Frank Obien, in his book Building Bridges of Love: A Handbook for Sharing God’s Love with International Students, wrote that in the 1960s he noticed that while missionaries were traveling the world, international students were coming to the United States—only to return without anyone sharing the gospel with them. Don Bjork, in a 1985 Christianity Today article, attempted to raise awareness of the migration of the nations to the United States. Commenting on the realities in the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote:
Millions of strange new faces began appearing on the streets of American cities, collectively changing the face of the nation itself. But who in the church really noticed? Unseen or unheeded, the fields at home were long since ‘white unto harvest.’ Yet right down to the end of the 1970s, few missions leaders really knew what was going on. The ‘invisible migrants’ took no pains to hide, yet it seemed few missions took pains to seek.
Progress has been made since Bjork‘s article, but unfortunately it is too little and too slow. While such discussions have taken place in the past, most evangelicals have been slow to respond. The good news is that more and more people, churches, networks, denominations, societies, and mission agencies are talking about this topic once again and starting to act on the need.
…read the rest of this article in Mission Frontiers – Peoples on the Move: A God-Ordained Opportunity for Reaching the Unreached.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a variety of discussions about house/organic/simple church. I’ve referenced and even shared with others my original article on “Why House Churches?” I thought I’d repost it here…
why house churches?
Jesus modeled for His followers a God-honoring life 24/7. To often we compartmentalize our lives into boxes—a “work” box, a “family” box, an “emotional” box, an “intellectual” box, a “spiritual” box, etc. Jesus loved and lived as a whole person and encouraged His followers to do the same. . .
Jesus said, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
The early followers of Jesus lived out their lives loving God and loving people. They did it in the “everydayness” of their lives. They saw it in Jesus and began living it too. They didn’t stop living to follow Jesus. They brought Jesus into their living. So at a pragmatic level, they used the things that were already present in their life to follow Him.
The followers of Jesus were spiritual families—also called “churches.” These churches were the collection of followers of Jesus who lived in community with each other. They didn’t go out and find a building to become a church. The group was already “living as the church” together. They used the everyday stuff of life—their houses—to provide a place to gather the people.
We desire the same—to live in community with each other and to bring Jesus into our living. We long to love God and love people in the “everydayness” of our lives. We gather into our spiritual families in our houses—because it is something God gave us and we ought to use for His purposes. We are not about “houses.” We are about being the Church together.
Maybe you want to go a little deeper than this. The next section examines what the Bible records about the early followers of Jesus and what they called –“the church that meets in your house.” We are shortening that phrase and calling them “house churches.”
the Bible & house churches
This biblical tour will give an introductory sentence or two, then a statement directly from the Bible (in the NIV– New International Version). These statements speak volumes about how the initial followers of Jesus lived in the first century. The challenge is on the table as to how we will live nearly 20 centuries later.
Let’s look. . .
The early followers of Jesus gathered in a house together right after Jesus went up to be with his Father. They were living out “church life” even before having the Holy Spirit
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:13-14
They received the Holy Spirit in a house
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4
Eating together—it doesn’t get much more ordinary than eating—but eating together in homes was an important part of their lives together.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Acts 2:46
The good news of Jesus was talked about in their homes . . .daily.
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 5:42
Saul (who later becomes Paul and writes half of the New Testament) sought to wreck the church. He went to homes—to those following Jesus in the “everydayness.” He didn’t burn books or a building. Instead, he dragged off people . . . because people are what the church is about.
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:3
Peter’s miraculous release from prison was being prayed for by a gathering of his spiritual family in a house. Read the whole story in Acts 12 . . .it is amazing.
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Acts 12:12
After Lydia embraced Jesus, Paul and company stayed at her house. Then days later, after Paul and Silas were released from jail, they went to her house for a “spiritual family” meeting.
“If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. Acts 16:14
After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left. Acts 16:40
Paul focused on telling the truth about Jesus in the synagogue, but when he was opposed and abused, he went to an everyday place—the house next door.
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Acts 18:7
Again, Paul focused on telling the truth about Jesus and His teachings. Paul told it everywhere: public spaces and private ones.
You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. Acts 20:20
In the personal greeting section of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he sends a special greeting . . . to a house church.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Romans 16:3-5
Now that house church of Aquila and Pricilla’s sends a special greeting . . . to the church in Corinth.
The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 1 Corinthians 16:19
Another special greeting to a house church—
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. Colossians 4:15
This letter to Philemon was also addressed to the house church . . . because it asks Philemon to do some difficult things and Paul wants them all to know. Read the whole letter to figure it out.
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home: Philemon 1:1-2
That’s the end of this Biblical tour. The conclusions are pretty obvious. Hopefully this was helpful for your understanding . . . now you have to do something about it. What will you do?
© 2002 Mike Jentes and thequest
Originally posted at http://thequestcolumbus.com/origins.html
The content of this article may be linked to, copied, and distributed for the purpose of discipling the nations if credit is given to the author & the website address is cited. Written publication of any/all the content of this article requires the written permission from the author.
Gratitude and happiness are inextricably linked. A “Counting Blessings versus Burdens” research study was done on 3 groups who would keep a daily journal. The first group had no instruction on what to write, the second recorded what went wrong in their day, and the third group was instructed to write down things they were grateful for this day.
The conclusion of this study pointed to the results that the third group, who would daily write down items of gratitude, had an increased happiness level of 25%! Their baseline of happiness went up…by being grateful!
These people were rehearsing the things they were thankful for and it made a significant difference in their lives. We have a hymn which points to this kind of practice: “Count your blessings name them one by one..”
In the Psalms, we see the writer articulating his testimony and it begin with thankfulness!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 118:1)
The song writer then has a couple of phrases which are a call to worship of the assembly in verses 2-4. Which is followed by his personal testimony in the next ten verses.
(Read the entire Psalm 118)
What’s your personal testimony of thankfulness? Look for opportunities to express your gratitude! Won’t you think about ways that you can practice or rehearse gratitude each day?
If you want to hear Pastor Phil Helfer talk through this message @LosAltosGrace from Sunday 11/18/2012 and much more, tune in online here.
Washington, D.C. October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
The founder and most influential leader of the church growth movement in the twentieth century was the late Dr. Donald McGavran. Jim Montgomery recalled the following incident as McGavaran was in the last stages of his time on earth:
“During the last months of Mary McGavran’s illness, my wife Lyn would frequently spend time with her. Donald McGavran would be there, too. He would disregard his own painful cancer while taking care of his beloved Mary.
“You can be sure Jim and I will continue our commitment to church growth after you are gone.” Lyn said to Donald one day.
‘Do not call it church growth anymore,’ was his quick response. ‘Call it church multiplication!’
Two weeks before his death, he said, ‘The only way we will get the job of the Great Commission done is to plant a church in every community in the world.’
Quoted in The Church in the House by Bob Fitts, page 55.
Today I went to a Celebration of the Life of Lyn Montgomery…who entered eternity earlier this week to join her Lord and her love Jim. I have known Lyn only in these last 4 years, but I know I missed her most fun and fruitful days. The years wore on her beautiful body and soul, yet I long to know the woman that I heard the stories of today…at least to taste her carrot cake!
I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Montgomery’s son Len (who is an amazing man in his own right) and Len’s wife Mishal (amazing too!). My two boys are the same ages as their three boys (they have twin 6th graders). In fact, all those boys are right now at our house enjoying video games together!
I never had the privilege to know Jim either, as he passed in 2006. Never-the-less, I’ve been deeply impacted by his work, vision and writings. He brought us in the church/missions world the idea, strategy and success of saturation church planting. On his shoulders, the ministry of DAWN (or Discipling A Whole Nation) was birthed. The most popular work of his, was DAWN 2000: 7 Million Churches to Go. In modest numbers, the implication of Jim’s ideas have catalyzed more than 3 million churches around the world. What a wake!
In a time of hype about movements and changing your world, Jim and Lyn are the true thing. I truly believe that even though less than 100 people gathered to celebrate the life of Lyn Montgomery in Anaheim today, there are thousands of saints in glory who welcome Lyn home because of her influence for Jesus around our globe. Certainly her Lord Jesus said, “Well done good and faithful servant!”
Links for you:
In the USA, we love the Declaration of Independence. In fact, rugged independence defines us at a deep level. In the spiritual world, it is the exact opposite…we are totally dependent! We enter into a relationship with God totally reliant, trusting on Him & Him alone! In truth, we are reliant upon God for everything!
On Sunday, we ventured into a story about Jesus which nails this concept:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Here are kids…who know more about the kingdom of God because they are dependent! When it comes to our relationship with God we need to always remember that we are kids!
To put even a finer point on this, the very next story in the Gospel of Mark is about the Rich Young Ruler. Jesus doesn’t give the same answer to this man (i.e., “become like a child”). This Rich Young man claimed that he had kept everything in the law since being a child. And Jesus asked Him for something more than keeping the law, “You lack one thing, sell everything you have and give the money to the poor!”
This Rich Young Ruler was self-reliant. The issue wasn’t his stuff, but it was rather Who he trusted in. He trusted more in his own riches, his own youth, and himself than Jesus.
We must trust Jesus! Become little children and depend our our Great and Mighty God!!!
These thoughts were spawned from the message by Phil Helfer on 11/11/2012 @LosAltosGrace. Published in the MidWeek E-newsletter If you want to hear Pastor Phil Helfer talk through this message and much more, tune in online here.
Just found out that this book by an amazing man-Jerry Bridges–is free on Kindle from Amazon is FREE…for now!
Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
From a bestselling author comes this truly revelatory and Biblically-grounded resource that seeks to explain some of the most difficult questions we often face when confronted with tragedy, loss, and adversity
Deal ends: Unknown
One of the key elements for community transformation that has been missing in the Central African Republic is maintenance of the water wells. ICDI has been doing continual maintenance on many of their wells. They have several teams who are constantly on the road caring for this important work.
After ICDI drills or rehabilitates a well, ICDI works with the community to plan and manage each water project. Instead of short-term handouts, ICDI is creating a long-term maintenance program based on trust and a contract with the village.
You can find out more about this great program at http://icdinternational.org/maintenance/
If you want to go ahead and help, you can sponsor your own well for only $40 a month! Check this out: http://icdinternational.org/pump-sponsor
One of the people in my circles who is making the most difference in our world is Jim Hocking. This humble man just wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people he grew up with in the Central African Republic. I’m so glad that we can have him with us @LosAltosGrace tomorrow! If you want to find out more about Jim’s Story…and ICDI’s Story too, check out this video!
You should read the story of Marcellin in the November E-Newsletter from ICDI!
Insightful and experienced strategist Curtis Sergeant shares about leadership…
Therefore, since ministry is not only for the “mature” but for all of us who follow Christ, all of us are “leaders” in some sense of the word. In the church we tend to think of leaders as those who serve in a role of one or more of the five-fold gifts in Ephesians 4:11-12, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; or else in terms of the officers of the church, bishops/pastors, elders, or deacons. We tend to have an attitude that leaders in the church must be mature believers. This view is fine as long as we remember that is one type of leadership. In another sense, God has given each individual a sphere of influence. A poor, illiterate housewife in the developing world can be a “leader” for her children and neighbors. This type of “leadership” needs greater emphasis in the Kingdom of God today.
I like to think of this type of leadership in terms of the metaphor of a mother duck leading her ducklings. As they walk or swim single file, only the first duckling is following the mother duck. Each of the other ducklings is following the one preceding them in line. In order to lead a duckling like this, one does not have to be a mature duck, just one step ahead of another duckling. In this metaphor, it is important to realize there is only one Leader of leaders – Jesus. All the rest of us are simply ducklings. None of us is totally mature (to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ). We are all “in process”. This does not excuse us from the responsibility to lead those whom we can, however. We still have the responsibility to steward whatever leadership opportunities God has given us.
This excerpt is used by permission from a fuller article: Planting Rapidly Reproducing Churches by Curtis Sergeant
One of the sayings/metaphors that has stuck with me in all my years walking in the organic church movement is “Aslan is on the move.” (I heard it first from the lips of “the one and only” Richard Rossi.)
This obviously refers to our mighty Lord from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series…and to how Jesus is still on the move in the places we are! Many of us are planted in Long Beach and LA County and seeking to hear, see and testify to how the Lord is on the move in our city and beyond.
I sense a call to invite the organic churches in our city and county together for a time of prayer and sharing. Please invite those in your churches and others who would be interested in having this time together. The agenda is our Lord’s! It has been pressed upon my heart to put out the invitation and get faithful people into the same room to see what the Lord is doing, and what He wants. We have gathered monthly since September and the Lord seems to be bearing fruit from our prayers, relationships and time together.
On Sunday, Kayla, Korey and I will begin fundraising in earnest so we can go to Momentum Youth Conference.
We are doing a special treat for all the Veterans at our church and giving them a free Krispy Kreme donut… and we will have some for sale as a FUNd RAISER
or $10 per dozen!
Want a FREE DOZEN DONUTS?
FUNd Raising cards give you at least 10 FREE DOZENS for only $12
Buy one dozen get one free at any Krispy Kreme store
(up to 3 dozen free per purchase).
Hit me up if you want donuts or if you want to make a donation for some of our Los Altos Grace Youth to go to Momentum Youth Conference next summer.