Parable of the Rich Old Church by Dan Benson

(Jesus said)  “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.” This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go. — Luke 18:18-23

Pastor Mike stepped into the basement  hall at First Community Church for the monthly council meeting and showed a broad smile.

“Good evening, Pastor,” Richard, one of the elders, turned and said, extending a hand. A Styrofoam cup of coffee was in the other already.

“Hi Karl, how are you?” Pastor Mike replied.

The other members of the council were mingling about. Some were sampling from the plate of cookies that someone, as usual, had brought and there was a small crowd at the coffee pot — “What, no decaf again?” someone muttered. Some were already ambling over to the chairs around the long folding tables that had been set up for the meeting.

It was a group of a dozen people mostly reflective of the small community they lived in. Homeowners, white, middle class, family men (and a couple women). Some owned businesses. Pretty much salt-of-the-earth types who paid their bills on time, kept their lawns well-manicured, rarely if ever got their name in the paper for anything, good or bad, and whose kids never got into trouble. No serious trouble anyway. Several of those children were adults now, but none of them attended First Community, except on Easter and Christmas.

Most of them were in their 40s or older, a few were retired. Only one or two were in their 30s. Several of the council members were scions of the families who had helped found the church more than 120 years ago; their ancestors’ names could be found on the stained glass windows in the sanctuary or on other memorials around the church. In fact, there were so many granite benches, wall plaques and brass plates commemorating their forbears that some often made jokes about the interior of the church resembling a cemetery.

Ruth was the council president, the first woman in the church’s history to be elected to the position. That hadn’t set well with some church members, including some council members, who sometimes let her know their feelings in subtle ways, such as interrupting her when she spoke during meetings or ignoring her altogether. The problem was no man had stepped up to volunteer for the job and Pastor Wilson, the former pastor, had recruited her to lead the council as he was preparing to leave. Ruth was an accountant owned her own consulting business. She had the even-tempered demeanor that comes in handy when you have to manage a group with disparate opinions or, as was often the case, no opinions at all, on a number of important issues. In her four years as president, she had helped shepherd the church through some of the most tumultuous times in the church’s history. The associate pastor was fired for using church funds for personal expenses. The youth pastor and several youth ministry volunteers left the church over the way Pastor Wilson ran the church and for his refusal to call out some members publicly for perceived sins. And there was the process of replacing Pastor Wilson, and which brought Pastor Mike. Some church members left, frustrated with how long the process was taking. As a result, Sunday attendance had dropped in the last three years by half from about 300 to 150.

Nevertheless, the council had done a good job of managing church finances and a few years before had paid off a mortgage for a new addition. The annual budget was about $250,000, with $180,000 of that going to building maintenance and expenses and to pay the salaries and benefits of Pastor Mike, the youth pastor, a secretary and a couple part-time helpers. Despite the drop in attendance, the bank account and investments were still bulging with a balance of more than $300,000. And 11 percent of general giving every Sunday went to missions, although the pastor dipped into that fund every once in a while when someone in church was in financial need. The lack of debt was a point of pride among the elders and other leaders. Pastor Mike had commented once or twice how, whenever he attended conferences, other pastors with massive mortgages expressed envy.
The room was filled with their chatter as they discussed the weather, the local baseball team’s fortunes and misfortunes and inquired about each other’s health, jobs and family. At precisely 6:30 p.m., Ruth called everyone to order. The room went silent and Ruth solemnly asked the pastor to offer an opening prayer, as called for by the meeting agenda.

Usually Pastor Mike opened with a fairly standard prayer, beseeching the Lord to bless their time and guide their discussion, etc. But this night he felt a little uneasy. Things seemed to be rolling along smoothly enough at church. Attendance was steady and had even grown a bit since he came on almost two years ago; giving was down a little but that was usual for this time of year; a new push to get people into small groups had gone fairly well, with 54 people, almost all of them women, signing up. But some things rankled him a little. He couldn’t get the men’s Bible study group, which included two of the three elders and several other council members, to change what they were reading and join in with the other groups to study the material he wanted. Children’s Sunday school only drew about 12 kids anymore and the adult discussion groups on Sunday morning had shrunk from four to one. Plus, and most importantly, council members, most of whom considered council membership as their “ministry,” had universally rejected his proposal  that they each mentor one or two ministry leaders by getting together for prayer and Bible study once a month or so. It would take up too much time, they said, to meet individually with that many people. Anyway, wasn’t that the pastor’s job? And, anyway, if a ministry leader needed help they knew where to go.

Pastor Mike was tired. He lowered his head. He wanted, more than anything, to hear from Jesus:
“Dearest Lord Jesus,” he began. “Thank you for blessing us and watching over us here at First Community Church. Thank you for the lives you have changed and the people you have drawn to yourself. We have worked to obey all that you have commanded your church to do and we offer many programs designed to help people. But Lord I feel we need your help. Please guide us and help us to do your will so that your name, not our names or the name of First Community Church, would be glorified in our community and around the world. Please Lord, speak to us. We’re listening.”

Pastor Mike bent over and put his head in his hands and let out a sigh. Most of the council members started to straighten up, unfold their hands and open their eyes, expecting the “amen” to come. But it didn’t. Pastor Mike just sat there silently, his head in his hands. They followed suit and resumed a prayerful position.

Seconds and then minutes ticked by.

“Speak to us, Lord,” Pastor Mike repeated.

Ruth and few others began to nod and even rock back and forth slightly. “Speak to us, Lord,” Ruth said quietly.

Darrel, a council member who rarely said anything and whose wife had multiple health problems, whispered, “Yes.”

More time passed and then …

“Give it away,” a voice said. Not quite a whisper, but was so quiet, it could barely be heard. In fact, only a few heard it, but they weren’t sure what they heard.
Mike peeked through his hands. There was silence.

“Give it away,” the voice said again, a little more clearly this time.

Pastor Mike and several others looked up. Some were looking sideways at others wondering what was going on, not necessarily because they had heard the voice but because no one was talking and the prayer time hadn’t ended yet. But several, like Ruth and Dave were looking at Pastor Mike, their eyes wide, questioning, almost frightened. They had heard the voice too.

Pastor Mike raised his eyebrows and gulped.

“Lord, is that you?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

“Your money. This is Jesus. Give it all away, just as I did,” He said. “Give your possessions  to the poor, to my Kingdom. And follow me. Help others follow me. That is all that is necessary.”

“How, Lord? Pastor Mike asked. “What do you mean?”

He waited. There was no answer.

Pastor Mike waited some more, listening, looking at the ceiling. “How, Lord?” he asked again.

Then he turned to the council members, all of whom were staring fixedly at him. By now, everyone had heard the voice.

“What does it mean?” Ruth asked.

“I think it means give away our money,” Darrel said, repeating what the voice had said. “I think it’s pretty clear.”

“But if we do that, how do we pay the bills? How do we take care of the building and pay Pastor Mike’s salary?” Jack, one of the elders, said. Several other councilmembers nodded.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Darwin, another elder said.

“Maybe he means we get rid of the building. And maybe he means get rid of me, that is, as a salaried staff person,” Pastor Mike said in a dazed fashion, staring at the floor. He felt stunned. His mind was racing at the implications. “How much of what we do and spend really is focused on following Him and helping others to follow him?” he said, thinking out loud. He had read about pastors who had left large churches and given up comfortable salaries and homes to seek a simpler calling, even meeting in houses and coffee shops or workplace lunch rooms in groups as small as two or three, simply seeking to obey and walk with Jesus. He had read about the amazing things happening in China and other countries where believers were forsaking western-style church organization and hierarchies, focusing on making disciples and worshipping God as simply as possible.

After a moment, he said, “I think that’s exactly what he means. I realize we’re talking about a dramatic change, but I believe Jesus Christ just spoke to us and I think we need to obey him. I suggest we immediately look into divesting ourselves of all corporate assets, including this building, and contributing those funds to works that advance the Kingdom of God and that together we search Scripture to discover how we can grow together in walking with Christ and helping others do the same.”

“Amen,” Ruth said excitedly. She had read about the amazing things God was doing in Africa and the former Soviet Union and even here in the United States, how people were abandoning traditional forms of church not because they had lost their faith but because they were seeking a deeper, more genuine faith. She wanted that too.

A few other council members, some with their faces buried in their hands, nodded in agreement.

But not enough.

“I think the prudent thing to do,” elder Richard intoned, “would be to form a committee to investigate Pastor Mike’s proposal and that it return to the council with a report on their findings and that those findings, after discussion and approval by the council, be put to a vote of the full congregation at the next regularly scheduled annual congregational meeting next January, seven months from now. I propose that the exploratory committee consist of four persons — two elders, the chairman of the Finance Committee and the chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.”

“I second the motion,” Karl, the Finance Committee chairman, said quickly.

The motion passed 7 to 5. Pastor Mike did not have a vote.

Ruth shoulders slumped and she sat there silently until Jack said, “Let’s move on.”

Ruth started, her mind in a far off place.

“Yes. The first item on the agenda is a review of bids put forward to replace the gutters on the parsonage.”

Pastor Mike barely heard her as he silently prayed in his seat, alone in his thoughts.

___________

Dan Benson wrote this parable in June of 2011 and it was first posted on his blog.  Check out his blog at http://snortinghorses.blogspot.com

Starfish Files – House Church Magazine

Starfist FilesEditor Rad Zdero has invested a lot in a spunky magazine called The Starfish Files. It’s been published for several years with this philosophy behind it:

Starfish line the shores of the world’s beaches. Chop off an arm, and a new one grows to take its place. Tear a starfish in half, and you’ll soon have two starfish on your hands. A torn-off limb can even become a brand new starfish. And what’s more, they populate by releasing hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of eggs in just a few hours. Just like the house church movement through the ages. An estimated 300,000 new house hurches have started between 1998 and 2006. And this doesn’t include China’s 80 to 100 million house church believers or Latin America’s 1 million Basic Christian Communities in 2007. It’s also taking root in Canada. Enter the Starfish Files. The magazine’s goal is to inspire, inform, and interconnect the house churches across Canada and beyond.

You can check out the following issues on the CMA Resources website as a free download:

Winter 2011 Edition

Summer 2011 Edition

Fall 2011 Edition

We look forward to the Winter 2012 edition soon Rad!

UPDATE:  That Winter 2012 edition is OUT!

 

5 Lessons for Making Disciples from Dave DeVries

Our friend Dave DeVries wrote a handy book–  Six-Word Lessons to Discover Missional Living to encourage every believer to align with Jesus’ mission.
Here are five of the 100 lessons from the Six Word Lessons book which focus on Disciplemaking:

Lesson 5: Discipleship starts with non-disciples, not Christians.
     Too often people think “discipleship” is for new Christians. When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples,” He didn’t mean to find those who are already followers and help them follow better. He sends us to make disciples of non-disciples.

Lesson 8: Key to multiplying disciples: obedient Christians. 
     Jesus told His disciples to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who… (Matt 28:19-20). You’re a disciple of Jesus today because of Christians who obeyed Jesus. There’ll be more Christians and more churches when more Christians obey Jesus.

Lesson 9: Making disciples is not an option. 
     Obeying the Great Commission is not optional. Jesus expected His disciples to “make disciples.” And that’s what they did. So how is it that so many Christians treat Christ’s commands as optional? Why is disobedience tolerated in so many churches?

Lesson 11: Jesus’ method was to multiply disciplemakers. 
     Jesus was a disciplemaker. He launched a movement of disciplemakers. Are you part of the movement? Are you a disciplemaker? How are you multiplying disciplemakers?

Lesson 15: Reproduce disciples to the 4th generation. 
     Neil Cole notes, “Don’t call it multiplication until it reaches the fourth generation.” Anything prior to that is addition. Unless those whom you are discipling are actually discipling others who are making disciples, you are not multiplying.

____
Originally Posted on Dave’s Blog: Missional Challenge  http://www.missionalchallenge.com/2012/01/5-lessons-for-disciplemakers.html

Church Planting Lessons from Guy Muse

1. Work with what you have on hand.
In Jesus miracle of the five loaves and two fish, he asked the disciples what they had on hand. Of course five loaves and two fish were not nearly enough to feed 5000, but when turned over to Jesus, He blessed those few loaves and fish so that they fed thousands. The same hold true in church planting. Start with what you have and turn it over to the Lord and watch him multiply the “little” into “much.”

2. The importance of a few key details.
The difference between success and failure in church planting often hinges on attention to a few key details. For example, it is a lot easier to gather people first and evangelize/disciple them, than trying to win individuals and attempt to gather them. Another is baptizing new converts as soon as possible. Ongoing relationship and mutual nurturing of leaders within an accountability group of fellow believers is also an important detail.

3. Materials are not the key.
The most frequent question people inquire about is what materials we use. “Show us your materials.” This is the least relevant thing and yet is what everyone thinks is the key to a successful church plant. Just get the right materials and voila you get a church planted. Not so. What is important is the person’s perseverance through the ups and downs of planting a church. Knowing how to effectively use a few simple tools (materials) can go a long way, but nothing takes the place of an inner drive and love for the Kingdom.

just do it

4. “Just do it.”
Nike’s slogan means don’t wait to have all the answers before beginning. It is better to just get out there and start something, than to stand back waiting for conditions to be just right, or for more training. The best way to learn is to get out there and “just do it.” Yes, mistakes will be made, but seldom are these mistakes fatal to the overall work. The grass is NOT greener on the other side of the road. It is no harder to plant a church where God has placed you, than it is for someone else in another “easier” location.

5. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.
Once you settle that He is the one who does the calling, then it becomes important to accept those he sends, regardless of the initial unpromising impression these folks might make upon you. Over and over it has been the “least promising” individuals who have panned out, while the really sharp, cool, educated types fizzle along the way.

6. Dealing with the “authority” issue of who can plant a church.
Many are looking for authorization or blessing from their pastor, denomination, an ordination council, or respected leaders to give them the “green light.” If there is any doubt in the mind of the novice church planter that he/she has the authority to plant a church, they will not do so. If, however, they understand their authority comes directly from Jesus, they will be mightily used of the Lord. Every church planter needs to settle in their hearts and minds that Jesus is the source of their authority issues. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth [therefore] go…make disciples…baptizing…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” One of my roles as a missionary is empowering people to do those things that Christ has already empowered them to do!

7. Have a clear idea of what it is that needs to be done.
Many of our folks see themselves as simply “evangelists” and are out trying to win a few to Christ. Once they get it into their heads that they are apostolic church planters, fully invested with the authority to do ALL that such an undertaking entails–baptizing, serving Lord’s Supper, counseling, teaching, praying for the sick, planting a church, etc.–they are transformed into amazing vessels for the Master’s use.

8. Simplicity.

This one cannot be emphasized enough. Neil Cole simply says, “Simple is transferable, complex breaks down.” He goes on to say, “Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the transference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian populace.” Almost every mistake we have made in the church planting process can be boiled down to our making things more complicated than people can actually handle. I have the tendency to think “more” is better, but “less” is always more in the long run. This certainly applies to church. The more simple church is made to be, the more likely it will take root and grow. The more complex we make it, the more likely it will fail.


© 2011 J. Guy Muse who is a missionary catalyzing organic church planting movements in Ecuador.

Posted on CMAResources.org   Originally posted at http://guymuse.blogspot.com/ HERE

The State of Christianity Video

Insightful video presentation from the Urbana Conference on the State of Christianity. In 1970 Europe was the top Christian continent (by population). In 2025 Africa will be on the top of this list and Europe will go to the 3rd place. Watch this video to be inspired to reach Europe!

A Simple Story of Darkness to Light

Darkness To Light

A simple story of darkness to light – from @FelicityDale

 

Yesterday evening church met at our home….

Read it on the Simply Church Blog http://t.co/IJsGVsHv

Newforms National Gathering by Mission Britain

Newforms Resources

Newforms National Gathering with Neil Cole

Neil Cole will be with us at the Newforms National Gathering from 13-15 April. Neil will be sharing about organic church, mission principles and sharing from his experience in seeing the multiplication of disciples and churches.

Neil works with Church Multiplication Associates  and is the author of “Organic Church”,“Church 3.0″ and “Journeys to Significance”

There are a limited number of places available at this conference so book early to avoid disappointment

When

  • Friday 13th April (6:30pm-9:30pm)
  • Saturday 14th April (10am-5pm)
  • Sunday 15th April (10am-4pm)

Where

St Saviour’s Community Hall, St Saviour’s Gardens, Meadows, Nottingham, NG2 2JU

Cost

£90 (Early Bird Rate – Book before Friday 2nd March)
£110 (Weekend Rate – All 3 sessions)
Cost includes refreshments and lunch on Saturday and Sunday
Concessions available for unemployed or those in financial hardship

Booking

  • Please download the “Newforms National Gathering Booking Form” (click here to download)
  • Print off and complete the booking form OR complete it online
  • Indicate on the Booking Form which method of payment you are selecting
  • Return completed booking form and cheque (or just form if making a direct payment into Newforms Account) to the address on the booking form
  • Places can only be secured upon receipt of a completed booking form and payment in full
  • Please make cheques payable to ‘Newforms Enterprise Ltd’

Details

  • Train/Bus – Nottingham Train/Bus station are within walking distance of the venue
  • Plane – East Midlands Airport is 30-40 mins from the venue. Buses run regularly to the city centre
  • Car – There is free parking available around the venue
  • Information about reasonably priced accomodation in the area can be provided upon request
The Newforms National Gathering is faciliated by Newforms Resources.  Newforms Resources is part of  Mission Britain

Click here to download booking form

New Tools & Trainings E-newsletter

 

CMA LogoTools & Trainings E-Newsletter
Issue 66                                            January 19, 2012   
Prisoners Coming to Christ

Becoming Missional: We Reap What We Sow by Felicity Dale

Becoming missional: We reap what we sow

I’m reminded of a story about D.L. Moody. Someone once criticized him for the way he brought everyone to the front to respond to the Gospel.

“Well, how do you do it?” Moody asked.

The man had no answer because he wasn’t leading anyone to the Lord.

Moody’s response: “I prefer the way I do it badly to the way you don’t do it at all.”

There’s much I don’t like about the way the Gospel is preached in this country–for example, televangelism. But can I criticize if I am doing nothing myself?

John wesley small
Photo credit: Pete Reed (Creative Commons)

Another story, this time about John Wesley.

John Wesley was an itinerant evangelist traveling widely in order to preach the Gospel. One day, someone challenged him that he should only speak to people about the Lord when he sensed God prompting him. He tried it for one week. During that time he spoke to virtually no one because he never sensed the Lords’ prompting. At the end of the week he concluded this didn’t work and went back to speaking to everyone he met.

I speak to myself: we have lost the art of abundant Gospel sowing. 

The principle of sowing and reaping applies. The harvest we reap is directly proportional to the amount of seed we sow. (Obviously other factors such as quality of soil, water etc. need to be taken into account). In general, we reap little because we sow little. Are we trying to harvest in fields where little or no seed has been sown?

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptists have produced a wonderful video called Like a Mighty WaveIt can be downloaded from their video resource section  It examines the ten common practices of movements where many people are finding Christ and many new churches are starting. One of these practices is abundant Gospel sowing.

What does it look like for us to sow abundantly in a way that fits our simple/organic principles? If we cannot do it here in our own culture, how do we expect to do it on the mission field?

-By Felicity Dale

Reposted from her blog: Simply Church here

Dumb Mistakes I’ve Made Growing Movements by Erik Fish

For those of us in the Christian world, we often reflect in awe at movements of the gospel in history. Most Jesus followers want to be part of a movement. Many people call themselves one. Few people, I think, understand what they are. Before I tell some of my dumbest mistakes trying to grow a movement, here’s my attempt at a definition for what one actually is for Jesus followers:

MOVEMENT: “The rapidly multiplying, expanding influence of the gospel among a given population, with ensuing transformation in all spheres of life.”

After four years growing a movement on college campuses (or at least trying to), I thought it would be a good time to sit down and evaluate my mistakes. For some bizarre sociological reason, people respond better when I tell them the stupid things I’ve done, rather than just the sweet stories.*

Go figure.

Maybe being honest about our quirks and missteps helps pave the way for others. Before I tell some of my own painful blunders from the last few years, I’ll give myself some anaesthetic by relating a quick story of one failed expedition that led to others’ success.

About 450 years ago, a group of devoted, prayerful Jesuits set out to expand the gospel where it had never been planted before. The Jesuits were founded by ten friends, among them a quirky, often criticized guy named Ignatius of Loyola who once pilgrimaged barefoot all the way to Jerusalem (only to be promptly kicked out of the city and sent home). God often uses strange people to start movements. Ignatiius

The Jesuits were the most prolific force for expanding the gospel in unknown regions prior to (and in many cases, after) the era of modern Protestant missions. Along the way, several of them looked for a faster land route to get from India to China. One of them, Benedetto de Goes, traveled for four years by foot through icy, snow-packed mountains and murderously treacherous deserts searching for a new way to China before finally dying, a thousand miles short of his destination.  Before he died, he left some notes with a traveling merchant that (miraculously) made it back to his Jesuit friends in Europe. The contents of his note basically said:

“Don’t come this way.”

Sometimes our mistakes can help others get where they need to go. (Not to mention, ourselves.)

So, with a shout out to Benedetto, here’s a note from me about a few of my dumb mistakes in growing movements: “Don’t come this way!”

1. Build a Network and Call it a Movement…

… read the rest of Dumb Mistakes I’ve Made Growing Movements  by Erik Fish

My Head in Her Hands, Her Heart in God’s Hands

A story from the field about Gospel sowing to encourage you from Jay Bell…

Jay & Jan Bell
Jay & Jan Bell

Meet Emily.  Yesterday Emily, a young wife and mother of two toddlers, cut my hair.  She is a God-seeker and I have been planting myself into the soil of her heart over the years through friendly “God-talk.”

Hey Emily, have you been keeping up with the “Tebow talk?”  She said, “Yeah, kinda, but what’s it all about?”
Well, Emily (as she is clipping), it’s about a Bible verse, the number 3-16 and his journey as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos (as I am praying).  I then explained how he wore John 3:16 as eye reflectors during his years as QB at the U. of Florida.  She asked, “What does John 3:16 say?”

Slowly, with a smile, I quoted the verse with passion.

But, Emily (clip, clip), check this out.  During Monday nights play-off game against the favored Pittsburgh Steelers he threw for 316 yards.  She exclaimed, “No way!”  And, Emily (pray, pray), each pass averaged 31.6 yards.  “Get outta here!”  And the Broncos’ time of possession of the ball was 31:06 minutes!  “Jay, are you making this up?”  And, Emily, the TV rating of the number of people watching the fourth quarter was 31.6.  “Jay, that’s so weird!”  And the only interception of the game was thrown by the Steelers QB when the play was 3rd down and 16 yards to go.  “Jay, what does all this mean?”

Emily, may I answer your question with a question?  And my question is just one word:  Coincidence?

Emily, do you have a Bible at home?  “Um, let’s see, yes.”  Let me send you these 3-16 numbers in an e-mail and then lay the verse and the numbers on your husband.

My head is no longer in her hands, but her heart is still in God’s hands!

 ___

Jay & Jan work with Encompass World Partners mobilizing people in the USA to love and reach out to Internationals.

If you would like to be on the email list for Jay & Jan, drop them an email at jaybell@encompassworldpartners.org

How do we screen people doctrinally? by Neil Cole

Excerpt from a longer article “The Threat of Heresy in the Organic Church

How do we screen people doctrinally?

This raises a question of whether or not we should screen people over doctrines. In our movement it is what we consider the DNA of Christ’s body that is the code that dictates life, health and fertility. The DNA is Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships and Apostolic Mission. We want to see the DNA evident in every cell of the Body. It is what holds together our movement. That said, Divine Truth is crucial for health and unity in the church and in our own unique movement. So holding firmly to God’s Word is of the utmost importance. Currently (in 2003) our movement consists of church planting that is associated with over 15 denominations (from Reformed to Vineyard) and five parachurch ministries. Now the question is which beliefs are important and which are not as crucial. Is there a point when we exclude fellowship with certain people over doctrine?

One of the ways that we keep unity among our diverse movements is to run people through what we call the “bullet test.” We ask, “If someone held a gun to your head and said, ‘Renounce this doctrine or I will shoot’, if you say, ‘pull the trigger’ then it is a bullet doctrine. We must agree on bullet doctrines. We can hold to doctrines that are not bullet doctrines, and even teach them with conviction, but we don’t exclude or attack brothers and sisters over non-bullet doctrines. They are secondary doctrines that are enlightening but not worth dying over and certainly not worth killing over.

For us, the bullet doctrines have consistently been the following:

We believe in

  • One true God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The deity and incarnate humanity of Jesus and his redemptive work evident in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and imminent return.
  • Salvation is by grace through faith and not ever the results of our own works.
  • The inspiration and power of God’s written Word in all of its revelation, without error in its original manuscripts.
  • All believers are redeemed to be significant in the cause of God’s kingdom and granted the empowerment necessary to do so.
TruthQuest
Our Doctrinal Learning System for Leaders in the Organic Church Movement

Of course, this is not meant to be a fixed and static screening process. It is only a beginning to a relationship that will grow over time built on much more than cognitive assent to a set of stated beliefs.

We understand that this is also not a fool-proof method of screening out heresy. There were over nine hundred people in 1978 in Guyana who took a “Kool-Aid test” over the wrong doctrines and gave their lives for false teaching. History is littered with people who have given their lives for a lie, so this is not considered a mistake-proof method by any means. This is just a starting point for those who have the Spirit of God and listen to His voice and join together over uncompromising truth.

     >>Read the rest of the article The Threat of Heresy in the Organic Church by Neil Cole

Are you a Church Person or a Kingdom Person? by Brad Brisco

It is so easy for people in the church—especially those “doing church work,” including both staff and volunteers—to become “church-centric” rather than “Jesus-centric” or “Kingdom-centric.” We can become so fixated on the programs of the church that we lose sight of the real reason, or purpose, behind our activities. In a book called Liberating the Church, author Howard Snyder sums up this tendency in this way:

The church gets in trouble whenever it thinks it is in the church business rather than the Kingdom business. In the church business, people are concerned with church activities, religious behavior and spiritual things. In the Kingdom business, people are concerned with Kingdom activities, all human behavior and everything God has made, visible and invisible. Kingdom people see human affairs as saturated with spiritual meaning and Kingdom significance. Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; Kingdom people work to see the church change the world. . . . If the church has one great need, it is this: To be set free for the Kingdom of God, to be liberated from itself as it has become in order to be itself as God intends. The church must be freed to participate fully in the economy of God.

Are you a church person or a Kingdom person? Does your church need to be “liberated” to participate more fully in God’s economy or mission?

— Brad Brisco

Originally posted on his blog 

Micro Discipleship article in a Denominational Magazine by CMA church planter

Posted in ONE MAGAZINE

Big impact, small group…

Micro Discipleship

By Scott Cheatham

How successful is the discipleship program of your church? While many churches offer a Sunday School or small group format, attendance in these classes has been declining for some time. Even small groups are suffering, and a large percentage of those who attend church do not participate in these groups. The reality is that our culture is overscheduled. If you live in an urban area as I do, the opportunities for activities are numerous, and families are stretched thin.

In 2011, in response to this problem, we changed our discipleship focus. While I didn’t want to do away with the Sunday School program, I also saw the need for implementing new ideas in order to bring about valuable changes in the lives of my congregation. Our desire at Rangeview Free Will Baptist Church was to increase commitment while deepening real spiritual growth.

So, we instituted IOU. The initials are known well enough, but for our families, they stand for the three relationships to which God has called us. Those relationships are Inward, Outward, and Upward. Inward in that we need to always cultivate our spiritual growth, outward in that we should always be trying to serve others just as Jesus did, and upward as we worship and praise God each day for all He has done and continues to do for us.

To better cultivate these relationships, we started micro groups of three or fewer people of the same gender who gather weekly to read Scripture, confess sin, and pray. The goal is to encourage members to read 20-30 chapters of Scripture each week, discuss things with which they struggle, and talk about what they have learned from their weekly bible reading, and then close by praying for others outside the church.

Each person identifies at least two people outside the church for whom to pray—six people per group. The goal is to get those people involved in a micro group and ultimately in the church. When a group adds another person (four people), we ask them to split into two groups of two, and each group add another person.

The primary benefit to micro-groups is that it is much easier to increase participation because there are only three schedules to coordinate. In a small group, someone is almost always missing each week due to a conflict. We have encouraged the teens to create similar groups with a little help. A micro group is a natural setting for the average teen, and many teens will not share a lot in a larger group. Because serious discipleship takes place at the micro groups, large group gatherings can focus more on cultural subjects and a bit of fun.

I would like to share more about micro groups beyond this quick overview. Please feel free to contact me at 720-296-1719 if you would like to talk more about this exciting new way to disciple new believers.

About the Writer: Home missionary Scott Cheatham and his family are planting a new in northern Denver, Colorado. Find the church on Facebook.

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http://www.cmaresources.org/audio/next-church-planter-was-a-crack-dealer

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