I’m excited about attending an upcoming “Turbo” church planting event at NorthWood Church in Keller this Thursday. The lead presenter is a guy named Bob Robertswho has been used by God in a great way not only to plant NorthWood over 20 years ago, but to assist in and send out over a hundred planters. I’m looking forward to gleaning some more wisdom on the subject and exploring more into the future direction God is calling us to. One thing that I am convinced of is that we are going to be involved in church planting whether that’s doing another plant or leading an established church into this realm of service. Along those lines, I’ve been asked a few times if there’s really a need for such a thing, especially in an area like DFW which has “tons of churches”. I’ve always told folks asking that it’s a good question and then given them some things to chew on. Without too much research, here are just four reasons for planting that immediately come to mind.
Another great thing that I’m doing during this interim season is working with an adult Sunday School class at my home church in Amarillo. They’re a fun bunch of folks and are somewhat in a transition time themselves. I see them coming out the other end with a lot of new vision and vigor to really reach out into their community and make something happen for the Kingdom. Two weeks ago we took up a study over the book of James which is something that I think a lot of Christ followers in the West ought to camp out in for a bit. While in essence, authentic Christianity is all about what Jesus did for us on the cross and every inch of our righteousness is totally dependent upon His grace, the reality is that a life changed by God really does work that faith out in daily life. In other words, we don’t “work” to earn our Salvation, but because we are saved from the consequences of our sin, we then “work” to serve Christ and others out of love. It’s all about living a real, transformed life with no games about it. So for our 9:30 Sunday morning crew, keep going folks and live it up this week. For everyone else, how do you live out authentic Christianity in your community?
One of my true heart passions is world evangelism. In tune with this, I’ve pasted below a recent post from one of my favorite blogs to keep up with. The guy’s name is Bob Roberts and he’s got a lot of experience and insight to consider. The link is at Glocal.net and the post is below. Enjoy.
To See a Transformed World – or NOT!
When we go into ministry it is driven by passion, love, vision, and determination to see God work in our lives and see radical transformation through Jesus Christ in our local ministries and throughout the world. Too often it ends in frustration, disappointment, and defeat. The problem is not our heart or desire or even willingness – it’s our paradigm and understanding of our world. If we would see transformation:
1. We need a clear understanding of what the Great Commission is and what it isn’t. In my upcoming book that will be out in a few months I deal with what the Great Commission is – and move it from religious preacher work to disciple society engagement. Our current western understanding of the Great Commission is limiting us in being able to be a part of things where the Gospel is going viral.
I got a link this morning from a friend to a video clip about a new flick that has just come out called, We Live in Public. Feel free to check it out, but you might want to make sure you don’t have any kidos nearby. Though the intent its creator, Josh Harris, was to make a “cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives”, the video actually illustrated something else I’ve been saying for years. I see one of two futures for America. Either a Christ following revival and awakening or a socialist dictatorship. When “Free” information and complete “Freedom” rule and are the prime objectives in life, then chaos is the ultimate result. The only way you can be free from Chaos and its natural consequences is by some form of order and “rightness”. That will happen either by a changed, self willed choice to honor Christ in the lives of everyday folks, or because the State forces them to obey the rules it sets. Just some Free thought to chew on.
Ok, show of hands here. How many of you had the burden of memorizing seemingly useless poetry in Junior High School? Yup, me too. But to this day there are a few of those old classic jewels that still stick in my head. One of those was by Emily Dickinson and it went to the tune of, “A word is dead when it is said some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” Now, in addition to the simple fact that the poem is short, I also remember it because it actually says something. I tend to agree with dear old Emily that words are powerful and have the ability to do good or evil. Just ask any elementary school kid on the playground that gets called names. I’ve had my share of complements and ridicules growing up so I know all about it. But when it comes to real names, I like mine. There have been times that I’ve thought of the Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 who was martyred for the Faith. Stephen was a man of great faith who laid it on the line to the point of death. That makes me proud. Some folks have shortened the name to six letters making it, “Steven”, but I would never submit to such a heresy. In fact, I actually draw encouragement from the man who went before me and gave his life for Christ. Names can do that. They can bring boldness and also they can cause discouragement.
But what kind of thoughts and feelings come to mind when you hear the name “Church”?
I’ve been doing a lot of different things during our interim season and one of those is just picking up odd jobs to help pay the bills. Today and one day last week I spend a lot of back breaking time digging holes around old fence pole so that we could reinforce them with more concrete. In the process, I thought about the Shrewd Manager in one of Jesus’ parables. The guy was about to lose his job and didn’t know what to do because he felt like he was “not strong enough to dig, and was ashamed to beg.” So in the turning of earth, I thought, “man I really know how that old boy must have felt.” He came to mind not because I’ve lost a job or have been dishonest, but just because I can relate to not really being built for a life of ditch digging. But I did put my back into it and was grateful for the work. I also thought about all the other jobs that I’ve had in life not including full-time Christian service. I think the best job I’ve ever had was working in the electronics department at Sears during my last year of college. I think my worst job, next to digging ditches, was working at Godfather’s Pizza between my 9th and 10th grade years in High School. I think the big issue there was that the manager was always negative toward everyone and talking behind people’s backs. It really got heated when we were all accused of taking money from the till, especially when we knew it was the assistant manager’s boy friend. What about you? What are some of your best and worst job experiences and why?
I’m amazed at how global life has become and what that all means for the Church and the Kingdom. One of the reasons why we planted a church in Nor. Cal and why we are investigating another plant in areas like North Central Dallas is because of the huge international make up of places like that. There are so many exciting things going on in the church international today that remind me of Revelation 7:9-12 where the apostle John saw a:
“great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Can all this be a reality? Can people from every ethnic, cultural, and economic background come together? You bet they can. In fact, that was God’s design all along. That’s the way it will be in heaven. That is the way it is all over the world at the foot of the cross.
For those of us who live in places like Nor. Cal, LA, or even Dallas, we can experience that today if we drop our personal ideas of “church” and purposefully come together under the banner of Christ alone. We can realize this divine vision when we reach out in sometimes uncomfortable ways to those who are different than us with the love of Christ.
We can also be encouraged to know that we are part of a much larger family that gathers publically and in secret all over the world today in the unity of Jesus. That’s the Kingdom that I’m a part of.
I found this video clip several months ago and I’m pretty sure that Matt was not thinking Kingdom thoughts when he made it, but I sure was. Check it out and then ask yourself what you can do to help build the Kingdom of God international. Have fun.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10-11.
I love the Church. In fact, next to Jesus, my wife and kids, I can’t really think of anything that I care about as much as I do the Church. I’ve had a lot of experiences with churches and church people over the years. I’ve been part of church gatherings that have really rocked and some that have quite frankly made me yawn. I’ve seen living churches and others that should have been buried long ago. But how do we know which ones are which beyond just liking or disliking a style or observing external signs? I remember reading a Time Life book years ago about the Soviet Union and particularly paying attention to a section describing the Orthodox Church there. The opening caption simply read, “The Living Church.” Having lived in the former Soviet Union for a while, I really question that statement. Sure there was a lot of priestly activity going on, and incense flowing around. But does that mean it’s alive? What kind of church were they really talking about? Though the state authorized church provided ceremonies and rites under Communism, their existence resembled more of what Paul described as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) So what is the church anyway and what’s it supposed to do?
A huge lesson that I picked up over the past couple of years in the church plant that we did in Nor Cal is that the “Great Commission” of Christ was not to plant churches, but to make disciples. (Note Matt. 28) It’s real easy if you have enough money to draw a crowd. (unfortunately we never had enough money anyway) But it’s another thing to really bring people into discipleship with Jesus Christ. That’s the key. When that happens, then you really reproduce and multiply at exponential levels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Church Planting and hope to encourage a whole lot more of that. But the point is discipleship, not the institution.
Aug. 17th. Two great opportunities for potential church planters:
I got an interesting email from one of our readers a few days ago that I wanted to throw out for discussion. Stan, who works through his own site at Atheism-Analyzed posed the question of how we as Kingdom Citizens are to engage in the political systems that we live in here on this side of eternity. I’ll paste his question below, give a couple of responses myself, and then turn it over to you to think about and then respond back to if you like. Here you go . . .