My 5 Star Review of Primal Fire

PrimalFireI’ve had the privilege of walking with Neil Cole and his cohorts (Phil Helfer, Ed Waken, Dezi Baker, and Paul Kaak) in varying degrees over the last 15 years. I’ve been an “insider” to the learning that has fleshed itself out into the work Primal Fire. Keen attention to the APEST (apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding, teaching) gifts has been part of my experience with the CMA movement throughout. (http://CMAResources.org). This is the best articulation of a true APEST team that I’ve experienced on the planet.

Many in mission circles are talking about the need for this APEST community of leaders, but hardly anyone really has that kind of community. What Cole and friends express in Primal Fire is the real deal. It is not merely theory, but theology, theory, principles, practice, victories and pains through real life and ministry. It is a treasure to have this snapshot as captured in Primal Fire.

A word of warning: Don’t merely flip to the chapter on your favorite or perceived gift (chapters 9-13) and read about what an apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd or teacher does. I was tempted to do that, but if you do (or maybe when) make sure to take the time to engage with the first 8 chapters of the book! If you don’t, you will be missing some VERY important foundations from the whole of the New Testament. Most importantly, you’ll skip a tremendous exegesis and exposure of Ephesians chapter 4 (which Cole appropriately dubs the “Magna Carta” of the church [primarily chapters 5-8]).

In those foundational first eight chapters, you’ll be challenged in your theology and your practice. For instance, Cole draws out that church leadership isn’t merely to servant-hood, but to truly be servants. And beyond that leadership in Jesus’ church and hierarchy have no place together! Into church practices, elders and deacons are addressed thoroughly. In fact, a revolutionary biblical proposal on deacons will have you chewing through the Scriptures again.

In the portions of the book that expose and articulate the five APEST gifts that Jesus gave (chapters 9-13), I believe that the authors’ hope is that these pages in Primal Fire will affirm what Jesus has given and will draw together fully functional APEST teams. In fact, as I finished this book (the first time), I left it with a missionary team in Chad (Africa) with the hopes that they would be able to capitalize on these insights to fuel a burgeoning church-planting movement there.

Since this is Jesus’ idea and His gifts for the maturing of the Body, I whole-heartedly encourage you to chew on the content of Primal Fire for the greater multiplication of disciples, leaders, churches and movements all over our globe.

 

Recommended Resources from Missionaries in Chad

This is a list of the “recommended” books and resources that were shared with us during our time in Chad. The hyperlinks to purchase books go to the Encompass World Partners Amazon Storefront, which gives a small percentage of your sale to Encompass (More Info).  Enjoy!!!

 

Online Bibles (especially for Arabic )

 

Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa – by Steve Kemper

 

Church Planting Movements by David Garrison

Timothy Initiatives 

 

From Seed To Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices, and Emerging Issues among Muslims by J. Dudley Woodberry (Editor)

 

Where There Was No Church: Postcards from the Followers of Jesus in the Muslim World by Ej Martin

 

Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale

 

David Watson a key leader in finding effective ways for church planting movements  (even in Muslim environments)

 

Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church with the Five Gifts of Jesus by Neil Cole

 

Western Christians in Global Mission: What is the Role of the North American Church? by Paul Borthwick

  • “Borthwick has long been a spokesman for being globally mission-minded. This book of helpful and oft times stinging anecdotes communicates succinctly that the North American Church still has a role in global mission going forward. This book contains an important general & global perspective which provides an important contribution to mission literature. This is the type of book that is accessible for anyone who can read in English.” (via @MikeJentes review on Amazon.com)  http://bit.ly/KbrCP9

Gathered and Scattered…can you have it both ways?!?!

I like to describe our church @LosAltosGrace as having a “conventional church skin” and an “organic church soul.” Yes we have a Sunday Morning Worship Service, Sunday School, Youth Groups, and even a Christian School. To the casual observer, we have a very conventional church. But the Biblical principles which are foundational for how our church truly functions are much more organic than conventional. This kind of “animal” can be difficult for some to understand.

One of the things that we have been moving into for the past ten years is seeing the “groupings” of our church family as “mini-churches” or actual “organic expressions of the church.” Those groupings are adult Sunday School classes, young adult ministry, and even our choir! A couple of my friends, Phil Helfer (one of our pastors) along with organic church leader Neil Cole co-authored an excellent book called Church Transfusion which deals with this very topic.

Well, last weekend our church had a family meeting…just like all families do. We talked about what has gone on in the life and ministry of our church in the recent past. We also talked about money and about how God has provided and what it seems He is leading us to do. One of the things that members of our family have started doing is saving towards buying new carpet for the auditorium. We actually took this as an indication that we could invite others to save for that too, and when it’s fully funded, we can do the work. (There are a few other things that we itemized to help upgrade our facility, primarily in the auditorium)

In honest questioning, a very faithful and active member of our spiritual family asked, “If the new normal for our church is “organic” and with churches in homes, why are we renovating the auditorium? You can’t have it both ways!”

Wow, what a great question! A very important question! A question I wrestled with and prayed about for much of the week. I finally was able to string together my thoughts and sent the following response:

I’ve thought and prayed about how to respond to your email. I didn’t want to do so with haste, and I hope that my delay hasn’t offended you.

LookingBothWaysIn short, I do think you can have it both ways. Our facility is merely a facility, but it gets A LOT of use. It houses a preschool and an elementary school whose ministry is important and needs these upgrades as well. Our auditorium is used by our church family at least 52 times each year on Sunday mornings. That is a value for us as a family. It’s a touchpoint for our family — a time touch base each week and do some important things together: worship together with other saints, expose ourselves to the Scripture, connect with others in our family relationally and provide an entry point for others who are looking to find God or a spiritual family. Some people can make it each week, some can’t. It is a gathering time that is an important value. It isn’t the sum total of who we are as a spiritual family though. Our Los Altos Grace family is scattered throughout Southern California. Each of them would know that right now the time when they can connect with the largest percentage of our family would be a Sunday morning.

Families have this same phenomenon. Mealtime for example. Supper maybe served at 5:30 or 6pm each night. Everyone in our family knows that, but sometimes Mindi can’t make it because she has class, or one of the kids have a ball game. We have a rhythm and a habit as a family. We set the table, pray, eat, talk about our days, laugh and we clean up after. When someone isn’t at the table we miss them. We don’t doubt their part in our family nor do we think they are being rebellious. We trust that as they can, they will be at the table with us. We like the gathering of our family. It’s a habit, a rhythm, but it doesn’t define our family. Our kids are part of our family when gathered, or when scattered!

I’d suggest that the church is the same…scattered and gathered. Not one or the other. There are thousands and thousands, make that millions of people in Southern California who will never come to our Sunday gathering. Our charge is to go and make disciples…so we are seeking to do that. To “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” and not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together (Hebrews 10). We want to be all things to all men so that by all possible means God might save some. We don’t do this perfectly, or maybe even that well. But it is our calling as disciples, and as a church. Some of our gatherings will be in homes, or parks or schools. We will probably always have a Sunday morning gathering at our humble facility at 6565 Stearns Street.

Also we hope that our spiritual family will become scattered and decentralized, much in the same way as our kids grow up and move away. They start families of their own. This is true of you as your children are scattered from your dinner table now. It is a maturity thing, and we want to see God continue to scatter our spiritual family as well.

I value your investment and leadership in our church family. I’ve learned much from you as you faithfully love our Lord and do His work… Thanks for your desire to call our spiritual family to a heart-felt and obedient worship of our amazing Jesus. I hope that is helpful for you and I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about this more if you want to.

___

What do you think?

Skunk Works are Needed

Skunk Works

In 1943, at the height of World War II, the engineers coming from the same schools being taught by the same professors were not producing the technological breakthroughs that were needed. To get faster and better results, Lockheed decided to try something different. The company selected its most creative engineers and put them all in a tent set up at the end of a runway next to a plastics factory in Burbank, California. The engineers were told to think together outside the box on a specific project.

The members of this group began to push boundaries and try new things. Without all the red tape of the standard business bureaucracy, they were able to get things done much faster, usually ahead of schedule, and often with nothing more than a verbal agreement and a handshake.

Skunk WorksThey became known as “skunk works” because of the smell of the plastic factory wafting into the tent. The name came from the Li’l Abner comic strip, and it stuck. Today skunk works has become a technical term in research and development and in the diffusion of innovation. It is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, often tasked with working on advanced or secret projects…. Read the rest here

Excerpted from “Church Transfusion: Changing Your Church Organically From the Inside Out” by Neil Cole and Phil Helfer (Jossey-Bass, © 2012)

Some thoughts on Organic Church

Organic Church

Organic Church“We believe that church should happen wherever life happens. You shouldn’t have to leave life to go to church.”

I remember when I was younger (and more idealistic for some silly reason), I wanted every time I got together with friends for us to have a prayer time, or a singing time – worship, basically a time where we touched the heart of the Father. Well, needless to say, it didn’t happen very often. Most people, even my strong Christian friends, weren’t interested in “getting spiritual” in normal every day contexts. But this is what Neil is saying, that church should happen where ever we are.

“Most Christians today are trying to figure out how to bring lost people to Jesus”. (Organic Church by Neil Cole, p.24) Think about this phrase for a second. It sounds great, mainly because we have heard it so many times. Now consider “The key to starting churches spontaneously is to bring Jesus to lost people. We’re not interested in starting a regional church but rather making Jesus available to a whole region.” This makes more sense I believe. Cole talks about how so many of our churches go out of their way to attract people into the building, so that they can hear the message. I would dare to say that people just aren’t interested no matter what we do. They are seeking, but not enough to travel here and there. Taking Christ into their world, where life happens, is what Cole is advocating.

After many circumstances, and times where his heart broke for the young people of California in tears and prayers, he and some friends began to hang out at a local coffeehouse. “We played checkers, chess, or dominoes with the regulars who came to the coffeehouse, and we became part of the crowd. We would listen intently to people’s stories and offer compassionate prayer for those who were hurting. We did not preach at people, but they would often ask us about our spiritual lives….Before long my living room was filled with new life. Rather than move to a larger space, we sent small teams of two or three to other coffeehouses to start other churches.” (p.26)

I don’t want to get too long here, but I really want to quote Cole from page 26-27:

“These churches we were starting were small (avg. 16) and simple. …we valued a simple life of following our Lord and avoiding many of the complexities of the conventional church. Complex things break down and do not get passed on, but simple things are strong and easily reproduced. Ordinary Christians were able to do the extraordinary work of starting and leading churches because the work was simple, the results powerful.

…’We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple.’ If church is simple enough that everyone can do it and is made up of people who take up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be churches that empower the common Christian to do the uncommon works of God. Churches will become healthy, fertile, and reproductive.

The conventional church has become so complicated and difficult to pull off that only a rare person who is a professional can do it every week. Many people feel that to lower the bar of how church is done is close to blasphemous because the Church is Jesus’ expression of the Kingdom on earth. Because church is not a once-a-week service but the people of God’s family, what they have actually done is the opposite of their intention. When church is so complicated, its function is taken out of the hands of the common Christian and placed in the hands of a few talented professionals. This results in a passive church whose members come and act more like spectators than empowered agents of God’s kingdom.”

Comment – I find we often talk about being empowered agents, but I am beginning to believe that we can talk all we want, but the very structure of North American church hinders and limits the Christian, turning them unintentionally into that “passive church”

Last quote – “The organic or simple church, more than any other, is best prepared to saturate a region because it is informal, relational, and mobile. Because it is more financially unencumbered with overhead costs and is easily planted in a variety of settings, it also reproduces faster and spreads further. Organic church can be a decentralized approach to a region, nation, or people group and is not heavily dependent upon trained clergy.”

___
Reposted from the blog: simmerings of a saxon

Wisdom from Our Mentor

George Patterson
Every time we eat, we eat the fruit of God’s
tremendous reproduction power given to plants
and animals. Look around out of doors; it’s
everywhere — grass, trees, birds, bees, babies and
flowers. All creation is shouting it! This is the way
God works! . . . We ourselves don’t make the church
grow or reproduce, any more than pulling on a stalk
of corn would make it grow.
— George Patterson

Gleaned from Neil Cole’s blog Cole-Slaw

Quick Explanation of Neil Cole’s Books

Neil Cole

Our calling at Church Multiplication Associates & @CMAResources is to multiply healthy disciples, leaders, churches and movements.  Neil ColeOur friend, Neil Cole has articulated many of the things we have learned in these areas in his written works.  Below is a listing of those resources authored by Cole and their focal points:

 

Disciples:

Search & RescueIf you want to learn about making and multiplying disciples, then read Cultivating A Life for God  and/or  Search & Rescue [paperback version is titled  “Ordinary Hero“]

* (Practical Resource- Life Transformation Group brochures

 

Leaders:

If you want to learn about growing, releasing and multiplying leaders, then read Organic Leadership 

Organic LeadershipIf you want to lead a group of emerging leaders through advanced doctrinal study so they can be trained in context, and not be shipped off to a seminary, then check out TruthQuest 

If you want to learn about leadership development, learn about your own development, and get a great, practical,  and biblical perspective on the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul, the read Journeys to Significance

If you want to shape a leadership development track for your ministry or network of churches, check out Raising Leaders for the Harvest

*(Practical Resource- Mentoring Guides for coaching leaders)

 

Churches:

Organic ChurchIf you want to be challenged about your view of the church, and think biblically about how to take the church to people, then you should read Organic Church

Church TransfusionIf you are part of a conventional church and want it to become a seedbed of mission and multiplication as the church was meant to be see Church Transfusion

If you want to gain insights that will pave the way for the emergence of fruitful multiplication of disciples, leaders, churches, etc. with a thick resource including 3-ring binder, 8 audio CDs and the Powerpoint, check out Beyond Church Planting by Neil Cole and Bob Logan.

 

* Practical Training- Organic Church Planter’s Greenhouse Story 1 & Story 2

 

Movements:

If you want to read about the top ten questions people ask about organic church, learn from a practitioner inside of a church multiplication movement and get a vision for the future of the church, then check out Church 3.0 

Neil Cole and CMA mentioned in Starfish & Spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Starfish & The Spider

 

The Starfish & the Spider- The unstoppable power of leaderless organizations
by Rod Beckstrom & Ori Brafman

Epilogue to the Paperback Edition page 209

 

Watch author Ori Brafman do a Presentation on the concepts at our CMA Conference!

 

Now Available @CMAResources – MP3 Downloads!

Organic Leadership Conference

Organic Leadership Conference

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

MP3 Downloads some of the great teaching and workshops from our Organic Leadership Conference.

Main Sessions 

2 hour Workshops (for only $.99!)
     Expanding the Kingdom of God….
…in Entertainment/Hollywood
…in Medicine/Business
…in Education
…in Politics/Government
…in Residential/Multi-Family Housing

Greenhouse Story 1 Training Track

Discovering God’s Heart for Your City

Foundations of Organic Leadership

Overcoming Obstacles to Missional Living

Moving from Centralized Mega to Decentralized Micro

What Went Wrong with the Jerusalem Model?

The Banqueting Table

The Banqueting TableA helpful e-newsletter from Dr. Traver Dougherty
from the archives
3/15/2010

Since I had the privilege of sharing organic church principles alongside Neil Cole last weekend, I figured now would be a good time to share a little something out of Cole’s recently released book, Church 3.0. Although the book is exemplary, one particular discussion had me turning the pages a little faster than normal.

QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: If the church (ecclesia) functions best as a decentralized missional force, how do you explain the overtly-centralized Jerusalem church?

What Went Wrong with the Jerusalem Model?
Excerpted from Church 3.0 by Neil Cole
Church3.0 by Neil Cole
Of all the churches in the book of Acts, I personally believe the Jerusalem church to be the poorest model and one we should be cautious about following. Of course, there is much to learn in the opening chapters, and I would not discount the beauty and power that was evident there. The success of the church in Jerusalem is legendary, and I will not take anything away from it. I would add that it was short-lived and localized. Within just a few years, the church plateaued and began its decline; soon it descended into a cesspool of ugly bigotry, gossip, slander, and legalism (Acts 21:20).
What went wrong? One could argue that they quickly centralized and established a hierarchical leadership chain (Acts 6:1-6). They also welcomed in new “converts” from among the priests (Acts 6:7), which of course is not a bad thing (even Paul was one), but something else occurred. They allowed a Judaistic legalism to saturate the church and choke out all health (Acts 21:20) (2010:101).
My Reflections
After the excerpt above, Neil (my friend) continues with this assessment: “I personally do not believe that the demise of the church was strictly because of structural issues or hierarchical development” (2010:101). On this point, Neil and I agree. What I’d like to expand on, however, is the way in which the “legalism” took place (Acts 21:20). Before unpacking the concept, however, consider F.F. Bruce’s take on the downfall of the Jerusalem church (to read the whole article, click here).
  • They were too concerned with cultural uniformity
  • They played it too safe
  • They allowed for the integration of Jewish customs
  • They were too exclusive; that is, they wanted to keep those who didn’t follow Jewish customs out
Now, let’s look at Acts 21:20, 21. Here’s what we need to know. At no time did Paul teach against circumcision or Torah. Paul did, however, fight against the traditions of the Pharisees. As such, notice that F.F. Bruce sites the integration of Jewish customs and not adherence to Torah as that which caused the Jerusalem church’s demise. Thus, following Torah wasn’t the downfall; instead, it was the infiltration, the mixing, of rabbinic tradition with that which is good and true and right that crippled the ecclesia in Jerusalem.
Here’s my point. As disciples of Yeshua (Jesus), we need to have an accurate understanding of cause and effect. While legalism did cripple the Jerusalem ecclesia (which is Neil’s point), it wasn’t a heartfelt adherence to Torah that did the crippling. To press the point even further, consider that the word church means, literally, circus (bounce houses and Easter Bunnies come to mind). And when do things become circuses? Simplistically, it’s when we replace God’s instructions/wisdom with what seems right in our own eyes (Isaiah 5:21).
Hope this was of some benefit to you.
 
Blessings,

Traver Dougherty (bio)
The Banqueting Table

Insightful Videos from Neil Cole

Newforms

Newforms

Our bro, Neil Cole was at the Newforms National Conference in April and they captured some video…these clips are short (3-5 minutes) and pithy!

 

 

  1. Sabatoging Movements
  2. What is Church Planting “Movementum”?
  3. The Power of a Movement
  4. Building a Movement
  5. Believe in the Seed

Cultivating A Life For God E-Book

Cultivating A Life For God Cover

Cultivating A Life For God CoverThe classic work by Neil Cole on discipleship, Cultivating A Life For God, has just been released in an E-Book form on Kindle and coming soon on Nook and other e-book formats.

The new version is sporting a new cover designed by Neil Cole himself.

This book has sold thousands copies and still has a potent message to leaders and churches about making and multiplying disciples. Life Transformation Groups are being used fruitfully to make and multiply disciples all over the world!

We are pleased that CMA Resources could bring this important book into the electronic medium.

“In my years of ministry, I have not found any method that produces such powerful results in fulfilling the Great Commission. I personally plan on using this system for the rest of my life to make as many disciples of the kingdom as I can before Christ calls me home!” – Neil Cole (page 89)

___

Added May 12, 2012

Now available on the Barnes & Noble’s NOOK also.

Something better than drawing multitudes by Neil Cole

We must remind ourselves that there is something better than drawing multitudes to our services. Jesus often turned away from the multitudes and was even know to turn away the multitudes with hard words. More people attending does not mean success. Nicer buildings does not mean your church is any better. The key to a healthy church is not better messages, better music, better methods, and more money. It is time to abandon those ideas and search for how the Kingdom is truly meant to expand.

E.M.Bounds once wrote, “Men are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men.” One of the driving convictions of our movement is summarized in the statement: A church is only as good as her disciples. Healthy disciples make up a healthy church. Reproducing disciples will make a reproducing church.

____

© 2005 Neil Cole
Used with Permission.

Follow Neil on Twitter

An excerpt from a longer article: Multiplying On the Micro Level
http://www.cmaresources.org/article/multiplying-on-the-micro-level_neil-cole

A movement that empowers the common Christian…

The Forgotten WaysNeil Cole says of the early period of Church Multiplication Associates, “‘We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple.‘  Their rationale was that if the experience of church was simple enough that just about anyone can do it, and is made up of people who have taken up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be  to do the uncommon works of God.  ‘Churches will become healthy, fertile and reproductive.’  If this is right, then many of our current practices seem to be the wrong way around…we seem to make church complex and discipleship too easy.”

(p. 104 of The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch)

 

 

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