Saturday, September 30, 2006

I'm part of the Co-Missional Church.

The Co-Missional Church is a Church who actually follow the Great Commission. She is a pure disciple making Church where Christ followers actually make disciples who make disciples as each one invades his/her world for Jesus.

We are on Mission with God to continue what He started when He lived this example as we see in Scripture.

Co-Missional people place value on the Mission as the most important thing. If we live out the Mission (His Mission) all the other stuff (what others think is most important) will happen as the by-product of following Jesus in a love relationship with Him.

This is also a Disciple Driven Movement as Pastor Terry teaches us. We are known as "True Vine" a movement here in St. Louis where disicples actually do make other disciple as Jesus leads.

A Disciple Driven Church on Mission -the Co-Mission (God & Us) is doing what Jesus told us all to be and do. You can see her in Matthew 28!

Is it true?

Is it true that?

3500 Churches in America close every year?

That 80% of the churches in America are either in decline or plateau?

How can this be so if we are doing ministry right?

What would happen if we actually obeyed the Great Co-Mission (God and Us)? Matthew 28

Why can't we see something so simple?

For the 30 and under croud..

What do you think of the church in America? How does she impact your life and speak to your culture, needs and mission? Is she relevant and attractive?

Will you sign in and respond? We are desperate to understand you.

Please give your thots.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What is the Church?

What is the Church? Clue: It is not a place or something we go to!

My evolving definition: What is the Church? Answer: A group of Christ followers (little Christ's) who join with God in His Great Co-Mission who all reach disciples who reach disciples, while teaching all to obey what Jesus says!

How are we the Church? We are not known for bodies, budgets and buildings. We just live in the world as little Christ's (people who show Jesus to the world). We live His teachings in obedience, we build relationships and take every advantage for people to engage us. The minute we engage and they engage the discipling process begins. As we build relationships we let the Holy Spirit lead our conversations as well as open doors, I love to watch them open the door. As doors are opened and further engaging occurs we often see people become Christ followers who repeat the same in the life of someone else.

When or where do we gather? We gather where and when. It can be in groups of two or three, or 20 or in gatherings that include all of us. We have many opportunities for gathering in homes or in larger settings for worship etc. The Gathering is not most important! Being the Church is most important. We don't go to church -we are the Church and the Church Scatters into the world and Gathers together -Both as the Body of Christ.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What if?

What if every believer in America lived out the Great Co-Mission (Jesus and us) in fullment of our Great Commission number one priority, all because we are passionately in love with Jesus and totally sold out for the cause He died for? Why do so many people resist placing the Great Co-Mission as our Mission? Why not have every Christ follower multiply (their Jesus) in others?
Why do it? Jesus said "Do it!"

What if the focus of the church was not -bodies, budgets and buildings?

What if?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Missional Church??

What is a Missional Church? What does she look like in America?

If the Great Co-Mission (God and you and me) is the reason we are here, the reason Jesus came and died and rose again, how does the fulfillment of that come into play?

Is the Missional Church a movement of God or man? Is it programmed based -like we create a ministry for our people to be involved in, if they want to?

Can missional happen if we (believers) do not go out of passion and gifting and Holy Spirit leadership into the world?

I keep hearing, we are a Missional Church, our church does this and that and this in the world. Is it our church joining a project determined by some leader in the church or is it my thing I get to do everyday with God's leading?

What does a Missional Church look like and if (the present models) don't represent your Scriptural understanding of Missional - how should it look?

Perhaps you can find something in this post to respond to.

Does anyone know???

Does anyone know how to transition an established church in America from a "Come and See", "Programmed", and "Controlling" place to a Disciples making other disciples church? It seems at times that the American way of doing church is locked down to keep doing business as usual.

In my experience thus far it is so much easier to build the disciples making other disciples and mandate for all (from Christ) to do this in new churches (the Body not the building). Does anyone know how to get a church from "I come for me and my needs" to I am here on Sunday, but the main thing I do is out there (the world)?

Is there any hope to get the American church to see the supremacy of the Great Commission as the most important thing and worship or "Come & See" events are secondary? Does the church in America really care or not, if they reproduce or not?

If the fulfillment of the Great Co-Mission (God and All of Us) depends on believers today, how are we doing?

Does anyone have any thoughts? If you do, this could be one of our best discussions yet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Justin Martyr records...

The night before Ignacious (spelling?) was to be thrown into the lion's den he had this to say: "The animals are my friends because they are finally going to release me into the presence of my Lord and Savior so I can fully know my salvation." (paraphrased)

Eric Spangler writes

Had a great weekend with a band of brothers seeking the Lord. On Saturday we all got on a zip line and took a flyin' leap. I must admit, with some vertigo/balance issues, it took a bit of courage on my part. Reminded me of the following quote:

"Professional ministers are at their best (and they do excellent work) in a churched culture. But put them in an unchurched culture, and they are lost. In an unchurched culture, they do a reasonably decent job of presiding over stable and declining and dying churches. They maintain a sense of presence, dignity, decorum and decency — with a quietly sad regret — much like the thoughtful undertaker who sees to keeping things in good order throughout the funeral...

New understandings of doing ministry must be created with each new generation for the church’s mission to move forward... The day of the professional minister is over. The day of the missionary pastor has come." (emphasis mine)

— Kennon Callahan, Effective Church Leadership (New York: Harper and Row, 1990)


In the Vineyard

Before the vineyard I had lunch with Erica and Aman (I was Erica's Pastor in her teen years) and she has grown up and now lives in Portland with her new husband Amon from Rwanda. A Godly couple who know what I am talking about when I raise the Great Commission to her place and view her with Supremacy. It was a great and encouraging time of sharing Jesus with each other. I am sooo proud of them.

I left them after a time of great lunch. conversation and prayer. From their I made my way over to Oktoberfest at McMenamins & Edgefield vineyards - a local hotspot. This was the weekend where they had over 12 bands and musical groups. I call them artists, a place of genuine artistic expression. I listened to some of the best music in our nation -so good I was left wondering why several of these groups were not nationally known.

I simply followed the leading of God's Spirit. If I was prompted to speak I spoke. If I was not prompted I kept silent (I know you may not believe this one). I did follow God's leading and had serious conversation on four occasions with many more encounters that were more like passing Jesus encounters.

I just met people where they were. As I stood near two couples in great interaction I was asked what I do. I don't like to answer that question but am not ashamed of what I do. I am resistant to go public quickly because people often cease to be real the minute they know I am a pastor or church leader.

Two couples now knowing what I do stood with me. A comment will forever burn into the memory banks of my mind. My new friend said something I want to share (but I do not want any elevation or misunderstanding on my motive for sharing this). He said, "I cannot believe you are here and real and in this environment - but I must tell you this is really a great thing. You are authentic, not critical , not judgemental -- but you are a real and for you to leave the church and be with the people where we are -speaks volumns."

If you are wondering if I did any wine tasting -you still don't get it.

This happened tonight!

Sitting across the table with a salad before me I looked into the eyes of two godly men. Both pastors in Washington State, both men seeking after God's heart.

I shared a few moments on what the Church would look like if we all made disciples who make disciples etc. Interesting question huh? That is a really good question!

Two men, two responses, both the same presented in different ways. "After I found Christ that is what I did and I did it over and over and over again. I never had a discipleship class, I just followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and I know people today who were saved way back then." PAUSE - "Then we started doing what we thought we were supposed to do and now we serve the Church and at times the Church has nearly killed us." We serve the Church -we serve the church - we serve the...

But captured in the hearts of these men is that old time vision to go back more relationship -more time in community with the unreached, more of what captured my heart in the first place. We will serve the church by also building the Church as disciples make disciples who obey all the commands of Jesus (especially the greatest one of all).

It is so simple and yet hard for so many to grasp. Serve the Church who will not and lead others who will. It's not that hard to understand or is it?

A short one for Jim in Washington

Brother here is goes and it is hard for me.

An African American pastor who has preached and preached his heart out for God and to his congregation makes a decision for God. With nerves of steel and the anointing of God he stands to deliver his message and speaks, "Brethren, I am not going to preach this morning. In fact we not even going to sing our last song - I am walking off this platform and I will not return until you start doing what you have been Amen-ing, until you start doing what you have been taught to be and do. No more sermons until....

What would happen to you if tried this one? What would happen to the Church if we all tried this one?

This is short for Jim in Washington. Bless you Jim!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Go ahead and call me - A broken record...

Go ahead and do it. I am sounding like a broken record. I know you get weary of my steady theme. It is a steady theme given with a steady steam!

What can I say? For the rest of my life I have one message -let's resurrect the mandate Jesus gave following His resurrection. Let's put ourselves on the dying daily cross and let's follow Him.

With much disagreement these days from other leaders (lay and clergy) I am really getting an education. The latest is a group of Missional Leaders talking about their missional ministries. I'm all for reaching out and being in community/world and in service. It's great and it's a start in the right direction. Praise God.

But I am still finding that the ministries outside the church have to be approved ministries or at least designed or programmed inside (by leadership) to go outside as directed. I am at a loss. Please someone, please someone, tell me why? Why can't we be "Missional", "Organic" in a way that gives up control and let's people serve where they are gifted and wherever God is gifting them and calling them to serve? Why can't we just release 100 believers to go make 100 new Christ followers who do the same? And, who cares if we cannot count them or control them or insist certain rules and procedures upon them.

Instead, it seems we would rather create some ministries outside of our inside ministries so we can be called Missional! Is this just another bait and switch?

O.K. I know I am being too hard again! You cannot please Bob "The Planter" he is way out there -becoming nuts even.

But wait a minute! What in this world is wrong with being missional in the sense that we own and obey the Mission (called Great) Jesus gave following the resurrection? What's wrong with expecting all believers to make disciples and then teach those disciples to obey by making disciples? What's wrong with giving up control and telling all believers that they are to fulfill the Great Commission personally by living out of their gifting in the ministry outside or inside wherever God is calling them in?

Organize believers to pick up trash on the beach and call it organic if you want. Release people to follow God's leading naturally by actually leading people to Christ all by themselves with the Holy Spirit leading them, NOW THAT'S ORGANIC AND MISSIONAL. Are we not supposed to change the world? Or is it influence her? I will not answer that for you.

If we are going to be what Jesus commands - we must lift the control and don't call it organic or missional when it is just another programmed ministry. Missional is everyone fulfilling His mission in a way and place of God's own choosing.

I am weary of mankind playing the roll of the Holy Spirit in our lives. My broken record sticks at this point and I just cannot move past her arm or needle of human control.

Pray for me - as I bang the gong over and over and over again as of the days when I preached sermon after sermon and believers gave lip service but little action. I'm beginning to understand what the prophets of old went through! Im not a prophet but I do have a prophet word that the world and others think is a pathetic word.

Oh well, another day in the life of a person who really cares about the state of the Church of Jesus Christ in America. As I close I just know that a sleepy giant is awakening in America. Wake up of giant!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Can you believe this?

A lady who works the breakfast at the Hampton where I stay (in Portland) has the first name Delilah! I asked three people here in Portland in two days if they have ever heard of Samson andDelilah. Guess what? All three have never heard of them.

Sunday through Tuesday night I will ask more people. Do you think I will find anyone who has heard the story and knows it is in the Bible? I will let you know.

Are we in a post Christian world or what?

Let's figure out how to turn this around. I am shocked and saddened that this culture in America has become post Christian right under our noses. It is not just in Portland - but Portland does represent the climate of America.

Has anyone elese become shocked and grieved like me?

Have fun in church tomorrow morning!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Why are you defensive?

It's amazing to me that when I talk about making the main thing -the Making of Disciples who are released and or taught to make disciples themselves - leaders in America cringe. I watch their body language as I speak about the fulfillment of the Great Commission and her importance.

As I speak about the supremacy of the Great Commission and the fact that everything Jesus did in his life leads us to transforming our world. All the parables, all of His actions focusses on lost people and the reason He came to earth (not just my redemption). And then Jesus rises from the dead, gathered with the apostles and said, "Oh, before I leave I want to re-emphasize your marching orders, Make Disciples by "Going" - "Baptizing" - "Teaching to Obey".

A leader spoke to me -"The Bible doesn't say everyone should make disciples who make disciples. It says Go and Make Disciples." I tried to be kind when I refuted him by pointing out that while it doesn't say the phrase "Everyone Make Disciples" it does say, "Teach them (I assume is everyone) to obey." I just cannot imagine Jesus taking the time to come back from the dead to make this mandate for a chosen few. Come on folks!

You tell me -why leaders in America get defensive when we speak of the Supremacy of the Great Commission as everyone's supreme mandate and as the most important thing we do?

What is more important than releasing all believers to lead people to Jesus who lead people to Jesus.

Are you a solid or liquid Church?

For people who love options. Who are you and which appeals to you?

1. Come to our church located on 46th and Main. We meet every Sunday & Wendnesday nights. We have been at this location for 20 years. We have programs for everyone at every age. We have great teaching and worship services. People are invited and people find Christ. New believers are discipled in our offered classes. Our people enjoy being together. You can finish the paragraph with so much good happening here.


2. Our people enjoy each other, we meet in different places throughout the week. The building or location is not important, fulfilling the Great Commission ( everyone's mandate) is our greatest value. Everything we do reflects that value. We meet in small and larger settings. We meet in bars, coffee houses, or parks. We move into communities and then we burst forth into another and then another and then another. As we all reach people for Christ we keep spilling over into new areas touching more lives.

Are you solid or liquid? Which description bests fits you or your church?

Don't get defensive just think about this question.

So far and yet so close to home

Michael Frost just wrote a book entitled, "Exiles -Living Missionally in a Post Christian Culture"- which was a fresh read with many new insights that forces reflection.

He sights an International Christian Conference where members of the underground church in China were asking people to pray that three government impositions would be lifted. 1. no unauthorized assembly of more than fifteen people is allowed; 2. no unauthorized buildings or sanctuaries can be erected; 3. no unauthorized formal training of leaders is permitted. As the request to pray was given, it occurred to those listening that they were requesting prayer for the removal of those things that forced the church underground -the restrictions that led the Church to beome the dynamic and powerful force/movement it has become.

As Michael Frost writes (I paraphrase some here), the first imposition led the church into a cell-division model and as they reach 20 they launch a new congregation. The second imposition compels the Church to meet in homes, restaurants, karaoke bars, and other private places. The third imposition causes the Church to train and equip their own indigenous leaders without formal schools etc. The irony; the Chinese government actually forced the Christian Church to rediscover the original genius as a missional movement.

What do you think the Church in America would look like if we had all three impositions forced upon us? Whatever you think, I'm for rediscovering our original missional roots.

Here's a shocking statement...

“The time for getting people to come to church is over; it is now time to get people to come to Christ.” Leonard Sweet, Faithquakes

Talk about getting our priorities back in order -this is thought provoking.

Chew on this one and leave a comment or two along the way, if you wish.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If I didn't care I wouldn't go...

In the morning I am off to Portland, Oregon for distict meetings and coaching clusters of pastors and coaching a church in Healthy Church Principles from Scripture. I love the local Church and I love to see her do what Jesus says. I love Pastors and I love to help them see the often simple things they and I miss along the way.

We have the church and Jesus wants us to be the Church! I'm on journey to help the church in Oregon and Washington become the Church of everlasting influence and world changing impact.

I go because I have hope that established pastors and local churches can become all that God has for them to become. Lost people must be reached and we must reach them and mobilize them to care more about others than they (we) care about themselves (ourselves). It's not just in Oregon and Washington where the need is - it is in America.

The need is great and we must seize the moment by going "OUT" and making a difference where we can. If you are like me and wonder how God could use us..why not do as I do and ask God to lead the way. When there seems to be no way -God will make a way.

Are you willing? I know I am!

Let's go to war and mobilize the troops. If the troops like sitting around and having a good time taking care of themselves - leave them and find others who will do it. Why stay in the dry bones when there is life and blessing aroun d the corner?

We care about the church and we are helping where we can. But when they will not move out we must let leaders rise up and follow Jesus wherever and however He leads us to change the world through Him.

I'm ready to help and I am ready to move out into the unchartered territory without control and with freedom to follow Jesus and not a system of restraints.

I'm ready to go and I am also ready to go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Can New Believers Really?

Can new believers (new disciples/new Christ followers) really make other disciples within two months (or sooner) of their finding Christ? It seems to me that their is diverse opinion on this point. Many in the leadership of the church do not believe this is possible. I'm trying to understand where anyone ever came to that conclusion. Having said that, I cannot even figure out why for over 23 years I operated that way. What's wrong with this picture?

As I build a relationship with someone and they come to Christ, let's say I continue to disciple them as the Holy Spirit leads and where the person is in their understanding. Is it possibe to release them to build a relationship with someone, lead them to Christ and whatever I am teaching my disciple they can teach their disciple? Is this possible?

For way too many years of ineffective multiplication (while having addition growth) here is what I have learned.

1. Putting a new believer in a class of instruction primarily is not working to reproduce others.
2. The longer I waited to encourage new believers to share their excitement and build relationships and lead others - the less likely they would do it. Very few actually did it.
3. It seemed like we imposed conditions upon new believers that implied the new believer was not ready or equipped or discipled and therefore they were never encouraged to lead others to Jesus.
4. What I (and other leaders) did was encourage new believers to invite others, friends, family to come to church to find Jesus.
5. The more I taught new believers what it means to be a disciple the more insecure they became in sharing Jesus to the point of actually leading them. The more they began to understand the more they understood how much they didn't. Fear entered their hearts when they began to think they might mess someone up by sharing incorrectly.
6. I made a serious mistake of separating evangelism from discipleship. I now see them the same. If we want to separate the two I have discovered that evangelism equals addition and discipleship equals multiplication. If we are to separate the two then an exangelist evangelizes and every believer disciples other to Jesus and to maturity.
7. When I did put people in a discipleship class we taught them some very important things but in part we also taught them how to be like everyone else in the church and we began to impose certain control on them. I didn't see it as control back then -but it was control. Even if a new beleiver had a passion for certain service outside the church -that ministry had to be approved. And if it didn't fit with our specified mission - we either held them back or told them no. We only supported our programs and ministries in large part -those that helped us accomplish the things that fit our specified mission.
8. I have learned that ministry is given by God and we are prepared and equipped to do what God has for us to do. Therefore we should lift control and release people to be part of our Church family and do whatever God is calling them to do with our support and blessing.
9. I have learned that the longer new Christ followers did not multiply by making disciples themselves the more consumerism came into their lives and the more that happened the more it was about what I need and what the church should be doing for my family, wishes, interests, likes and dislikes. It was self-consuming instead of the giving of ones self.

There are other things I am too disheartened to write about.

Anyway, what I did all those years didn't really produce the fruit I am dreaming of today. If we will be honest with ourselves, doing discipleship the way we always have is not working. In America we are losing losing ground and saints are shifting from place to place (for themselves) while our communities filled with lost people remain far from being reached for Jesus. The church will not reach all the people that need to be reached but we the CHURCH (new and old Christ followers) can with the help of God.

Final thoughts: Why would we even want to think about continually doing what we have always done in discipleship? We can talk all we want about the purpose of discipleship being maturity and if maturity is the goal -then let's insist that maturity equals "Doing what Jesus says." And that command is the Great Commission (Make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching them (new believers) to obey. Now for the question I continue to ponder. Is it possible for new Christ followers to immediately fulfill the Great Commission without being put on hold, in order to be fully trained which never fully happens anyway?

Can new Christ followers do it? Can we give up the control that hinders them from doing it? I long for and envision a movement that allows for this where while I stay involved in the life of my disciple as the Holy Spirit Holy Spirit leads both us to build disciples until I am no longer a father discipler but now I am a grandfather with lots of children who become fathers and grandfather disciplers themselves.

I see a movement of God through us -multiplying disciples who multiply disciples. Will you dream with me and pray with me for God to do it - and for us to let Him?

Do you see the possibility of this working in America?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What if Farming Was More Like Christianity?

What if...
*Farming would be more about the barns than the fields.
*Farmers would pretty much stay around the barns and have an office there.
*The best farmer would be the one with the biggest barn.
*Farmers would pray for it to rain in the barn and then pray for the barn to catch on fire.
*Farmers would both plow and plant inside the barn.
*Farmers could get voted out of the barn, similiar to the TV show, "Survivior".
*Because of all the activity inside the barn, they would develop a bad odor.
*Due to the focus on the barn, the fields would grow more wild.
*Activity outside the barn would become more like hunting.
*Farmers would have more conventions, and while they were away, sometimes wild animals
would come into the barn and cause all kinds of havoc.
*The best farmers would be those who could give a sound talk about agriculture and use large



Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It is catching on - Read Dallas Williard

The Great Omission:
Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship

The last command Jesus gave the church before he ascended to heaven was the Great Commission, the call for Christians to "make disciples of all the nations." But Christians have responded by making "Christians," not "disciples." This has been the church's Great Omission.

The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ. But the point is not merely verbal. What is more important is that the kind of life we see in the earliest church is that of a special type of person. All of the assurances and benefits offered to humankind in the gospel evidently presuppose such a life and do not make realistic sense apart from it. We cannot be Christians without being disciples, and we cannot call ourselves Christians without applying this understanding of life in the Kingdom of God to every aspect of life on earth.

This book calls believers to restore what should be the heart of Christianity—being active disciples of Jesus Christ. In the school of life, we are apprentices of the Teacher whose brilliance encourages us to rise above traditional church understanding and embrace the true meaning of discipleship—an active, concrete, 24/7 life with Jesus.

256 pages, hardcover, HarperSanFrancisco.


Has anyone been to a Church Planter's Boot Camp? Please tell me how it helped you? Or?

Come on I am serious!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Welcome to Freedom in Disciple-making

Please celebrate our newest Missionary to Kansas City...

Anthony Marks moved to Kansas City over Labor Day weekend to begin working with God in creating a Disciples making other disciples movement withm the help of God. Anthony does not have a job or income but felt led to step out in faith and that is what he has done.

Please pray for Anthony as he secures housing, a job and a network of those who carry a similiar burden for reaching those who are not yet reached or who are disinfranchised from American Christianity. Anthony has already experienced encounters with people not because of what he has done - but because God is opening doors of opportunity to become involved in the lives of people who need to see Jesus -- the way Jesus is.

I am thrilled to have 2 more boots ( 2 feet) on the ground and I am even more thrilled that Anthony understands that God is birthing a disciples making disciples movement where every disciples understands that every disciple is to make other disciples.

I envision God sending an army of people who are willing to fight against the enemy in a war strategy that is guaranteed of a victory. Anthony will experience what I never experienced when I was his age - because Anthony has stepped out totally by faith - a faith strong enough to take Him 9+ hours from family and the familiar to something that is day by day.

Do you think God will bless Him? Do you think God will reap a harvest because of his obedience? Do you think like I do, that there are literally thousands of young people ( and older ones) who want to step out like this? God is moving and people are obeying. I cannot wait to see the next harvest worker and the fruit of every harvest worker.

I am constantly amazed and filled with joy.

This is discipleship.....

It really works. Wherever I go people are receptive to sharing their story as doors are opened as love and compassion are shown as Jesus leads the way. (I'm not wonderful but the God flowing through me is GREAT!) This evening I met Inga at the hotel gathering as she cooked quasadilla's for hotel guests. We became bonded in our hearts. This older mother of twins talked about her life and shared about her grandson's and shared her story (a story that brought both joy and even tears to my eyes). I'm not emotional but I couldn't help it as she shared her story of joy and pain. She loves Jesus and Jesus has carried and sustained her through tough and trying times. Tonight we listened, supported and loved her -- and I cannot help but wonder if as I gave her a hug that just maybe -- God in His wonderful way was using my arms to hug her and show her His love.

I'm learning that being a Christ ambassador/follower is easier than I thought. All I have to do is love people where they are and be interested in who they are (name) and what is going on in their lives while being patient to wait for God to open the doors. I am learning to be sensitive to God's Holy Spirit and becoming willing to love and be interested in everyone I meet. As I do this simple thing, doors are flying open for me to represent Jesus. It may not happen everyday, but everyday I am aware that this could be the day and if it is I rejoice and if it is not I look forward to tommorrow.

Tonight I had a discipleship encounter with Inga - she needed to talk and we listened, she needed a hug and she got two of them, she needs prayer and I know you will pray.

Fred Nails It

"This is a great Church, but...
By Fred Peatross

This past Sunday I participated in a bible class with thirty or so other Christians. The teacher began the class with a simple question:

What is the spiritual age of the youngest Christian here today?

What followed was a very revealing illustration of our missional instincts…

The oldest Christ-follower; fifty-three years in the faith.

The youngest; twenty-years in Christ.

In the past decade this particular church has turned the corner on what now threatens thousands of churches in America—extinction. It exchanged it’s gray-haired membership with a balanced representation of both old and young.

->It’s relevant.
->It’s progressive.
->It’s has a a great expositor.

It’s a community with modern and emergent nuances. And it is shepherd by six baby boomers who understand grace.

Later that same morning, when the whole church gathered together, I was compelled to confirm or dispel my supposition. As the worship leader led the assembly in song, I scouted the gathering to see if I could determine who was the youngest Christian in attendance. My fifteen-minute exercise pointed to a man seated in the middle of the auditorium— three years old in Christ. How did he come to know Christ? Through an individual who gave a tremendous amount of energy, time, and love to the relationship— his wife.

On the right side of the auditorium was a very active youth group, comprised mostly of the children of members along with some of the children’s friends. I’d like to think that I would never underestimate the impact of youth ministry. Nevertheless, my notion had been confirmed.

While we’ve been busy converting the member’s children and spouses we’ve not done nearly as well connecting with the largest segment of society—the unbelievers, agnostics and atheists.

Is this church’s story a fair representation of what is going on in the relevant worship-centered churches across America?

Is it fair to assume there is more swelling than actual growth in these churches? For example: a mix of disgruntled Christians, Christians moving from legalism to more Christ-centered, grace oriented churches, and Christians who’ve made the decision to leave their stagnant out-dated churches for the more relevant churches? a.k.a—crop rotation.

Does this church illustrate the primary difference between seeker and missional churches?

Are those churches that call themselves missional (really) having a different experience?

Through the 1980s and 1990s my tribe was converting more than they are today (granted we were converting people to church doctrine, not Christ). But what are we doing for Christ sake today?

The easiest thing to do is what we already do; blame western society as being “much more difficult to reach.”

But is it fair to release ourselves from the responsibility Jesus gave us by blaming the people Jesus is searching for?

The Established Church: Some Great Churches but…

The greatest challenge facing the established church is the development of a genuine sensitivity coupled with a vision that connects with the people who live beyond the borders of our campuses.


Transitional-culture-orientation was the initial cultural onslaught that swelled the unbending, traditional churches with the disgruntled members who confused change with scriptural violation, and then left for the sake of conscience and tradition.

During this period (mid/late 1990s) the older traditional churches swelled as they gained new members from the germane churches who worried about their ability to survive the losses. But the churches that stayed the course, over time, turned the corner on extinction. Now nearly a decade later, the unbending, traditional churches are fighting for their survival. While, paradoxically, the more germane churches are swelling through an influx of the youth of the 1990s, now young adults seeking relevancy.

If these established worship-centered churches (who challenged tradition for the sake of relevancy) are to survive phase-two of this cultural transition, they must overcome the tension that exists between creating community among its membership and the sensitivity of reaching the community beyond its borders.

First Half of the Story: Assembly Relevance

Early in the transitional period church survival was predicated upon "remaining relevant”; via worship, music and message. This was the first half of the story. But the established church must keep moving. If it loses its compass and becomes static the story stops.

The second half of the story brings with it a fundamental challenge that must be addressed—
Not later.
Not tomorrow, but today.

The Second Half of the Story: Missional Instincts

Missional reorientation represents such a profound learning curve for the established church that many believe new church plants may be the best, if not the only plan.

The skills for discovering, interpreting, and purposefully engaging the culture contiguous to God’s people demands an intentional incarnating of the broader culture. It’s much more than simple demographics but a discerning of the powerful cultural patterns, beliefs, and values that are shaping the world in our very midst and most important is our response to the social realities (ethnic diversity, consumerism, nationalism, and variety of spiritualities) with the resources of the Gospel.

The church that exchanges “come to church” with, "go to the world” becomes the missional template church for the 21st century.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Is Sunday School the real answer?

Sunday School: I guess in her hayday she provided a good thing. But after years in the ministry as lead pastor I have watched (way to many) children raised in Sunday School then enter youth groups and enjoy fired up experiences that resulted in commitments without lasting results. With sadness I watched them graduate from High School and then go off to college and then who knows - I rarely saw them again. And when I did see them -some were way out there. A pattern? Are we looking into it?

"Oh we must get our kids in Sunday school!" Do you really mean that? Is that the real and only answer for your children?

When Sunday school was started it was used to teach orphaned children about Jesus. And when S.S. began - healthy families were much more involved in the discipleship of their children. That's not the way it is today!

How could we miss it sooo badly. Our kids don't need Sunday School as much as they need a mom and dad who care enough about them to invest in them every day. Every minute we share with our kids is a minute to disciple our children and show them the way to Jesus and to a life of character and commitment to Him.

How long will we wait? How long will we let some Sunday School teacher bear the burden of discipleing our children? What will it take for us to wake up and see that as parents we play the most important role.

Gerge Barna says that a child is set by age 13. Now think with me, at age 2 a child has 10 years of instruction. If as a parent I expect S.S. to (primarily) teach my children to obey (discipleship), then my child will have 510 hours or just over 21 days of instruction by the time he or she turns 13.

I know what you are thinking! Don't you just hate it when someone presumes to know what you're thinking? At least some of you are thinking, "I do teach and disciple my own kids!"

My Response: If parents would teach their own children with much more regularity and intentionality by the age of 13 our kids would be mor ready to follow Jesus in the presence of enormous peer pressure. And many more would not crumble as many are doing. If you have children at home -please do not leave it to the S.S. to adequately teach and disciple those prescious ones in your care. NOTICE: In those 510 hours of intruction in S.S. there are -poorly trained teachers, and people who are there to fill a space without a calling and how about the times we just played fun things and didn't teach a thing.

I know I am in trouble. Some have said, "We must have S.S. for our kids -that's what we need." OKAY - You may use it and it may be helpful and good - But your children need YOU to fill this critical role of getting them ready to face the world and stand for Jesus. They need YOU and not just another teacher one hour a week or just over 21 days by the time they turn 13.

A mother said, "I will disciple my children, that's what I should be doing anyway. " With consistency and intentionality it will save the life and soul of your precious children.

What have you to say?

Sojourner writes:

Marks of the American culture that I want to be free of:

1. There is a religious arrogance that permeates much of our church culture. It is very subtle and hard to pick up on since the words spoken are always so "loving" and "sweet." But everyone knows that there are rules followed to be part of the church culture and that those that fit the mold are "in." And it is an "in" thing and an "out" thing. By that I mean we have a quiet smugness about having found our way "in." We are, in fact, just a little better, thank God, and the only way others can be "in" like we are "in" is to find their way, first to Christ and then into the cultural rules that declare one to be "wholly in" (or is it "holy in").

What is even more distressing to me is that within this religious culture there are those who are slightly more "in" and those who are slightly less "in" creating a certain caste system that keeps everyone in place and knowing who is who.

2. Related to this religious pride is an exlusivity about the church culture. It is not a culture that is seeking, generally speaking, to incarnate the message of life to others. In fact those who are "radical" in an outreach sort-of way are often labelled as those "missions-minded" folks and, incredibly unless they are a key leader or pastor, often seen as not quite as "in" as others. In any case, the culture has an air of exclusivity that is quite contrary to the apostolic life lived by Jesus.

3. This culture is mired in spiritual passivity. I walked into the "church" box building. I sat in one of several hundred seats facing forward. I faced a platform with microphones and special lights shining on the stage area. Once the "service" began there were perhaps three people who contributed out of that group of several hundred. Now, I understand that this was a wedding, afterall, but it was still reflective of the way we do church. We train people in passivity. We teach people that observing others and nodding heads in agreement is a top-notch spiritual experience.

4. The culture is dependent upon its superstars and is slightly condescending toward those who are not. While the average Christian has learned to be passive, we find those with the flavor-of-the-year spiritual gifts (music, teaching, prophesying, etc) and ask them to be our representative superstars. We sometimes take people with little proven character and ascribe status to them because of their abilities. In so doing, we teach people that character is not as important as giftedness and that those without flavor-of-the-year gifts are slightly less valuable and important as others. This is not a culture of equal value, regardless of the sermons preached on the subject.

I suppose I could go on. I am not interested in bashing but learning. But I do want to look critically at the cultures I am a part of and have been a part of. I don't want to just blindly follow those around me because it's "the way we do it." I do not wish, in any way, to be a subversive or a difficult person, but I do want to attempt to be part of Christian cultures that truly value one another, that call for responsible spiritual involvement of every person, that are apostolic, and that are more relational and authentic than religious. May we continue to learn and grow.

A Scenario...That Should Move Us Out...

I was thinking about a church I pastored. In a seven year period we raised $7,500,000 in offerings and special building fund income. Sounds tremendous to most, but to me I am grieved in my heart. I should be grieved I was part of this.

What saddens my heart is this. If this church had 50 converts a year for the last 20 years we could say we reached 1,000 people. (That is a liberal number because we had the largest conversions in that 20 year period with just over 60 a year on a good year, at over 10% of our total attendees.. If the church had 1,000 new converts in 20 years at 50 a year, the cost of making disciples per new convert was $7,500.

But there's more to consider, some of the 50 people won to Christ each year were rededications of people who relocated themselves to our church. But there's more, I only used the financials from 7 of the twenty years - what would happen to our cost per disciple if it included our full 20 years of income? And, in these twenty years we had two major building campaigns.

We see here that we need to make more disciples than we have. It doesn't need to cost that much to make disciples of hungry searching people. Was this Church an unusual phenomena of poor stewardship? I wish she was, but the truth is, she is not alone.

What do we need to do in order to be better stewards? Or are you satisfied with these stats?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Please don't miss this....

My Friend Bill Huffhine shares "One Neighbor's Voice" A true story of sadness about us.

Go to bloggers on the right side of this blog page and click on Bill Huffhine to get this!

Now even more interested..

If you read my last post below you will understand the context of this one.

As you read True Vine move of God, please reply by telling us what you are doing with God's annointing to create a new disciple-making wine skin/ministry.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Incredible interest..

I'm looking at the True Vine ministry here in St. Louis with incredible interest. Pastor Terry and Suzette and family (now with the Missionary Church) recently started paving the way for a God led movement of disciple-making.

They have no building. They meet in homes during the week. They meet twice a month as the Church in a community gatherings. When they meet all together, there is communion, prayer, sharing, the Word of God (Biblical instruction, vision and missional encouragment) and a meal with lots of fellowship, love and caring.

With the Missionary Church now for three weeks or so, a life of disciple-making reaps a huge harvest for True Vine and the kingdom. We are trusting God for yet more people this Saturday when the Church gathers not at the church (but) as the Church. Many of dynamics of the early Church are present as they meet in homes & in larger corporate gatherings and in the world as the Church. They are the Church in homes, in community and in larger Church gatherings.

The offerings taken are being given back into the community to serve others, will be given to further efforts to create disciple-making movements and also to assist the larger Missionary Church denomination for Mission and Multiplication movements. They will be structured for accountability and belonging, but it will be free enough as to not limit what God wants to do among them and through them -the Church! It is truly a new wineskin ministry that allows for the stretching of new fermenting wine as the Holy Spirit stretches them to be led entirely by Him.

No overhead, no financial obligations, no set location -but they are ministering to the world and to each other and in all the groups and large gatherings. So far they share together with 50 people presently during a months time in homes and larger Church gatherings. More than that, they are ministering God's love and grace to many many more than we can count in the community (wherever each person goes in the Great Commission mandate and as promised with the presence of the Lord).

I'm watching this with incredible interest. I'm almost certain you will also want to watch with interest as well. Please check out the blogsite and website of Terry Goodwin listed on the right side of my blog homepage -your immediate right (under bloggers and links).

Will you pray for the Goodwin's and True Vine? Please post your comments and commitment to pray and give this movement of God a chance.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Dream with me for a moment: What would the church look like if you could jump off the New Testament example of her? Forget everything you know about church (strip it all away) and rebuild her the way you think she should be in America. If you had the freedom to change the way we do ministry and fulfill the Great Commission, how would it look - what would the church look like?

Before you begin -this exercise will have an unexpected impact on you.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Speak to me...

Speak to me about this one.

What would your ministry or Church look like if you didn't have a building?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

No good deed goes (unpunished or ?).

This morning Leroy, my neighbor noticed my two drivers side tires were flat. What would I do? He knew that I had helped a neighbor (my Mormon neighbor) with a good deed last night. You got it, I helped my neighbor haul huge chunks of a tree for splitting. He was moving the wood with his sons wagon, two huge chunks at a time, quite some distance. So when I heard he needed help I took my truck to the rescue.

The morning my other neighbor across the street ( Leroy) said this to me: "No good deed goes unpunished". Even though I ruined two tires (I apparently ran over roofing staples) at a huge expense to me, but I still disagree with Leroy and he knows it.

I believe that "No good deed goes un-blessed by God. We are people of faith and we will never know the why (I got two flat tires resulting in two new tires and money spent) but God is at work and we may never see the outcome, but God will.

While at the tire shop (grieving) the guy at the counter said this to me as I told him what happened, he said: "It will come back to you."

Stewart ( my mormon neighbor - I helped) will never know about the tires - because God just wanted me to help him. I am reminded tonight of the cost and blessings of living Jesus in my neighborhood. Someone told me today, "you'll never do that again!" Guess what, I will do it again because I must be a little Jesus in my neighborhood. It will be messy, it may be costly and even painful -but in light of eternity it will never come back void. I will never understand it -but I will trust God for it.

Believe me when I tell you this: I do not get praise for a good deed, but God gets the glory. You are hearing this story as a lesson of what we are to be in the world, a little Jesus who will do what is needed regardless of the mess. I heard about my neighbors need for help through circumstances that had to be from God.

No good deed goes un-blessed by God. He will always use it no matter how painful.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dave DeVries speaks out...

Dave DeVries writes, I am now focused on fueling missional movements by equipping and empowering pastors and church planters to embrace missional practices, and partnering with denominational leaders to strategically multiply churches across America.

Desired Outcomes

1) To encourage and empower local church leadership . . .

a) To abandon Americanized Christian practices.

b) To return to Christ’s mission for the church.

c) To develop local churches as missional training communities.

d) To mobilize every member as missionaries who engage the culture with the gospel.

2) To equip denominational leaders and missionaries with strategies to fuel missional movements that transform America.

a) Mobilizing missional leaders

b) Integrating missional practices

c) Initiating missional strategies

d) Planting missional communities and churches

For the entire post please visit:

Quote of the day!

"Every disciple we reproduce, every church that is birthed, and every movement that is ignited must be directly connected to the Master Himself in a context of growing relationships and mission." Neil Cole

It sure hits me in the face..

After 23 years in senior ministry plus a few more I am seeing things differently. And what I am seeing is both freeing and also very painful. It is painfully hard to look back and it is incredibly freeing as I look forward. Looking back I see allot of man working's and looking forward I see allot of Holy Spirit released. As soon as we lead people to Christ we should "teach them to obey" by getting them involved in obeying, and as they & we obey (God) the Holy Spirit will lead, guide and teach us. Why did I get in His way?

Neil Cole in "Organic Church" got me again. And the Holy Spirit keeps working on me. He writes, "There are two closely related sins we need to repent of in the Western church. First, we need to repent of under-estimating what God can do through a new believer. Second, we need to repent of over-estimating our own value in helping new converts grow and become strong believers. The real sting in these assumptions is that we think we are better able to help people than the Holy Spirit Himself is." "If we actually think that having our good teaching curriculum will make the difference, we are more deceived than we realize."

Thanks again, Neil!

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