Monday, October 30, 2006

I couldn't believe it...

Yesterday I attended a worship service at "The Gathering" a Missionary Church in the Northwest. It was one of the highlights of my life. Let me share...

I arrived early since the hotel forgot to reset their wake-up call system in light of the time change. It took me close to 4 hours to travel from Portland, Oregon (to) Kingston, Washington. Anyway, I arrived early which is something that never happens and when it does I get bragging rights.

I arrived in time for prayer. We then, moved into a teaching time. The kids were in their classes and the adults were in theirs. Rosie taught the class I attended which was a study on the Religions of the World (not exact title) , by Fritz Ridenour and mostly the Word of God. I was amazed during the review at how much the class could articulate the previous lessons on the world religions already studied. Rosie is an exceptional teacher (in my mind, a good teacher is defined by his/her ability to ask the right questions). Let me put it this way, If I lived in Kingston, Wa -I would be in her class.

In worship I watched as people/families of all ages gathered to worship Jesus! All the children were present as well, except for the nursery age. I was blessed as children raised their hands in worship-praise to God and especially as one child gave a praise which seemed commonplace instead of surprising.

My wife Michelle, calls me a critical person when I attend worship services other than my own and all you pastors know what I am talking about. I observed things I have often wanted to try but didn't have the nerve. As we progressed in worship - I observed God showing up as the congregation came into full unity and as God began to speak to us at various and differing ways. I mean everyone was "into" this and everyone (it seemed) was being touched by God. It was a WOW experience.

NOW BRACE YOURSELF! There was no sermon and there never is (unless God has directly given one). The service started with a Scripture reading (by Kirk), then singing (no praise band or musicians) followed by more Scripture followed by more worship singing (Hymns and Praise music), a congregational Scriptural response and a brief Scriptural focus by Rosie which went fast and then the bulk of worship was the congregation sharing praises and Scriptures and things God had showed them or taught them. It was as if I was transported back in time to the early Church in worship. I couldn't believe it when the service was over and "The Gathering" went well past an hour in worship, praise, Word and prayer. All I can say is -God showed up!

My own small contribution came as God led me to pray for a young mother with three daughters whose husband is deployed to Iraq and was recently briefly at home and is now back with six months to go. The family grieves his absence and prays for his acceptance of Christ in His life. Would you pray for them (God knows who they are)?

This worship happens every week, week after week after week. Imagine God showing up in and through the people as they participate by becoming an orchestra of worship to God?
Can I ask you to pray for Kirk and Rosie Farnsworth (especially Rosie in her leadership role) as lead "The Gathering?"

This group of believer's don't go to church on Sunday's, they go to "The Gathering" of the Body of Christ - a place where all present are allowed to participate in the worship, as God leads. It really works - I was there and am a witness to God leading the service through the expereinces and voices of the entire congregation. And, all that was shared was God orchestrated and miraculously tied together in a way that left no one untouched/un-moved. It was as if a quilt was being woven by the hand of God - one stitch at a time.

After that "The Gathering" who had "gathered" were released to "serve".

If you defend the American Church...

If you defend the American Church in her present state -stop reading or keep reading. First, set your Bible aside (you are not reading her with an open heart anyway) and take the time to read the powerful and challenging and indescribably effective resource for mobilizing for our Savior's Mission. In a rut and don't know it?

Now that the Bible is on the shelf for a brief time period you are ready to read something through the eyes of Michael Frost and Alan Hirsh, two people who have courageously investigated the almost 100% collapse of Christianity in Europe. The direct collision course that claimed Christianity in Europe will likely claim Christianity in America (sooner than later) unless we wake up from our slumber, comfortable and safe church fortresses.

You will not want to read this -especially if you are defensive. Admit it if you are. This resource takes what I am seeing and feeling only part-way (more later). So when you read, "The Shaping of Things to Come" by M. Frost and A Hirsch you will be stirred and convicted by the Holy Spirit while also seeing something you have never seen before.

I know we have taught our children to never take a dare -"BUT I DARE YOU!"

Defensive? Buy the book! Read the book! What you are about to read may change your life and open eyes your eyes - eyes that are blinded by the comforts of the church.

Don't read this book, especially if you like the way the church meets your needs. I do not want to mess up your comfortable and safe religion. Or do I?

God uses people I would never vote for...

In my life transformation that began two years ago and continues to expand today -I now reflect on my life and I now have a perspective on so many things I never had before. Call it gaining wisdom or call it coming clean in pure honesty, you decide. Now, everything filters through being effective in fulfilling the Great Commission in world redemption for the sake of Jesus' death, resurrection, and redemption of lost people.

In my pastorates I often made comments about the elections so as to be a good spiritual shepherd for my congregation, as if, people cannot think for themselves. However, those very acts have contributed to hurting our message and incarnational witness in America. Let me explain -lest you write me off as insane or worse -a Butt. I love saying that word (butt) because I could not say it in my last pastorate without getting some stick in the muds into a feeding frenzy.

God has throughout history used people I would have never voted for. He will continue to use people I will never vote for. We have so-spiritualized our pastoral and christian duty to vote or tell people to vote a certain way. It now sickens me to the point of vomiting. Sorry!

If I were pastoring I would refuse to get involved in mixing politics with worship and teaching. I would not hand out voter guides nor would I solely stand with and proclaim my endorsement of a particular party. My party affiliation or lack thereof is my business and only my business and something you are not going to be privey to. I will vote and when I do, I will do so with the information I have gleaned and the promting I receive for God. By the way, that direction from God may and even (likely) surprise you.

Handing out voting guides is a subtle (and even direct) and manipulating action to affect the outcome of the election. If it wasn't - why would anyone print them, mail them and ask us to distribute them? Just a thought!

Can a "Christian" be democrat or republican or libertarian or ? (see Bill Hufhine's blog post by hitting his tab link to the right of this post for the ?). I love to read Bill's thought provoking/challenging stuff.

NOW I'M GETTING ANGRY: Out of the horses mouth I heard about this (really) in a Church in America this last Sunday: The pastor of a good sized church announced to his congregation that they could see how he (the pastor) would be voting next week by simply going to the "such and such"website. They handed out voter guides to inform the congregation of who voted how and where and if. I'll say it again, this is manipulation/controlling or am I just easily angered?

What I am opposed to here, is how we in the "Christian" community use manipulation and control and power to somehow advance the gospel in political venues. Isn't it time for all of us (if this applies to you) to leave our evil - manipulative-controlling and power - hungry ways? I long for every believer in America to get out of anything that hurts our powerful ability to show Jesus to the world. If Jesus were here on earth (in the flesh), I believe He would be appalled at the way we use the bully-pulpitand quickly give up the witness of His name. We abuse and hurt Christ and His cause ( and our witness) when we polarize ourselves from the very people we are trying to reach. We are so good (not really good) at times when we reduce ourselves to unloving, manipulating, and controlling actions that produce nothing more than "worsening" ineffective influence in the world.

We may have thought it worked in the past (which I now know didn't) but I predict with absolute certaintly it will not work in the present or future either. We may win elections -but we lose in the reputation and influence department. Most of all - in our victories -Jesus loses in His redemptive mission. As we are labeled negatively in the world (and America) we become positive only to ourselves while the world misses Jesus. People are not stupid -they see through us and when they do -they better see Jesus. And when they don't see Jesus -they see a counterfeit. I condemn what I have done to contribute to the problem and I have repented of it as you see.

God uses people I would never vote for, so when I vote you'll never know what holes I punch. I refuse to ever again resort to manipulative and controlling abuse in the body of Christ and in the world - at the expense of Christ and His reason for dying so painful a death.

Now shoot me, beguile me, criticize me, label me, condemn me, ignore me, and pray for my soul if (you think I desperately) need it.

You get one shot -so use it wisely. I will return fire "if and as" necessary. I love this -can't you tell?

Where are they???

Where are they?? I mean, where do the lost hang out in your city? Do you know? And, if you don't, why don't you know? And if you know, why don't you go?

Everywhere I go people ask me what I do! So I tell them what I do...

I tell them, I live to show the world who Jesus really is.

They say, "Who is Jesus, really?"

So I tell them! He is likely different than you think. He is.....

When I go to them and let God and them lead, they are always surprised to see me coming to them and not expecting them to come to me.

Give me your thoughts!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Let's "GO"!

Let's "go" instead of just thinking or talking about "Going"! Are you....with me?

Where are the unreached? Where do they hangout? Why not go to them -where they are?

Oh, I forgot ---we cannot go to them nor can we go into those places! Who me? Go into a bar? What?

Where do the unreached hangout? Anyone have the nerve or love enough for people to go anyway?

Story: As Alice drove past the local bar se saw Harry's truck parked in front of the bar. Harry was inside but wasn't doing what Alice thought he was. Harry was discipling those "social outcasts" in the bar every Friday night.

Alice assumed Harry was inside doing what any drunk would do. She barely got home before spreading gossip to all of the church members in her and Harry's church. Harry found out Alice did this....He being ornery had this idea!

Harry left the bar and went to the home of Alice and while Alice's husband was away on a business trip he parked his pick up in her driveway -ALL weekend! Poor Alice!

Let's "GO" where the "PEOPLE" are! Where are the unreached people?

Are you going to them or do they have to come to you...which you know they will never do...?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I sure wish Rick Warren would read this...

Everytime I leave town for a few days I come back with so much on my mind I have to share it. It really doesn't take me long to drop these thoughts so I am doing many other things.

For those who have taken their churches through the five purposes of the church -by Rick Warren - please consider the following.

What are the lasting results besides a Mission or Purpose statement declaring them as important?

Is your ministry doing all of those purposes with equal priority?

Are the "Five Purposes" all on the same level of importance?

Has the "Five Purpose" teaching changed your life and community and if so, how?

Is the "Five Purpose" hype just another thing like the "Prayer of Jabez" or is it more than that?

We all know that many many people have accepted Christ and have assumed a purpose for their lives. I'm just wondering if those who have discoved their purpose are intentionally engaged with God's Purpose -His Great Commission (Co-Mission). While I celebrate the thousands of new Christ -followers how does or has the "Five Purposes" transformed the Church in ways that moves her from the collision course Europe has already experienced?


Terminology Problems

Here's a huge problem we are discovering. What means one thing to one person means another thing to someone else. So when we speak of a Disciple-making Movement (Reformation) most (maybe most) think "they -we" are already involved in it. Something that couldn't be further from the truth.

Some speak of disciple-making as something that is already happening because everything they do in our church-programming is making disciples. Others speak of disciple-making as incarnational believers engaging the world deliberately and totally Spirit led.

Some speak of disciple-making in terms of inviting people to church so the church can lead them to Jesus and disciple them. Others think in terms of being invited into someone's life through relationships and invited to lead them.

Some speak of disciple making in terms of "coming in" rather than "going out." Others think in terms of "going out" rather than "coming in".

Some speak of disciple making in terms of a planned 10 point program we must take new believers through after they accept Christ. Others speak of disciple-making with no planned curricula while allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through them relevant truth before and after they come to Christ.

Some think of disciple making as something you have to be trained to do by taking a 10 or 12 week class. Others think of disciple making as something new Christ followers also do as they are taught continually and released immediately.

Some think of disciple-making in terms of teaching five purposes or a list of things that define a disciple following a conversion experience. Others think of disciple making as something a new believer immediately does upon their conversion.

Some think of disciple making as something the pastor or trained people do. Others think of disciple making as something every believer must do.

Some think of disciple making as separate from evangelism. Others think of disciple making as inclusive of evangelism.

Some think of disciple making as one of several priorities all at the same level of importance. Others think of disciple making as only main thing with other important things that flow naturally out of that main thing.

When we speak of disciple making many believe we are all on the same page as we process the terms through our grids. But the truth is we are using the same terminology while engaging differing interpretations of the terms.

Do you see it? Do you see other comparisions in disciple-making terminolgy problem? What say you?

This Could Be Fun!!!

Some of you may want to take up this challenge and run with it.

I'm reading through the Gospels in light of the Great Commission being the "main" thing.

Many believers and leaders in America see the Great Commission as one of many "main" things.

Here we go:

If you would try real hard you can do this. Read the Gospel as if the Great Commission is the "main" thing for every believer -the Church! What I am finding (thanks to Pastor Terry Goodwin -leader of our new Church in St. Louis) is that the meaning of every Jesus action and parable has a deepening meaning and missional flow I have never seen before.

After you do this exercise, let me know what you experience and if you are finally convinced (if not already) to accept the Supremacy of the Great Commission.

A New Reformation?

I am excited that that we are seeing the signs and experiencing it too of a New Modern Day Reformation in the world. It happened before when it was needed through Martin Luther as many others who began to see the need for re-direction (transformation) in the Church. The best part of all is that I get to be a part of that move of God that is taking place.

When I resigned my very traditional church that was very traditional while moving ahead with contemporary elements and styles, I felt in my heart that God wanted more out of my life. I had opportunities to serve in other church ministries but God kept leading in another direction. For me, as a "turn around pastor" it became second nature. I had it down pretty well while asking God for help along the way. But instinctively it became easy ( I could almost do it without God -sad to say) to take a church from one level and lead her through the necessary changes to see pretty good growth and I got better at it, as I went from place to place. I came to a place where I needed to become involved in something that I knew I "couldn't do" at all without God. Who me, do what? I can't do it - God can!

So here I am! I can't do anything without God. A "disciples making disciple" movement will never happen WITHOUT GOD DOING IT TOTALLY THROUGH US. A "disciples-making disciples" from those already in the church will never happen WITHOUT GOD DOING IT.

I care deeply about one MAIN THING and it will be my only message until I die. "Make disciples" who themselves "make disciples" who become the church the "goes" as the main thing. If I could put seat ejections in every church pew and seat on Sunday - So each one can move from "soaking up sponges" to "wringing out sponges" in the world. The sponge is full now we need every believer to become an incarnational Christ- followers in the world.

Those who experience the Reformation and those who do not - will reap differing experiences and results. The Reformation (beginning) in America (and is sweaping over seas) is shaking the Christendom-mode church. This movement "REFORMATION of TRANSFORMATION" is not just another phase or style or ? This REFORMATION will cause the greatest harvest the world has ever seen, much like the early church harvest we have only dreamed about. It's shift will be from methods and models and styles and man developed programs to the Holy Spirt leading everything and I mean everything. (More on that later).

Friday, October 20, 2006

Christendom -mode Church is flawed!

Hirsh andFrost in "The Shaping of Things to Come" continue...

"The Christendom-mode church has three flaws in the DNA - the three are; attractional, dualistic, and hierarchical.

First by attractional, we mean that the traditional church plants itself in a particular community...and expects that people will come to meet God and find fellowship with others. There is nothing unbiblical about being attractive to unbelievers. How much of the traditional church's energy goes into adjusting their programs and their public meetings to cater to the unseen constituency?

Second, the Christendom-mode church is dualistic. It separates the sacred from the profane, the holy from the unholy, the in and the out. What we have said so far about the sickness of attractionalism finds its roots in the church's dualistic spirituality.

Third, the traditional church (Christendom) is hiearchical, deeply indebted to what we see as an overly religious, bureaucratic, top-down model of leadership, as opposed to one that is more structured around grassroots agendas.

The Planter says: Perhaps now that we have messed up things and our reputation as a church is severely damaged -maybe it is time for us to take the hand off the plow and let the Holy Spirit take the plow so He will be able to turn over the old dry top soil and plow it under so the fresh soil can emerge in a new movement birthed through us.

Why do we want something that is not working? Why can't we see what God is trying to do around the world?

Missional Church is our only Hope!

Frost and Hirsh in "The Shaping of Things to Come" continue...

The heart of the problem is church planting movements is, "that we have small carbon copies of the already beleagured, failing, Christendom -style church. The Christendom virus is passed on. It's like Dr. Evil, in Mike Myers' rediculous Austin Powers movies, creating a clone called Mini-Me. By duplicating a failing system, we are digging the same hole deeper in our attempt to dig somewhere else. It is more often than not that Sunday services are planted and not missional Jesus communities.

Mission is not merely an activity of the church. It is the very heartbeat and the work of God. It is in the very being of God that the basis for the missionay enterprise is found. God is a sending God, with the desire to see humankind and creation reconciled, redeemed, and healed. The missional church, then, is a sent church. It is a going church, a movement of God through His people, sent to bring healing to a broken world. ...The existing church which is invariably static, rooted in one place, institutionalized, needs to rediscover its sent-ness in order to become the missional church."

Christendom is Bankrupt...

Here we go again, Frist and Hirsh write in "The Shape of Things to Come" some interesting stuff on the Church in America.

"We must admit that Christendom, particularly its ecclesiological and its missional manifestations, amounts to something of a failed experiment. To reiterate, by the term Christendom, we are referring to a period in history when the church assumed influence by its connection to the temporal, secular power. It's high watermark occured in the Middle Ages and continued beyond the Reformation well into the 1700's. Since the emergence of the Enlightenment she has been in decline, disapearing in the latter part of the 20th century."

"We can no longer afford our historical sentimentality, even addiction, to the past. Christendom is not even a biblical mode of the church. It was/is merely a way the church has conceived itself. In enshrining it as the sole form of the church, we have made it into an idol that has captivated our imaginations and enslaved us to a historical-cultural expression of the church. ...We refuse to let go of this idol. The answer to the problem in the West requires something far more radical that reworking a dated and untenable model. It will require that we adopt something that looks far more like the early church in terms of its conception of the church (ecclesiology) and its core task in the world (missiology).

The first publish of this book was 2003. What a timely resource for our day!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is Brian McLaren really...?

While reading a post on another blogpost I read something that sparked these thoughts:

It was stated that Brian M is a false prophet! Oh my goodness...

Well, the first book, A New Kind of Christian, I may have felt like some of you; upset, angry, challenged and so much more! But the more I opened my mind and my heart for God to speak something to me- the more I realized He was only trying to stretch me and maybe deprogram and reprogram some of the stuff I always taught and believed and practiced as truth.

As I processed his stuff as shocking as it sometimes is, the more I am led to deeper processing and a deepened search for Truth aside from what I have always been taught and preached for years. Many of us don't like to think or be challenged for what we think as truth and the faith and practices we hold dear..

Please don't rule him out and label him a false prophet or worse. At the same time he will admit that he is not a biblical scholar so don't accept everything he says -but please allow God to help us filter Brian's thoughts in a way for God to teach us new things. I believe that Brian M is a great teacher and believe it or not He is advancing the kingdom and causing us to think outside (the box) and way beyond what we have always known as truth and practice. One will also understand more fully how to engage milleniums (young twenty something's) with renewed understanding and we are challenged by them to speak only the Truth and not what we sometimes call Truth and I know you know what I mean.

The most profound Truth I have gleaned from Brian M is simply this. "The reason young adults are leaving the church is because (we, they) put God in a box that is too small to hold the God they serve or want to serve."

Please don't shoot me or label me as a liberal or un-Biblical freak! Brian is a fellow believer and once again as the church let's try not to shoot the wounded. Brian M is being attacked by none other than those "holy ones". While they attack I buy all of his books, I read them, I sift through them and I PRAY FOR HIM to have wisdom and protection from the evil one.

Now it's your turn to weigh in.

Monday, October 16, 2006

YOU Really Can't...

You are right...YOU really cannot fulfill the Great Commission (of personally discipling people to Jesus and beyond so that they also disciple others to Jesus and beyond. YOU are right.

Why do YOU think YOU need to do it? Why don't YOU believe that God wants to invade YOU as a vessel for Him to work through? YOU cannot do it - BUT JESUS CAN! If only we would let Jesus (Holy Spirit) work through us.

Pastor Terry Goodwin (our first Pastor in St. Louis) is right...In order for God to change the world -He needs surrendered Christ-like followers, who will let Him lead through our surrender?

For me, I join with those who live to say "YES" and then who 'look and wait' for God-opened doors to walk through (a refreshing change in my life). While serving we allow God to lead the conversation and as we do -He gives us the words and actions He wishes to use. As hearts are further opened, the love of Jesus flows through us to them. Over time a relationship is birthed and then as we continue yielding God does it over and over again. I cannot do it -But JESUS CAN!

Yesterday as I gathered with a Church family (who is very dear to my heart) in Indiana, I was privileged to speak with a teenager who approached me and asked, "Do you hear it- listen -do you hear it?" I replied, "Sure I hear the music." He replied, "No, no, no -I mean do you hear the music speaking to you?" I was floored and I listened again and again until the music got into my mind and heart and soon I began to hear something speaking deep into my soul.

I concluded my brief exchange with these thoughts: Do you hear it? I mean do you really hear it? Do you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you and through you? Do you hear Him? Are you listening for His small promptings everyday and along the way? Just as we listen for music to speak into the depths of our inner beings we need to listen even more intently as the Holy Spirit speaks into the chambers of our minds and hearts. As we hear Him - the result always leads to changing the world one life at a time.

the GREAT debate!

My friend Dave DeVries posted this comment worth being included in this post: "It is tragic that the Great Commission has been more debated than it has been obeyed in church history." George W. Peters (A Biblical Theology of Missions, p. 173)

My good friend Mike Ehret posted this comment from a friend who paraphrases Brian McLaren who recently spoke at Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana. "He (McLaren) very much believes in a subversive approach to living out our faith, and I think there is something to that - subverting the powers that be in the world and subverting some of our long entrenched doctrine and positions that keep us from truly being like Christ. We're Christian, but not Christ-like."

Hummm... the Planter writes: We are Christian, but not Christ-like? Those who debate the Great Commission priority for all Christ-followers are those we call "Christian". Because Jesus never argues against the Great Commission priority for every Christ-follower -we who strive to be Christ-Like, never argue against it either.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Brian McLaren hits a homerun on this quote

Brian McLaren in "The Secret Message of Jesus" p83, "Jesus form

Jesus forms a movement of people who trust Him and believe His message. They believe that they don't have to wait for this to happen, but rather that they can begin living a new and better way now, a way of life Jesus conveys by His pregnant phrase the 'kingdom of God'. Life for them now is about interactive relationship reconciled to God, reconciled to one another - and so they see their entire lives as an opportunity to make beautiful music of God's kingdom so that more and more people will be drawn into it, and so that the world will be changed by their growing influence. Everyone can have a role in this expanding kingdom - women and men, masters and servants, powerful and powerless, old and young, urban and rural, white collar and blue collar, previously religious and previously irreligious. Each life can add beauty to the secret message of Jesus. Each person can be a secret agent of the secret message of Jesus.

Brian continues this thought further. "This idea -that the kingdom of God is about our daily lives, about our way of life -may lie behind the tension people feel between the words religious and spiritual. Perhaps the word religious has come for some to mean 'believing in God but not the kingdom of God.' And perhaps the word spiritual has become a way for others to mean 'living in an interactive relationship with God and others as a daily way of life'. In this way, the influence of Jesus may be as strong outside of some religious institutions as inside - and maybe even stronger. This may explain why church attendance has been plummeting across Europe and in many parts of the United States. When Christianity sees itself more as a belief system or set of rituals for the select few and less as a way of daily life available to all, it loses the 'magic' of the kingdom." (end quote)

Give me your thoughts and let's all shoot for living a 'spiritual' and leave the 'religious' behind.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How Can We?

How Can We? How Can We - Plant Churches the same way we always have -when the way we plant churches always leads to a consumerism that results in the same results we have today? It's true that we are teaching church planters to do the very thing we are trying to change in the American Church! I know I have personally been there. Don't tell me how to launch a public worship service when at the same time you tell me outreach will stop as soon as I do.

Here's what I see: Let's get a team of people -let's make sure that we get something from them and then let's plan an event so we can have more people who pay the bills and (our salary) so we can be self-sustaining in the very thing that is not working in America! I call this budgets, buildings and more and more people. And then I could talk about the competition and the show -you know the one with the best show wins. I would say the one with the best show loses in the end before God.

Let me introduce you to Lunacy! The Webster dictionary defines lunacy as: "Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result." Well duh!

We say we want to create a disciple making or missional movement in America but then we also encourage doing the training that gives the same while expecting different results. I insist with great ramifications personally - that we don't need to be trained how to do what is not working. We need to be trained to do ministry the way Jesus tells us to do it.

Why not create a disciple multiplying movement that cannot be stopped? That's what happens when we really follow the Great Commission with supremacy. That's what happens when Christ followers actually follow the Great Commission with supremacy.

Why can't we give up control and let God do His thing through us? Why do we need man's methodology (which may produce more churches -but I question the real production of disciples who also make disciples) for planting Churches when God is looking for obedience and the simple followership of the Holy Spirit's leading.

I am sick and tired of our systems and methods that have led us astray for way too many years. Let's teach Church planters (should be called disciple-multipliers) that we are to be disciple multipliers who actually lead other disciple multipliers who do the same. And let me remind you it is not our job to plant churches - it is our job to reproduce disciples who reproduce others and if God wishes - let's let Him build His Church!

What we are teaching young church planters is lunacy! We teach the same thing over and over and we expect different results in America. Call me crazy - fire me- kill me! If we want Missional we better show and teach people how to be missional. If you really want missional -See Jesus and His manual -He shows us how to do it and it is very very clear.

I think it's time that we stand up and do what's right instead of teaching what is politically correct. For those who think they are teaching what is right show me in your past where disciples (every disciple) are making disciples who make disciples. I know what my ministry looked like and it didn't look like that -I was politically correct and while we won some-the church still didn't have ownership of making disciples themselves -it was consumerism and self-centered to say the least. So I do know what I am talking about! Argue if you wish -but I still know what I am talking about and most of all I understand what Jesus said.

I guess what makes this fun is the fact that I do not have to survive. I just need to obey Jesus! And that I will do and as I do - Jesus will prove to the world that His way is far more superior to man's way.

This might get a response -we'll just have to see. I must tell you I am not overly optimistic here!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Stand Amazed...

I was privileged to speak with a friend (John) from Indiana this evening. We spoke together a long time. It was so nice to have him call me and for us to share hearts together.

The defining moment of the conversation was when John told me he doesn't do a good job of inviting people to his church. I told him he was not commanded to bring people to church -He was commanded to bring Jesus to the people.

He told me that he doesn't do a good job confronting people about being hell-bound. I told him it was not his job to confront them -it was his job to befriend them in a way as to open the door for a deepening relationship so they can see Jesus in us in a wat that draws them to Jesus.

Did he understand what I was saying? I am convinced he doesn't - because he is programmed in a way that keeps him from understanding the original intent of Jesus' life, message and mandate for carrying on His message.

I am saddend by the fact that people are so churched to bring people into the church instead of taking the Jesus in our lives to people in the world who are lost. The churches refuses to see clearly what Jesus told us to do: "Seek and Save" that which is lost. We are no longer seeking!
And because we are not seeking - the God in us is not saving either.

I grieve over this!

Doesn't it?

Doesn't it thrill your heart when someone comes to Jesus and immediately leads someone to Jesus who does the same? You must be thrilled to see the Great Commission come alive right before your eyes.

How would you feel?

How would you feel if you could actually do ministry the way Jesus taught us to do ministry?

Did you know that everything Jesus taught while living on this earth always ends up pointing to the Great Commission? Jesus showed us and taught us how to live and then before leaving for heaven following his resurrection He comes back and reminds us why He came and what we are supposed to carry on. Not just some of us but all of us. (Matthew 28).

If you don't believe this is true, I invite you to read the Gospels in light of the Great Commission. It all ties together in a way I have never seen before, but it all points to and ties together with the Great Commission (Co-Mission with God).

How would you feel if we gave you the freedom to serve God by fulfilling the Great Commission nothing more and nothing less? We are ready for you to serve with freedom that will transform your life and minsitry while seeing others transformed as well.

Will you join God and His Mission? I invite you to join this Mission as Jesus did!

This is interesting

Church: What Will It Look Like? by Ed Vitaglio

Let me share the following excerpts:

Excerpt 1: Research reveals the rumblings of a possible radical shift in the way many Americans think about religion and the Christian life. More and more adults -- even Christians -- believe that church involvement is unnecessary for an individual's spiritual development.

"Only 17% of adults said that 'a person's faith is meant to be developed mainly by involvement in a local church,'" said a Barna report. "Even the most devoted church-going groups -- such as evangelicals and born again Christians -- generally dismiss that notion: only one-third of all evangelicals and one out of five non-evangelical born again adults endorsed the concept."

In a 2005 Newsweek cover story, writer Jerry Adler found "a flowering of spirituality" in America that seemed to be occurring outside church walls. "Whatever is going on here, it's not an explosion of people going to church," Adler said.

Excerpt 2: The trend has tremendous ramifications for religious hierarchy, which Cox said is "crumbling fast." He said, "The notions of consumer choice and local control have stormed the religious realm, and decentralization of faith is now the order of the day. Religious leaders who once could command, instruct, and expel now must cajole, persuade, and compete."

When it comes to denominations, Cox added that "'brand loyalty' is a thing of the past."

Religion an Individual Pursuit?
Excerpt 3:What's going on? George Barna thinks many people are looking for an authenticity, passion and sense of community they find lacking in many churches.

"Americans remain unconvinced of the necessity of the collective faith experience," he said. "This is partially because the typical church model esteems attendance rather than interaction and immersion, partially due to the superficial experiences most believers have had in cell groups or Christian education classes, and partially attributable to our cultural bias toward independence and fluid relationships."

Challenges for the Church
Excerpt 4: It's not all bad news. Barna said a significant number of people appear to be leaving the organized church flock, but not for pagan or otherwise non-Christian religious pastures. Instead, they appear to be opting for a more informal pursuit of the Christian life through home churches.

It's a trend Barna thinks will accelerate. He believes that "by 2025 the local church will lose roughly half of its current 'market share' and that alternative forms of faith experience and expression will pick up the slack," home churches among them.

If the growing popularity of house churches is an indication that the institutional church model is not meeting the basic spiritual needs of Christians, perhaps some honest soul-searching on the part of church leaders is in order.

"Developing a biblical understanding of the preeminence of community life will take intentional leadership, strategic action and time," Barna said. In considering how to meet such needs, Barna's recommendations on another subject -- getting the unchurched back into church -- are relevant.

"These people tend to be less turned on by the music or preaching than by a sense of God's presence -- even though they don't quite know how to explain or understand it -- and by the feeling that they are visiting a group of people who are a genuine community of loving and accepting individuals," Barna said about the unchurched.

It may not be clear just yet if there is a genuine shift occurring in the religious life of America. But what is clear is that, if institutional churches want to remain relevant, they can no longer conduct business as usual.

Too read complete article:

God's Plan "A"

This is an excerpt from one of the greatest articles I have read in quite some time written by Bill Huffhine at (a must read).

"Jesus Christ didn't launch the church so that we could fill buildings, listen to sermons and plead for personal blessings. He launched the church so that we would bring food to people in famine, treat and heal the suffering and dying, make drinking water available to the thirsty, stand as an advocate for the oppressed, provide homes for the homeless, battle against the forces behind evil dictators and terrorists through acts of prayer, love, truth, and goodness, work for the peace and prosperity of our towns, states, and countries. Through all of these things we embody the Kingdom, demonstrating the truth and nature of God to the world around us; which is the loudest and clearest sermon that can ever be preached."

The Planter responds: Wouldn't it be great if American's were known around the world as the most compassionate nation in the world (purely humanitarian) all because believers were mobilized to live out Plan "A" ? Instead how does the world view Christianity? Bill you nailed it down on this one.

I also have a link right side of this article named "Bill Huffhine" - and you will find so much to to be challenged by with excellent and thought provoking writing.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Life Saving Station

It has been said that along a dangerous coast there was a life-saving station. Many lives were lost in an area of rough and dangerous seas. Because of that a group of people decided that a life-saving saving station was needed. Many volunteers joined the mission and many lives were saved.

Whenever a distess call came in life-boats and people were dispatched to bring people to the safety and medical attention by the rescuers. Over time many people were rescued and many were brought to health through the efforts of people dedicated to saving lives.

Then one day, the leaders of the life-saving station thought up the idea of building a new life-saving station just down the coast. Everyone voted to do it and that is what they did. It was amazing how everyone got together and chipped in to work at building the best life-saving station along the coast. And that is what they did. They spared no expense to put the very best materials and features from marble to tile floors and the best carpet money could buy. They put in the very best life-saving equipment available on the market.

Before long and because the life-saving station was so nice that the sea rescuers began to meet in the station for parties and gatherings and fun for all. They had the best of parties and events for themselves and their families and friends.

Over time there were fewer life rescues and less concern about those dying in the sea on the dangerous coastline. Many many more lives were lost as rescuers became less and less concerned about the rescue operations that required sacrifice and invloved the danger of losing their own lives.

Then there was this huge storm and there were many distress calls. Very few rescuers responded except for a very few people still committed to the original mission of the life-saving station. As the (very few) rescuers went out they brought back the wounded and battered and bruised and bleeding who needed to be saved. As they were brought into the life-saving station they also tracked in salt water, mud and the carpets were stained and things were all over the place. You can imagine what the neat life-saving station looked like.

After that mess the board decided there would be no more messy rescues that mess up the new life-saving station. From then on, everything turned even more for themselves. The parties got better and better and the programs offered were better and better for themselves..

The saddest part of all was the fact that no more lives were rescued from the raging storms along the dangerous coastline.

The life-saving members loved their new life-saving station and all it had to offer them.
The original mission was no longer part of their existence. And you know the rest of the story.

The sad thing is that way to many churches in America have lost their original purpose and instead of people going out to save lives with passion -we now like to meet for ourselves in the life-saving station. Before long we like to convince ourselves that we are still living out our original mission. But fewer and fewer lives are being saved...and in some cases no lives are being saved.

Give me your thoughts.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Well, did you?

Well, did any of you have any God led encounters with lost people? As a Pastor I was so busy getting ready for the next Sunday and taking care of administrative duties I didn't have much time left. I was so busy in the church I had no time outside of the church ministry to build relationships with lost people. Sadly, I had no time for engaging lost people in community. But now, I have more decided not to ever be too consumed with the already reached so I will have time to invest in those needing Jesus as theHoly Spirit leads. I would rather not be doing anything else. It's great to see God at work in our world.

Did anyone else have any God led encounters with people. Everyday and everywhere I go I pray that God will pave the way and that there will be people who need to be engaged by a Christ follower like you and me. And you know what? God comes through when I am aware and listening to God as He prompts me to action. Again, I have to be looking and listening and I have found that God's Spirit is constantly preparing people for personal friendship encounters with willing believers.

What do I say in those God encounters with lost people? I just say hi or how are you doing or I give them a compliment on something I saw them do or say. Then I listen! It really works. Often people want to know more and they ask questions and I answer them as best I can. Sometimes I cannot give a good answer - but I wait upon God to give me wisdom and He does. Most importantly, I have to be prepared and always ready to listen to God and also those I need to see and engage for Jesus.

This is the first step of discipleship. Discipleship always begins with lost people and as we disciple ( or continue conversation and relationships) eventually we have the privilege of introducing Jesus to them. It amazing how God opens the door and many times my pre-disciple is the one who leads and asks the questions that eventually brings Jesus into the conversation and also into their lives.

Well, did you have any of those Holy Spirit led encounters this week? Can just anyone do this -of course anyone can? Can you talk or listen or wait upon God? You'll know it is God making a way when it happens, tha tis if you are listening.

Well, have you had any God encounters this week with anyone outside the church? I'll be waiting to hear the stories you have to share. This should be my best post with record comments.

I'll be waiting! :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Definition

When I speak of disciples making disciples I am referring to Christ followers who really love Jesus and wants to follow Him and His Mission in his/her life. (Jesus wants us to continue what He started by reaching those He died for).

As we (Christ -followers) invade the world, cities and our neighborhoods we have God-opened doors to let others see Jesus in us. As unsaved people see Jesus in us and as we build relationships with them - trust and hunger for God deepens and soon they will want to know the Jesus in us and we simply tell them how Jesus came into our lives.

As a Christ follower leads someone who becomes a Christ follower -we keep walking together and the new Christ follower repeats the process over and over as you do the same.

The churched - believer in America has trouble with their understanding of discipleship. Let me simplify it further. Jesus is asking us to engage the lost. This is what I call discipling people to Jesus so they will become Christ followers. As they find Christ we continue revealing Jesus to them and they very soon reveal Jesus to others.

Is this really hard to understand or am I missing something here?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Moo Point writes, (

"Church work " juxtaposed to Kingdom work

The church gets in trouble whenever it thinks its in the church business rather than the Kingdom business. In the church business people are concerned with church activities, religious behaviour and spiritual things. In the Kingdom business people are concerned with Kingdom activities, all human behaviour and everything God has made, visible and invisible. Kingdom people see human affairs as saturated with spiritual meaning and Kingdom significance.

Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth. Church people often think about how to get people into church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.

When Christians put the church ahead of the Kingdom they settle for the status quo and their own kind of people. When they catch a vision of the Kingdom of God their sights shift to the poor, the orphan, the widow, the refugee 'the wretched of the earth' and to God's future. They see the life and work of the church from the perspective of the Kingdom.

If the church has one great need it is this: to be set free for the Kingdom of God, to be liberated from itself as it has become in order to be itself as God intends...

(I believe this is from Liberating the Church by Howard Snyder)

It's much easier than you think

Making disciples who make disciples isn't hard for anyone! What?

I pray for God to send me a person of peace who is open and ready to know Jesus personally. God always comes through, that's what God does. It is likely that this person is someone who will multiply other disciples quickly.

Everywhere I go I look for opportunities and God-opened doors and when I look at life that way everyday I have discipleship moments with others to show Jesus and His love to others. Many just go through life and never notice the people around them. Even believers do this and that is the saddest part of all. Even I confess my own sin, because that was me also.

You will know it when God puts an opportunity for discipling someone to Jesus by sharing as the person and Jesus opens the door.

Before you know it your new friend finds Jesus and you keep walking with your friend in a discipling relationship and you let your new believer experience the same joy you experienced by making sure they know Jesus wants one of their first acts of service to be that of leading others to Jesus. And you do it over and over again as do they.

This is not about making you feel worse -this is about helping you receive the fullness and joy of doing what Jesus commands. If we don't follow His Great Commission we also lose the joy of seeing lives transformed and souls layed up in heaven for eternity.

I love the simplicity of it all and the joys that follow. I will never leave this for I have tasted the joy and I can hardly wait to see the souls in heaven because Jesus used me. The best part is you can have this also.

Do you think?

Do you think most believers in America believe the Great Commission was personally mandated for each of us to follow and obey?

Do we act like we believe it?

Very few will post on this one.

Here's a Question..

Does Jesus command you to make disciples or go to a church that makes disciples?

This subtle shift makes a huge difference in our world.

Would someone answer this one for me?

Monday, October 02, 2006

No longer

We are no longer just a post-modern culture. We have entered the era of post Christendom. The United States has drifted so much so that adults in their 20's do not even know about Noah and the Flood or Samson and Deliliah not to mention Jesus! Knowing about the things of God are common place for those in the church but they are non-existent for the unreached. We are losing the battle. America is heading on a direct collision course with what happened to Europe. In Europe there is a huge void and the absence of Christ in community. Large cathedrals -no people and very few believers in every community if any. If we continue on this path our large empty stadiums and magnificent campuses will forever haunt us.

What do you recommend that we do about it? Start more churches? Build larger buildings? Plan better services? What do you recommend that we do to stop the train wreck for our kids or their kids and....?

Not community but Communitas

In the Michale Frost's book entitled "Exiles" he quotes Alan Hirsch who defines Christian communitas this way.

Communitas in the way I want to define it is a community infused with a grand sense of purpose; a purpose that lies outside of its current internal reality and constitution. It's the kind of community that "happens" to people in actual pursuit of a common vision of what could be. It involves movement and it describes the experience of togetherness that only really happens among a group of people actually engaging a mission outside itself. Communitas just "happens" when a society of believers commits itself to the grand purpose to that external mission.

Leslie Newbigin wrote this twenty years ago, "There are two moods in the church; timidity and anxiety. Timidity squashes our missional impulse. It causes us to withdraw from any grand purpose for fear of upsetting the delicate balance of conflicting ego residing in each church. Christians surround themselves with fellow church goers, so their only goal is to maintain equilibrium. The church's anxiety fosters its awkward reputation in the wider community.

Now for my brief thoughts. What would happen to the church in America if we would own with passion the the Great Commission (Our Co-Mission with God) with courage enough to act (follow our Mission)? Jesus knew what He was doing and communitas was exactly what the early Christ followers experienced than many of us in American churches may never realize.

Michael Frost -Quote

"When we have no impressive buildings and no swollen budgets to sustain our work, often only then do we we realize that the best we have to offer this post-Christendom world is the quality of our relationships, the power of our trustworthiness and the wonder of our generosity."

And I would add, all in the context of showing Jesus to world.

C.S. Lewis - Quote

"A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither."
Mere Christianity, 95

This is way to good to miss

Dave DeVries writes...

The church is the people of God and we don't exist to build an institution or organization.

The church exists for mission! Our mission is not more people, more money and more buildings. Our mission is to make disciplemakers! Our mission is the radical transformation of every man, woman and child in our community in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Check out his most recent post "Making-Disciple Makers!

Good job, Dave

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