Friday, May 30, 2008

Roger Thoman - Simple Church Journal writes...

Love 'Em and Bless 'Em

One of the unintended consequences of conventional churches and their focus to grow is the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, message that unreached people are targets that need to be “reached” and “brought in.”

I heard the atheist, Matt Caspar, speak at a conference and describe how he asked his new Christian friend, “Am I your friend or your project?” His question reflects the way Christians have gone about relating to the world around them and the perception that unChristians have as a result.

On the one hand, there is the reality that the Father’s heart is broken for children who are separated from Him. This is central to a Biblical worldview in which Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost, invites us to join Him in the missional adventure of taking His good news and compassion to a broken, truly-lost world. God is not simply a God on a mission, He is a missional God at His very loving core.
However, when this message is coupled with an organized church’s “vision to grow”, it is so easy for our passion to love and bless people to take on a religious, weighty sense of performance that comes more out of “earning points” by counting conversions, baptisms, and pew sitters than simply desiring to see people (from a place of love) truly blessed and transformed.

I realize this may seem like splitting hairs, but I think the implications are enormous. The fact is, Christians do want to love and bless people… genuinely. There is something in all of us that enjoys the prospect of simply being people who care, love, give, help, bless, assist, and really make a difference in the lives of people around us. We do not relish the idea of helping people for the sake of manipulating them or trying to get them to do something so that we can feel good about ourselves religiously. We really do want to love and bless people!
I share this because, for me, moving out of an institutional mindset into more of an organic one has freed me to fully enjoy the missional adventure of loving people. I am not feeling the pressure of “results” or feeling that institutional “shadow” lurking within me asking about specific, tangible outcomes. I am finding great joy in seeking and discovering ways to just encourage and love people—no strings attached.

One might ask if that means I have lost my missional intentionality. I would have to say, that insofar as mission is about truly loving someone and wanting what is best for them, then the answer is “no.” I might even suggest that, by moving into the realm of real relationships (love, care, a desire to bless) I might even be more “effective” if one is looking at some kind of external indicator. But that, again, misses the point. More significant is the joy of being set free to naturally care about people and allowing God to work within that relationship super-naturally as He wills.

The bottom line is that one of the most significant aspects of simple/house church is a generation of believers who can step outside the walls and into the world with the mission of love on their hearts 24/7.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is it?

Is it possible to have Re-formation in the American Church? Or are we stuck in mindset of doing good and feeling o.k. with good at the expense of best or better?

In this blog many articles have been written to raise awareness on issues and practices that look good and do much good, but may be hindering the very mission Jesus left for us to fulfill. In the end I have found mostly defensive responses rather than an honest look at the possibility that our church practices are enabling a form of Christianity rather than real lifestyle "sold out" to Christ- New Testament living.

If re-formation is not possible in the American Church than what must be done to get beyond the roadblocks and restraints that hold her back? What are those roadblocks and restraints?

I tend to strongly agree with my dear friend that the Luther Reformation stopped far to short and that it is not complete. At the same time I must wonder if true reformation is even possible in America. And I would conclude, of course it is if we obey God! Of course it isn't if we don't allow it? This is where I tend to lose heart.

What would it take for the church to move beyond or away from "programmed ministry service" in the community and back into the world with real spontaneous passion to serve the world and spread the Gospel in Holy Spirit led living and without the packaged hold my hand service program?

Or, in the end will we choose to continue planning service projects and outreach programs and while doing so circumvent the real heart of service in the world. Serving the world is not a check off service project from a planned event it is life on life and day by day Christ walking/living as we walk in the Spirit.

When will we see that our programmed approach to church is more about doing church than actually being church, a church that is alive on every corner of every city in the world because Christ is alive in us? I admit that doing church outreach programs do some good but in the end they are actually the very thing that is keeping the spontaneous flow of Christ living from happening.

Let's stop living for the good when there is a better and best way to let Jesus incarnationally live His life through us every second of every day. It is time for the church in America to gather as the Body of Christ and then Scatter as the Body of Christ. We have lost our scattering New Testament ways.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The mentally challenged...

In our Disciple Driven Church movement we have discovered that there are no mental deficiencies in people when it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit.

We have a disciple driven church (The Race) that is compiled of mentally challenged people who understand kingdom principles and who understand that they are supposed to lead others to Jesus. How do we know this? They are doing it. They are in fact one of our fastest disciple making Churches. They have had more baptisms so far this year. Unbelievable!

At one of their recent baptism services I was amazed at the depth of scripture and faith that they professed. What a blessing, one of which I have never quite experienced before.

There are no mental deficiencies in people when the Holy Spirit is working to teach and instruct them.

Quote of the day...

The church must guard itself against the belief that you can bear fruit, be pleasing to God, but not share your faith." Bill Hull

Bill Hull speaks on Consumer-based Churches

In "The Disciple Making Pastor", Bill Hull writes, "The Consumer-based person believes that the ministry of the church is to meet his or her needs. 'We are looking for a church that will meet our needs.' Isn't that what most of us say? What is the music like? How can I worship? Do the sermons feed me? Will the youth program take care of my kids? And the questions and lists go on. The church then gets caught up in meeting expectations or worse, will leave after a while because their expectations were not met.

The problem with all of this is that we can't make disciples based on a consumer mentality. Sure, we can run programs, have a wonderful small group ministry, and have an exciting curriculum that people attend in droves. But we cannot expect that people will truly be formed into the image of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived for others, and as his disciples we are called to do the same...That is why we must drive a stake through the heart of consumer Christianity, and this act must begin with our leaders."

So true...

Elton Trueblood wrote, "Perhaps the greatest single weakness of the contemporary Christian Church is that millions of supposed members are not really involved at all and, what is worse, do not think it strange that they are not."

George Barna's research claims that "the church is trying to reach the world without making disciples. And Bill Hull says, "It didn't work 20 years ago; it doesn't work now."

Bill Hull speaks on Disciple making...

In one of the greatest books I've read this year, "The Disciple Making Pastor", Bill Hull writes, "Disciple making takes more faith than any other task of the church. Since it is top priority for God, it is top priority for Satan. No work of God's servant draws more resistance than disciple making.

This is why the words of Jesus in Luke 14:28-30 serve as an inaugural contract for the disciple making pastor. More than more, he feels tempted to quit before he finishes. Jesus said to quit before you start, unless you plan to finish. The nature of His work requires long term mininstry; therefore the enemy strikes the Achilles' heels of impatience and immediate results. The exhortation to count the cost is a tonic for discouragement, a reason to go on. But like a scorpion, it has a stinger in its tail. Before you start making disciples in the church, count the cost; don't start unless you plan to finish."

The Planter: Being a disciple making pastor truly must be the most difficult work. While that is true, I must say that nothing brings me more fulfillment in life as well. When compared to the end result, nothing satisfies me more than making disciples who make disciples who...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What are you looking at?

The odd couple

Our woodpecker - one of many

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If we feed them -they will come

How do you know...?

How do you know when a disciple is a disciple? What does a disciple look like? Seems like everyone has there own definition. What does Jesus say a disciple is?

Our grandson, Silas

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Quote of the day

If the church didn't own anything - it wouldn't have anything to fight over.

Three Characteristics of the Church...a free sermon outline

1. The Early (Apostolic) Church was Biblical
*It had a Biblical world-view
*The leaders were teachers of the Word
*The Apostles teaching or doctrine was...
Repentance (Acts 2:39;3:19)
Redemption (Acts 2:40; 3:19)
Resurrection (Acts 2:23-24;31-32; 3:10)
Return (Acts 1:11; 3:20)

2. The Early (Apostolic) Church was functioning
*What shall we do? (Acts 2:37; 9:6)
*Three functions of the Church
Make Disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)
Engage in Spiritual Warfare (Acts 19:11-20; Ephesians 6:10-20)
Worship God (John 4:23-24; Acts 2:47)

3. The Early (Apostolic) Church was a community
*They were together
they learned together
they had fellowship together
they ate together
they prayed together
they shared their belongings with those in need
they were in one accord together everyday

Look over the three characteristics and tell me what is missing or neglected in modern churches in America. Be careful not to have your head in the sand. Let's be honest here.

Starter thoughts:
Does your life reflect the firm belief that Jesus could return at any second?
Do you know how to do spiritual warfare with demons and principalities?
Does your community reflect "being together" as listed above?

For those of you pastors who this late in the week still have no sermon for Sunday, here's a great outline for you compliments of Richard Greene and me for the time it took to type this in for you.

Monday, May 05, 2008

What do you mean, the end of outreach?

The end of outreach as we know it. For all it's intended purpose outreach no longer works. This is not to say we haven't done a few things right, but on the whole we must be doing many things wrong. I think there are some very fundamental reasons why outreach no longer works, reasons that are relevant in any age. But, as the facts indicate, it is working less with each year, with each generation. I sincerely believe we are at the point in the history of the church where we need to ask the hard questions that I hope will mark the end of outreach as we’ve known it.

And I believe we would do well to so distance ourselves from the typical practices and mindsets of outreach that it will require us to use a different word. As communicators we’ve wrestled long with this problem. We’ve studied the unchurched and pre- Christian reactions to outreach, we’ve listed the numerous qualities we’d really like to convey, to Christians and non-Christians alike. For the sake of our planning and creative development we’ve come to describe this distinction as: withreach.

The scope of this article goes beyond pragmatism (what works). It also takes into view how people feel about outreach (both the outreach-er and the outreach-ee) and how God views outreach (surely God will bless anything that puts warm bodies in the pews).

Now, this is no small thing. We are in desperate need of something to blast us out of our current thinking and approach. If you are wondering whether it really makes that big of a difference, bring withreach thinking into your next planning meeting. Examine your goals, strategies, approach, and presuppositions based on the definition we will describe here (and expand on over the next few weeks). And I bet you’ll see positive, maybe even dramatic changes right away.

A word to busy pastors... I am sensitive to the demands on your time, so I will just touch on the most important differences between withreach and outreach here. If you want, just scan the lists, or print out this article (request the full whitepaper if you’d like all the links and companion articles in one printable, email format), and come back, for we will be exploring every facet of this important topic and more of the practical, real-world strategies to which it clearly leads.

Read the entire article here

Outreach versus Withreach from Withreach

Sorry, I could not paste these columns side by side here.

Unchurched are nameless faces and numbers
We do good things for people
Transformation imposed from the outside
Church speak
Religious jargon
Paternalistic overtones
Impatiently look for quick results
Seek conversion within narrow set of goals
Love shown with an agenda behind it
Great Commission priority
We have what you need / you have nothing to give
You cannot contribute until post-conversion
Fearful of differences
Clergy - laity split
Sunday AM priority
Church is domain of the sacred
Target segmented group
Image of community
What would Jesus do?


People are unique and vital treasures
We do good things for people by doing things with them
Transformation created from within
Human voice
Language of dreams (aspiration / spiritual purpose)
honour and respect
Patiently take the long view
Seek relationship for multifaceted vision
Love without strings attached
Great Commandment is the engine of Mission
We both have much to give / we both have much to learn
You can experience God in giving and serving
honouring of and dependent on diversity
Priesthood of every believer
24 / 7 community and holistic life
Church is catalyst for God's rule in every sphere of life
Create holistic community
Authentic community
What is Jesus doing?

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