Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Though I would love to promote the initiation of as many house churches from scratch as possible, I know that most church leaders inherited existing churches with buildings to maintain and a traditional institutionalism of some sort in place. These may function with varying levels of effectiveness. Some of your churches, no doubt, are model examples of what church life should be in many respects. Should you even entertain the possibility of using the house church model to extend your work? I want to suggest that this should be considered for the following scenarios:
- When the church is growing, the meeting space is limited, and you do not wish to invest more money in buildings.
- When a pocket of members live in a town or neighborhood some distance from the church building.
- When there is an unresolved disunity in the church related to either doctrine or philosophy, and a "planned division" is an appropriate consideration to bring to the people. (It goes without saying that there are many steps prior to division, and that there are other reasons churches divide that are not reasonable or acceptable.)
- When the church has an abundance of leaders or potential leaders (such as seminary or Bible School students, or well discipled leaders) who need to be used.
- When an established church wishes to penetrate the various sections of the city, or neighboring towns, in response to a work of the Holy Spirit among you.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
It has been our missionary experience and the experience of hundreds of my missionary colleagues that when God’s people are intimately involved in spreading the Gospel through church planting, the life and practice of that local church planting body is radically different than local churches who do not plant other churches. A study of the New Testament reveals that in less than 4 decades the Gospel and new churches had been planted in every pagan center of the then known 1st century world. It was the Gospel going out house to house, person to person, and the starting of new churches.
Isn’t it ironic that as a denomination we ask that those who are called, set apart, and sent out to be involved in evangelistic efforts that will lead to church planting when the overwhelming majority of these new missionaries have never been part of a church planting effort in their own church experience?
If there was every a practice in the New Testament that we need to proudly proclaim that we are continualists, it is the practice of normal, everyday Christians sharing their faith, planting multiplying churches, and developing leaders to lead others to do the same.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
1.) Should not expect to regularly come to church for just one hour, get what you need for your own personal growth and development, and your kid's needs, and then leave til next Sunday....
2.) Should not expect that Jesus will fit in with every consumerist capitalist assumption, lifestyle, schedule or accoutrement you may have adopted before coming here....
3.) Should not expect to be anonymous, unknown or be able to disappear in this church Body....
4.) Should not expect production style excellence all the time on Sunday worship gatherings....
5.) Should not expect a raucous "lights out" youth program that entertains the teenagers, puts on a show that gets the kids "pumped up," all without parental involvement....
6.) Should not expect to always "feel good," or ecstatic on Sunday mornings....
7.) Should not expect a lot of sermons that promise you God will prosper you with "the life you've always wanted" if you'll just believe Him and step out on faith and give some more money for a bigger sanctuary....
8.) Should not expect rapid growth whereby we grow this church from 10 to a thousand in three years....
9.) Should not expect all the meetings to happen in a church building....
10.) Should not expect arguments over style of music, color of carpet, or even doctrinal outlier issues like dispensationalism.
The post also gives the positives of what to expect.
Monday, February 19, 2007
FIRST, I would begin in the harvest and start small. Don't start with a team of already-saved Christians. We think that having a bigger and better team will accelerate the work, but it doesn't. In fact, has the opposite effect...churches birthed out of transformed lives are healthier, reproductive, and growing faster. It is about this: a life changed, not about the model.
SECOND, I would allow God to build around others. Don't start in your own home; find a person of peace and start in that home. Read Matthew 10 and Luke 10, and do it.
THIRD, I would empower others from the start. Don't lead too much. Let the new believers do the work of the ministry without your imposed control. Let the excitement of a new life carry the movement rather than your intelligence and persuasiveness.
FOURTH, I would let Scripture, not my assumptions, lead. Question all your ministry assumptions in light of Scripture, with courage and faith. There is nothing sacred but God's Word and Spirit in us; let them lead rather than your own experience, teachings, and tradition.
FIFTH, I would rethink leadership. The Christian life is a process. There is not a ceiling of maturity that people need to break through to lead. Set them loose immediately, and walk with them through the process for a while. Leadership recruitment is a dead end.... Leadership farming is what is needed. Any leadership development system that doesn't start with the lost is starting in the wrong place. Start at the beginning, and begin with the end in mind. Mentor life on life and walk with them through their growth in being, doing, and knowing. The end is not accumulated knowledge but a life of obedience that will be willing to die for Jesus.
SIXTH, I would create immediate obedience in baptism. Baptize quickly and publicly and let the one doing the evangelizing do the baptizing. The Bible doesn't command us to be baptized, but to be baptizers. It is absolutely foolish the way we hold the Great Commission over our people and then exclude them from obeying it at the same time.
SEVENTH and last, I would settle my ownership issues. Stop being concerned about whether "your" church plant will succeed or not. It isn't yours in the first place. Your reputation is not the one on the line; Jesus' is. He will do a good job if we let him. If we have our own identity and reputation at stake in the work, we will tend to take command. Big mistake. Let Jesus get the glory and put his reputation on the line; He can take care of Himself without your help.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
- In ten minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all of the world's nuclear weapons combined.
- It's physically impossible for you to lick your elbow.
- "This is what is so insidious about stupidity. None of the perpetrators believe they've done anything wrong so there are no learning curves, just learning flat-liners."
- "If you cannot prevail against the darkness, at least resolve to live with integrity. Let your credo be this, let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me." (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
- "Whenever I get full of myself, I remember the nice elderly couple who approached me with a camera on a street in Honolulu one day. When I struck a pose for them, the man said, 'No, no, we want you to take a picture of us.'" (Tom Selleck)
- "If I forget that the way of the Cross leads to the Cross and not to a bank of flowers; if I regulate my life on these lines, or even unconsciously my thinking, so that I am surprised when the way is rough and think it strange, though the word is, 'Think it not strange, Count it all joy,' then I know nothing of Calvary love." (Amy Carmichael)
- "Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade him to move things our way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by his Spirit to move ourselves his way" (Leonard Ravenhill)
- "Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old" (Winston Churchill)
- Arlo'N'Janis comic:
"How do you like my new 'Reeboks,' dad? Pretty cool, huh?"
"Life is hard, play short!"
"That's not how it goes!"
"That's what you think!"
- "If I were to reflect on what goes on theologically here, there are two things I would stress. One is the sovereignty of God. That's not novel. We have talked about the sovereignty of God here forever. God is in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It's not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by.... God does everything according to his will. We've always said that. But what I've been impressed with mostly is something in addition to that. It's possible, isn't it, to conceive of God as sovereign and yet indifferent? God's in charge, but he doesn't care. But it's not that. God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. Everything he does is good. And what Romans 12: 1 and 2 says is that we have the opportunity by the renewal of our minds-that is, how we think about these things-actually to prove what God's will is. And then it says, 'His good, pleasing, and perfect will.' Is that good, pleasing, and perfect to God? Yes, of course, but the point of it is that it's good, pleasing, and perfect to us. If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you'd change it, you'd make it worse. It wouldn't be as good. So that's the way we want to accept it and move forward, and who knows what God will do?" (James Montgomery Boice, two weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer).
- "My country did not send me 7000 miles to start the race, but sent me 7000 miles to finish it" (John Stephen Akhwari, Tanzanian marathon runner at the 1968 Olympics, when asked why he did not quit the race after falling and dislocating his knee).
- Most people who read this post will try to lick their elbow.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
- The outpouring of Christ’s power in the context of waiting prayer (Acts 1:8, 14; 2:1-4)
- Conversion growth through the preaching of Christ’s person and work (Acts 2:36-41)
- Community formation, notably from the harvest of new converts (Acts 2:41-47)
- Mobilization through leadership selection and lay development (Acts 6:1-8, 8:4)
- Multiplication through extensive church planting (Acts 9:31)
The five stages of New Testament mission as presented in the book of Acts are successive and symbiotic. Prayer fuels evangelism; evangelism necessitates prayer. Community formation is a result of prayer and evangelism; and as the new community devotes itself to prayer, it grows evangelistically (Acts 2:47). Effective mobilization (leadership selection) results from prayer, evangelism and community formation; but the first three stages are enhanced as a result of effective leadership selection. Notice how the community of believers in Acts shared in the process and rejoiced in the outcome of leadership selection and how “the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly” as a result of wise leadership (Acts 6:1-7). A similar encouraging epilogue accompanies the fifth stage as the churches grow in “the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and were multiplied” (Acts (9:31). Thus, the church progresses through the five stages by adding to, not leaving behind, the prior elements. At the same time, the prior stages are expanded and strengthened as the church grows.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Planting a church is hard because it confronts you every day with your own inadequacy. For the past six years I worked as a part of a large church staff. One of the great things about that was the sense of team that was often present. I knew that if I was not gifted an a certain area, I could walk down the hall and get help and advise from another pastor that was far more qualified than I was. Because of this, most days I was able to focus on the areas where I felt I was strong, areas where I had something to contribute, something of value to offer. Church planting is not like that. Every day I am confronted with my own weaknesses. To be perfectly honest, it forces me to realize that I don’t have a whole lot to offer.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
- Evangelism is most effective in the context of a local church. People who are “evangelized” in the context of an ongoing worshipping and shepherding community are much more likely to come into vital, saving faith.
- New churches are by far the best way to reach new generations, new residents, and new people groups.
- New churches best reach the unchurched, period. The average new church gains most of its new members from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches more than 10 to 15 years old gain 80 to 90 percent of new members by transfer from other congregations.
- New churches are the only ministries that become self-supporting and expand the base for all other ministries.
- New churches are the best single way to revitalize older congregations in the area. New churches help the overall body of Christ by a) showcasing new ministry forms and ideas that would never have been adopted in older churches, b) creating an “it can be done” mindset in older churches, c) providing many new converts in the city that find their way to older churches, and d) supporting many new ministries that have city-wide benefits.
- The only wide-scale way to bring in lots of new Christians to the body of Christ in a permanent way is to plant new churches. To throw this into relief, imagine Town A, Town B and Town C are the same size and they each have 100 churches of 100 persons each. But in Town A, all the churches are more than 15 years old and that the overall number of active Christian churchgoers in that town will be shrinking, even if four or five of the churches get very “hot” and double in attendance. In Town B, five of the churches are under 15 years old, and they along with several older congregations are winning new people to Christ, but this only offsets the normal declines of the older churches. Thus the overall number of active Christian churchgoers in that town will be staying the same. Finally, in Town C, 30 of the churches are under 15 years old. In this town, the overall number of active Christian churchgoers will be on a path to grow 50 percent in a generation.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The new topic for this month is church planting. To start off, here are some links on Preparation for Church Planters that I originally posted in August 2005.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
I added him to my prayer list and began praying for him on a regular basis (this is not about how faithful I am at praying because there have been many times when I have forgotten my list, or not been particularly earnest in my prayers).
This week I got together with a guy from church for coffee. As we were talking he mentioned that he has a few friends that he hangs out with. We talked about some of the things they did together. Then he mentioned one of them by name: A----- L------. The name was unique enough that I knew it had to be the same guy that I had been praying for these last few years.
Coincidence? Or a God who sovereignly connects people together? I don't know how this is going to play out, but I'm looking forward to possibly meeting this guy one day. At the least, it's encouraged me to continue praying for the people on my prayer list.