Thursday, May 31, 2007

I aksed some tough questions

I asked Alan Hirsch author of several books some questions and comments:

I wrote: Jesus is Lord (mDNA).

Jesus is Lord and He also empowers us through the Holy Spirit to carry on His mission, the Great Commission, our Co-Mission with God.

Alan, where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? This is not an attack, I just want to hear you flesh this out more fully.

The NT Church and underground Chinese Church were Holy Spirit empowered movements. Was it really persecution that spurred them or was it really the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through them as they surrendered to His will? This is why I’m toying with hsDNA (Holy Spirit empowered DNA) because we need Holy Spirit power to make Jesus Lord and without Holy Spirit power we will never fulfill the Jesus Mission passed down to all Christ followers. I am discovering that this Holy Spirit empowerment is what is likely missing in the church today. Do you agree that we need the Holy Spirit empowerment to truly make Jesus Lord? It is important since Jesus did say, “wait for the Holy Spirit”.

What are your thoughts? Is it true that we often do more professing than possessing the power of the Holy Spirit. Just wondering? We need to sneeze out the Holy Spirit living in us with boldness and power

Alan responded, "Bob, I was brought to the Lord in Pentie circles and at heart I still remain one (ssshhh, don’t tell!) I do believe that the HS plays a irreplaceable role. that’s why I like the phrase To love God by living under the Lordship of Jesus in the power of the Spirit.

I just don't think that we were meant to focus on the Spirit. He will just be with us. Our focus remains loving God in and through Jesus."

The planter responds, Interesting? Give us your thoughts.

That's My King!

A friend sent me this link for an inspirational lift, Thanks Dwight!

If you need a lift go for it and watch the video feed, That's My King.

That's My King

How did the message impact you?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Attractional churches: Think about this!

If you are in an attractional church or leading one, here's something you must know about.

Whatever you attract people with....
You attract people to.

I wish I could show you the cards or promotional materials I receive in the mail. You must get them. Look at them and you will get what I mean.

It causes me to rethink how we try to fill our pews or theater seats. Isn't Jesus enough! Isn't He all we need? Isn't He what people are really seeking?

If so, why the other?

Memorial Day Weekend in America

Did you remember:

What Jesus did for you
When He died for you
To redeem you?

Did you remember:

The Mission Jesus gave you
After He died for you
To redeem others?

I caught "mean mamma" behaving badly..

This past week Michelle & I did some yard work at our burned home and before returning back to our apartment, we stopped for a quick supper at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Two gals, both African American helped take care of our order. By the way, two very helpful young gals, both working very hard to make our meal enjoyable.

Then a couple in their 50's were next in line. They ordered and sat a few tables from us. I watched as they bowed to thank God for their meal. Interesting! As they were almost finished with their meal, I'll call her "mean mamma" went to the counter and proceeded to verbally abuse the young lady who forgot to give her the dessert she ordered. It was a scene of a lifetime. She talked down, mean and bad, so much so that she sent the young gal over the edge and she blew back! The "bad mamma" abuse was so bad, I didn't blame the young gal for losing it. She did not deserve to be treated that way. No one deserves to be treated that way.

As "mean mamma" and daddy finished their meal, I stalled mine. I wanted to see what was going to happen next. They went on and on at their table and the more they talked the madder they became. The "bad mamma" kept her eyes glazed at the young girl. They talked loud enough for all to hear that they were going to call corporate KFC to complain. As the couple left, "bad mamma" lingered slowly past the girl with cutting stares just waiting for an opportunity to jump down her through. "Bad mamma" was not ready to give up the fight. They left, the gal was spared another attack.

So as we were leaving KFC, I went back to the counter and told the gal she didn't deserve the abuse by "mean mamma." It was wrong of "mean mamma" and I'm sorry you went through that. Then I handed her by business card and I told her to give it to her manager and I would tell the manager "mean mamma" was in the wrong. She expressed great thanks and we left.

Later I was struck by the fact that whenever I need a business card I never seem to have one. I seem to forget to put them in my wallet. For some strange reason, I still don't know why, but I had one in the right pocket of my shorts. I must have just picked one up out of my truck, but I do not know why! Why the business card, well, the business card says what I do and perhaps the gal saw this couple pray or just needed to know God cared for her. It was weird.

It also reminded me that because I know Jesus it doesn't give me entitlements or the right to rip on someone. Sometimes I think we Christians feel entitled to being treated better than others. It may come from the "service -serve us" we have grown accustomed to at church. I don't know. Just some random thoughts. What do you think?

And, be thankful "mean mamma" isn't in your face trying to get you fired - for Jesus!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quote of the day!

By Terry Goodwin,

"When we are transformed by the Holy Spirit people will be drawn to our lives. When we walk in His power we will see people come to Christ. When we submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit we may not quibble over doctrine as much. We may let go of structure and meet in unusual places. We may change our services and their times. We may have a hard time putting a label on it. If we fail to start with a life transformed by the Holy Spirit, then in the end, all we will have is a transformed presentation of a lukewarm Gospel that lacks the power to save us from destruction. This is what makes us different from non-Christians. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without that we are just like everyone else."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Yet another...A Movement is born

We had our first disciples-making disciples training this past weekend. What a powerful and Holy Spirit anointed time, it was so powerful when God showed up we were all touched by Him.

Jessica was present and I invite you to read her response. Here's a snippet!

It's Been Awhile

My brother quoted one of my favorite authors (Brennan Manning) on his blog regarding the Discipleship training that TrueVine participated in this weekend. Oddly, I was reminded all weekend of a Brennan Manning quote, as well.

"I want neither a blood'n'guts religion that would make Clint Eastwood, not Jesus, our hero, nor a speculative religion that would imprison the Gospel in the halls of academia, nor a noisy, feel-good religion that is a naked appeal to emotion. I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a Church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst."

For the rest of the article again click on Jessica.

(Missional) mDNA OR (Holy Spirit) hsDNA

Now I have another insight I want to share with you. Over lunch I was deeply involved in discussion with my very good friend Terry when the lights came on.

As of today, I'm no longer trying to create a movement with (missional)mDNA. To do so only replicates working in a system that in inherently flawed by creating a new focus, model or style and through that "new something" you try making the mission of Jesus somehow the important thing. Having a (missional) mDNA does not take us far enough/anywhere. Actually most people in church leadership already think they have a mDNA with all their buildings and programs of attraction. Remember, "What you draw them with, you draw them to." Also, mDNA focuses way to much on what man can do.

When I refused a church pastorate a few years ago I did so because I longed to be part of a movement that required all of God and all of God. So Michelle and I along with Sydney dog we stepped out in faith and headed to St. Louis. Why? We did so because we longed to be a part of something that required God and only God. I longed to be part of something I could not do in my own strength and abilities. Growing a church is the easy part, growing Holy Spirit filled Christ followers is the hard part. So I longed to be part of a movement that would take all of God to be successful. Even today, the birthing of a disciple making church multiplying movement can never happen without God. I cannot do this without God and His Holy Spirit. Our movement is being birthed by God and we are witnessing it.

To start with (Missional) mDNA is to start backwards. On the other hand, if every Christ follower could receive (Holy Spirit) hsDNA or a Holy Spirit filled DNA we would naturally do His mission. We would be willing to pay the price and give it all up for Him. Why else is the Greatest Commission or Co-Mission the most neglected mandate in the church? It is because believers new and old alike need HIS (Holy Spirit) hsDNA and only then can we ever hope to make disciples who make disciples and change and redeem the world.

I want to live my life with a cause worth dying for. Young emerging leaders are longing for a cause that is so large and God sized, to give their lives too and for. Living in (Holy Spirit) hsDNA gives me that cause and purpose to live and die for. It's starts in my heart and in the hearts of others. I grew weary of living in the well oiled man made system for doing church,. There has to be more I thought! And there is! I found the key!

We do not need another missional transformation/reformation, we need a Holy Spirit transformation. We must discover that a Holy Spirit filled hsDNA is the only answer to the apathy and lack of true mission in the church. Let's focus on the heart of the matter and the hand of the matter will follow.

When Jesus gave us His supreme Great Commission He clearly stated that the Holy Spirit would be with us. Now do you see why we need a Holy Spirit Filled hsDNA? The answer was there all the time. How did we miss it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A disciples making disciples way of thinking.


*Program-based churches emphasize and use structures, programs, events, and meetings to minister to and attract people. Program-based church planting and growth strategies tend to focus on how me meet and how we attract people to meetings.

*Our Keystone training by Richard Greene is not concerned with how we meet; we are concerned with how we live! It intentionally focuses on the development of a Great Commission lifestyle through the cultivation of loving relationships, the skillful use of spiritual gifts, and the daily application of God's Word through Spirit-led obedience.

This training is not a strategy, method or style, but a philosophy or way of thinking.

1. It is Biblically rooted in the missional supremacy of the Great Commission.
2. It places a higher priority on the things of the Spirit than the things of the flesh.
3. It acknowledges the potential of apostolic ministry and leadership.
4. It emphasizes the transformational power of the Word of God.
5. It is goal oriented rather than process oriented.

Keys to success:
1. MOTIVATION - A passionate commitment to the missional supremacy of the Great Commission.
2. REPRODUCIBILITY - an intentional emphasis on facilitating reproduction and multiplication at every level, with all participants responsible to multiply disciples and they share this training and principles with others.
3. SKILLS - practical training in ministry skills.
4. ACCOUNTABILITY - coaching through vision and goals.
5. STRATEGIC PLANNING - placing ministry before structures.

What do you think will happen when believers change their thinking and begin doing this?

A Must Read!!

An article written by C.R. Goodwin and a site worth visiting for a younger perspective on these issues. C.R. Goodwin attended the Disciples Making Disciples Training. Click on his name and read the rest of the article and be sure to leave comments along the way.

I do, therefore, I am.

This, as you can see, is my first blog post on here. I'm not sure how often I'll be doing this but I deleted my other blog on myspace to make this one so I guess it should be fairly consistent. I just recently participated in the most transformational experience in my entire christian life. Yesterday I got home from the first of 2 training weekends that are designed to tear down people's preconceived notions about theology and Christianity and teach them how to become tools for God that they'd never even imagine.

While at this training I saw people make commitments to change and transform their lives that only God could have motivated them to make. I saw people released and empowered to use their spiritual gifts that disbelieving critics would write off as passed away. I saw teachings that are never taught in churches because it would ruin their division, doctrine and systems that they cling more dearly to than the movement of the Holy Spirit. I cannot wait until the second half of this training so that I can learn what my gifts are and how to use them for the betterment of the Kingdom of God.

The title of my blog is translated from LATIN as "I do therefore I am." So my question to you is "What do you do?" Is what you do the same as what you profess to believe? Do you argue theology in one way then perform it in a completely different way? Having asked those questions I'll leave you with a quote from BRENNAN MANNING...

Visit C.R. Goodwin for the rest of the story.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Quote of the day!

"You cannot see your church the way Jesus sees it until you have seen His Church the way He sees it." Richard Greene

It happened!

After a day of reflection I have some thoughts I would love to share with you.

This past weekend was the first of our Disciple Making/Church Multiplication training for our True Vine family. We met together on Saturday and Sunday for 2 days of intense training as Pastor Terry shared the Keystone principles of Making Disciples who Make Disciples. About 25 people gathered, clearing their schedules and making this a priority, we were changed. Four of us (Pastor Terry and Suzette, Dwight Levi and myself) already went through the Keystone training under Richard Greene. But this God anointed teaching was just as powerful and effective as Pastor Terry shared his heart with us.

God fell upon us. The event seemed more like a New Testament Church gathering than another seminar. Never in my life in all the settings I have served have I ever witnessed what I witnessed and experienced on Saturday and Sunday.

The Holy Spirit settled in. A prophetic voice (Dwight) was heard, another prophetic voice (Lauri)supported the first and we were challenged to confess our sin publicly and allow the group to pray over us. Two hours later there was not a dry eye or untouched heart in the place. Sin was confessed! Sin was forgiven by Jesus. The Church gathered as the Church and layed hands on those who needed prayer. I sat in the chair in the middle of the room. I shared my own heart with tears that almost refused to stop. Healing came upon me. It was like I stepped back in time when the Church was the Church.

As time goes on, I am experiencing what it means to be in a disciples making disciples movement. I am living in New Testament days where the common is replaced by the uncommon, where the plan is replaced by the unplanned, where miracles happen and are not just talked about.

It happened! I remain amazed in the presence of the only One God who could pull it off.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


In Campinas, Brazil a group of friends,drunk, went to pick up a friend. The mother accompanied daughter to the car and was so worried about the drunkedness of her and her friends and she said to the daughter still holding her hand who was already seated in the car: "My daughter, Go with God and may He protect you."

The Daughter responded: "Only if He (God) travels in the trunk, cause inside here it's already full." Hours later, news came that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died, the car could not be recognized,but surprisingly, the trunk was intact. The police said there was no way the trunk could have been spared the impact. To all of their surprise in the trunk was a crate of eggs, none were broken.

Coincidence or ??

Monday, May 14, 2007

Visionary Question...

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

Is it true?

1. We no longer teach or preach our theology (what we believe) with clarity and conviction to the average person sitting in the pew.

2. We do not live what we believe.

Do we leaders live what we say we believe? Are we part of the problem?

Have we disconnected our theology from our experience?

We all say the church is not a building yet that is exactly what we promote in our churches. We must fill those pews, serve in those approved ministries and pay those tithes for our budgets.

If the church isn't the Church why do we promote it as it is?

Why settle for influencing the world?

Richard Greene hits a home run on this one.

"One thing is certain: The world we seek to reach is the same world Christ died to save.

While the world has changed in terms of technological advancements, the universal problem of sin still rules the hearts of men everywhere and requires the same solution - the finished work of the cross.

God's answer to sin is the transformational power of the finished world of Jesus Christ. The power of the Gospel is that it transforms those who obey it (Romans 1:16-17; I Corinthians 1:18).

We must be very clear about the nature of ministry and the nature of how God works. God doesn't merely influence the world He transforms!

The supremacy of the Christian world view is tied to the ability of the church to transform the world and not influence it. This transformational power is not in our institutional structure or systems; it is in our living grace testimonies. Transformation is not the result of better management or programming; it is the work of the Spirit in the human heart.

All true Spirit-led ministry facilitates this work of the Holy Spirit."

Go Richard, Go!


Why do you or don't you go to church on Sunday?

All answers are accepted and safe on this sight!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Was it or wasn't it a Good Mother's Day service.

I asked, "Did you miss your mother's day sermon today?" No, she said, "it was like,
did you bake the cookies this morning, was what rang out loud". For her, it was like the tone of the sermon on the role of the mother from the perspective of the pastor. Can you imagine?

She did not miss the sermon on Mothers Day, today! I wonder if there are others?

What, you didn't miss the sermon on the "virtuous woman?" What, you didn't miss the flower given in honor. What, you didn't miss being recognized in the service? I'm beginning to think more mothers dislike Mother's Day sermons on Mother's Day than we could ever imagine!

Would someone please tell me what you think the mothers day service should look like? Or was your service something to be cherished? Or should Mother's Day become the day we the children honor our own mother? Let the kids speak the sermon instead of some paid clergy who doesn't really have a clue.

I always hated preaching on Mother's Day! It was always an impossible deal! How do you honor and please all those women/mothers in a manner worthy of their sacrifice and love? Come to think of it, I hated Father's Day too.

Well, what do you think? And, is what you think worth sharing?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Perfidy...what a place!

My friend Scott posted this story on his blog. It's a revealing story about us.


In the village of Perfidy the villagers lived much like we do today. Hurrying from place to place, working hard and trying to balance life’s priorities. The Perfidians were polite, stopping to help a neighbor was expected and back yard barbeque's always drew a crowd. It was a nice place to live and raise a family.

Walter was a man well known by both young and old alike. His tall frame, slicked back gray hair and tattered briefcase were a pleasant sight to those in the village. He never held back an interesting story or a cute joke. A cup of coffee or a tall glass of iced tea would often accompany such a visit. Walter was a salesman for a fire extinguisher company. His territory was the entire village and everyone was a potential client. Walter had a way of making anyone feel at ease. He would often listen for hours, as men would open up about problems at home or struggles at work. Walters gentle ear and kind words could topple down even the biggest of difficulties. Although it was no secret that Walter’s job was to sell extinguishers, he rarely would bother with the sales pitch. He knew that if you wanted to buy, all you had to do was ask. The fact was that nearly everyone already owned some kind of extinguisher. Pushing sales on his friends didn’t seem natural and he wasn’t willing to risk the friendship over just another sale. With that Walter had many friends and great respect.

Unfortunately, the people of Perfidy were hardened to the fires that plagued their village. It wasn’t uncommon for a fire to take out one or two people in a week. Fires became a part of life and a part of death. It was especially hard when a child was taken. But that’s just the way it was in Perfidy. Everyone at some point would eventually find themselves as a victim of a fire. The fire extinguishers found in most homes didn’t work. Most were empty from the very start. At best, they only served as a sense of false security. Some were filled with water but had no pressure. It doesn’t make any sense, but this was tolerated, and no one really expected anything different.

So what about Walt’s extinguishers? They were amazing. They would put out any fire as soon as the pin was pulled. But just like all the others, they only could protect the one who purchased them. So why didn’t more people buy these special extinguishers? Were they expensive? No, only a signature was needed.

Although Walter was a nice friend, he was really no friend at all. He had the answer to the villager’s fate. Yet, he was unwilling to push his extinguishers, because so many already believed in their own. Walter knew they were trusting in empty dreams and failed to share the truth. What a sad story.

Thanks Scott!

Monday, May 07, 2007


Can a believer connect with God without connecting fully with His mission (Great Commission) mandate for all of us personally?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Is this true about the sermon you last heard?

What think ye of this?

Quote of the day!

Anthony Goodwin writes, "I don't even like the term 'Ministry'. What we call 'Ministry' Should not be distinguishable from the rest of our every day lives."

You'll find him at Neo Luther

"Taking Back Sunday"

How are we engaging the world?

This afternoon I have been thinking about this question. We have services on Sunday filled with people where great fellowship, singing, worship, communion, lay leadership and pastor's sharing is enjoyed. I was with a Church family in Washington this morning who appear to know that disciples are supposed to make disciples. And, I believe they are catching it and some have actually caught it, some will never catch it. You may know a Church body like this. By the way I enjoyed the service and the excitement the family has for Jesus and the concern they have for their community. It is a rare deal to see and feel what I experienced this morning in America.


How are believers engaging the world?

*Do we just invite our friends to church on Sunday?
*Do we have our neighbors over for a dessert night or bar-b-Que?
*Do we stop and speak with those in hotel lobbies or restaurants?
*Do we invest in people when we can noticeably see that they are hurting?
*Do we participate in a local church event to attract people?
*How do you engage the world?

HOW are believers engaging the world?

These are good questions (maybe) but there looms a larger question in my mind.

Are we around the world as the Body of Christ engaging the world corporately through the ministries of the church OR are we as believers personally engaging the world through our own passions and gifting? Or both?

HOW are you engaging the world? Are you expected to engage the world by your church leadership? Are you held accountable to do it? Or, do you hide behind the corporate structures and programs of your church to do it all?

I presume (a dangerous thing to do) that a majority of believers around the world do not do both corporate and personal world engagement. I would also dare to say that over 95% of believers especially in America do the corporate gig pretty well while neglecting personal responsibility to get in the trenches with the world and with great sacrifice at that.

I'm saddened, no reference to the church above, that believers do not understand the mandate to learn how to make disciples and then go out and do it themselves.

After 100 sermons, 50 Bible Studies and thousands of hours at church (the building) how can NOT every Christ follower know how to make disciples themselves? And, how can they NOT know that it is their personal responsibility to do so with strong accountability.

I fear we would rather invite people to church than engage people in the world. While we are focusing on inviting people to our church we miss being the Church that invites them to Jesus.

At lunch today, I engaged a beautiful family who recently moved to Washington State from Texas. They attend a Jehovah's Witness Church. Will you pray for this family?

By the way, I was reading Matthew 23:15 where Jesus said, (Bear with me if you are a K.J.V. lover) "Yes, how terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn them into twice the son of Hell as you yourselves are."

Remember: Jesus said it, not the Planter.

Our first Disciple Making, God Birthed Church...

Our first Disciple Making movement n St. Louis metro is led by Pastor Terry and Suzette. While I am Mission District leader for this region, and Terry's mentor and coach, our relationship has grown beyond that, as I now consider Pastor Terry my pastor and very close friend.

Pastor Terry recently wrote and excellent article entitled, "Putting the cart before the horse." It is so excellent I want to share with you an excerpt and a link to his blog charting the progress and lessons learned as we engage a Disciples Making Disciples Movement led by the Spirit of God.

Pastor Terry wrote, "If you spend much time talking to Christians you will soon find out that most do not know how to make disciples. They have not been taught. They don’t know what to teach them or how to teach them. It appears to me that we have placed the cart of attendance before the horse of preparation. We are so focused in the modern church on getting people to attend church that we fail to make sure our people can intentionally make disciples. I am excited about the foundation that is being laid at True Vine. Our people are investing in becoming intentional disciple makers. Their values are being shaped to value disciple makers over attendees. I am convinced that God will bless our movement with abiding fruit as we put our horse of preparation before the cart of attendees. Our goal to make a disciple making movement must start with people that know how to make disciples and can teach others to do the same."

Now that Pastor Terry has your attention feel free to drop by his sight,

What are your thoughts here?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Worth considering

Think about this and give us your thoughts.

Important priorities in the Church as identified by Dr. Dan Riemensneider, director of Healthy Church Initiative, Missionary Church. We call him Captain Remo and this morning in Seattle we had a long discussion on these priorities.

Connect to God
Connect to Ministry
Connect to Others
Connect to the World

Let me add my two cents. I believe that in the American Church we have predominantly assumed an early Greek posture in western Christianity. If you look at the Creeds you will find that they are mind oriented and not action oriented.

Jesus lived His life in the Hebrew "action oriented" model of ministry. While Jesus taught He taught for action/response/life-transformation. The message of Jesus was never intended as a head knowledge movement, but rather, it was putting into action what He lived and taught before them and this is where life transformation occurs!

The four priorities listed are great. What has become the problem is that in America they are lived out in the Greek Model of gaining knowledge as the main thing.

Imagine a Church in America and in the world where we live the Hebrew model of active, missional and intentional disciple making as the main thing.

Here's what the Church looks like based on the above principles through the Greek Model.

1. (Worship) We GO to Gather to a specified church location.
The more we know the more spiritually mature we think we are.
2. (Ministry) We SERVE in the "church" established ministries. We identify gifts and
then determine where they should serve inside the church walls.
3. (Connecting inside)with and serve those in the Church family.
We create programs to care for those in the body.
4. (Connecting outside) with the world. We plan connection or compassion programs to
go outside.)

*Notice that these things are done corporately and are controlled and programmed. Believers think that if they do this they are growing deeper and becoming mature.

Here's what the Church could look like in the Hebrew action oriented model.

1. (Worship) We GATHER to GO into the world. We meet in various locations.
When we gather we are being equipped to go out. We insist
that spiritual disciplines are lived out. As we worship corporately
we do so as the Christ family and we do not try to attract more
and more people to our gathering. As we reach the lost the entry
point is through relationships and smaller gatherings for support
encouragement and accountability.
2. (Ministry) We help people discover their passions and gifting. As they are
being discovered believers are released to serve in their passion and
gifting wherever God leads them. We never decide this, it is God's
3. (Connecting to Others) We care for the Body of Christ. This is never placed
on the pastors shoulders. Each member cares for others members.
4. (Connecting to the world) While we rarely if ever plan outreach events we
teach believers how to listen to and hear the voice of God and then
serve where He leads and opens doors. Outreach is personally owned
and rarely a corporate event.

As we live in the world, we hold the purposes of the Great Commission as the main thing and in doing so we show the world who Jesus is through our lives and as people see Jesus in us, then Jesus flows through us to redeem them. And this is done over and over again!

In the Hebrew model we must be Holy Spirit driven and led in order to be successful.

Any thoughts?

Friday, May 04, 2007

You won't believe this!

What a year this has been. My brother committed suicide in January and left us all with great sadness. Then in March our home burns down, lost most everything including my Gold Wing, Chel's car, and my truck and it was only minutes that saved the neighbors house. I have a skin graft on my left hand and arm past the elbow. They dispatched 4 firetrucks, 2 of them broke down, and one of them got lost.

And now today I find out a small tick bit me and gave me Lyme disease. Now I'm on a 21 day stretch of strong antibiotics. They say you never get rid of lyme disease but it does go in remission with the medicine.

I'm off to Seattle in the morning to work with some pastors and churches for the weekend.

Just information, not a pity party. I'm not Paul or Job or others who had it or have it allot worse than I. Seems weird to me that's all. But I press on with your prayers!

I know God's not trying to kill me because He saved my life and I got out just seconds before the garage (I was in) ceiling collapsed! Who is trying to kill me? :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Pics from our fire

Sojourner writes...

Share your deconstruction stories"

Ria responds with: I'm in the first stages of deconstruction, but here's how it started:

Christmas last year fell on a Sunday, and since we were visiting my in-laws, we went to their church. The service had already gone on for at least an hour when the pastor got up for the sermon time and invited all the kids up front. “I’m going to talk to the kids,” he said, “and you adults can listen in if you want.” We brought the girls up front, where a handful of school-aged kids had already gathered. The pastor started off well, with some interactive questions, but after about five minutes he was off into his regular 40 minute sermon. Meanwhile, our oldest had grown restless and my husband took her out. The younger girl, who was 2 ½ at the time, was amusing herself dancing around in circles there in the front of the church – until a woman in the front row leaned over to me and complained that she found her a distraction!

That morning I left church feeling like I’d been thoroughly set up – which I still believe, even if I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and put it down to poor planning. If you’re going to welcome children, then you have to welcome them as children, not as pint-sized grownups. And if the pastor says he’s going to talk to the kids, then he ought to talk to the kids, and do it for no more than 10 or 15 minutes! And what’s with the woman who has been so trained to focus in on the sermon as some great educational moment that she’s “distracted” by the simple joys of a toddler delighting in Christmas morning?

When the emotions of that day cooled a bit – clearly they remain fresh in my heart and mind even now – I found myself asking questions about the nature of faith, discipleship and church that I’m still wrestling with. The average evangelical church service is organized on the pattern of an educational event, with some singing to get everyone in the mood to listen to the pastor’s dissertation. It’s the college lecture hall, with dutiful parishioners taking notes. Granted, that’s an environment I’m very comfortable in, but has my life ever been changed by a sermon? Do I even remember a single sermon I’ve heard in the past 25 years? Do I remember even one point of last Sunday’s? What does the whole sitting-in-church-staring-at-the-back-of-someone’s-head model have to do with the life of the Kingdom of God? Do I want my children to be socialized to be good church attenders, sitting quietly through the whole business, or am I raising citizens of the Kingdom who are out to change the world?

The Planter: I invite you to share your church deconstruction stories. Let's give it a try, will you?

Neil Cole through Dave DeVries...

The Planter: I'm copying Dave DeVries, his link is to your right under blogs I read. This is a real and comprehensive challenge. But I must say, the problem is even more critical than Neil writes.

Taking the liberty from Dave DeVries someone worth reading writes: Neil Cole - The Absence of Movements in America

Neil Cole, author of Organic Church and founder of Church Multiplication Associates, shared his perspective with me yesterday on the absence of movements in America. He observes that the church often gets in the way. The problem stems from consumer Christians who are willing to sit and soak and let the pastor serve them, instead of getting involved themselves. He asserts, “People in the pews are irresponsible, and pastors let them stay that way.” Codependent pastors allow dysfunctional churches to exist. This prevents missional movements from ever starting.

Neil also recognizes that movements are more likely to happen overseas because of liminality. In many countries around the world there is a great struggle for Christians (including persecution) that purifies what it means to be a Christian. In the midst of that struggle, authentic followers of Jesus emerge that more naturally embody the mission and message of Jesus. They multiply disciples because that is the essence of following Jesus. The climate of prosperity in America and the lack of struggle or persecution has created an impure church where disciplemaking is often ignored or deferred to paid professionals.

Here’s the reality: Missional multiplication movements are not happening in North America. One of the biggest contributing factors is that too many Christians neglect the mission of Jesus and don’t really care that people around them are going to hell. Until Christians embody the mission and message of Jesus, there will not be any movements toward Christ in America.

The Planter: Thanks to Neil and Dave in the interview for nailing it. Give us your thoughts and visit the blog of Dave DeVries, a Missionary to America!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Our first Disciple-making Pastor laid it out for us...

Pastor Terry Writes: As I reflect on what is happening at True Vine I have discovered a foundational issue with the way we operate churches these days. As we returned from our intense training time at Keystone (South Dakota) we were greeted by an excited group of church members that were eager to learn what we had learned. We had spent around a hundred hours in training in the previous 2 weeks and it was one of the most life changing experiences we have ever experienced. Our church wanted to know what we learned. They were eager to share in our experience.

Suzette and I had a choice to make. Do we share what we can and hope it sticks or do we take a chance and challenge them to invest the needed time to experience it for themselves? I have to admit that the first option was the easy one. There was at least a year’s worth of sermon material in what I had just been through. Our return trip from Keystone was a tormented one for me. We had a decision to make and it was a foundational decision. Do we do what is easy and expedient or do we call them all to something greater that requires more of them to accomplish?

We decided to make the call. We started by meeting with the elders and their wives and explaining the fact that we are convinced we are in a movement of God unlike anything we have seen before. Life transformation is an everyday occurrence around us these days. We then told them we wanted to challenge the whole church to dedicate 2 weekends to this training. We would condense what we learned into about 35 hours of material and teach them the basics of what we learned. It was a huge risk! I was asking them to go to a location and isolate themselves during the training so they could focus on God and what He was speaking to them. This meant that our young couples would have to find childcare for two weekends. Some of our young people would have to take off work. The church would have to invest nearly all it’s money in preparing its people to move forward in one direction of disciple making and reproduction.

I gave the challenge on Easter Sunday. I asked everyone to pray and fast to discern God’s will in this matter. They all did. In the near future all of the True Vine members will attend this training and be able to get on the same foundation we lead from. We even have people that are not members that are attending with us. God honored our decision to do it right instead of easy. All came to the same decision. Difficulties were worked out. Childcare was arranged. Work schedules were cleared. Locations have been picked.

If you spend much time talking to Christians you will soon find out that most do not know how to make disciples. They have not been taught. They don’t know what to teach them or how to teach them. It appears to me that we have placed the cart of attendance before the horse of preparation. We are so focused in the modern church on getting people to attend church that we fail to make sure our people can intentionally make disciples. I am excited about the foundation that is being laid at True Vine. Our people are investing in becoming intentional disciple makers. Their values are being shaped to value disciple makers over attendees. I am convinced that God will bless our movement with abiding fruit as we put our horse of preparation before the cart of attendees. Our goal to make a disciple making movement must start with people that know how to make disciples and can teach others to do the same.

The Planter: While I am Pastor Terry's coach, He is my pastor! I'm so proud of he and Suzette and their kids. I will attend this training, I will sit at the feet of my pastor and be challenged. Please pray for us and all who engage the personal responsibility to make disciples who make disciples. The outcome will be huge! We pray for a movement of disciples making disciples that cannot be stopped!

Your Church...

Would you describe your congregation as a "service" congregation or a "serve-us" congregation.

Service = outward serving
Serve-us = meeting the needs of those who attend when they attend.

Top ten answers ...

What do you do for Jesus? What's ministry do you have? What do you think of this list?

10. I mow the church grass
9. I teach Sunday school or other enrichment classes
8. I serve in child-care ministries
7. I lead a date night program so parents can drop off their kids and then?
6. I'm on the board or committee of my church
5. I'm on the worship team or I sing in the choir and do cantatas
4. I'm a greeter and I hand out bulletins
3. I'm part of the welcoming staff, when they show up, I make em feel good.
2. I invite people to church
1. I go to church, pay my tithes, listen to a good sermon, worship and serve when asked to.

You know what a good Christian looks like, don't you? Sarcastic answer, but widely believed to be true, "Whenever the church doors are open you are there".

In your opinion, what would your top ten list look like? If you want to delve more deeply tell us what it should look like.

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