Sunday, December 31, 2006

I've been tagged!

Oh boy, here's a new one. Dave DeVries my friend just tagged me, meaning I must share five things you may not know about me. Please visit Dave DeVries for his five things as he was tagged by another.

1. I still love my mother in law after 31 years (29 of which married to her daughter). I think she loves me too. Does she or does she not?

2. I'm one of 8 children (7 boys and 1 girl) We had the best of times and the worst of times but then I entered the pastorate and saw quickly that all wasn't so bad afterall. Humans in the church are really weird.

3. I used to be an avid deer hunter but hung it up this year. I now hunt for Indian arrow heads.

4. As a couple we enjoy riding our Goldwing M.C. and when Michelle is not riding with me I listen to country music.

5. We have two married children who have not figured out how to make grandbabies.

Now I get to tag someone.

Hummmm! Do you want to answer these questions?

These questions were asked in a comments section of another post. These are such good questions maybe some of you would like to answer from your perspective.

My friend asked, "Again, I have to ask. What is it you want to see happen? What is the vision you have? I want to see change. I am seeing change. I believe God is a work... I know He is. So what is it that you are looking for."

What would you say with regard to these questions?

Do any of you have any idea what I am wanting to see happen in America? If people cannot distinguish between the old (going to) and the new paradigm (going out to) many may conclude that the church is already doing it. What say you?

I will comment along the way. Can you help my friend? Do you see problems with Americanized Christianity? Let's get into this one.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Who cares who is right as long as Jesus is?

Today I was thinking about all the stuff we are dealing with these days regarding the ineffective American Church. Some think I come across like I am right and everyone is wrong. I have a solutution.

Who cares?

Let's move with those who see the problem or at least suspect it. I am ready to move with the moves and shakers and for others who think they are fine, let em be fine.

Time is short, we must run with those who are ready to run. Is it possible that we might wait too long for others to be convinced that the church in America is losing?

Come on, let's run with it and stop babying those who think we are whatevr. Think what you want, but we are in need of God's anointing and power. It is not about me being right. It is about what Jesus says is right and what we are doing about it. Just read the Word and tell me who is right. Maybe I am not, maybe I am, but I don't care because Jesus is always as right as His word.

Who cares as long as Jesus is right. Let's follow Him.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Oh boy, again!

For those of you who agree that the American church is on life support, how much deconstruction do you think/believe is needed to get her back on the front lines whatever you think that is?

Oh boy!

"If you took away your Sunday service(s) and your building(s) what would you have left?" Richard Greene

Will someone take a stab at the answer? Is there anyone honest enough to say "nothing left" if it is "nothing left"? Will someone tell us what is left if you have something left?

What? Why? and the How? of Discipleship

Richard Greene already answered these questions and I have taken limited liberties with arrangement and minimal additions indicated with a (+).

WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?

A disciple is a Spirit-transformed follower of Jesus Christ.

Making disciples involves: Transformation, Character development, Behavioral change.

Three essential steps every disciple engages. (Mark 8:34):

  1. Deny yourself. A process of daily discipline.
  2. Take up your cross. A surrender of your whole life. A willingness to obey all He has commanded.
  3. Follow Jesus. A lifestyle of obedience. (+) Obedience is demonstrated by walking in His footsteps.
WHY MAKE DISCIPLES?

*Jesus commands us to do so.
*Jesus made them +and we must do what He did.
*(+) We are commanded to "be fruitful and multiply".
*(+) Disciple making is God's method of bringing people to Himself and bringing transformation to humankind.
*Making disciples is the only way we can reach our generation for Christ.

HOW DO WE MAKE DISCIPLES?

(+) We make disciples through intentional and incarnational living in the world with all the authority, name, word and presence of Jesus.

(+) The Mandate for making disciples is found in the Great Commission and it is a "Supreme" command and it is consistent with the heart of God throughout scripture to be fruitful and multiply. How are all believers to fulfill the supreme priorities of the Great Commission?

Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NLT)

"Go" means that we are to do evangelism. To make a disciple of Christ, we must bring that person to Christ to be forgiven and cleansed from his sins.

The word "Baptize" tells us what we are to do after we have brought them to Jesus. Baptism brings them into the Church. Jesus is telling us that it is from the context of their relationship with the Church that new believers can best follow Him as a disciple.

"Teach to Obey" is the third step in making disciples. A disciple is a follower. He is one who has dedicated his life to follow the teachings of his master. Jesus said we are to teach His disciples to "observe" (or obey) everything He has commanded us. The commands of Christ are not just rules to observe; they are a way of life. That is why discipleship begins with obedience. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" Obedience is the proof of our love for Christ (John 14:15, 23-24).

(+) I would add, all believers are commanded to make disciples and doing so is easier than you think outside of the American church model for disciple-making.



Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Alan Hirsch is my kind of writer

I read these thoughts written by Alan Hirsch on his blog which I later discovered is in his newest book coming out in just a few days called, "The Forgotten Ways" "...various recombinations of contemporary church growth theory and practice seems to be the only solution we have to draw upon to halt the decline in Christianty. It seems to be the only arrow in our quiver - this can't be a good thing...

What is becoming increasingly clear is that if we are going to meaningfully reach this majority of people we are not going to be able to do it by simply doing more of the same. And yet it seems that when faced with our problems of decline we automatically reach for the latest church growth package to solve the problem. We seem to have nowhere else to go. Simply pumping up the programs, improving the music and audiovisual effects, or re-jigging the ministry mix, won’t solve our missional crisis. Something far more fundamental is needed." You can pre-order your own copy through Amazon, you will not regret the challenge.

The Planter responds: Finally someone sees it. What about this is hard to see? Are we so blinded and or insecure in the American Church to see this reality? What will we do? When will we do it? It is high time we get our heads out of the sand and breathe in some reality. What say you?

Don't miss this!

What we are doing in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, to shift from Americanized Christianity (western influence) to New Testament priorities and paradigm is has more to do with a kingdom focus than the Missionary Church. This new attempt is blessed and support by the Midwest Missionary Church district.

While we make incarnational disciple multipliers and ministry in the world the main thing even more important than gathering on Sunday (we still gather but differently in our St. Louis pilot) we are not trying to build our own denomination first. We will make disciples who make disciples and God will birth new Missionary Churches but that is not the primary goal.

What is our goal? Our goal is the kingdom. We will help anyone fulfill the mission of God. If some choose the Missionary Church as a denomination that allows out of the box ministry to connect with or another ministry or affiliation we care not. What we do care about is reaching and discipling lost people to reproduce other Christ followers.

I'll say it again because I know you may be shocked! Pick yourself up off the floor and listen again! We care more about lost people than the advancement of the Midwest district or Missionary Church. It's more about people finding Jesus Christ and being discipled than it is to build our denomination. We know God will bless us because we put what He wants more than ourselves. We will even drop some non-essentials that hold us back when necessary. Who cares who gets the credit if people are redeemed from an eternity without Jesus!

That is the position of leadership in the Missionary Church, I promise. And, I can prove it.

Give your thoughts

Could you tell me if you think the present way we do church in America is working? I am specifically asking you to focus on the church we go to -the predominate model in America.

Would you add why you think it is or isn't working?

I will refrain from commenting allowing you time to flesh it out between yourselves. I'm trying to see if you think there is or isn't a problem and why you think so.

Fire away...without fear

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My Best & Worse books of 2006

Let me rate them:

My best books are rated:
5th Place: "The Monday Morning Church" by Jerry Cook, chapters 1-3 are great & after that his work resembles a book he's written before.

4th Place: "Exiles" by Michael Frost. Excellent work on communitas- the what and how.

3rd Place: "Organic Church" by Neil Cole. Excellent and hard to put down. I just wish he didn't back down on American church overhaul. Please take us into a new paradigm.

2nd Place: "The Shape of Things to Come" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. Incredible and slow digesting. I love their work on incarnational living.

1st Place: "The Present Future" by Reggie McNeal. Has lazer precision on the problems the American church faces.)


My worse book of 2006 (Nothing I have read yet even compares).
Bottom of the Barrel - "Unlearning the Church" by Michael Slaughter. This is just another retooling with little substance or results - "outdated".

Can you give me your reading recommendations and why? Perhaps others will benefit.

Assumptions that hinder the Mission of God

Assumptions that hinder the Mission of God, by Reggie McNeal, "This Present Future." Reggie deals with these assumptions in this book, my favorite book of 2006.

1. If you build the perfect church (location) they will come.
2. Growing your church will automatically make a difference in your community.
3. Developing better church members will result in greater evangelism.
4. The church needs more workers (for church work).
5. Church involvement results in discipleship.
6. Better planning will get you where you want to go (in terms of missional effectiveness).

Let me (the planter) add a few more.

1. If you want more people plan more programs.
2. If you are not growing - get a new pastor.
3. Cantatas and other dramatic presentations will increase long term membership.
4. If you take better care of your members your church will grow.
5. If you could get healthy - your church will grow. (What is church health?)
6. If Pastors could attend the right seminar (mine/his) church will grow.
7. If you just live the five purposes (Warren) of the church you will grow.
8. If you could just model your ministry after Willow Creek, you will grow.
9. If you could just get more casual and less threatening your church will grow.
(that's enough - I need to write shorter posts.)

What will make your church grow? Do you have thoughts?

A you a can-ner? (my newest made up word)

A young leader in the church pointed out the fact "that if God is in something you won't have to try so hard to convince people". Hummm! It didn't take me long to agree with him and challenge him in the same breath. I told that leader, "You are right and you are wrong".

1. You are right when speaking of those outside of the American church paradigm (many disconnecting or disconnected or never connected). It is more common than not that they get the new paradigm quickly and they often admit they could be a part of that. I have found that those outside of the church (present) institution readily believe that God can do so much more than we in the church do. (So the leader is right).

2. On the other hand, it has taken me a great deal of time, energy and pain trying to help leaders see that God is bigger than what we know church to be in America. Usually more often than not they refuse to engage me without becoming threatened or open enough to consider the possibilities of a new missional paradigm. I now believe that a majority of good member/believers will never give in to the biblical paradigm of living incarnationally (missionally)in the world. (So the young leader is wrong).

Throughout history there have been times (many examples) when God was involved in doing something new and when the religious refused to be convinced or even open to that possibility God just led the missional movement without them.

Are you a can't or a can-ner?

Monday, December 25, 2006

hold your heart

You'll just have to hold your heart on this one. In a short time Christmas Day will fade into memory. Will we honor Jesus and His reason for coming?

As I reflect this Christmas evening I cannot help but ponder over the way we do church in America and how we do or do not live Jesus in the world. Have you noticed that we are losing serious ground with the mission of Jesus in our culture? This Christmas evening the significance of this day is powerful - A Savior, my Savior and your Savior who longs to be the Savior of others has been born to "redeem His people from their sin." In a few minutes Christmas will be over for many- but for me, I have renewed vigor to keep Christmas and that powerful message alive everyday in America.

In Reggie McNeals book, "The Present Future - Six Questions for the Church," he writes, "We have made following Jesus all about being a good church member. The scorecard is all about church membership, church participation, and church support. We are training people to be good club members, all the while wondering why our influence in the world is waning. The truth is, the North American church culture extracts salt from the world and diminishes the amount of light available to those in darkness who need to find their way."

As I ponder this evening on that first Christmas and the years in the life of Jesus that followed I see His purpose revealed and reinforced. I see a Jesus growing up as a carpenters son filled with driven purpose, filled with different values, priorities, focus, love, living, and example from those around Him and even us. He reached out to the outcast - the untoucheables - and the people thrown away by the church institution of His day.

Sadly, I see the life of Jesus and His purpose colliding with the American Church institution regarding what Jesus lived and stood for vs what we live and stand for. There is apparent idolotry in the American church that needs to be repented. We say we worship Jesus but that isn't always so. We say we love and support His mission and obey Him but often do not really. We often end up supporting our own mission, plans, desires and needs. We often fulfill the needs of our own church ministry culture - the very ministries we deem important while looking the other way from those who long to experience the savoring salt and the light they need to find Jesus. We say we are doing ministry and I am sure we are, but the question is, what ministry? Yours or His?

We celebrate Jesus and His birth and we thank Him for coming to redeem us and others - but rarely do we celebrate the personal cost and requirements of being His disciple. Instead of following Jesus and His clear mandate by living the example of His life we have created our own Gospel, one that allows us to view the missional priorities of Jesus from a distance.


Will the church, the pastors, leaders, church members and every Christ follower move out to the front lines with Jesus? Or, will we hold up in our own church fortress culture and comforts? Will we excuse our actions by planning "out-reach" events or will we insist that all Christ followers "reach-out" by living Jesus outside everyday?

Will we continue our mission or begin His? (Some are already doing His). Are you? If your heart is still beating give me your thoughts.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The birthday of Jesus - Let's party!

The birthday of Jesus - Let's party!

I will be forever amazed that God would become man on our behalf, that He would choose to come as a baby and that baby would be very human and very divine. What a difference He makes in the lives of those who accept Him. Yet, there is so much more He wants to do, so many more He wants to touch, so many more He longs to draw to Himself, so many more He desires to transform. We have a charge to keep and that charge is clear as we remember the real reason Jesus came. He showed us the why and He commands us to keep the why going.

This Christmas I see a world that is searching. I see an emerging openness to Jesus and a growing disconnection from the church in America. People may be leaving the church as we know it -but many are seeking and still serving Jesus. Some of the unreached are overwhelmingly hungry to know Him while others are hungry but are not sure why.

While wishing you a Merry Christmas - my heart goes out to those who do not know the Christ of Christmas. When my waitress was asked by my friend, "What does Christmas mean to you?" She replied, "It means that I have to work on Christmas Eve while most of the people are off and it is a time for our family to get together." My friend said, "Does Christmas mean anything more?" She said, "No that's about it -we have some gifts, we have our family, we eat some good food. And, that's about it."

This Christmas I pray that all Christ followers would begin promoting Jesus (not just your church) everyday by living Jesus in the world. I can't nor do I want to draw people to myself. But, I am willing for Jesus to draw people to Himself through me.

Let's not just have a Jesus birthday party on December 25th. Why not have millions of Jesus birthday parties throughout this next year? It can be Jesus' birthday everyday as He is born anew in the hearts of millions in 2007. Whether you know it or not -Jesus can and does draw people to Himself if only we would let Him use us.

Let's Party!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Church members, please read.

Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. What an example for all to follow. But how many churches are full of those whiners instead of winners? How many whiners instead of servers?

In church history pastors have served enough whiners to circle the globe at least once. I won't mention all the whiners and what they whine about in the church. Why don't we just tell those members to shut up, get off the pot, get their heads out of the pickle jar and stay away from prune juice?

Let's kick our whining members out of the nursery and just let em sit in their own pew or was it pewww -E. I'm tired of all the whining so I decided to whine about the whining but I'm sure all the whiners will blame me for their whining so they can keep whining and instead continue their whining to others so that the others will start whining until the church is full of whiners who spend their lives making more whining members. If church whiners do enter the world where people live and work they still whine about all the non-whiners who serve them but never well enough.

Pastors, we must stop baptizing in lemon juice and serving prune juice at potlucks.

The Jesus Question!

I recently read "The Monday Morning Church" by Jerry Cook as recommended by a friend. It was a pretty good read with some very good points along the way. I was disappointed that He didn't go far enough. He went far enough to keep people happy. On a good note, Jerry Cook reveals something I have never seen in Scripture.

Jerry says, "Yet, here is Jesus Christ stepping out of eternity to reveal the only God there is, and He says, 'I haven't come to be served.' Now to me that doesn't make sense. Again, my question is, If You haven't come to be served, why are You here? Why did You come? Again His answer is, 'I haven't come to be served , but to serve.'

Immediately I begin to recall all the questions Jesus asked throughout the Gospels. Almost always they came down to this: 'What can I do for you?' What were His first words to blind Bartimaeus? 'What would you like Me to do for you?' What about the lepers? 'What can I do for you?' What about the man at the pool? 'What can I do for you?' "

The planter replies: I wonder for those of us who want to live incarnationally in the world, what would happen if we asked the Jesus question, "What can I do for you?" I wonder how many of us would be prepared to meet that need whatever it is for Jesus?

Better yet, what would happen if every Christ follower decided to ask that question to those outside of the church family, "What can I do for you?" What would happen if they truly met that need? How unlike the church! That's another post - I'm feeling ornery and I'm off work and have too much time on my hands. So I'm de-cluttering my brain from all the stuff I'm thinking about these days.

Can you imagine what God would do in America?

Friday, December 22, 2006

People long to see eternal results.

I heard it with my own ears, "I wish I didn't have to give my money where nothing is happening - but someone has to pay for the building. I'd much rather give where the money is doing something."

Here's a person with a bigger vision of what God can do. This person sees the big picture. She understands the reason Jesus came at Christmas and she would rather invest in lives transformed by Jesus than pay for buildings and status quo!

Even my elderly friend sees the problem!

Still stirring the pot. By the way, I'm not writing to get people to like me! There's something much greater at stake here.

Why do we resist it?

Why do we find so many who resist God's manifold purpose throughout Scripture to "Be fruitful and multiply?"

Why do so many resist the supremacy of the Great Commission purposes in light of God's manifold purpose which Jesus wraps up following His resurrection?

When did we ever start thinking all Christ followers do not need to nor are gifted to make disciples who make disciples?

When did we ever start thinking that "going" was more important than "being?"

When did we forget that Jesus in us is the only Jesus the world will ever see?

When did Churchianity become more important than Christianity?

I needed to write a short post -so here it is. Any brave ones out there?

Discipleship in America is FLAWED!

Because I have now live on both sides of this issue, maybe I have a tiny bit of credibility. For some, maybe not! We'll have to wait and see. :)

What does FLAWED discipleship look like?
*Just get em to pray a prayer and the church-ize them.
*By Church-ize I mean; attend church, bring your tithes, invite others to church, find your spiritual gifts and then serve in an approved ministry of the church (mostly inside but sometime outside).
*Never insist that Christ followers live incarnational disciple multiplying lives on the outside.
*Make discipleship training a class with a pre-designed curriculim.
*Push for doctrinal teaching ahead of the teachings of Jesus. Some of the orthodoxies we argue over are not even worth discussing, in my humble opinion.
*Instead of sending them out we insist that they must be prepared by taking a discipleship class as long as short as six weeks and as long as six months. By that time the fire and passion has died down and they have learned to be good church members instead of authentic Christ following disciple multipliers they sit with the finest. We call that living in the world while showing the world who Jesus is.

How to DE-FLAW DISCIPLE-MAKING
*Don't push to soon for a sinners prayer. Disciple them to Jesus and help them understand the cost of following Jesus.
*Walk one on one for as long as it takes and every believer should walk with someone one on one.
*As your disciple others you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and you teach them what Jesus taught. The goal is to make better disciples not better church members.
*Insist that every new Christ follower reproduce their life into another life within six months or sooner. Here's where people will disagree. But since we never try- how will we know if it can happen? I'm seeing it happen with amazement. They want to do it and they do it well along with being discipled themselves.
*Don't get the new blood tied up serving in the church, but rather, release them to serve as Jesus leads them as incarnational believers in the world.
*Insist that being the church is more important than gathering as the Church although both are important and valuable.
*Keep them out of a churchianity class while keeping them with the discipler who led them to Jesus.
*Don't show them all the stuff they don't know - this will intimidate and cause them to fear they will mess things up.

When Jesus told us that He will be with us as we make disciples, baptize them, teach them to obey -we can be assured with confidence that the Holy Spirit will be guiding us, working through us, telling us what to say or do.

When we de-Church-ize the discipleship process it is much easier and simple than we could ever dream. When we de-program-ize the discipleship process it is simplified to the point anyone can do this. When we stop trying to make them good members and instead teach them to become incarnational disciples it is so much easier than we ever dreamed.

Meet the person where they are on their turf, let God lead you as you/they share, when they become a Christ follower keep walking with them, teach them all that Jesus taught like the Sermon on the Mount, the one anothers, the Great Commission and Great Commandment, the Beatitudes, the parables as well as the commands of Christ to name a few. Pastor Terry at www.sunministries.blogspot.com has put together a simple piece that identifies those things Jesus taught that all followers of Christ should know. We must make "being fruitful and multiplying" ourselves as the main thing. Of course we gather together as the body of Christ, of course we have communion etc.

As you do the above - you teach your disciple -what you teach your disciple is passed by them to their disciple and down the line. You hang with your first disciple as long as it takes but usually when the string gets to the fourth generation they are ready to move out on their own with periodic check-ups.

All disciples have spiritual gifts and they "multiply disciples" while using those gifts. Every person has a personality temperament mix and they meet people as they live out that mix. Every disciple will remain excited and passionate as they see God use them to see a life transformed.

So I speak from the old and out of the new and what I am seeing in the new is incredibly effective and tranformational.

I come across...!

Since several want to know who I really am - and since I often come across so strongly and "right" let me share some insights into.....

After serving as pastor for over 24 years I have learned and experienced some things that have caused me to re-examine why the church is losing ground in America. What I discovered has shaken me to my core. With the opportunity and blessing of the church I serve, we are trying something new. It's not a house church, it is not a present institutional model, it does not make going to church more important the being the church, it refused "let believers off the hook" to to hide in the church and instead all are expected and taught to move beyond "Becoming authentic Christ followers" to "Becoming authentic Christ following incarnational disciple multipliers."

*I'm not as arrogant as I sound.
*I am passionate about the manifold purpose of God throughout Scripture to "be fruitful and multiply" as culminated in the Great Commission to do the same in a spiritual sense.
*I believe with passion what I am saying about being fruitful and multiply as everyone's supreme and personal command is biblically clear regardless of your denominational affiliation.
*I love communion, songs, giving, teaching of the word, giving praise to God, worshipping Him.
*I grieve over the fact that "going to church" has largely replaced "being the incarnational Church in the world.
*I am committed to seeing a movement of disciple-making and incarnational transformation sweep America in an "out of control" movement of God as led by His Spirit.
*I don't like cool-aide.
*I do confront, I do challenge, I do rock the boat, I am serious, I always think I am right (though, I admit I'm not always.) Boy, I hate to admit that. :)
*I know thatBlogs are like email, you don't always get a clear picture of heart and love and motivations. I know there is always room for personal inflections.
*I don't care if people disagree with me, but I wish all would post comments either way.
*I'm not very tactful.
*I know that it seems like a "me and you" in my writing. That is meant not to condemn but to stir status quo and cause people to think beyond the barriers, box, methods, and present way of doing church to incarnational "Jesus" transformation in the lives of all outside of the Christ family. It's really us - we are the leaders - these are strategic days, there is hope for renewed vigor in the mission we are called to.
*I am challenging the church to become the Church. And, I am not talking about outreach programs designed by church leaders, but rather, each of us being led by the Holy Spirit and letting Him work through us to impact lives personally in the world
*I'm not asking, nor can we throw the church away, we are the family of God, we do what we've always done - I taught people to do this my entire life. Now I am trusting God for a movement that makes the ownership of disciple multiplication everyone's passion and responsibility. I dream of the day when all will make disciples who also do the same by using their gifting and passions out in the world as God leads. The church in America will have to decide if it is going to move into the world as individual Christ followers rather than just doing approved ministries of the church.

I wish I could meet with all of you face to face to love you as members of the Christ family.

Jesus does want to do more, He always has. Scroll down for a post on God's Manifold Purpose.

Now let's push for a movement that doesn't focus on the subtle but limiting "3 priorities" of the church or in far too many churches in America. Let's move from Buildings, Budgets, and Butts to the priority of being the Church and living incarnationally "by being fruitful and multiplying" in the world as the main thing.

Please consider:
1. Pushing the church out in the world.
2. Not babying people by making it easy for them "to not" live personally the "Great Commission" purposes.
3. Trying something "new" and exciting or is it "old" and exciting.

Are you really satisfied with our declining church in America? I could say more, but I was so good in this post I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

I just have my sights on something we have never seen predominant in America.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And, I have to miss it!

True Vine our new Church in St. Louis metro, now my church is doing something special in a few days. I'm not sure of all the details but our friends who got the "home makeover" will be present and perhaps others who were impacted by the story.

See, we do gather for communion and all the other stuff, but we continue to make the main thing the main thing, living incarnationally before the world so the world can see Jesus! This requires much more time and enrgy and deliberate listening to the Holy Spirit and even action. What's great is we get to meet the needs of those on the "outside" everyday because our family is not consumed with all the ministries on the "inside" of the church. Some of our church family indicate a renewed freedom to move from having no time because they were so busy serving inside to now being able to give it all on the "outside" as God leads.

What a freeing shift. The congregation meets the needs of the body, the parents are taught to disciple their own children everyday instead of little training a couple times a week. We have the ministries we need when we gather -but you would be amazed at how wonderful it feels to have all the other stuff stripped away -we do only what is absolutely necessary on the inside. We free em up to use what they have and their gifting in the world. The good news it is working beyond belief.

I am going to miss it! But my thoughts will be there with them as they meet.

What are you doing this Christmas?

What are you doing this Christmas to reach out by "going out" to those who need to see the Jesus of Christmas in you?

Can you help the rest of us.

Remember little comments will be taken as no or little "going out".

Look forward to hearing from you.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas to your Pastor, NOT ALWAYS SO!!

(Recently updated with minor editing)

I loved serving in the pastorate and have served some wonderful people. I always felt sorry for the less fortunate (sometimes me) when pastors shared with excitement the many ways their congregation honored and exressed appreciation for them. It only took one pastor in a group of 12 which was usually the case to set us up for satan's attack. What did we do wrong? Why didn't our church...?

Our very first Church of 80 people honored us throughout the year and especially at Christmas. Michelle and I were spoiled because we would never experience such verbal or tangible support in any other place that followed. Someone butchered chickens we got chickens. Someone raised cows we had beef in our freezer. Hogs the same and we had all of the above. Someone raised a garden we had all we needed. Someone with the gift of encouragement -we were encouraged. Someone with the gift of helps they watched our children. Every Sunday we had a dinner in someone's home. More than that -we felt encouraged all the time. I needed it because it was my first church and it went very well.

From then on as the churches we served grew larger - the love expressions and personal encouragement seemed to grow less and less. There were times I was tempted to wonder why I poured and poured and sacrificed my time and and family be taken for granted. I missed out on so much spending so much time in ministry at the expense of my family time. Even though my family understood - I will always live with regrets. Why did I put the church first and then to feel taken advantaged of or worse be treated like an employee or a slave. Sometimes I did have some self-pity. I need encouragement -so expressed often verbal appreciation spurs me on!

Pastors across America feel this way. Would you help me in showing them support with appreciation and love and kindness and encouragements and with tangible gifts? Ministry is hard, pastors are unfulfilled, many feel unqualified, frustrated and ill-equipped. Many are leaving and some are wounded beyond repair. You can help!

The larger and more successful our ministry and the greater the sacrifice often leads to one feeling less and less support I suspect because everyone thinks every is doing something or fuilling that role of encouragent. And, I am now finding it works the same way in smaller churches although I think the smaller church do a better job at this. You may experience the opposite. These times of the year are special times of the year are great times to remember the sacrifice of so many pastors serving in an America church that demands more of them they can possibly give. No pastor can be all that some churches require. While the members expect more and more the world gets less and less of us. I'm sad!

What does your pastor get for Christmas? A word of kindness, an act of service, a card of appreciation, a gift certificate for the family, or maybe if you are really generous - how about a large gift to help them catch up on the bills? In my last church, (speaking from experience) I never worked harder and I never gave more - and the longer I served the more they demanded and the less care verbal appreciation I received. Never have I given more or sacrificed more or personally received more pain, but, that was then and I am not now thinking of myself ( human fault), I am thinking about you. That was then, now I am glad to be leading in another area outside the America Church - finally free from such a burden and personal toll!

Will some fellow bloggers make a difference for those in the trenches who are carrying a load they cannot meet? Maybe some pastors should leave the impossible job so they can serve the purposes of the Great Commission without all the demands and structures of limitations. Charlie Brown said, "I love the ministry - it's the people I cannot stand." Pastors are leaving the American Church in droves and they are drained - they have given it all and the church keeps wanting more. Where are those encouragers who care about the pastor? Maybe we really don't care, after all.

How does your church show love to your pastor during the special times of the year? Pastors, if your church does not know how to show the support every pastor needs throughout the year, have a friend point them to this blogpost.. Maybe I can be used of God to stir em up! Maybe not! But I do understand and I pray for you and for God to fill the gap with His loving arms and love.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Besides your Christmas programming, what?

Besides your services to share the message of Christmas, what is your church doing to be Christmas by showing those in the world who Jesus is. What is your church doing this Christmas to share love, time, and resources with those who are often forgotten?

Come on, let's hear what God is doing through your church.

Stop the bleeding..

My friend yet another casualty of the American church. I heard the story so many times, too many to count. The story is always "tragic" and when heard it always affects me differently. These days it seems more tragic and more painful to watch happen over and over by the ones who claim to know Jesus. When will the bleeding stop?

My friend told me today, "I feel hopeless". He needs our prayers as he and his family are alone. Thrown away! For no biblical reason, just thrown away.

Will we ever stop the bleeding? Does the church have to do this over and over and over leaving those who love the Bride of Christ disillusioned and destroyed by her.

Let's pray for my friend and all the other pastors who have been wounded beyond human healing.

Does anyone else need our prayers?

Do you think this is great?

I have to clip and paste from Terry's blogpost these comments by his daughter Amy following our service on Sunday. Pretty good for teen. sunministries.blogpost.com

"Saturday was the best church service I have EVER been to! I saw grown men I have known ALL my life come to tears....I thought I would never see them cry! It was the first time in YEARS I felt God with me!

I don't get it....why would churches spend millions of dollars on buildings...when you can be in an office building with 30 people singing and sharing what GREAT and AWESOME things God has done!

Never in my life time of going to (XYZ Church) have I felt God in that way! I cant go back to it! I belong at True Vine!

And now we have another family we are helping!"

My thoughts: Why would some people in the church NOT view this as GREAT? Is it the fact that we don't have a building or a large budget or thousands of people?

There are some things that really make this great. (I cannot give you all of them).
*30+ people gathered (not the whole group) committed to viewing the Great Commission with supremacy. The single greatest command of God given to all significant leaders in the Bible, "Be fruitful and multiply."
*30+ people committed to and demonstrating in their actions what it means to live incarnationally in the world.
*30+ people learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow Him in the fulfillment of His mission.
*30+ people being tested by God to do what He says and so far when God has spoken the group has stepped up. My last church (well let me stop here).
*30+ people who share what Jesus is doing when doors are opened and then they watch the Holy Spirit work on the hearts of those standing in the open doors.
*30+ people who are learning to expect miracles everyday.
*30+ people who make the mission more important than the meeting.
*30+ people who have reached out to yet another family (a single father with six kids burned out in a fire 2 months ago, forgotten by most and then the father falls and breaks two vertebre leaving him with no income for 2 months. No money for rent -what will they do and how can 30 people meet that need?

Before the group was told the amount of the rent a member declares, God is telling me to give my Christmas bonus entirely to this family and the amount of the bonus is $650.00. Tell me, how much is the rent? Pastor Terry says, "The rent is $650.00." The next two months will consist of many needs for this family. What can I say, 30+ people are going to let God meet it?

What size of a church in America will help a family they do not know by covering all of their needs for the next two months. This is not a brag session on us - we are bragging on what God is doing through 30+ people. We don't have the resources but God does and God will come through. Did I tell you unbelievers are hearing the story and they are shocked by what we are doing for God and they are giving money to assist.

The father when asked what his greatest needs are replied, "You (Pastor Terry) are the first person to ask that question. Many people want to give my kids presents when what we really need is money for rent, utilities and food."

When God leads us to touch lives with our love, time and resources we are committed to stepping up with no motive of getting them in church. We are committed to showing the world who Jesus is so they will want Him and want others to know Him.

I told Pastor Terry I would not write on all His exciting news - and I really haven't because he has so much to write about he'll never have the time to do it. The story goes on and on.

Pastor Terry you really live "He must increase and I must decrease." I praise God for your sacrifice.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

You must..

You must visit Dave DeVries blogsite: www.missionalchallenge. blogspot.com for an interesting conversation on MT1 and MT2 and more! It's worth the read on fueling a missional movement.

I especially appreciate the MT2 article. But, Dave has some really good feeds.

Checking it out is only for the Brave at Heart.

We have never...

In the Bible I love the story about these friends tearing off a roof and lowering a paralytic down through at the feet of Jesus. Jesus seeing their faith heals this man and he rises to his feet for the first timeand with unbelievable excitement and ran throughout the town for all to see. As people witnessed God's work the Scripture records these words spoken by those who witnessed this miracle, "We have never seen anything like this."

Please tell us when this happened to you. Jesus did something so awesome you could only think, I have never seen anything like this before.

Let's praise Jesus for His wonder-working power.

Are you really satisfied with ministry?

Just another question worth pondering. Are you satisfied and fulfilled with your ministry? If so, what it is it that fulfills and satisfies you? If not, try to give us some thoughts from your heart.

Let's have some fun.

How did your Sunday 'service" go?

Would some of you like to share how your "service" on Sunday, December 17th (occurred) today?

Did you have a service? How was it? Did you do service - what did you do? Who did you serve? Where did you serve?

I don't know why I'm asking except I have these questions popping in my head. I'm not even optimistic that anyone will post a comment. Help me out here.

"God, help others to see that You have so much more for them."

That is my prayer, "God, help others to see that You have so much more for them." Our first Church in St. Louis has been birthed by God with the priority of "Developing Christ following disciple multipliers." We are experiencing Incarnational Transformation. As we have made the making of disciples who also make disciples the main thing - God has birthed a Church!

Check out the stories, just a few among so many!

www.sunministries.blogspot.com

A movement by God that cannot be stopped is moving ahead...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Don 't you long for the fulfillment?

Don't you long for something different? Life-changing? Authentic? Mobilizing and out of the Americanized Christian box? Is God stirring you? Are you anxious, uneasy and searching? God has a plan! Are you ready to listen and obey Him?

If you say "yes" and if you will "set out" the ride will be unlike anything you ever experienced! I cannot describe it. Moses did! And you can also....

Get out of the boat and trust Him!

Can you and will you trust the One in whom you say you trust?

How do you teach Believers...?

How do you teach believers to listen to God's Holy Spirit and then to obey Him when He speaks. I have struggled with this question but today as the True Vine Church gathered I saw it happening before my eyes. The new members of this movement and others joining it were in tune. As an orchestra of large proportion they were beating as one. It was beautiful!

To hear God speak requires more than hearing. It requires an earnest desire to listen to His promptings. From giving a poinsettia to someone you do not know nor have ever met in Jesus name to collecting money for a family of 7 who were burned out and needs to pay the rent, God is speaking and a small group of authentic disciple multipliers are listening. Amazed, speechless, praising God and very much like those who witnessed Jesus heal the paralytic as he was lowered from the roof before Him, the people said in passing - "We have never seen anything like this before," that is me.

What is God up to? What will be His next move? How will He use the few who are willing? How far will this touch and transform lives? I don't know, but I know it will be one of those, "I've never seen anything like this before." Isn't this what we long for? It sure is for me.

I'd give it all up to experience again and again what I experienced this morning and the days preceeding. What is God up to? I do not know -but I anxiously await His next move.

Our Gathering - Some call it a church service.

We gathered today! We meet in small groups during the week and we gather together as a family a couple times a month. We don't meet on Sunday on purpose. If you want to know the reason Pastor Terry can answer that question, he knows why! When we meet together we always share communion, sing some, pray, look into the Word and we sure love those potlucks!

As I have watched the progression of this movement under Pastor Terry's leadership it is becoming something I have never dreamed I would see in my lifetime. I don't have the words to describe it - works like "Organic" & "Missional" don't even come close to what I am seeing in this movement of "incarnational transformation". Showing people who Jesus is and allowing the Spirit of God to use us - however, wherever and whenever rules the day, every day.

Today there was so much more! Today the True Vine family listened to God and shared what He prompted them to share. There were tears of joy over the miracles of lives touched and transformed all without a sermon or an offering or a facility of our own. God was there as we shared what it means to do ministry as the Holy Spirit leads us to the people who are ready to see Him. We can hardly wait until the things we see God do are not surprises anymore, but instead, common and daily occurrences. Which is just around the corner for sure.

I could say more, but Pastor Terry can say it so much better. Watch the progress of this unfolding movement of God. www.sunministries.blogspot.com

Where are they (you)?

These days finding potential leaders who are willing to work bi-vocationally (at first) are extremely hare to find. Where are they? Often I find people who want the security of an already established church salary or some upfront money to plant a church. Where are those who feel called to living organically - missionally - Great Commissionally that requires total reliance upon God? Where are those leaders who want to develop "Fully Devoted Christ Following Disciple Multipliers? Where are they when there is no initial salary? Where are they when it is required that they work in the marketplace? Where are they?

We have joined with God to launch a movement of Christ following disciple multipliers that are not dependant on buildings, budgets or bodies in pews. Programs are not even needed when disciplers are mobilized to show Jesus to the world. We will use the resources available but we will not be bound by them.

When you have the funding, and when you want leaders to plant churches in America it can happen quickly in the right place and time. The focus is on having a launch with all the right stuff and just enough of a nucleus. The more the merrier because then the leadership can be up and running on full support and great programs. There are positives of course and lives are impacted.

On the other hand, what are the stats on the different kind of movement I am speaking of? We only have the gauge and example of the New Testament Church.

This movement is different! While it may take longer to create a "disciples multiplying disciples" movement initially, and while it will likely start smaller in just the right time of God's anointing it will spin totally out of control. It will become a grass roots community - infiltrating move of God's Holy Spirit where lives are spiritually transformed.

I can see it in our St. Louis project and I see it on the horizon of America. Where are the leaders who will risk in a move of God beyond anything I have ever seen? It may not even make sese to do this -- but much of what God does - doesn't make sense.

Where are they?

Reggie McNeal nails it! What do you think?

Reggie McNeal in his book "The Present Future -Six Tough Questions For the Church" nails it. Some time ago I posted my belief that a new Reformation is sweeping America. Reggie compares the new with the old Reformation.

Reggie writes, "The first Reformation was about freeing the church. The new Reformation is about freeing God's people from the church (institution). The original Reformation decentralized the church. The new Reformation decentralizes ministry. The former Reformation occurred when clergy were no longer willing to take marching orders for their ministry from the Pope. The current Reformation finds church members no longer willing for clergy to script their personal spiritual journey. The last Reformation moved the church closer to home. The new Reformation is moving the church closer to the world. The historic Reformation distinquished Christians one from the other. The current Reformation is distinguishing folowers of Jesus from religious people. The European Reformation assumed the church to be a part of the cultural-political order. The Reformation currently under way does not rely on the cultural-political order to prop up the church. The initial reformation was about the church. The new Reformation is about mission."

I believe Reggie clearly identifies some of the trends sweeping America. The future is bright for Christ followers who care more about the mission than anything else. The future is bleak for the religious in all of their comforts. You must buy His book!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just for fun!






Disillusioned? I have a solution...

The Harvest fields are ripe unto harvest but the laborers are few! Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers.

*Are you are or have you been disillusioned with (ministry at church) the way ministry is predominately being done in the American Church?
*Are you tired of being put in box that is too small for the God you serve?
*Are you weary of having to serve a ministry the way they make you instead of the way you feel God is leading you?
*Do you know the church in America is broke - but you are not sure how to fix her?
*Are you feeling controlled? Imprisoned?
*Are you discouraged with the amount of money it takes to make disciples?
*Are you fed up with consumerism, business, rules and regulations that immobilize disciples.

We are launching new Mission Districts in the metro regions of the Midwest. In these districts we are not doing church planting as you may know it. We are looking for leaders who will step out in faith and trust God for a Great Commissional movement of disciple-making.

You will begin by working bi-vocationally at least initially. This is where you will begin making disciples by being out in community and this also gives credibility to your heart motivation. You must called to an area. You must be willing to be incarnationally transformed in order to strip away the baggage of Americanized Christianity. You must be willing to make the Great Commission the supreme task of the Church (every Christ follower.) We will not start with buildings, budgets and butts. You must not have an internal motivation to pastor a large church with bigger buildings, budgets, and bodies. We will make the disciples -God will build His Church. We will begin the movement by making disciples who make disciples themselves. You must insist that living incarnationally in the world (being the Church) is more important than just going to church. Our expectation is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to launch a movement through you that develops authentic Christ followers who are disciple multipliers.

Creative Ministry Training - A Homerun!

Our Midwest District has launched a Regional Training Center dream - the vision of Supt. Steve Ortmann.

www.leadershipfarmsystem.org (Check out Regional Training Centers)


We also have a neat multi-cultural evangelism ministry for college students.
www.face2faceweb.org

I'm hungry to see young leaders experience "incarnational transformation" who will lead movements of authentic Christ following -disciple multipliers.

Business as usual is not working. Using the same old wineskin to reshape ministry will not work. Of course you can see that for yourself. It's way past time to engage a new wineskin ministry led by incarnationally transformed Christ following disciple multipliers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

God's Manifold Purpose

These thoughts come from the teaching of Richard Greene. Richard, a Missionary Church Missionary who has implemented the teaching of God's Word in leading "an out of control movement of incarnationally driven disciple multipliers." He discipled me to do the same with God's annointing as was the case for Him as well.

"Throughout the Old and New Testaments you will see a recurring and consistent theme, "Be fruitful and Multiply." In the Bible God chose 'Being Fruitful and Multiplying' as the means of accomplishing His commandments and purposes."

"This principle or Manifold Purpose of God to 'Be Fruitful and Multiply' was given to every significant individual or group in the Bible: Adam, Joseph, Noah, Abraham, the 12 tribes, Isaac, David, Jacob, the church, Jesus and His disciples."

"God has chosen you: "You did not choose Me but I have chosen you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so whatever you ask of the Father in my Name He may give it to you." John 15:16

"Go, Bear fruit, Bear fruit that remains, Have a special relationship with the Father."

"God designed every living thing to reproduce. Reproduction was God's first blessing and commandment and that commandment/blessing is carried throughout the entire Bible."

"Reproduction is at the heart of God's purposes in creating man." (end quotations)

Are you showing and teaching disciples to "Go", "Bear fruit", "Fruit that remains" and to "Have a special relationship with God the Father?

Now I'm ready for feedback! Some of you will be amazed to see this in God's Word.

Forgive me?

Forgive me for over-blogging! We couldn't go anywhere for vacation and I can't carry it over so I'm blogging for fun and doing a little Mission District work (fundraising/recruiting) to accompany some down time.

This week we have invited all of our neighbors to our home for a Christmas open house. As you can imagine Chel is busy baking and baking and I'm occasionally recruited to keep her company in the kitchen to sprinkle those little doo-dads on cookies and some other "honey do" projects.

A Mission District with a huge dream of thousands of mobilized "incarnationally transformed" disciple multipliers has been born.

Pray for our first Pastor Terry & Suzette Goodwin and family as they continue to lead superbly. Pray for others to be sent by God to do the same. As I vacation at home -I'm still on the job waiting for more God break-throughs.

Overblogging - enjoying my new True Vine family, still working some - and serving my wife "Michelle".

Who could ask for anthing more?

Continuous results - I know you hate long posts!

Since our True Vine family was service on Sunday "all day" something transformational has and is ocurring...

As the story is shared the movement is spreading. It's a movement of "Incarnational Life-Transformation" of just repesenting Jesus to the world as He represented Himself in the world.

A small newly birthed church under the leadership of Pastor Terry Goodwin, without a budget or a building or butts in pews has mobilized. We are part of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ. We have discovered something that has changed the way we live out what it means to be Christ-following disciple multipliers. We have made "Incarnational disciple multipliers -the main thing. It's amazing what is happening. People are shocked when we don't need their money. People are shocked when we have no motive but to show them who Jesus is & we tell them that is why we are serving. People are shocked when we go out instead of just going in. We don't have a program to attract people -we show people who Jesus is and Jesus is the One who attracts people to Himself. Amazing! Our True Vine Church carpooled one and a half hours to serve a mother dying with cancer and a 12 year old son who is soon to be without a mother on Sunday (all day) . No Sunday service because we were the service.

That Sunday "Service" not a service is continuous - how so? One of many examples:

*A group of 12 people do a Home Makeover for a mother (Cheri) who is dying of cancer and a son soon to be without a mother. She may be healed who knows. 12 people over 100 hours of work and about $350.00 with time and money multiplied like fish and bread on a hillside.

*One in the group talks to a neighbor before leaving and tells him what Jesus did for Cheri and this neighbor discovers that Cheri needs help and is dying and agrees to clean her gutters and fix a window that leaks into Cheri's bedroom when it rains. He is there to access the situation the very next morning. I think he will do more we'll see.

*Cheri goes for Chemo the next day and shares what Jesus did and leads her bitter/mad at God friend to Jesus on the second day of treatment (Tuesday).

*Cheri tells another "skeptical friend what God did for her on Sunday when the church skipped service to be service and she says -"that's not what believers do -I cannot believe it" no one has ever did that for me. No one ever offered to paint my kitchen - I cannot do it."

*Cheri calls her church pastor (not the group who served) in this friends presence and tells her story about what God has done and that her friend needs help "her kitchen needs painted" and the pastor agrees to mobilize a crew to handle this.

*Another True Vine member learns of a family of six recently burned out and living in a motel who needs $245.00 a week to stay in the hotel and other things. Pastor Terry makes a few phone calls and discoers resources and their needs are being met and we are connecting with those leaders (in another church) who care about these kind of things. Without this need being made known -in addition to seeing that the family is served - we now have contacts with others who are passionate about what we are doing and we are joining together to share resources and network with others who share resources in the community.

*At a ladies tea the group shared the story and "Crystal" gets excited.

*Crystal goes to work and shares the story and someone learns about another family of six with a single dad who got burned out six months ago and a lady gives her a $50.00 check to help them. True Vine is gathering together to discern what God would have us do.

So Pastor Terry decides that he will just let God speak to the group about future needs rather than the establishing the projects for them. When a person in the True Vine family sees a need thae receive the blessing by meeting the need themselves or by involving those in the family to assist. This new church is mobilized to live incarnationally as disciple-multipliers everyday.

Something happens that "cannot be stopped" when Christ-followers learn to live incarnationally transformed lives before the world. We have no motive other than to show the world who Jesus is through our lives and actions. As people see Jesus -they are drawn to Him and discipled to live like Jeuss and reproduce Christ who are like Jesus!

If God can use 12 as we have seen here and over 2,000 years ago -he can use our 12 (as He did) and yours and yours and yours!

Any thoughts?

Why we can't cancel the Service on Sunday to be service on Sunday?

Let's just have some fun with this one. Why can't we cancel the service (serve-us) on Sunday to be service on Sunday? Instead of going to church certain times a year -cancel the service and be the church service in the community by serving on Sunday. I'm not recommending that we cancel the Sunday service every week. I'm not saying the Sunday service is a bad thing. I'm not saying that it is either or. But let's set it up. Let's say some leaders or members wanted to cancel the Sunday service in order the be Sunday service to show the community who Jesus is as the one who cares for widows, orphans, the poor or those who just need Him, then what?

What would the "members & pastors" say are the reasons" they cannot cancel the Sunday service to be service on an occasional Sunday? I'll offer the obvious and you can add to the list.

1) Pastor's would fear being crucified by the members..
2) Members would dig in and if there is no service to attend there will be no service either.
3) Pastors would fear they would be labeled as un-spiritual for suggesting such a thing.
4) How could we pay for the buildings, salaries and programs. One missed offering will cripple.
5) The choir can't sing.
6) What would the community think?
7) What if a visitor shows up and we our service is closed?
8) What would we do, where would we go, how do we find those in need?
9) Some of our people will go to other services if we do service.

Where I have pastored (Illinois/Indiana) we got allot of snow. When it snowed all ears were glued to the radio. As churches would start closing - I was always among the last to call off the service. Because of that, the phones would ring off the hook and people would tell me about all the larger churches that cancelled service. It was odd to me that a few stood with me in holding out but the majority was happy when I finally called it off.

We can cancel the Sunday service for other reasons but never so that the church can be service on Sunday?

What other reasons can you add - Why we can't cancel the Sunday service to be service on Sunday?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Muslim friend nails it!

He said today, I love God and I think I am a pretty good follower of God. I told Him about our gathering as a church in the park and our interaction with a Muslim group. I told him what the leader of the group told me. I told my friend this, "The Muslim leader told us he cannot believe that God would be born as a Jew and not as an Arab! Why did He go to the Jews? God would never go to one people group. If Jesus is God -why was He so selective?"

I told my Muslim friend that I was in a quandry over that statement. My friend quickly replied, Jesus came to the Jews because they were worshipping God!

My Muslim friend told me that Christianity was not growing until after Constantine made Christianity the State Church and Christianity became largely westernized. I was happy to reveal to him that we don't know how many Christ followers there were because there was great persecution and it was mostly an underground multiplying rapidly "organism." I told Him that the church started to get 'messed up' when it became institutionalized with Popes, Bishops and Leaders being legitimized as those over the people.

My friend and I discussed the rapid movement of Islam in the world and we concluded that the reason Islam is more missional is because Islam lacks the institutional and hierarchical structures we have in Christianity. He said, "I don't have a pope to go to but I have my God to go to."

Is that powerful or what? I can hardly believe it.

Missional Church

What in the world is a missional church movemement? For many it means many different things. Many think, "I'm missional!" What is a good definition/picture of missional?

Is it mobilizing your church through church established outreach projects or is it more?

Is it mobilizing every believer to live incarnationally in the world?

Is it insisting that all Christ followers fulfill the purposes of the Great Commission?

Is it inviting people to your Sunday event?

Is it providing ministry for the unreached? Do the unreached show up?

Does it include the motivation to get more buildings, bigger budgets and more people?

My friend is involved in Fueling a Missional Movement - but what do you think that is and how would you do it and how is it personally owned?

Is missional creating programs that attract the unreached that end up being mostly for us?

Can someone help me? What is a Missional Church Movement anyway?

I'm going crazy on the blog because I am on vacation in theory while at the same time doing some work that has to be done. With the time -I having some fun.

Help! Please!

Will they come through??

A family of six lost everything in a fire here in the mSt. Louis metro region and they attend a large attractional church in our area. One of our members wonders if we should get involed with the weekly hotel bill at $245.00 a week as well as clothing needs etc. They had someone from another place help with week number one.

Pastor Terry is working a full time job but insists that he must call the family to see what they need. Additionally he feels he should contact the church elders (that he knows well) and see if they will get involved - since this family belongs to their church and because we do not want to infringe upon them (as a courtesy only.) I personally don't care if we infringe or not -but I know Pastor is right. Of course we will get involved, why wouldn't we?

Anyway, we'll see what happens and what doesn't. Keep ya posted! Pray for the best response from this church of so many.

This is a discipleship teachable moment and that is why I share it. For fun let's see how the situation gets resolved.

Last Sunday - We didn't go to "service" we were the "service"

This past Sunday did you go to service or did you do service?

Our newest church, True Vine Missionary Church, led by Pastor Terry Goodwin, did not go to service -they did service. Instead of inviting people to church (last Sunday) to show them Jesus - they took Jesus to the people who need to see Him.

Through one of our members we became aware of the need. We gathered for breakfast and car pooled an hour and a half to Mexico, Missouri where we met Cheri and her son Ryan. Cheri has lung cancer in both lungs and is dying. Ryan who is 12 years old is soon to be without a mother.

We gathered in her living room and in a narrow walk way to pray for our efforts, God's help and God to touch Cheri as we placed hands on her for His touch and healing. Soon Cheri left as 12 or so of our new church members went to work while several went for supplies and things to help with the task.

The best way to describe what transpired, "Home Makeover". How do you paint and clean when you cannot see the floor or get to the walls or move anything? I cannot not describe adequately what we found inside. We were overwhelmed but quickly turned it over to God - He brought us to help -He would lead the way and Cheri wanted our help and welcomed it. (Even if she reads this post-which she will not -she would love the praise we give to God.) What followed was amazing as most everything was hauled out onto the large tarp on top of the snow in her front yard. One sorted while plumbing was fixed, walls were patched and painted, floors were cleaned, handicap stuff was installed, cabinets were cleaned and everything was washed, bathrooms scrubbed as one got his hands into it with lots of elbow grease, curtains were made and hung, computers were repaired, dresser drawers were fixed, shelves were purchased and put together, things organized and put away, beds were made with fresh clean sheets all for Cheri to come home and praise Jesus for all He had done with little time and just a few.

At the end of the day - God did something no man could envision. Over 100 hours of loving care (all multiplied by God) and under $400. we had accomplished what only God could do. Just before leaving on Sunday night Cheri gathered us in her living room -which was impossible that morning - to take a picture of the crew and to pray God's blessing over us. It was a prayer that brought tears to our eyes. We came to serve her and not to serve-us and we ended our day with the sick serving us.

I stopped to meet the neighbor as my ride waited in the rode. Steve and Paula did not know Cheri nor did they know she needed help nor did they know she was dying of cancer and would leave her son behind alone. They readily agreed to help when I asked them to clean her gutters and seal her leaking window. I told them we came to be used by Jesus and I just felt that Jesus wanted to use them. The next day Steve the neighbor was there to assess the situation.

Cheri went to treatment the next morning and shared her blessing with a very bitter/angry at God friend (Maggie) she had met on previous mornings. Cheri's friend was touched by what God had done through 12 people as her eyes welled up with tears. Maggie saw Jesus! The next day (which is today) Maggie was won to the Jesus by Cheri.

Sometime since Sunday Cheri also shared with another friend in a store about what God had done for her and her friend Virginia the skeptic said, "This is not what Christians do. I need my kitchen painted and no one has ever offered to help me this way." Cheri stopped and before leaving the store called her church and told her story and they agreed to mobilize a crew to help Virginia "the skeptic" paint her kitchen because this is what believers do. This was a miracle because we asked the church to clean the house of Cheri several days before we arrived and they just made an appearance while leaving bathrooms, floors, dishes piled up in sinks and counters uncleaned (apparently too overwhelmed to stay the course.) Even though we saw no evidence of their effort we all understood the reasons why.

A member of our new church shared a need - the True Vine body responded by setting a date, agreeing not to go to a service but instead being the service. I have not the words to describe what it meant to skip the service on Sunday to be in service on Sunday. The implications of going on Sunday are too much to share here.

I share this story not for our glory! I share this story to lift up Jesus and the example of what He wishes to do through all of us who claim to be the Church. Don't misunderstand us - we are not opposed to those who go to church until the going replaces the being and serving and being Jesus for all the world to see. Within the DNA of our new Christ family is the commitment of being free to go wherever God asks us to go and do whatever God asks us to do. We have not the words to describe how Jesus answered our prayer to help us wherever He leads us.

What started as a small job to do some jobs of repair ended up being a "total" Home Makeover that led to a soul "make-over" and a church mobilized to also show the world who Jesus is and who the church is not just supposed to be.

For a further read and perspective visit Pastor Terry -sunministries.blogspot.com

No praise for us -we went for Jesus and we praise the Jesus the world needs to see. We pray this short story of missional transformation will breed more results of missional transformation in us and others. When we move out to show Jesus to the world -Jesus gives us opportunities in the most unexpected places.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

College education and the bills that follow

Many still believe the education process for training church leaders is not broke. Some think it needs to be modified in one way or another. Others think all we really ned is another curriculim that is missional.

Again, I have my thoughts, but I would like to hear from you.

Before you answer consider this truth. Christian education in a four year college leaves some students with a $20,000 plus debt. If the couple attending the same college gets married the debt can double or even exceed $50,000. Now how in the world can these young people serve the church in America and live even on a modest salary?

Is there another way to educate and train young people for leadership?

Do you have any thoughts we can consider?

Persecution

The latest buzz is that many people think it will take persecution to get the church missional again.

I have my own thoughts as usual, but what do you think? Will it take persecution or is there another answer?

Thoughts and Adaptations from Keystone Manual, Richard Greene

What defines a disciple?
1. A person initially becomes a disciple by repenting of sin, believing in Jesus as Savior, and being baptized. (Mark 1:15; Matthew 28:19) A disciple is a Christ - follower.

A disciple can be characterized by four things
1. Obedience -Hebrews 5:8
2. Faithfulness - Hebrews 3:1-2
3. Loving God and Others -John 13:34,35
4. Reproducing - John 12:24,32

A disciple must be "Taught to Obey" (Matthew 28 - I have to use this reference at least once.)

We must "Teach to Obey" The Seven Major Commands of Christ. Of course there are others -that's why discipleship takes time, time, time. For those who are bothered by what is left out remember all other commands flow out of these seven.

1. Repent, believe, and be baptized. (Mark 1:15; Matthew 28:19)
2. Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22)
3. Love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40)
4. Celebrate the Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-26)
5. Pray daily (Luke 18:1)
6. Give generously (Matthew 19:21; Luke 6:38)
7. Make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)

How does one make disciples?
1. It is not done in a classroom.
2. It is not accomplished by only teaching -they must also learn by doing.
3. It is not the responsibility of the institution but it is every Christ follower's responsibility. The institution should release the Church to do this main thing themselves.

Matthew 28:18 -20 After Jesus rose victoriously from the grave and with authority as God - He made it a point to gather the apostles for some last minute instruction - and apparently very important.

1. "As you are going" - Means it is a lifestyle of representing Jesus incarnationally in the world every day and everywhere. (Wherever you go -let God open the doors of opportunity).
2. "Make Disciples" - If you are one you better reproduce yourself by making others who are also like Jesus. You cannot reproduce what you're not! You will reproduce what you are!
3. "Baptizing them" - A profession to the world that you stand with Jesus.
4. "Teaching them to Obey" We covered that above.
5. "And I will be with you" It's like - "Oh in case you are chickening out-just so you know -I am with you always." "If you don't know what to say -I'll tell you!" "If you don't know where to go -I'll show you."

Disciple makers must examine their lives often and must possess a surrendered heart and life.

Disciple-maker cop out: Invite them to church before inviting them to Jesus! Let the church - "going to church" -program do the work for you. Many people dislike the church in America but long for Jesus! When they find Jesus they will gather asthe Body of Christ.

Disciple maker mistake - push for a decision before a relationship is established and before they are really ready to live the life of a Christ follower. The more they see Jesus in you the more likely they will want Him!

(I have to take full blame for this thought). Disciple makers first sin - wait until they accept Christ to begin discipling them. The disciple-making process begins by revealing Jesus to them in the context of trusting relationships. I believe we must disciple people to Jesus and continue discipling them as they grow in Christ as long as it takes.

Disciple makers need to listen to and rely totally on the Holy Spirit as He leads those discipling moments.

"As we are going" -let's notice the harvest and let God do something about it through us.

Churches who put people in discipleship classes often make good members out of them. People who invest their lives in one on one discipleship always make Christ followers.

Richard Greene - "God gives four things to accomplish the Great Commission."
His Authority
His Name
His Word
His Presence.

A huge growth difference by Richard Greene

Natural or Artificial Growth?


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

Natural.............................Artificial

Passionate........................Programmed

Spontaneous....................Scheduled

Relationships....................Meetings

Members empowered....Members controlled

Members released..........Members collected

Spirit-led..........................Method-based

Gives energy....................Consumes energy

Joy.....................................Duty

Go!.....................................Come!

Costs nothing....................Expensive

Does your church run on passion or programs?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nothing surprises me anymore!

Some of you know Conrad Lowe - you know the church consultant many have come to love, adore and trust. I know Him personally. He has given me good advice when I was consumed in the institutional way of doing church.

Here are some predictions from Conrad Lowe regarding the church. Brace yourself, I am taking Him on. Let me summarize a recent consultation some friends of mine had with Conrad.

Regarding the future trends in the future of the American church, Conrad speaks.

1. Cited from Barna, 50% of all churches in America will close in the next 20 years in large part because of leadership shortages.
2. Satellite churches from our larger churches will dominate the landscape of America.
3. Children's ministries must be better for up and coming generations.
4. The 2o something's are the most spiritual generation in our history and they will come back to church if the church has better children's programming.
5. We must engage women in senior pastor leadership to survive leadership shortages.
6 Church planting as we know it today will no longer be effective.

Oh Goody, I get to challenge Conrad's thinking...
1. Conrad, the institutional ineffective non-missional church will close her doors not because of leadership shortages but because we have lost our way. While many struggle for another method many leaders will opt for a New Testament wineshin that chucks the baggage of retraint and control. As many churches close (they need to) many many disciple-making disciples or Great Commissional Christ followers will emerge. God will birth a Church that really becomes incarnational in the world and not held up on the inside as see today.

2. Conrad, satellite churches are in the forecast but I still believ the season will be short-lived. A satellite is nothing more than ALL of the SAME! All if the same is dying a painful death. As a last ditch effort to save the institution some will opt for a satellite service by stunning Steve -but it will be just another disquise to keep doing the same old thing. In case you didn't notice the attraction model with a stunning Steve preacher does not work to fix the missionional problems. Fewer and fewer will be attracted to the best show on Sunday. You have have it right - but it is still wrong.

3. Conrad, the future will include better children's discipleship but it won't be done like it is today nor will it occur in our present entertainment, state of the art facilities to attract kids. The future children's programming will be done by the parents themselves. We have discovered that when we as parents turn our children over to teachers at church we have relinquished our spiritual leadership to that teacher. Our children shift from their parents being the spiritual leader to a Sunday School teacher. This is why we are losing our kids. We don't need better programs we need parents who become better disciples of their children.

4. Conrad, you need to talk with the 20 something's and younger. You are not even close. It is estimated that nearly 2/3rds of this age group has disconnected or are disconnecting from Americanized Christianity. They long for intimacy, transparency, authenticity, and they are turned off by the polish and performance of the program driven church. They are tired of going to church but they long to be the Church in the world. You are right to say that this is th emost spiritual generation in our history - and they long for Jesus! (I didn't say church!)

5. Truth is -there is and there isn't a shortage of leaders. As noted the leadership pool is shrinking in the institutional church. On the other hand the leadership pool potential is rising for the Great Commissional Church. I'm finding that leaders are leaving the "institution" because they are disillusioned and also refuse to serve a sinking ship of control, manipulation and ineffective structures of consumerism. Men and women can make disciples who themselves will make disciples. This is for everyone.

6. Conrad, you are right. Only as we truly obey the purposes of the Great Commission with supremacy do we have any hope at all. Jesus tells us to make discipes who make disciples. Our job is to make disciples. It is God's job to build His Church. If we will get the disciple-making right then Jesus will give birth to and build His Church. Present church planting models and training actually goes against becoming Great Commissional and Holy Spirit led. I fear that our present church planting training is all about what man can do and has little to do with what God can do.

Perhaps Conrad is just trying to keep the institutional church alive. Truth is, we cannot stop the downward spiral. As we believers finally engage the purposes of the Great Commission with supremacy we will see geometric (not exponential) progression growth which is unlimited.

We don't need new scheming for some magic formula or program or style or new thing to save the church. All we really need to do is become the Church by living incarnationally in the world. The unreached largely does not value "going" to church but they are often hungry for the Lord of the Church - and they will largely be impacted by the Church that is released in the world and who lives like Jesus before them.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is ministry being squelched?

Here's your chance to tell me! Is ministry being squelched or hindered or controlled?

Are Christ followers in the American Church free or released and/or encouraged to serve wherever God is leading? Can church attenders choose to serve entirely in ministries outside the church without approval and without the blessing of the senior church leadership? Do we as leaders or have we insisted that people serve in the ministries we determine to be the ministries that support our local church mission/purpose mostly in the church? Have we or do we control what people do outside the church for fear they will mis-represent our church? If church attenders/members want to serve in outside ministries some of which they begin and do we insist that they get permission from us?

If any of the above is true - does it limit a fluid Holy Spirit led missional movement?

Choose your question and give me your honest feedback.

Maybe I will be surprised by your answers.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Merry Christmas to Us?

Merry Christmas to us, Merry Christmas to us!

What would Christmas look like if we treated it like a Christmas for others. IF Jesus came for the lost and we are already reached - why not designate Christmas for unreached? What would happen if Christmas wasn't for us this year? What would it look like if we made it for others?

If we made Christmas for others (unreached) this 2006 - what would change in our lives and in the church in America? Can we really go through another Christmas without making it for others who need Jesus?

What does Christmas in the America Church really cost?

What will we do about the widows, orphans, and poor?

Before you cop out on the poor - remember the children who cannot help it. Or, maybe the family who struggles because they cannot help it. What about the elderly who cannot make ends meet on Social Security.

Jesus always spend time with the sinners and when He did encounter the religious it was always met with strong words by Jesus. Jesus saw the down trodden, the poor, the hurting, the outcast, and much more than we can see.

Can you give me your thoughts even though some thoughts convict you and us?

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