Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jesus is really all we need, Isn't He?

Michelle and I were privileged some time ago to visit Haiti with the goal of building school desks for Haitian children. Our team built over 120 desks that would seat two children each so that the children wouldn't have to sit on earthen floors while at school. We delivered the desks around the city of Puerto Prince and beyond to remote villages. What a thrill.

The most significant observation was not the poverty (although we were broken by the poverty). What bothered us about the poverty did not seem to bother Haitian Christians. We could not imagine how those Christians could be so joyful in spite of no guarantee of their next meal, the fact that they lived on less than $300. per year per family, that they had no indoor toilets (they used the street or fields) and no running pure water, they often took showers outside when it rained (as lightning flashed one night we would see whole families in the shower of rainfall). Yet they were the most joyful and victororious pople I have ever seen. What touched us more was this fact, "When Jesus is all you have, Jesus is all you need." As was their case, it was a total submission to Jesus that I longer for.

Yet in America there is a growing trend that bigger, more, and upscale programing/worship is better. Michael Frost in "Exiles" talks about visiting a church in Texas where the Pastor drove a tank into the worship auditorium during a service of worship. Michael said, "Driving a tank into the service might be cool, but is it a reflection of the Christ?" Later he writes, "What has happened to a Christian minister, presumably a keen student of the Gospel, could think that driving a tank was an appropiate illustration of the ministry of Jesus?"

Michael Frost reminds us of the Gospel stories of the life and activity of Jesus. He then writes, "These stories (Gospel accounts) are the standard by which we judge all other stories, all other descriptions of life today. If, after reading these dangerous biblical stories, you can't imagine Jesus the Messiah as a televangelist, strutting around on stage in a flashy suit, playing it up for the cameras, then you are forced to reject this image and seek another mode for Christ today. If you can't picture Jesus driving a tank or pouring millions of dollars into building projects, then you are forced to allow the dangerous ancient stories to judge the insipid comtemporary ones."

While I used to be in that boat, I choose not to be today. While I contributed to this problem, I repent for it and choose to revisit the ancient stories and life of Jesus who has shown me that when He is all I have, He certainly is all I need. In America where believers have become dualistic or the result in practical polytheism (different gods for differing segments of our lives, something we refuse to admit) we need to confess and repent. We need to become monotheistic in that we worship Jesus in all sheres of life, which is a Christocentric monotheism that is a true denial of self and where Jesus reigns supremely in all the areas that are consumed by other gods which have differing labels but are still the same as always. Alan Hirsch has much more to say about this as well. That's a later post, possibly.

Jesus is all I need (Christocentric monotheism - the sold out follower who totally worships the one and only Jesus). I am not moved by my past ministerial success of buildings, budgets and bodies (butts) and bigger and better programs. Instead, I choose to show Jesus as the only One I have to offer. When I present Jesus, I'm finding that people are drawn to Him. As they are drawn to Him they prove willling to pay the price of following Him supremely.

Is Jesus or isn't He enough?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Whambie Pambies

The world is full of Whambie Pambies as you already know! As a pastor I discovered more than not that the world was at times more "mature" than many found in the Christ community many call church. Or I could say it this way, "Why don't all the Whambie Pambies in the church take their pacifiers and go home and clean up their own stinkin mess?" Where did we get this entitlement attitude among believers? Why didn't the pastor visit me, or call me, or shake my hand or have us sing my kind of music or a million other whining non important stuff? Quit trying to kill your pastor!

While I'm ranting, whatever happened to church discipline and holding people accountable for their actions? We are real good at pointing at and condemning the people who drink, smoke and chew rather than confront a gossiping saint. I'm fed up with Whambie Pambies in the Christian community who are never disciplined. Spank their butts, that's what I say. And the next time your pastor preaches a Whambie Pambie sermon because he doesn't want to offend anyone, why don't you just get offended and when your pastor asks you why your left in the middle of His sermon, tell em the sermon was a Whambie Pambie sermon. Paul wasn't a whambie nor was Peter, James, and John and many others who spoke truth into the lives of people by rebuking and correcting and holding people to the line.

Lack of discipline, yes! Lack of true selfless living by professing believers, yes! Now I just feel so much better, how about you?

Let's help my deprived friend and post post post.

I fixed the link - now you can do it.

Bill wrote this comment on another one of my posts today.

"I'm jealous. I never get more than 3 comments on my blog.

Would you all boost my self-esteem by coming over to and posting a comment?" Please comment on: Pelosi and the "Friends of God".

Let's give Bill over a hundred comments so He can be KING of Blogland. I don't believe Alan Hirsch (the other writer) has ever received over 100 comments even though he's been close.

This is a stirring article and Jerry Falwell would not be pleased! Get in the action and boost up my sad, lonely and sometimes jealous friend.

Don't forget to make a comment here before to jump off to encourage Bill.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Miracles are commonplace in disciple driven movements...

Wednesday is the highlight of my week. I meet with the leaders of our new disciple-making church. We are looking over, "The Shaping of Things to Come." Great discussion on how we could have a new day and do ministry in a new way dominates our discussion. I am amazed at how the wisdom of God flows from those present and they are not even ordained pastors. Who would have thought? Before I could go to the coffeee shop "open mic night" my friend wanted me to meet with him.

One of our newest members, a husband and a father shares a miracle that just occured this week in his life and that he was still in shock and awe. While God was working on Him as he laid in bed, He took Him back through his entire life, his wife was in the bathroom getting ready for bed when God spoke to her, "I am the God of Miracles!" As she walked into the bedroom her husband told her how God took him back through His entire life to a point where satan took something from Him, a long story. Then he said to me, "God revealed his healing to me!" Then my new friend said, "I am healed, what was something that caused me in group settings to sweat, be tongue tied and frozen with fear has left me. God healed me! I do not understand this!"

I encouraged this new young husband and father to just accept the miracle/praise God for this and He said he would. After more discipleship and before we departed, we prayed in the parking lot of the Bread Company as cars drove passed us. What did they think, I wondered? His last words to me, "I'm headed home to read Scripture with my wife and share together and pray for each other, something we never did before. I will do this every night, just as I promised!"

So what next is something we cannot even predict. I do know this young husband and father has been strategically placed in our movement by God. I told him the first time I met him that I sensed God's anointing upon Him and that He has plans greater than he could ever expect as he lives in obedience to God.

As I indicated, I wanted to go to Picasso's to be with the young gang ministering there. But as I listened to God I felt I needed to stay and meet with this new friend even though he gave me a way out. You know what, God never let's you down when you listen deeply in your heart for His still small voice. I was so intent on going to Picasso's that I almost missed something so great I cannot describe. Because I listened, God showed up.

I asked my new friend if I could share this, and He gave me permission to share it with everyone. So in a general way, you have this miracle right before you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The change process...

Are you an ostrich or a badger?

I have on occasion hunted for mule deer in Buffalo, Wyoming. One of the most watched out for animals in my book, is the badger. I came within 2 feet of one several years ago and as our eyes connected we froze in place, me with goosebumps and the badger with the hair on its back raised. Had I not looked down I would have stepped on it. Badgers are known to crawl right up the front side of you headed for the first sign of exposed skin. They are mean. My friend Don had a badger come out of a hole and charge him, and for the first time since I have known him, he was able to hit the target and did so just several feet in front of him. I asked Him how he did that, I mean hit the badger, he said, " a mans got to do what a mans got to do when a mans got to do it." :)

You know the old saying, get your head out of the sand. That is the ostrich. Face your enemy or die with your head in the sand. Are you an ostrich or a badger with reference to the state of the church in America? Some love for the we are all okay, you're okay, I'm okay, let's talk about the good things, but the sad truth is that we are not okay. The church in America is in serious trouble. Barna says that 50% of our churches will close their doors in the next 20 years. So you see, what we do today has everything to do with the generations of children not yet born. It's time to quit feeling warm fuzzies and get our heads out of the sand and start acting like badgers. Serious times demand serious actions.

As we blog I am finding people on all levels of the change process. Because we are at different places we experience frustration at different levels.

If we are going to change to course of the American Church we must engage a change process. As some of you have noticed this is the purpose of this blog to move leaders from unaware to aware, to .... to bring needed change. Where are you? Before the launch of a new direction, bring your people along and know where they are in the the change process. When I pastored I didn't accurately perceive where my leaders were, and while I thought they were further down the road I later realized they we just starting to become aware. Where are you and where are your people with reference to the state of the church in America?

1. Unaware -Everything is just peachy, my church is doing great.
2. Aware - Oh my goodness how could I have not seen this before?
3. Embracing - There is a need to do something about this NOW.
4. Implementation -Here are some steps I am going to take to engage the problem.
5. Results - Because of the above things we are now moving in a different direction united.

Pastor/leaders I just gave you a sack of gold. If you want to bring your church through change you have to walk them through this process. CAUTION: About the time we think our people get it, that is about the time they are just barely getting it. Our leaders are often unaware when we are trying to implement a new direction/course. Here's where the dream of something new and better dies for lack of understanding and support.

You'll get little warm fuzzies here. Desperate times demand desperate action. I grieve for the American church because we are drifting on the troubled sea because we refuse to follow the compass to guide our way.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Children in church, what?

In a disciple driven movement of which I am privileged to be part of things should be different. It is different not just to be different, but since we own no buildings and have no large budgets or programs per say and certainly no desire to get more butts in pews because we don't have those either.

When it comes to children have you ever thought about this? Assumption worth considering: What if by default, your children view the church teacher as the spiritual authority instead of mom and dad? This is happening especially when mom and dad are letting the church do it. Because parents are not engaging spiritual discipleship when the child becomes a teen they have no authority or respect to do so.

We hold the value that parents should be discipling their own children. As parents come to Christ we simply teach them how to disciple their kids. As those parents meet in groups during the week we offer some excellent childcare. But every parent and NOT just the church is responsible for spiritual development of their children. Since we don't go to church (terminology that reflects a huge difference), the body is the Church and we prefer to gather as a Christ community all together - for worship, communion, singing to God, sharing from the Word and from each other in praise to God for how He is working through us. Following our time of worship we share in a carry in meal together. It's a great time with great food. When we gather together we insist that all the children remain in our deal with their parents, and, as a congregation we help out with the kids so the rest of the family can support mom and dad and so the kids will know that the Christ families loves them and so that they can benefit spiritually.

Things I have observed:
1. Since we have been doing this, the children are whispering instead of talking loudly, they are sitting instead of moving all around, they are singing or at least trying to sing, they are reverent instead of chaotic, they are going home and talking with their parents about things that happened and about things that were shared in the worship time. They move from rowdy to calm and they are listening.
2. Little Levi and I mean old enough to know that He knows Jesus and old enough to lead other children positively, but young enough for all to be surprised at how much he is getting out of the teaching and involvement with his larger family. Levi asked his mother, "Mom when can I take communion? I accepted Jesus, why can't I take communion?" About that time Pastor Terry comes by and joins in. Pastor said, "Levi, what does the bread represent?" Levi said, "It represents God's body." Pastor said, "What does the juice represent?" Levi said, after thinking deeply, "I forgot that part." Pastor kneeling down to Levi's level said, "Levi, when you go home this afternoon ask your daddy to show you in the Bible what the juice represents and what communion is all about." Guess what happened? Levi went home and asked dad to help him understand. Here's the picture, Dad and Levi sitting together with the Bible open as dad gives Scripture instruction.

Notice what happened. Because Levi was in the service, he began to desire having communion and learned that those who have Jesus should have communion. In some church settings because children are not in the service, when would Levi learn about and have communion? In some settings it is after the graduation from high school if then, that they have their first communion. Also, when I was a pastoring and a child wanted to know about communion I taught them, in this case, the father discipled his own son and remain the spiritual authority in Levi's life.

Isn't this exciting? When children are in the service, and the longer they are the more reverent they are. When parents own the responsibility of discipling their children, the children view the parent as the spiritual authority in their life. This is worth considering.

Now before you throw in the wild card, the children are with other children while their parents are in small groups and learning as well. And when we gather for the worship we have time before and during the meal for the kids to interact with each other.

I love watching the children and I am amazed how much they a paying attention even when it doesn't look like it. What do you think about this?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why attend the service when you can be SERVICE

What a weekend. Seems like the ole Midwest just gets one storm after the other. I love them! I feel bad for those who suffer but I loved the six inches or so of snow by Sunday morning.

What did I do?

Well the first thing I did was get my snow blower fired up, which took a while since I forgot to change the spark plug this year. That's another lecture from my father-in-law. Then I started removing the heavy snow. Yep, you are right, I just made my rounds for about 3 hours until all was clear. No applause, I didn't do it for me, I did it for Jesus! He gets the applause.

I didn't go to church! As stated in earlier blogs the best time to have an impact is when you have an opportunity or an open door of God's leading. I have no ulterior motives other than than letting my neighbors see that the Jesus I serve has legs, hands and feet as He works through me.

Last night my neighbor brought over 2 big pieces of cake baked by his wife (still warm) as a thank you for clearing his snow away. My friend said, "My kids broke my snow shovel in the last storm and we went out this morning to get a new shovel and they were all sold out, then we come home and the job is done. Thank you!"

Every day we (I) miss opportunities and everyday I pray for God not to let me miss them.

What was more important? Going to church yesterday morning or plowing the driveways of my neighbors. What would Jesus do? And, what would your pastor say or think?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bob Robert's says it better in his book, "Transformation"

"What would it look like for your church to turn the world upside down? What would it be like for people to find Christ because of hundreds of new Christians' testimonies of radical transformation? What would it be like to celebrate what God is doing in all the Church, Capital C? What would it be like to see the entire body mobilized to touch people everywhere in all dimensions and not a church based on a single charismatic leader?"

The Planter: Now we're gettin somewhere! Can this happen or will we let this happen in America?

What I thought was great, I now see as harmful!

Bob Roberts Jr. in his new book, "Transformation" has this confession. "These two individuals (Thom Wolf & Carol Davis) began to teach me what I wasn't ready to hear - they began to plant seeds inside of me about what it meant to grow the Church - Capital C, not just my church. These are two very different things altogether. In the following antagonizing months, I made a decision. Instead of being the biggest church in the area, we were going to Church the area."

"Sometimes, what's good for my church isn't always what's good for the Church. And sometimes, frankly, what's good for the Church may actually be bad for my church."

The Planter: I can personally say that after 23 years of senior level ministry that this is where my personal transformation began, and, I can say I understand what Bob Roberts went through because for me it was gut wrenching and I felt like I was going through the wringer that wrung me inside out. God began to strip away what I thought was great and while reminding me that lives were changed, I never successfully led the churches I pastored into BEING the Church instead of just (for the most part) doing church. What I thought was good (at that time) for my church, was actually bad for the Church. (Note the places where Church/church is or isn't capitalized)

From my only sister, Robin, sent to her by a friend.

Prayer Poem:
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love
that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let His presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul
the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Last evening I met with some of the leaders of our disciple driven Church in St. Louis metro at the Bread Company and what a great discussion it turned out to be over the book "The Shaping of Things To Come" Hirsch and Frost. These guys have it when it comes to "being" the Church instead of "doing" church.

Following that group some us went over to open mic night at Picasso's coffee shop. I think I was the oldest guy there. Pastor Terry meets with a group of college age 25 and under emerging leaders. He challenged two of the guys he been discipling (Mark and Zac) to step out and begin a disciple making movement that results in God birthed Churches. Long story short but these guys accepted the challenge and made a commitment to let God's Holy Spirit lead them in engaging a movement of disciple-making.

As I said this was open mic night so it was Zac's turn to share. Zac approached a mic with a room previously full of chatter, loud music and singing. He looked at the crowd and said, "I cannot sing or play an instrument but I can read. I want to read a chapter from the Bible found in John 12." Silence swept over the entire coffee shop, and you could hear a pin drop during the entire read. When He concluded they high fived him, applauded and yelled out encouragement. Zack does this often because God led Him to step out in boldness and almost every week on open mic night he reads another chapter bringing Him to chapter 12 last night. He is going to read the entire book of John to his peers. Zac and Mark are gaining influence as they find many who have disconnected from the church as they know it while searching/longing for God. These emerging young leaders both have a heart and a sold out commitment to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Isn't it wonderful to see young leaders doing exactly what Jesus tells us all to do?

Richard Greene told me one time (I agree) that He believes it will be this generation (twenty somethings) who will lead a spiritual transformation of disciples making disciples who make disciples in America.

At my age and after 23 years of senior pastor leadership I could never have dreamed that I would ever live to see and experience what God is doing in this disciple making movement.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Only God can do this...the results are His.

I'm full of praise over the two projects on the move in Kansas City and St. Louis. There is healthy groundwork being laid in Kansas City and we have launched our first Church in St. Louis after the first four months with Pastor Terry Goodwin on board. As for Kansas City, Anthony Marks has just been joined by Matthew Farrell & Derek and Amy Mleynek who are forming a strong team while touching lives in preparation for God's miracle of birthing of a Church. Please pray for the first home group this Sunday night and the Super Bowl Party with some new friends. While it seems slow going at times we have seen that if we lay the right disciple-making foundation we will see this work multiply out quickly.

Let me share some St. Louis highlights as well. True Vine Missionary Church (our first disciple driven Church in S.L.) is meeting all over the place, a Baptist College, The Bread Company, in homes, in coffee shops, in worship gatherings as a larger group and wherever and whenever as God open doors. This growing congregation has in her DNA the vision of being the Church in the world and not just doing church on Sunday. Through one of our members we have reached into the home of a lady dying with cancer and her son (an hours and a half from here) by helping the son to find a foster home when mom dies and also by serving with repairs, cleaning, painting and a home makeover for them. One of our members came across a single father of six children and we stepped in. This family was burned out of their home, then back on their feet, then dad broke two vertebra in his back and will be off work into February so True Vine adopted them by pledging to meet every need for two months are longer as needed until dad goes back to work. God provided everything from rent money, furniture, utility assistance, food and when Pastor Terry asked dad what they needed besides the necessities mentioned he replied, "Before our house burned down me and the kids enjoyed making smoothies every night and if we had a blender my kids and I would be so blessed." God gave them a blender.

God is raising up a Church mobilized to live in the world so that Christ may shine through them and so that through them Christ can redeem the lost. Being the Church is more important than doing church and God is giving us divine moments in the lives of those He sends our way.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Beggers in need of bread

I'm under the weather and just got up after sleeping my life away but before I head back to sleeping my life away, I just read a devotional thought from Jesus through Max Lucado.

Jesus said, "Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us. Matthew 6:11-12.

Max shares, "We are sinners in need of grace, strugglers in need of strength. Jesus teaches us to pray, "Forgive our debts...and lead us not into temptation." We've all made mistakes and we'll all make some more. The line that separates the best and the worst of us in a narrow one, hence we'd be wise to take seriously Pauls admonition: "Why do you judge your brothers or sisters in Christ? And why do you think you are better that they? We will all stand before the Lord to be judged....Romans 14:10.

The Planter: That sure makes me walk a higher line. It makes me write and comment on a higher plane too. It sure is good for me to have the word of God hitting me over my hard head.

Comments? I'm off to more sneezing, coughing that hurts, feeling gross and grouching more than I should. How will my beautiful loving wife survive me today?

So What?

My hobby is bloggin and in reality I don't smoke or chew or hang around the girls that do. God bless my wife Michelle who puts up with me. Mike E knows what she has to put up with.

So what, I love connecting with the world. When will the world connect with me?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A clippet from Eric Spangler

I read this morning that Pat is predicting massive death for the US sometime late 2007. Here's a small excerpt that you can read for yourself at USA Today online:

"...Robertson said Tuesday God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in 'mass killing' late in 2007.

'I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear,' he said during his news-and-talk television show The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.'

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September."

Does this man speak for you if you are a follower of Jesus?

The Planter - Does anyone know why God would reveal a possible US attack to brother Robertson? Does this kind of thing add credibility to the Church or what?

How did early Christians do it?

My favorite author really has me thinking. Alan Hirsch in his recent book, "The Forgotten Ways" gives us a really good question. "How did the early Christians do it?

Alan says,
1. They were an illegal church throughout this period.
2. They didn't have any church buildings as we know them.
3. They didn't even have the scriptures as we know them.
4. They didn't have an institution or the professional form of leadership formally associated with it.
5. They didn't have seeker - sensitive services, youth groups, worship bands, seminaries, commentaries, etc.
6. They actually made it hard to join the church.

"In fact they had none of these the things we would ordinarily employ to solve the problems of the church, yet they grew from 25,000 to 20 million in 200 years. So how did the early church do it?"

What do say in response to this question? How did the early church do it?

I admit it!

I'm guilty of being hard on the attractional church in America. It's not because I am angry it is because I am passionate about moving Christ followers beyond human attraction.

I still believe Jesus is enough!

Sorry for any offense, but my passion remains as strong as ever.

Now I'll move on to other pet peeves at least for now.

Iron still sharpens iron, let keep sharpening each other.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My friend, David Fitch takes on Willow Creek

When is a Story Not A Story? : Willowcreek and Acrobats on Christmas Eve

"Over Christmas time, Willowcreek put on Christmas Eve service(s) that they described as their most ambitious yet. Most noteworthy, according to the newspaper, they used Cirque de Soleil-style acrobats in the presentation of the Christmas story. While some of us were (admittedly) smirking over this - a friend said to me, "they are just trying to be creative in presenting the story of Christ's birth. What could be wrong with that?" At which point I pondered - at what point is the story no longer the story? Answer - when it becomes a spectacle. According to Paul Ricouer, we know it's a good story when we "get into it," when we see ourselves "emploted" into the story. This is the idea behind remembering the story, rehearsing it in worship (and the Eucharist), true anamnesis (1 Cor 11:24). The spectacle however turns us passive no longer able to participate in the story. The question is: did Willowcreek turn the story of the Christ child into a spectacle with the use of acrobats? Did the acrobats becomes so mesmerizing that those who came to see were caught up in the spectral gaze, detached and mesmerized, made totally inert as onlookers no longer able to participate in the story? Because when the story becomes a spectacle, the story is no longer a story. And we have gone from an act of worship to an act of spectatorship, from an act of participation to a spectral gaze."

The Planter: Again anyone with resources can attract people to our gigs. Whatever happened to attracting people to Jesus! Does Jesus really need acrobats todraw people to Himself or is His presence enough?

It will only get worse and worse as people leave the smaller churches or homes to attend the greatest show in town. Willow is sucking the life out of the true cost of really following Jesus.

They look good but they are eroding Christianity and her real message. Forgive me for picking on Willow but it is more than I can contain, so I share...Thanks Dave F.

Read the entire post.... reclaiming the mission

Do we really?

Do we really need more of the same expressions and differing styles for doing church? Is that what will save American Christianity? Is that the answer? Do we need more and more churches and more and more styles and even more and more expressions? Or is calling us to more?

Help me with this, if you can!

Today, I met the pastor who quit...

Five years in the making here in metro St. Louis the church closed its doors and people scattered. In their hay day they had around 70 people. When they closed they had around 40 people. The part of the story I heard didn't make any sense.

Early they rented a commercial property and then broke the lease and had to pay $50,000. They purchased another property and remodeled it. I saw it today, beautiful and state of the art. Well done! It even had a coffee shop. Super sound and lighting. Nice tables and chairs. But they closed their doors. Why?

They closed their doors. The pastor is the only one left and he is selling off the stuff to pay off the debt. The building may be sold if the building is zoned commercial. Why did they close their doors?

From what I gathered there are more factors than I know. But one thing I do know is that they spent there time in the early days trying to have a Sunday service in a building just like the other ones. In the end they had a building with all the trappings and a pastor who was doing everything and a budget they could not meet and building they could not afford. It crashed! The pastor crashed! It was so very sad and unnecessary.

While their mission was a building, a budget, a style to attract a certain target and a service or programs that set them apart from other churches down the street, it crashed. What they failed to see was the mission of having a congregation mobilized to reach people where they live and show them who Jesus is and allow Jesus to work through them, to accept Him.

They missed the most important thing (my consulting coming through). They forgot the purposes of the Great Commission and what it means to live Jesus in the world. While they were trying to look legitimate they missed being legitimate. While they tried to be effective their actions made them ineffective. While trying to have a different style to reach their target they missed their target.

I saw what man can do and it was done well. I didn't see what only God can do. The result is a drained pastor, a scattered flock and a people who are still without God. What did they accomplish? Wrong question. What did they let God accomplish through them? Correct question. It is never about what man can do and it is always about what only God can do.

The pastor and the church did the right thing. They closed their doors. It is the right thing to do until they are willing to take the "business" and "man can do out" and let the only what God can do in. If only God could have been in charge and if only His missional purposes were engaged. If only....

It sickens me, in case you want to know...

The laziness of Christ followers in America sickens me. The lack of backbone among our leaders sickens me. All this focus on more and more churches and more and more styles and more and more clever approaches to draw people in, sickens me. I could go on...

I love the phrase (the worn out one) "that if we always do what we've always done we will always get what we've always gotten". It is so true in the American missionally ineffective church. We keep getting what we ask for.

When will pastors stop sugar coating the expectations of Jesus. When we we look our congregations in the eye and tell them the real cost of following Jesus. Why do we baby our people with pampers, pacifiers, and Popsicles? When will we tell them how immature and lazy and disobedient they are for not engaging those without Christ? Will we ever point out the fact that they are not obeying the Great Commission? At what place in time will we show them the life of Jesus and what it means to do what He did in making disciples.? What holds us back from not making Sunday gig the main thing? When will we stop making more reasons to attract people to us and instead begin attracting people to Jesus through our lives? Let's get some backbone...

The sad thing and hard to digest truth is that we have enabled Christ followers to "go to church" instead of "being" the church. Christ followers don't need the gig, they need the fulfillment that comes by possessing a passion to get involved in the lives of the unreached and then watch God change them right before their eyes.

Why can't we stop enabling our congregations from being all Jesus calls us to be for Him? Instead we let em sit and give and serve a little and then call their duty done until next Sunday.

I wish....

I wish that we would just "can it" when it comes to a Sunday sermon, a state of the art Sunday service with all the trimmings of performance driven singing and music, classes to fill heads with knowlege and gather up all the stuff man views as success and just "chuck it all". That is, until we get the mission in the world right. Actually I wouldn't mind it if we got in wrong in the world as long as we could begin to see the priority of "being" the Church rather than "going to or attracting others" to your church.

It was at the sermon time when the pastor stood at the pulpit and said, "I'm not going to preach another sermon until you start doing all the stuff God has been telling us do and how to live. When you start obeying I'll be back with another sermon, until then you are dismissed."

Pastors and leaders, don't preach another sermon until the butts hit the streets. Let em fire you! Get a job somewhere else and work in the world and then lead those who will follow in a movement that lives incarnationally in the world so others can see Jesus in you and so that Christ can lead them in redemption through you. Let that be the main thing. Talk about freedom! Only until then will you be free to follow Jesus the way He always wanted in a missional disciples making disciples movement that cannot be stopped or controlled.

Jesus gave the greatest sermon of all when He rose from the deadand gave the apostled the command to pass onto all believers to make disciples. Who was I and who are you to think your sermon is more important or effective than His. If Christ followers won't follow His purposes what makes you think they will follow yours.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why Church Planting?

My friend Bill Huffhine recently wrote a tremendous article mentioned in the post below this one. Anyway, he said something that has me going down a rabbit trail or maybe I'll end up in a rabbit hole or worse yet, buried in one. These words gripped me, "I can't bring myself to call it church planting anymore." Instead, Bill uses the phrase "faith communities".

This may alarm you! If it does, than be alarmed.
1. God never called us to plant churches.
2. God always calls us to make disciples.

Our job: Make disciples
God's job: Build His Church

The shift from using words like church planting to building faith communities changes the outcome dramatically. Let me explain. Not long ago I attended one of those church planting boot camps to train planters how to plant churches. The presenter opened with -"Our main task in planting churches is to build faith communities. " That speech went on for no more than 15 minutes. From there the presenter got into the strategy of planting churches (and stayed on that course until we left). After the faith community speech was over, I raised my hand and asked, "What would happen if we spent 90% of our time learning how to build faith communities and 10% of our time learning the other stuff? Of course that was the wrong question. And two questions later I privately told the presenter that out of respect for him, I would not ask any more questions. He replied, "that would be good". To be fair, I was later told this was not a typical training scenario. So what luck, I ended up at the wrong one.

I do think that the church planting movement is seriously flawed. I have come to believe that if we would focus on making disciples or building faith communities as our chief task, God would build His Church. Church planting is flawed becase we keep doing what we've always done while reaping similiar results. The definition of lunacy is: Do the same things over and over while expecting different results.

Church planting involves using proven practices and principles for getting a new new church up and running quickly with buildings, programs, and enough money to pay a full time planter etc.
Building faith communities has to do with making authentic disciple reproducing Christ followers. We don't need buildings, budgets, or a set number of bodies to do that. We don't need a launch date because a movement is launched naturally as people come to Jesus and into our faith community. We make disciples and God plants churches! That's how it is supposed to be done.

What say you?

It's not just one man's dream...

My friend Bill Huffhine has a dream that many others of us share as well. In his post, "I No Longer Fit" Bill cleverly gives us words to describe what many of us hunger for.

Bill writes, "The Lord willing, I will be involved in the formation of new faith communities (I can't bring myself to call it church-planting anymore) in the very near future. I believe that the faith communities I am involved in forming will begin with a handful of people of whom some will be pre-Christians and the others will be missionaries. They will grow slowly as we focus on people who don't know God and patiently walk the journey of faith with them and then teach them to walk the journey with others. They will gather primarily in public places and private homes rather than on a church campus. And they will be led by a brotherhood of visionary, humble, and servant-oriented elders rather than through the implementation of a top-down governing structure."

You must read the entire article "I No Longer Fit" and bookmark his blogsite for much more insightful reading and challenge. Bill Huffhine

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Attract, Attractive,Attracting, Attraction, Attractional (not a word, so I'm told)

Do any of these words (or not words) describe your church?

Are you attracting people to your church? Are you attracting people to Jesus? Which one or both does your congregation (75%) basically own as the priority. Be careful how you answer this one.

Now I'm falling over the cliff - may God help me survive the fall. It is time for the Church in American to quit trying so hard to attract people to their church. It is time for the church to begin attracting people to Jesus! Those churches that attract people to their church also claim they are attracting people to Jesus. Do they (we, me, us) really have a congregation engaged in showing Jesus to the world so that Jesus can redeem the world through our lives?

Is the Body of Christ that you are a part of, attractive by way of attracting people to Jesus?

Please be honest, Jesus is also reading my blog.

Monday, January 08, 2007

We are looking for the serious!

Are you serious about changing the declining course of the American Church missionally? Joining in a Disciple Multiplying Movement with all the training you need is easier than you think. Are you ready to do ministry in a new paradigm? If so, keep reading.

We are searching for the right people to join us in our Mission District endeavors. We offer mentoring/internships with all the training you need to become a disciple multiplier that leads to God birthed churches. Can you imagine God using you to make disciples who make disciples who become disciple multipliers through whom God may birth 20 or 30 or more Churches who do the same? We believe God wants to do this!

Let me know if you are called to move to the St. Louis metro region with us. We are searching for those who are serious and really committed to leading the American Church back to those days of making disciples who make disciples as the main thing. Our investment in you is free, but you must be willing to move to the St. Louis metro region and you must be willing to work a job in the marketplace to pay your living expenses. God can use your life and passion to bless a movement of disciple - making that cannot be stopped.

Remember, we don't charge you anything to show you what Jesus means by making disciple multipliers. We never charge to help you join in a movement that raises up authentic Christ following disciple multipliers who live incarnationally in the world. The St. Louis & Kansas City Mission Districts of the Midwest District in the Missionary Church, Inc are moving ahead with incarnational disciple making /church multiplication. We have targeted other large metro cities as well on our radar.

Are you ready to engage a movement? Are you interested in the training/mentoring that equips you to become a part of a God blessed/birthed multiplication of disciples and Churches? I'm ready to give you the details. Email me with some info on your passion, history, and anything else of value!

If you want a job, you need not apply. If you want to have part in an exponential disciple multiplying movement of new disciples/churches, then fulfillment that cannot be described awaits you.

I am more than serious than you think! How about you? Any questions?

Now my friend did it...He really did it this time!

I have a new friend in the Missional community. You can read the rest of the story and meet Lance F. on his blog at

Lance writes: Pulpit_1" In light of all the deconstructionism conversations going on concerning the church, I thought, “why not just go ahead and say it.” Here’s the deal—among the plethora issues with the way we’ve done church, I am not hearing anyone talk about this one. So… here goes. The pulpit is overrated and probably the biggest waste of time and energy of anything we do in churchanity today. If we are honest about it we must admit that the insipidness and powerlessness of Western Christian norms and forms are the result of the failure to take serious Jesus’ command to make disciples. We don’t make disciples, we start churches. Think about it preacher dudes… what would happen if the time you spend on crafting that gourmet sermon (that you just know if the right publisher heard would sign you up for a book deal in a NY minute) was spent with little squads of a handful of guys and gals, really pouring your life into them? People don’t get discipled from the pulpit. They just don’t." (it gets better, check out the article link above.)

WOW - Lance said it, "we don't make disciples, we start churches." You are the real DUDE!

My new friend shares...

He writes: "DOING or BEING the church ... what a difference. Here's what I've found.

When I resigned a more "traditional" ministry, took a sabbatical leave, got involved in secular work, let God use me to start a new body of believers ... I found out more about BEING the church than ever before!

BUT NOW ... now that this "new church" has established it's own "tradition" and is leasing a facility it doesn't have to move in and out of every week, it starts to DO THE CHURCH again! A nice facility has promoted, quite unintentionally, a sense of comfort. Thus a sense of "CHURCH" on Sunday. A FOCUS of ministry on SUNDAY! It's harder to BE the church during the week."

Anyone have any ideas here? Other input? Oh boy, is this ever something to think about.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

How does your church or church family disciple children?

How does your church or Church family disciple the children to follow and live for Jesus?

Are they segregated from the worship crowd?
How often are they with their family together in worship?
Does your Christ family insist that parents disciple their own children?
What does your gathering time look like for the kids?

When do your children "first" partake of communion?

Is it really good for our children not to be present during our worship together with the entire Christ community?

What say you?

Youth in the church or with the Church?

Why do we need games, coffee shops, extravagant activities and entertainment to draw in the youth?

1. Are you lacking in the entertainment department?
2. Must we have fun, fun, fun to attract youth to our progams/church?
3. Are we really hitting the mark in life-transformation through our fun programming?

Then I spoke with a teen this Saturday in our Church family bi-weekly gathering. I asked:
4. Do teens really need more fun or entertainment in order to reach them?
5. Is an hour of singing in what we call worship reallly necessary?
6. Are teens being equipped to reach others and disciple them?
7. Would teens support being in home small groups outside the church facility every week?
8. Would teens support gathering together (all small groups) for equipping them to reach their peers?
9. Would teens show up without the fun and games?

She answered: #4 "No" #5 "No" #6 "No" #7 "Yes" #8 "Yes" #9 "Yes"

Should I ask more teens these questions? Are we missing something in our efforts to reach and redeem our youth? You we need large and decked out youth centers to make strong youth disciple?

Coments welcome!

I confronted yet another!

Why is it that I walk right into it? Maybe you shouldn't answer that question. Have mercy on me.

Now that I have mercy it is still hard not to comment. WHY, WHY, Why do people have to pre-screen the comments on their blogs? Is there a problem I am not aware of?

What reasons could people have for not posting the comments that other people post on their blog posts without a pre-screening or approving what is said?

I have my ideas but maybe you can help me understand. It's just seems to be a sissy thing to do?
What happens if the comments are not approved? Do we only want certain comments?

Whatcha gotta say? Do people swear or something? Do people, well I better stop because I do have a vivid imagination. (A spiritual gift, I cannot get rid of).

Here's another one

Do you really think the American Church is in trouble?

How is she in trouble? What do you think? Is she or isn't she? How isn't she or how is she?

Maybe this is the starting point to bring us all together in order to see it or back off.

What is it that????

What is it in your opinion that would bring our American Church back in line with the mission, so as to become culturally connecting and relevant and reaching?

Are you doing it? What is it?

Or, what is it that we Christ followers should engage to turn the ship or derail the train that is headed directly in the way of Europe with similiar or worse results?

If there is anything that can get the American church back on mission, what do you think that is?

If you really think you know then please be courageous enough to post your comments? Will you do that? Be anonymous if it will help you po without intimidatation or fear.

Is your Church family Attractional?

Notice I did not say, Is your church attractional? But rather, is your Church family attractional?

What is it about your church family that is attractional?

Can you please be specific here?


Do we defend what we are doing at church? Or, are we defending what we are as a Church?

What do we really defend? Are there non-negotiables or things YOU would die for? What are those things? Let's forget the definitions and labels or styles, can you articulate what is is that you really defend?

I have been thinking about what I would be willing to die for, if for some reason I had to die for it. I narrowed it down. It is pretty clear. Before I tell you my answer, will you tell US all in blogland what you would never compromise in you faith and how you view church? What would you die for (?) or, would you die for (?) or, is it some other (?) that you would die for? Think about what you believe ablout church and what or how you live out your faith, and then, what is it that you believe/practice so deeply (as the main thing) that you would die for no matter what?

Do or die or being willing to do or die, what is it that that would cause you to draw the line in the sand regardless of the price?

I sure hope we will have some replies, we need to help each other.

Choose your style, method, wineskin or whatever..

In the American church we have all these ( to many to name) labels, methods, styles, definitions, ways of doing things, stuff and more stuff with more and many more different definitions of the same things. What is a leader who cares about the church in America (even world) to do?

Well, I'm so glad you asked! Didn't you ask?

Guess what? I don't care what you call the what-cha-ma-call-it! Do your (really His) thing anyway you feel God is leading you to do it, But...!

But, now that I have your attention, who cares and why argue over defining and defending? Let's simplify it. Are you ready?

Here it is: Are YOU and AM I multiplying disciples who multiply disciples? Isn't this really what Jesus meant for all of us? Or is there really something more important in the church?

Who said, "Let's Just Do It". Be careful not to answer to quickly.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Could this be accurate?

David Allis writes "The Church Has Had Its Day" part 2 (check my Ooze link for the articles)

We are unfocused and ineffective with world mission
· The total cost of Christian outreach averages $330,000 for each and every newly baptized person. In the USA it costs $1.55 million per baptized person, and in India it costs $9800 per baptized person. (Based on all costs of ministry divided by number of baptisms per year.)
· It costs Christians 700 times more money to baptize converts in rich World C countries (eg Switzerland) than in poor World A countries (eg Nepal)
· Despite BILLIONS of dollars spent by dozens of denominations toward over a hundred major programs to fulfill the Great Commission by the year 2000, we didn't even keep up with population growth, much less reach the 2 billion unreached.

We value OUR local church more than the kingdom.
· This might sound harsh at first, but consider typical church priorities as indicated by where the time and money are spent. Where does the first of the money get spent? It typically goes towards operating a Sunday service, including the costs of buildings, ministers, sermon preparation & music equipment. Only a small proportion of the income is spent on kingdom activities outside the local church.

How are you doing?

As we have and continue to take this difficult but freeing journey together, what observations have you made? How are you doing with the focus on a New Testament missional paradigm for "being the Church" rather than "just going to church" and doing it all at church and trying to get others to come to church (as the main thing)?

Are you seeing the value of living incarnationally in the world to fulfill the Great Commission (as a supreme thing) so that others who need Jesus can see Him and find Him through?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What is God leading me to do? revised 1.3.07

"Let's not just influence the world, let's let Jesus work through us to change her." I think that thought came from Neil Cole. Anyway, if I hear it once I say, so and so said. If I hear it twice I say, someone said. If I hear it three times I say, I believe that...

Truth should come through the mind and be owned in your heart and lived in your life. Live it long enough and it becomes a part of you. Isn't that great?

Post your comments! If you want to become part of this movement in the fields where the harvest is, let's dialogue.

Some say....

Some say let's just leave people alone and let the church go as she goes. "As long as lives are being changed (by addition) who cares?" "Do your thing and let us do ours." Why do you try to change us? We don't want to change ."

Does the church in America really want us to leave them to do things their way and not challenge them to consider the fact that God may have a better way? They get defensive. "How could we be wrong and how did we miss it."

Should we just plow ahead or hang out long enough to convince a few?

What a predicament? What would Jesus do? Did He give us an example of what He would do from His life?


Did we really export our way of doing church?

Years of missionary endeavors through the American Church while good intentioned have exported the westernized approach to ministry of doing church or being the church in the flawed definition or sense.

Do you think that now in hindsight that we messed up?

In Africa the church is widely doing the building "come and see" thing. And as soon as they have buildings that they cannot afford the mission of disciple-making slows and in some places it haults. Worshipping in a building they cannot accord they bring in the sound systems and begin praise teams and blast the small church house with loud music. As they settle into the building and use the sound system they don't need and cannot afford they become entrenched in a "come and see" approach and widely leave the "go and be" part of missional Christianity.

While this is not a universal problem for all, do you think we westernized Christianity around the world? I'm not blaming but if we did it we didn't know we were hurting the mission.

On the other hand, other countries are experiencing a move of God's annointing where disciples are making disciples and are engaging an out of control movement of exponential advancement of Christianity.

Read: "Church Planting Movements - How God is Redeeming a Lost World" by David Garrison.

My pastor friend agreed with me that God is working in a new paradigm around the world but that it would not work in America. He said we need buildings and programs and our society demands that we have them.

What say you?

No blame now - plenty of blame later!

While I accept blame in part for the condition of the American Church for losing her missional and disciple producing way, there is more to the story.

While we did contribute we may have done so knowingly and unknowingly. I admit that the blaming game for the past is ineffective at best. Now what?

The real blame for the future is another story and it will rest on those of us who cannot get our heads out of the sand long enough to see the ground of American Christianity eroding under our feet. The real blame will rest on those who refuse to follow a missional -disciple multiplying way. The real blame will rest at the feet of those believers who would rather sit in a pew and fulfill an expected duty or soak up the fuzzy food on Sunday rather than live in the world as incarnational (Jesus) disciples for all the world to see.

Now this is where I predict the real blame will lie. But I doubt those who are to blame will ever admit it. I sure hope and pray we will miss this part and enjoy the other part.

We are truly educated way beyond our level of obedience.

Monday, January 01, 2007

What's wonderful and what's not? (new title - same content)

So many are defending the ineffective church in America. While she is still doing some good, we can all see that, she will be of no good to anyone if she keeps following the lighted path of Europe.
I'd rather die than see the church end up like Europe.

For those defenders of the "Come and See" as the priority of the American Church, tell us what is so great about the "great and wonderful" you defend. There are others who defend a different way, what is great and wonderful about that?

Oh boy again...

Earlier we asked, What would you do if you had no buildings or programs? You can scroll for some of those comments under "Oh boy"!

Now let me ask, if we had no buildings and no programs, what would we do with the billions we give for buildings and programs?

Just wondering!

New Year's Day - Deeper thoughts

In "The Shaping of Things to Come" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch I see a fresh perspective from the authors and the inclusion of several thoughts by from Philip Yancy. "As Philip Yancy says in His remarkable book, 'The Jesus I Never Knew', In church we affirmed Jesus as 'the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds...Very God of Very God'...But these creedal statements are light years removed from the Gospels' accounts of Jesus growing up in a Jewish family in the agricutural town of Nazareth."

Frost and Hirsch continue, "It is our contention that by focusing on developement of the speculative doctrines, the early church lost the vital focus on the historical and practical implications of the faith. Mission and discipleship as such became marginal to theological correctness. Orthopraxy gave way to orthodoxy..."

"What is more interesting is that none of the creeds get to talk at all on right living, the very topic the Bible cannot seem to talk enough about. In its Hellenistic bent, doctrine shifted from acting right to thinking right. This has been referred to as the distinction between orthopraxy and orthodoxy. Orthopraxy is a system that believes that right living provides the context for us to embrace right thinking... The reverse is called Orthodoxy. It assumes that if we change a person's thinking, we will change the way he or she lives."

Let me add: This has something huge to do with why we have a "going to church" over "being the Church" mentality in America. We go to church and sit facing the front while our pastor shares a one way dialogue/teaching with us. So often we teach more but aren't leaning more because we are not doing what we have been taught. If you don't believe me tell your congregation they must own the Great Commission in their actions. You'll find that many if not most church members would rather "live to learn" rather than "learn to live". Perhaps this is why the average church member can quote the Great Commission mandate - but it is rarely if ever seen in their actions.

Hirsh & Frost say, "We have to recover a sense of the ultilmate meaning of our actions if we are going to become a truly missional-incarnational church."

Let me add another few thoughts for reflection: The Hellenistic influence in the creeds could be part of (or is) the culprit. In my ministry I fought hard to get"truth in action" but members were often content with just filling their minds with new truth. The older we live inside the church the more we fill our heads with knowledge. Living to Learn has largely replaced Learning to Live. By the way, did you know that Hitler knew the Bible inside and out? He knew Truth very well but it never showed up his life. He used his knowledge of scriptures to gain credibility with the church even thought he never applied all his head knowlege.

Do we really believe knowing Scriptural truth is enough? Do the Creedal statements really leave out the orthopraxy or "being and doing scriptural truth in our actions?

Is it true that we have become a teaching church so much so at the expense of being the Church by living incarnationally (by representing Jesus) in the world?

First post of 2007 - Any progress?

As teachable learners and as people who recognize that the church in America (even world) is in trouble, what have we learned about a better and more biblical way to be the Church this past 2006 year?

Did we make a dent in breaking out of an old ineffective paradigm? Has the American Church began the deconstruction process?

What are your thoughts?

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