Friday, June 29, 2007

Such truth - Hard to swallow!

My very dear friend Clyde M sent me a gift, two books, one of them, "Simple Church by Rainer and Geiger." I just started the read and so far so good.

I have for along time thought that busyness is the devils tool/work. We in the western church work hard to look good with all the programs and ministries and whatever. In my last pastorate we canceled Sunday night so our people could spend time with their neighbors. The only problem is that little time was spent with neighbors. That's another post for a later day. But imagine a church that is busy doing the stuff that makes them look good and too busy doing the stuff that makes Jesus look good i n fulfillment of His mission of making disciples who make disciples.

Rainer and Geiger write, "In Matthew 23 Jesus confronted (notice He "confronted") the leaders of spiritual hypocrisy. He told the Pharisees that they were like a fancy cup that is dirty. Everything looked good on the outside, but inwardly everything was disgusting. He also told them that they were like white washed tombs or top of the line coffins. But beneath the surface was death. Beneath the surface there was emptiness.

Just like many churches. (they wrote)

The clutter can often make us look OK and even good. The busyness is a great disguise for the lack of life. The complexity is a great cover up. Churches can be fancy coffins.

Several of the complex church leaders we talked with admitted their busy schedules were void of life. Several knew their cluttered church calendars lacked direction. Several also admitted that all the activity was having little impact. Often great amounts of activity does not produce life change. It only gives the impression that things are happening, that there is life.

One complex leader commented, 'The project confirmed the reality that I was slow to face: we are not seeing spiritual transformation in the lives of our people. We have become content with being busy...'

...Perhaps we are losing ground not despite our overabundance of activity but because of it."

The Planter: If that doesn't describe my life in my pastorate nothing will.

Anyone have anything to offer here? I so find this truth to be something that will be hard for some to swallow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Dr. Hossler, President of the Missionary Church, Inc., shared the following in his leadership notes.

Dr. Hossler wrote, "Eating at Big Boy the other day, I had the privilege of talking with Dr. and Mrs. Tim Warner former missionary and President of Fort Wayne Bible College (Taylor Univeristy/FortWayne). Knowing of his interest and insight on the current movement of God worldwide, I asked him what new things he was sensing concerning the church. Was the church planting phenomenon still growing? Was the exponential growth of the church in many parts of the world still taking place? The answer to both of the questions was a strong Yes. When I asked what about the key ingredients in such a movement, Dr. Warner listed two elements: 1, Prayer 2, Power."

The Planter: When I line those two ingredients up with what I'm reading in missional movements and also in church planting here in the west these two (prayer and Holy Spirit power) are rarely mentioned as foundational priorities/realities. We see the nuts and blots and how to do it and launch it, rarely do we hear spoken with passion (in a do or die manner) that these two; Prayer and Holy Spirit Power are the only hope of ever seeing a God birthed disciple making movement.

Dr. Hossler continues, "Power: The battle between the unseen forces of good and evil rages daily behind the veil which clouds the eyes of mortals. However, the battle is real. The Western World talks a lot about the power of God, but too often there is a lack of a visible demonstration of that power. The miracles which tend to Wow us are often common place in other parts of the world. Spiritual battles are not won with human effort. I am not calling for smoke and mirrors but I am asking us to stay in the secret place until the power of God falls on our lives until we are no longer satisfied with the status quo until people know that God is among us."

The Planter: There can be no great movement of God in the western church without Prayer and the Power of the Holy Spirit's empowerment/baptism/overflowing on every Christ follower. We need transformation not reformation. This is what is missing in the church ie power. This is even missing in Missional movements in America. While trying to reinvent the church often the Holy Spirit's role is neglected. When this happens we just have the same thing that looks different.

If we are to redeem the Church (God's people to begin personal disciple making) then we must start with prayer and wait on our knees for the Holy Spirit to come upon us in such power that we will never settle ever again for what we already have -the lifeless church. No real transformation! No driving passion to redeem lost people for Jesus.

Dr. Hossler hit a home run on this one.

What are your thoughts. The disciple making exponential movements of God begin with the Holy Spirit's power who always take us back to the redemption of the lost through the person and work of Jesus. We are so afraid of the Holy Spirit. Really, you will never fully understand the depth of the redemptive work of Christ without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in fullness of Holy Spirit baptism. It is the Holy Spirit who takes us back to Jesus, our first love. Many so called missional movements start at the wrong place and never reach the right place - The Holy Spirit.

Now what have you to say!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We Will Stand...

We will stand before God...
*Regarding the stewardship of His resources.
*Regarding why we invite people to church instead of to Jesus.
*Regarding why we disciple new believers to become good church members instead of great disciple multipliers.
*Regarding why we cater to the already reached through our "church" ministries at the expense of the unreached.
*Regarding why we attract people to our church so that we can have bigger buildings, more butts in pews, more programs and more funds to pay for it all.
*Regarding why we teach people that coming to our church is the most important thing.
*Regarding why we insist that our members must serve in our own church ministries regardless of passions and gifting.
*Regarding why we control what ministries we will have and what ministries we will allow our members to serve in on the outside.
*Regarding how we fill up schedules for things at church so much so that our members have no time to serve in the world.
*Regarding why we don't care if people are going to hell. We think, well it is their responsibility to come to us if they want Jesus.
*Regarding why we as a church corporately take disciple making out of the hands of every believer.
*Regarding why we allow professing believers to slack on identifying their passion, living out of their spiritual gifting, failure to live out the spiritual disciplines, and refuse to make disciples.
*Regarding why we measure the wrong things like number in attendance, facilities, staff, stage performance, increasing budgets and offerings and call that success.
*Regarding why success is not defined as disciples making disciples.
*Regarding why we reward, honor those who are faithful in their attendance, giving, serving in the church, and not rocking the boat.
*Regarding why we don't reward and honor those who live the Great Commission by making disciples, getting them baptized quickly, teaching them to obey all things over and over again.

We will all stand before God and give a personal accounting! Pastors like you and me will be held to a higher level of accounting (you can read about that in the Scriptures).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Been out for a few days

Michelle and I just got back from a weekend away to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary and Michelle's birthday. I cannot tell you when we had a better time. I'll get back in the morning with something.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Rock of a tribute -the artist standing by

Isn't it time.....?

Isn't it time that we address the effectiveness of our strategies and efforts in the church of America?

Can we ever hope to fulfill the Great Commission by planting enough institutional American churches?

In my last church we did a building expansion to the tune of $3.3 million dollars. They just paid off the debt after only five years. I used to view this as success, but it wasn't success. I now believe it to be a catastrophic failure when you think of dollars versus disciples. As soon as we got the building finished I struggled to keep the congregation from hunkering down. Yes, they became satisfied and comfortable. The focus of ministry went from outward to inward. They forgot why we did the expansion. I grieve over this. I was just doing what I thought was right which is now what I consider to be a grave error. I'm embarrassed to have been a huge part of this. People need the Lord! Now, the church is comfortable and oh how they look so good. BUT, people are dying without Jesus. People around the world are hungry and thirsty for clean drinking water. There are orphans and widows not being cared for. I'm saddened! There are hundreds of cars who pass by the new church campus with the steeple who need the Lord. They are not attracted to buildings. They hunger for something but don't realize that they hunger for Jesus. It's true there was a better way to invest $3.3 million dollars to reach lost people.

Isn't it time that we look at what we are doing and look with an open mind as to whether or not what we are doing is truly making authentic sold out disciples of Christ.

While we may look good to the professional world, we may not look good to God. What looks like success may really be failure. How did we ever get to this point?

Can we accomplish the huge task of reaching a possible 70 million unreached people in in America while planting institutional programmed churches? Isn't it time to reevaluate our present strategies etc.?

Just answer this one for me - How many pastors, staff, volunteers, programs, millions of dollars, buildings, signs, plots, planning, pews/chairs, video projectors, sermon outlines, keyboards, praise bands, special programs to draw, guitars, worship leaders, flamboyant leaders, high quality sound systems and special lighting - will it take to win the remaining 5 million people (and growing daily) into institutional, program based churches?

Let's be brutally honest...

Monday, June 11, 2007

So shocking!

Michelle in I had some friends drop by today and we shared some breakfast and allot of catching up. It was the highlight of our day. I'm so blessed to have these people supporting my missionary work as well as praying for God breakthroughs.

My friend went to church yesterday. He thought he'd try Sunday school and that's what he did. As the teacher was teaching, several in the class noticed a father and son playing catch in the empty portion of the church parking lot. One grumbled then another and another. One even said, "Someone needs to tell them they cannot play here -this is private property." My friend who was the visitor told the class, "that they should show love." He said, "Here you are trying to grow this ministry and you want to go out and kick them off the church property, why would you do that? Another chimed in and argued that they had no business playing catch on the church parking lot.

Suddenly a lady whose name I will not mention went out and told the father and the son that they had to leave the parking lot because it is private property.

My wise and visiting friend replied upon her return, "You should have gone out there and told the guys that they were welcome to use our restroom or come in and get a drink of water, since it was very hot outside. Wouldn't that had been a better way to show the father and his son what love is and about who we are in Christ?"

I call this a dying church, one that looks good on the outside with a beautiful campus, but people are leaving and attitudes like those mentioned here are growing. What used to be a full parking lot is now full of empty spaces, as are the pews.

Not only does this shock me, but it saddened me more. A Father and son saw the church building and maybe thought, why not play catch in the wide open space in the view of the steeple with a cross. As they did they were rejected and kicked off the property.I sure hope they shook the dust off their feet upon leaving the "private property".

Is there any wonder why people are not checking the church out, but instead they are by the droves checking out of church? And, you can check out of the church without ever going there in the first place.

Comments or other shocking stories?

Friday, June 08, 2007

In blogland...

In blogland I was told I needed to learn to control my passion! God gave me passion to push the Church in the area of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He and He along must lead the church and He will always lead us back to Jesus. I became passionate -I mean over the top passionate about why the Holy Spirit must lead transformation movements and if He doesn't lead them we are just treading water or getting our feet wet.

Is there ever a time that our passion needs to be tamed? I do believe that my temperament which is a high "D" choleric monster T needs to be covered and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Which I don't always do. I fall down at times. But my passion! I believe passions need to be released and certainly not tamed.

So is it passion or a persons temperament that needs to be tamed? When I shoot from the hip it is not Passions fault it is my unchecked temperament that is the problem which is my responsibility to keep it in check! My U.K. friends mixed up the two when they shot those fiery darts. I didn't realize the real issue of there darts until just moments ago.

Sometimes I get nearly killed in blogland, and, I can honestly say it is fun to me. What isn't fun is when I have to review my inner self to see if I'm wrong. And sometimes I am wrong by not putting my driven "lion in a China shop" temperament under the total control of the Spirit for His taming.

I thank the Holy Spirit for this insight/reminder in my life. I love it when I get hit, I hate it when they are right in some manner, I love it when God's Spirit convicts, I love it when I hear His promptings and search my heart and look for His finger on the problem. That in itself is freedom to walk in the Spirit.

Here's what we need!!

In the Word of God we see a theme. It's all about God. The Trinity working together in the Church is what distinguishes us from other organizations. And, when all three are not represented we begin to look and act more like social clubs. Does anyone agree with this so far?

In far to many American Churches, I can name a bunch of them, they are not being led by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are led by man. Man has come of with all kinds of controlling rules that are detrimental to freedom in the Spirit. The result is that we are not fully free to operate in our gifts and passions because we have to jump through the pastor/leadership hoops. The Holy Spirit releases and the church halts us. There is often this list of criteria one must meet before they can serve in this or that ministry. We even find that we must ask for permission to engage in a ministry that is not of those normal and approved ministries of the church.

One dear friend of mine went through the channels and received the blessing of the church to promote an outreach, non official ministry of the church she attends. They gave her a table. She had workers lined up to work the promotion, hand out fliers at the door etc. The leadership just told her that she had to stay at the table with her materials and that she could not hand out fliers at the door. There reason, if we let you hand out ministry fliers for your ministry we will have to let everyone do it to. So she laid off her flier hander outers.

Am I correct to assume that many and far too many churches are led by man and not God. Is it possible that we are killing the gifting and the passions of our people.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

Pastor I am gifted to teach, can I restart my class (the one you canceled) in another part of the facility?

Pastor returns after praying about it. Here are five or six things you can teach on. Which one do you want to teach on?

He chooses one of the 5 or 6 subjects or books of the Bible as mandated by the pastor.

You can teach but here's what you have to teach. You get to choose between five or six subjects of books in the Bible.

Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture? What's wrong?

Regarding the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in transformational movements

John 14:28 NLT, "Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me,you will be very happy for me, because now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am."

John 16:5-15 NLT, 5)"But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and none of you asked me where I was going. 6) Instead, you are very sad. 7) But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don't the Counselor won't come. If I go away, He will come because I will send Him to you. 8) And when He comes, He will convince the world of it's sin, and of the righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9) The world's sin is unbelief in me. 10) Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11) Judgment will come because the prince of the world has already been judged. 12) Oh, there is so much more that I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now. 13) When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting His own ideas; He will be telling you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14) He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever He receives from me. 15) All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever He receives from Me."

The Planter: The Holy Spirit always points us to Christ and to His Mission. Why are so many afraid of His Person and Work. Truth is, you cannot have a Christologically focused Mission without the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God always brings us back to Jesus and His mission, the Great Commission, our Co-Mission with Him.

What say you on this?

Whatcha think of this?

This is the real Church of the Lord Jesus Christ--not
merely organization, but a group of people, individually the
children of God, drawn together by the Holy Spirit for a
particular task, either in a local situation or over a wider
area. The Church of the Lord Jesus should be a group of those
who are redeemed and bound together on the basis of true
doctrine. But subsequently they should show together a
substantial "sociological healing" of the breaches between
men, which have come about because of... man's sin. The
Christian sociological position is that the sociological
problems which we find... are a result of the separation that
has come between men because of sin. (Continued tomorrow)
... Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), The God Who Is There

The Planter: Do people really believe this? Is this what many believe to be our mission?

Part two adds another chapter: "Quotation:
Now the world should be able to see in the Church those
marks [which show] that there is a substantial sociological
healing possible in the present generation. It is not enough
for the Church to be engaged with the State in healing social
ills, though this is important at times. But when the world
can turn around and see a group of God's people exhibiting
substantial healing in the area of human relationships in
their present life, then the world will take notice. Each
group of Christians is, as it were, a pilot plant, showing
that something can be done in the present situation, if only
we begin in the right way.
... Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), The God Who Is There

The Planter: Now we are getting somewhere. This has some great insight. This very issue is another reason the Church in America is in trouble. I'm glad there is "the rest of the story" in part 2. Mike E offers this to our blogland. Thanks Mike.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Holy Spirit

While our salvation begins and culminates with Jesus which is a wonderful eternal gift, we need help fulfilling God's redemptive work on earth. We need help and that help is found in the sent one, The Holy Spirit.

We will never be able to be all we should be without the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit searches, knows, reveals, speaks, testifies, moves, helps, creates, recreates, sanctifies, inspires, intercedes, comforts, teaches, leads, gives gifts, and orders the affairs of the Church.

It will be easy for the church to miss out on the blessings and leadership of the Holy Spirit. In the church there are two extremes one with Holy Spirit abuse of gifts and the other with Holy Spirit neglect. Both are dangerous. Both harm the mission of Jesus left for us to fulfill -His redemptive work!

I'm finding that some missional movements are downplaying the importance of the Holy Spirit leading the movement. Some never even acknowledge Him. We are living in an era of doing church mans way which means we do what man can do and we neglect what only God can do.

I see missional movements being birthed but having the same shallow ineffectiveness of the church in America. While these movements look different much to their own demise they end up with similar results if any at all.

There is no humanly possible way we can resurrect new "out of" control movements without the person and work of the Holy Spirit. While our focus is on Christ and His work, there must be a never dying hunger for God's Spirit to lead us and the movement for without Him there is just another man made up rearranged version of church.

I'm tired of formulas and strategies filled with man scheming. We think we have some new and profound answer for a dying American Church when in reality we have always had the answer. The early Church focussed on the mission of Christ and were filled and directed by the Holy Spirit to accomplish it. Because of this, they became a powerful "out o" control Church willing to die for the cause they represented.

With such clarity in Scripture how can anyone downplay the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in these critical hours? We don't need a new book, new idea or a new methodology, we need the Holy Spirit and anything less is just another man made flop that looks good outwardly but produces little transformation or Christ mission fulfillment.

I'm sick and tired of new ideas for church that are man made. I hunger and thirst for a church to fall on her knees in desperation for the Holy Spirit to fall on them/us in New Testament anointing and power. While Christ is at the center of the message the Holy Spirit is at the center of the power to get the job done.

How could we downplay or leave the Holy Spirit out of missional? What are you thinking? Are you thinking at all?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Gee, I should go to church today?

By Kevin Hendricks

It's time to go back to the basics.

I don't know any non-Christian who wakes up and thinks, "Gee, I should go to church today." Churches need to find ways to make people think that very thought--whether it's through billboards or outreach events or the incredible example of their members (or all three and more--my point, don't get hung up on the method). If churches aren't getting people to think that, then what are they doing?

Unfortunately, too many churches have settled for the status quo, the steady stream of Christians who do wake up thinking they should go to church, and for some churches that's good enough. Those churches are social clubs, and useless. Sadly, many Christians are that way too.

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks

The Planter: I came across this odd article. Is it all about getting people to go to church or is there much much more. What's the point of this article? Anyone have the answer?

A Disciples Making Disciples Vision is CAUGHT!

True Vine Church and members Brian and Lori and soon to have their fourth child were/are a God-send to our disciples making disciples movement.

Lori writes: "Our second training with True Vine was this past weekend. I'm still at a loss for words to describe the church let alone the training. The vision for the church is what every church in America claims to be diligently laboring toward - but are not truly accomplishing. True Vine is about the basics and yet when described to the typical church attender the movement makes no sense.

The church has placed primary focus on the Great Commission - "Go, and make disciples." Importance of every believer to be making disciples is HUGE and surprisingly a foreign idea for many - especially for those that hold to the "preacher/pastor is the minister" idea - an idea that has zero scriptural basis. Also, an absolute reliance upon the Holy Spirit is essential in discipleship. Again, everyone believes this, right? Wrong!!! There are two extremes - those that deny His participation through the gifts of the Spirit and baptism in the Spirit and those that abuse the manifestations to such an extreme that they make a mockery of His workings in the lives of believers. The third basic concept of True Vine is walking in the Spirit and living out the Christian faith through the spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, etc. "What! We have to do that stuff?!?!" What I love is the emphasis on disciples making disciples. But, does anyone in the church actually do it? And, then there is spiritual warfare - again, a foreign concept to many in the church but so evident in Scripture. Yep, folks, the devil is real and demons are, too."

a href="">For the rest of the story and what True Vine is not about can be found on Laurie's blog in the remainder of the article called True Vine.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A weekend that wasn't a weak-end

Pastor Terry Goodwin, pastor of our first disciple driven Church called True Vine did led our second retreat/training weekend.

There were 27 people in attendance at a retreat center located in Ditmer, Mo about 1 hour from St. Louis. The retreat center is in a beautiful setting with some trails, a fishing pond, paddle boat and hotel style rooms and is fairly new construction. It was a perfect place to get alone in the presence of God.

On Friday night Terry did some teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Everyone in the group came forward seeking the fullness of the Holy Spirit and those who already received this experience laid hands and prayed over each of them. Several received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with confirmation, while others were reminded of root sins that need to be dealt with. Those receiving the Holy Spirit's Baptism were overwhelmed and had trouble putting into words what had happened to them. More on this later.

Saturday's teaching was on Spiritual Gifts and each of us discovered our Spiritual Gifts. It was amazing to see how the gifting was balanced and complimentary to carry the movement forward. The Church is excited to say the least. Terry later did a metaphorical teaching with a New Testament link back to the story of Hagar and Sarah in the Old Testament. It had great implications on how we do church today. Do we do what man can do or do we do what only God can do? We decided we wanted to do what only God can do and we ended the night with communion under Sarah's tent (a symbol with significance) with renewed commitment to walk in the Holy Spirit.

Sunday was focused on Spiritual warfare and warfare praying. We ended our time together by praying for those who are lost asking God to put a hedge of thorns around them as recorded in Hosea 2:6-15.

My thoughts are that True Vine is owning this movement more fully, the Vine went deeper, other disciples - making disciples vines will grow out, there will be continued pruning of the vine as the Master gardener cuts away at the the vine/junk/sin for healthy and effective disciple making growth, leaders are rising out of the movement to lead more movements of the same, the vineyard will become ever growing and rapidly expanding with disciples making disciple resulting in more and more God birthed new Churches.

Give us your thoughts.

How important is...

How important is the role of the Holy Spirit in launching movements of New Testament Church effectiveness?

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