and Kansas City while others will be transplants. The ultimate dream is not for everyone to be transplants into the regions stated. It is our dream to raise or recruit leaders who are natives of St. Louis and Kansas City.
We are discovering that people who are from St. Louis do really well in St. Louis and I'm sure that is also true of Kansas City.

So whether we transplant or whatever we must raise local leaders to reach their city for Christ. Everyone on each team is clearly expected to develope local leadership to reach other locals in need of Jesus who will become leaders and develop others who will do the same.

The ultimate victory is to raise an army of servants who are willing to reach their neighborhoods at any cost for Christ. If Mormons and Muslims can ask for sacrifice we must be willing to do it. Actually the reason Muslim and Mormon Movements are growing rapidly is because they ask for commitment and sacrifice. In Americanized Christianity we make it too easy to believe and serve. While other growing Religions ask for more -we are asking for less and less. We are making it too easy, watering it way down and getting less and less in return.

We are raising the bar and returning to the days of Jesus when He called for "Taking up our cross daily and following Him." His life modeled commitment and sacrifice and faith-living. We must do the same. If only a few would be willing to serve and sacrifice and live totally by faith a movement of disciple-making would erupt with Pentecostal fire and New Testament results.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Richard Greene speaks to Growth.....

GOD'S WAY..................MAN'S WAY

Member empowered......Members controlled
Members released........Members collected
Spirit-led..................Methods based
Gives energy..............Consumes energy


Jesus Has Chosen All Of Us To:
Bear Fruit
Bear Fruit that remains
Have a special relationship with the Father

World Transformation....

Transforming the world will require a spiritual work of grace through changed lives..

Richard Green, our Missionary now training world leaders, writes; "If we are to launch a disciple-making church multiplication movement in this generation we will have to facilitate a major reformation in the church that reprioritizes around the theological and practical focus on the supremacy of the Great Commission.

Why Supremacy?

1. The context of the Great Commission is given following the Resurrection of Jesus.
"And Jesus came and spoke to them"

*Jesus was raised fromt he dead
*Jesus the resurrected Christ is the Exalted King of Kings and Lord of Lords Who has a Name above every Name.
*The power of the Great Commission comes from its source, the One who gave it.

2. The context of the Great Commission is Christ's supreme authorty over all things.
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth."
*This is kingdom authority (Daniel 7:14)
*It is given to Jesus by God the Father. John 17:2
*Jesus received this authority following His resurrection.
*"All" is every authority

3. The context of the Great Commission is its Apostolic Designation.
"But the eleven apostles proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus designated."
*Jesus gave it first to the remaining apostles.
*It is apostolic in nature.
It is a sending directive
It is foundational work
It is a work of highest authority
It is kingdom oriented in scope and principle

The Great Commission is the supreme,defining,authoritative, and specific mission to which we have all been called by the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that we must understand it, own it, and do it. Anything less is to dishonor the One Who gave it.

"Make Disciples" = the verb
"Go, Baptize, Teach = the participles

The (verb) tells us what to do..
The (particibles) tell us how to do it.

We make disciples by going,baptizing and teaching.

Why Discipleship Works
1. Discipleship is reproducible - anyone can do it.
2. Discipleship costs nothing.
3. Disipleship produces more workers.
4. Evangelism adds to the Church;
Discipleship multiplies the Church."

If Jesus can rise from the dead and then make it a point to meet with the Apostles and give them a Great Commission mandate to pass on to every beleiver, then it is given and to be followed with Supremacy over everything else.

For those who argue this point -I await your apologetic arguments. Those arguments will be followed with more apologetic debate.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Exagorazo writes...

Missional Church article
Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Andrew McMahan recently gave me a heads up to an article at that gives a pretty good overview of the "missional church" conversation. The article sites some great characteristics of missional churches:

Minfred Minatrea studied a number of missional churches. He defined missional churches as "Reproducing communities of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim his kingdom in their world." He noted nine practices that they have in common (with my explanatory phrases in parentheses):

1. Having a high threshold for membership
(high expectations for believers)

2. Being real, not real religious
(being transparent, authentic, with one foot in "the world.")

3. Teaching to obey rather than to know
(a practical faith)

4. Rewriting worship every week
(Creative, participatory Sunday morning services)

5. Living apostolically
(each believer as a missionary)

6. Expecting to change the world
(aggressively engaged in transforming communities)

7. Ordering actions according to purpose.
(Ruthless aligning of resources with mission)

8. Measuring growth by capacity to release rather than retain.
(Not megachurches but multiplying churches)

9. Placing kingdom concerns first
(in contrast to denomination first. Thus, cooperation with other churches)

[ read more... ]

Those are some great distinctives or, dare I say it, core values... practices that express the essence of what any body of believers with a desire to influence their culture must be about. If I were planting a church in America, this is where I would start. Are there any you would add? subtract? why"

The Planter: I would add, Making disciples who make disciples is as New Testament as it comes. Why would anyone opt for anything rather than making disciples and miss the joys and blessings that follow?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sojourner writes.....

New Apostles and New Ways of Doing Church

"Dick Scoggins, a veteran house church planter, has written an excellent article in the recent Frontiers Missions magazine: "Nurturing a New Generation of 'Pauline' and 'Petrine' Apostles."

Whew... hefty title... but some very good meat.

First off... Scoggins clarifies what he means by "apostle." He does NOT mean "someone who gives oversight to large churches or groups of churches." Rather, he sees apostles as "mobile, dynamic groups of emissaries of the Kingdom. They are called to minister as bands or groups – at the very least in twos, as Jesus taught (cf. Acts 13:3,4;14:4,14; 15:39-41), and sometimes with helpers (cf. Acts 13:5)... The key mark of apostleship is not a big personality, but rather big suffering (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9-13).

Okay, that said, Scoggins goes on to talk more specifically about "Petrine" apostleship... the apostle called to reach his own people (as opposed to Paul who was called to go cross-culturally to the Gentiles).

Peter helped to bring new expressions of the Kingdom of God for the Jews who would follow Jesus.

I believe we are seeing a similar pattern today. Western Christendom is in a key transition, perhaps undergoing as large a cultural shift as occurred during the Reformation (when I think that last great era of Petrine apostles brought the Church out of medieval forms and into modern forms). The world is changing, and the Western forms of church, birthed very much according to modernity, are not keeping up. I believe that the world has changed so much that simply adapting existing church structures will not enable appropriate expressions of the Kingdom to come forth for new generations. What is needed is a whole new way of doing “church” (and I think we actually need to drop the word, but that is for a different article). New types of communities of the Kingdom need to be envisioned and created to be Good News in a new era. I believe that apostles are the creative agents sent by God to bring about radical, creative forms of the Kingdom.

Many of you reading this are the very apostles that Scoggins is writing about... You are seeking new and relevant Kingdom expressions for our generation. and many of you have paid the price for exploring new forms of communities. You will find this article affirming.

Scoggins goes on to say:

If the Western church is not going to die out, then we will require new expressions of Kingdom communities. I think this will require a recovery of Petrine apostles – creative pioneers who will explore Kingdom communities appropriate to our postmodern world...

These pioneers are not called to make further adaptations to faltering models, but rather, like Jesus, Peter, James and John, call God’s people to move on from old formulations in a journey to the new. Such a journey will be every bit as radical and terrifying as it must have been for those early Jewish believers who watched the destruction of their nation and traditions. Today’s Petrine apostles will bear the same primary mark of apostleship – persecution, for their ministry is bound to be misunderstood (at best) by existing churches."

The Planter adds....As I read this article my heart was stirred and my mind was challenged to think more deeply out of the boat, box and present model for Christianity in America. If Scoggins is right, we need to ge to work. and if he is not right -we can sit back and relax. What do you think....?

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's Moving Forward

Todd and Yolanda Bush and their three boys are moving by faith to Kansas City on August 1st. They have an apartment near Kearney, Mo in the metro region of Kansas City. We are excited and they are excited to begin reaching people for Christ by making disciples who make disciples.

We are not sure what the church will look like but we are sure it is not our job to plant churches. We pray for a disciple multiplication movement, as souls are saved they will be taught that they must reach others and before long we have new disicples making other disciples who make other disciples. We expect new converts to lead others to Christ within the first three monthes -the sooner the better.

What's exciting to me is we have a couple who are determined not to be satisfied with pew sitters on Sunday. They will lead by example and they will teach believers about the Supremacy of the Great Commission. They will develop disicples who are different than many other professing disciples. The disciples they make for Christ will understand that disciples of Christ are commanded to make disciples.

I cannot wait to see what God does through this family. Please join with me in praying for them. Please pray for Pastor Todd as he seeks employment. As God leads, you may even want to help them financially on a monthly basis. If you will commit to praying and or giving to their ministry please email me: and I will help you accomplish that task.

Blessings to all who pray and follow the mandate of the Great Commission.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's all about God's call and kingdom work

As you have read in previous posts, Todd and Yolanda are moving (I pray) to Kansas City to join with what God is doing in birthing a discipleship organic movement.

We had some hoops to get through -but the district leadership recognizes those snags and is committed to reducing or eliminating them and streamlining the process. Today the district leadership spent significant time together in a conference call and they truly care more about making disciples than following an archaic strangulating process.

Without hesitation the board approved Todd for ordination (not really a big deal because he could do the ministry we are calling him to without it). But I am ordained and it hasn't killed me yet, so I pray it will not kill him either. Depending on what kind of Church God gives birth to -He may actually need that ordination. The district leadership made a strong commitment to treat him like a member of the family.

Anyway, please pray for Todd and Yolanda as they pray this through and make a final commitment to moving forward in Kansas City. We want them to pray about this because we need for God to bless them and put His blessing on this ministry and relocation of this family. We need God's will in this and we need to put the kingdom first in this.

We want the Bush family and need them, but I must say, I care more about them than I do aboutthe district or denomination. If God shuts the door on Kansas City (which I pray not) I will do everything I can to help them find another ministry opportunity wherever God leads. And wherever God leads the Bush family - with us or without us -in our camp or outside of it, they will be used of God and will impact the kingdom.

I'm for the kingdom and the truth is we must all must care more about the kingdom than we do about our church, district or denomination. Amen?

Am I thinking staight? Give me your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Organic Ministry Takes No Money

A very good and truthful friend reminded me that if we are going to be a part of ministry that grows organically we really don't need money. Is he right? Please understand the distinction between organic ministry and institutional ministry. Of course to replicate the church ministry model predominate in America it does take alott of money. But this question refers to Organic New Testament Ministry.

My friend got me thinking... Sometimes we do want control and regulated systems to follow our gifts of money. Often when money comes from the organized system there is an expectation that you must stay within the parameters of the institution or system. Sometimes or many times those institutions try to keep God in a box and you know what I mean by the box of retrictions. God cannot be kept in our own box-He is bigger than that. Organic ministry will NEVER grow with restrictions and hoops. It is totally Holy Spirit led and Word of God driven/

We don't need money? In organic ministry we do not need buildings or paid full time staff members. We need people who will reproduce Jesus in the lives of others who will do the same. The Body of Christ ministers to each other and all are servants and are all responsible for each other as well as the lost in the community. That kind of Church needs little money to disciple other disciple-makers. I am aware of a church who raised nearly a million dollars last year and had NO new converts. They have lots of money, activities, a very nice building and they are well staffed. But no new converts! Blows my mind.

In organic ministry we do expect our Missionaries to the metro regions to work bi-vocationally and raise their own financial support to make up the needed difference.(I'm wrestling with this raising your own support thing in the organic setting - pray for me). It must be a total faith thing if you want an organic movement. Those days of fully funded Missionaries or Church Planters are over. (I hate the term church planter because we never plant churches -we make disciples who make disciples and God breathes life into new Churches). I'll say it again, only God plants or starts churches.

In fact, I'll step out on a limb and say, if a Missionary (or church planter -there's that term again)will not work a job in the community they will likely never impact their city. Working in a secular market is where we find hurting people who need the message we have to share. When I talk about message I am not referring to doctrine, I am referring to the Message of Christ. If we just stick to the Message and example of Christ we will have more material to share than we have days on this earth to share it. The Message of Jesus and His power is what transforms lives.

Would we have people who would relocate to our cities to do Organic Ministry if we do not given them full time support? I do beleive that God is calling men and women to trust him and obey him to become a part of what He is doing Organically around the world. Are you willing to lay it all on the line?

Is it true that organic ministry takes no money? We all know that traditional ministry takes lots of money for staff, equipment, buildings etc.

Here's where I am! In both Organic and Traditional settings we do need resources for recruiting, relocating and start up funding to assist the teams once they get in place so that they have time to get secular jobs and begin to raise additional support. (I'm wrestling with this too.) We will allow God to use Organic and Tradional ministry to impact America for eternity here in our large cities. Some people will never be reached without the traditional American system with buildings. On the other hand some will never be reached without the Organic ministry -a church without walls -a church that meets in homes or in restaurants or even Star Bucks.

While I am biased on what I think will be most effective in making disciples who make disciples there is much prayer that new churches whatever they are will all take responsibility "individually" person to person for making disciples who make disciples who continue to live for Jesus Christ. New ministry DNA must recognize the Supremacy of the Great Commission and the mandate for every beleiver to make disciples who make disciples. Established ministry needs to be awakened to this truth lest they die on the vine and be thrown into the fire.

Is this fair and balanced writing? Does Organic ministry need any money? Do we need start up funding? Does raising your own support negatively impact organic ministry?
Give me your thots...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hard Head and New Lessons

I am hard headed and because of that it takes a while to get through to me sometimes.
Such is the case with what I have to tell you. What I have to say is a God-given message I believe to be true and worthy of your time to read. Not a great article but a painfully true one.

I used to think that we could birth a new movement of organic ministry out of the Institutional Church in America. Well the last few days I have been slapped around a bit. I am reminded of Hagar and Sarah. Hagar gave birth because of what man can do. Sarah gave birth because of what only God can do. Herein lies the difference. Richard Green calls Americanized Christianity -Hagar, the church built on what man can do. He calls this Organic New Testament Church -Sarah, the Church build on what- only God can do.

While you are chewing on that let me add one more important Scriptural fact. Hagar and Sarah cannot live in the same tent. Which tells me that Institutional Church and Organic Church cannot cohabitate or live in the same tent. They could never give birth the other. Yet I'm in an Institution with a vision for Organic.

In order for the Organic to flow from the Institution -it needs to be released from the Institution and from the hoops, rules, red tape, control, and growth hindering accountability for her to take off. Actually in Organic Ministry there is more accountability from one another in the Organic Church holding each accountable to the truth of God's Word. Institutions don't do this well, they create systems and structure for full proof accountability which ends up halting the mission. Organic is unrestricted. Outside forces slow, or stop organic. In good soil the plant will grow unless some outside factor hinders it. (Insects, lack of water, storms, lack of sunshine, people, rules, hoops, structure -you got the picture.

Now that I have the New Lesson my Hard Head will come in handy. How much does the institution (Americanized Christianity) want God to work in a new wine skin? Do we want to struggle for the Institution to keep things status quo and not to effective in some places or do we want the joys of being in an organic growing and discipling Church free flowing in the presence of and with Holy Spirit power?

My hard head is going to come in handy when I confront the establishment of instutional control, hoops, red tape and road blocks for the sake of a Living Organic New Testament Church Holy Spirit birthing ministry.

Will Hagar (Institution) release Sarah (Organic) to live in separate tent? Will Hagar let Organic live in a separate tent in the same campground? Or will Institutional Church (Hagar) insist on Organic (Sarah)to live altogether in one big tent. If (Hagar) insists on living together, (Sarah) Organic will lose everytime because the Spirit of God and His nature will be quenched. Sarah and Hagar cannot live in the same tent--If Hagar insists on having humankinds way- the Holy Spirit will never force his desires on us. Organic will lose if not released from the Instutitution to do ministry differently or in a radical way leave the system -which could be healthy God directed rebellion. (Scriptures show plenty of examples if you need any.)

If denominational systems do not recognize this truth -Christianity will be even more stifled in America. Actually on the other hand Christianity might just grow Organically without them --which leaves denominations of control the odd guy out.

It's Time For this Wake Up Call for me, you and whoever wants to listen - that is if you don't think I've lost my mind..

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oh Boy!

Going to Church by Staying at Home
Clergy-Less Living Room Services Seen as a Growing Trend

By Michael Alison Chandler and Arianne Aryanpur
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 4, 2006; A12

After Sunday dinner at Joe Rodgers's Rockville home, guests adjourn to the living room for church.

In his makeshift chapel, wooden kitchen stools and a floral print couch act as pews, a portable keyboard substitutes for an organ and the host, an electronics technician by day, serves as pastor.

But just as there is no formal name or dress code for this church, there is no sermon or pastor-led prayer. When it came time to bow their heads on a recent May evening, each of the 10 adults in attendance had something to contribute: One man prayed for success with his new fitness program; another sought guidance as he prepared for his upcoming marriage.

The worshipers have different faith backgrounds, including evangelical, Episcopalian and Catholic. What they share is a dissatisfaction with traditional church services.

"You can't ask questions in most churches. You might make an appointment with the pastor, get in his daybook for a quick lunch," said Rodgers, 50.

A growing number of Christians across Washington and around the country are moving to home churches -- both as a way to create personal connections in the age of the megachurch and as a return to the blueprint of the Christian church spelled out in the New Testament, which describes Jesus and the apostles teaching small groups in people's homes.

Estimates vary widely for a movement that is by design informal and decentralized, but the consensus among home-churchers is that they are part of a growing trend.

George Barna, a religion pollster, estimates that since 2000, more than 20 million Americans have begun exploring alternative forms of worship, including home churches, workplace ministries and online faith communities. Barna based that figure on surveys of the religious practices and attitudes of American adults that he has conducted over the past 25 years.

"These are people who are less interested in attending church than in being the church," said Barna, who became a home-churcher last year. The alternatives are attractive to those who want to deepen their relationships with God and one another, and they also suit Americans' growing taste for flexibility and control of their schedules, he said.

Although many Christians still participate in their old churches while trying out a new one, Barna predicts that over the next two decades, traditional churches will lose half their "market share" to these alternative start-ups.

His estimates far exceed the best guesses of home-church networks. The Orlando-based Dawn Ministries places the number of home churches in the United States in the tens of thousands, based partly on the size of online directories and attendance at home-church conferences.

Home churches are usually nondenominational and consist of a dozen or so friends or family members who often meet without an ordained pastor.

They have historically proliferated in countries with repressive regimes. In China, millions of people have converted to Christianity in unauthorized home churches over the past half-century. But the United States has seen only intermittent swells of activity.

The free-form style of fellowship got a boost in this country during the 1960s and 1970s with the hippie Jesus Movement and the Charismatic Renewal, a worldwide movement best known for embracing speaking in tongues and other emotional expressions of faith. Those movements downplayed hierarchy and emphasized broad participation.

The more recent rise of home churches has been facilitated by the Internet, said John White, a Denver-based coordinator for Dawn Ministries, one of several organizations that helps plant new home churches.

White said that when he tired of the "endless" church administration meetings and quit his job as a Presbyterian minister to start a home church eight years ago, it was difficult to find anyone to join. Now he has an e-mail list of more than 800 people nationwide who receive his postings about practical issues of home churching -- addressing such matters as how to organize child-friendly services, how to handle tithing, and what to do if the church gets too big.

With more access to religious information online, people are realizing that they don't have to rely on a pastor with an advanced degree to lead them, White said. Instead, they can learn how to create an alternative in a few steps. The result is an overall "flattening of the church," White said.

This is in keeping with God's plan to have a "kingdom of priests" in which everyone participates in his or her religious life, he said.

With next to no overhead, home churches are easy to set up. Dawn Ministries has been sending missionaries, or "coaches," to establish home churches around the world since 1985 and now has about 2,000 volunteers working in about 150 countries.

The model has been less successful in the United States -- until recently. Responding to the growing interest in home churches, over the past year the organization has increased the number of coaches working in North America from about five to 70, mostly in the Midwest, California, Texas and Colorado.

Critics of the home-church movement warn that, by meeting only in small groups with lay leaders, Christians could become disconnected and stray from orthodox beliefs.

"We human beings are prone to error; we need each other," said Scott Kisker, an associate professor of evangelism at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. He said that even the early home-based churches were connected through the apostles and that "many books of the New Testament are letters from the apostles calling churches to more faithful doctrine."

But Kisker said that a growing home-church movement could be good for traditional churches by encouraging them to foster small breakout groups, something he agreed is necessary for people to feel connected.

Many traditional churches do have midweek Bible study groups or cell churches. For some, these can be a first taste of home church, said Greg Windsor, a real estate developer and a member of the Rockville congregation that meets in Rodgers's home.

Windsor, 48, became interested in home churching almost 10 years ago while he was attending a megachurch in Montgomery County.

"The person sitting next to you in the pew could be close to dying, but people don't really know one another," he said. By abandoning the steeple, the pastor and the crowds of people, Windsor said, his tiny congregation is trying to live according to the New Testament.

"A lot of embellishments happened over the centuries," Windsor said. The modern Christian church is "like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy," he said. "It starts getting distorted and changed."

Windsor and his wife started reading about home churches and broke off from a bigger church to meet with a group in northern Maryland. After several years, that group grew too large -- about 30 people -- and the couple broke off again, starting the home church in Rockville.

Stripped to its most basic elements, he said, his group can focus on developing "deep friendships" and "helping one another grow spiritually."

The service changes from week to week, depending on what members are going through or thinking about; they might organize a Bible study or discussion around managing their finances or overcoming depression.

On a recent Sunday, they watched a film by Focus on the Family that chronicles the lives of early Christians and their attempts to convert the Greeks. Afterward, they talked about how those experiences compare with challenges in spreading the faith today.

They sang hymns and put money into a small cardboard box, to be donated to homeless programs and victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. As the Communion bread and wine were passed around the circle, music played while others swayed and whispered "Oh God" and "Merciful God."

By about 9 p.m., it was time to go home. But Windsor said church does not end when the service is over. Members might meet several times during the week, and church can continue over coffee at Starbucks or during a biblical discussion at a family barbecue.

For them, church is not tied to a building or confined to a couple hours a week, he said. "It's a way of life."

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