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?

Why House Churches?

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

Introduction

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

 

Conclusion

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.

 

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

A Simple Way to Organize Your Life by Ed Waken

Priorities

Put the following four words in the correct order of importance;

Work, Family, Church, God


What did you come up with?

Actually, this is a trick question.  The best option is to remove God from the list, put the other three words in any order you’d like and then place God on top of the list.  It might look something like this:

PrioritiesMost of us today would describe our lives as busy.  Probably too busy is more like it.  When we consider our lives as having compartments like work, house work, hobbies, family time, devotional or quiet times with God, church activities, evangelism and on and on, there is simply no way we have time for it all.  However, if we follow the picture above, and we write God over whatever category you place on the list, pretty quickly we can begin to have more time.  How can that happen?.

The Scriptures teach us that “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17).  In this verse we find the principle of writing God over our lives, in all we do.

Here are a couple of suggestions to help you realize the time you need to live a full, faithful and fruitful life.

1. Hold your life open and accessible to God at all times.  Ask Him what His priority is for you in any given situation.  This will require you to die to your agenda and replace it with God’s agenda.  This may require you add a hobby to your life so you will engage a person of peace (Luke 10) and help them to learn to follow Jesus.  It may require that lay down a hobby or other activity that is distracting you from hearing the Lord and following His lead.  Whether God adds, subtracts or rearranges things in your life, you will need to learn to become flexible in some ways as you discipline yourself to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in your life.

2. Stop seeing life as a bunch of categories (work, rest, play, church etc.) and begin to see your life as a continuous story where God interacts throughout.  When we move in this direction then God is prevalent in every moment.  Whether we are pumping gas, watching a sunrise, straining to lift weights, enduring another meeting at work or spending time leisure around the home, when life is viewed as a continuous action of worship, we find rest and fulfillment.  We are no longer missing out on doing something, we are enjoying God in whatever we are doing.

So stop categorizing and start writing the presence of God over everything you do.  Listen to His voice and follow His lead.  You will more time than you can imagine and more fruit than you ever dreamed possible.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know if this is helpful to you and your church.


©2012 Ed Waken

Originally posted on Ed’s Blog here
Ed tweets @EdWaken
Used with permission.


See also:
Conversations Not Conversions – Ed Waken
Who Is In Charge?: ReTooling Leadership 1
Jesus’ Example: ReTooling Leadership 2
The Leader’s Priority: ReTooling Leadership 3
Organic Evangelism Principles
The Deal on Disciple Making – Video

Church, C.S. Lewis, and a Waste of Time

C.S. Lewis

The church exists for nothing else but to draw men
into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are
not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions,
sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of
time. God became a Man for no other purpose.

— C. S. Lewis


Gleaned from Neil Cole’s blog Cole-Slaw here

Impact from Greenhouse Training in Milwaukee

Greenhouse Story 1

We at CMA Resources were encouraged by this email:

Greenhouse Story 1
Subject: HOLY SPIRIT IS MOVING MIGHTILY

Hey,

Just a short update after our time at the Milwaukee Greenhouse Training. I am leading 3 simple churches now and we have at least 2 that have planted from people in these. I let God do what only God do and am PROFOUNDLY dependent on Him to lead these. I have grown so much in my faith and like you, I desire to be nothing and Him everything. I learned alot from your trainers.

I have been meeting with our lead pastor and sharing what God is doing in our simple churches. He is going to have a total makeover of our 35 small groups and have them based on the organic church. We are spending the summer in our groups digging into 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus for leadership development and disciple training. We are desperate to learn from Him and Gods word.

There has been alot of heartache in my journey and I would not have it any other way. I will save a few of those stories for another time. I am living my dream my friend and I love it. Please pass what God is doing in Milwaukee on.

I am simply focusing on 2 things; the lost and leadership. You are always a great inspiration to me.

Jim

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 

Calling Out the Church by Chris Suitt

How many times have you been in a conversation where you have been misunderstood because you used a certain word that your listener took in a way you didn’t mean?  And then you find yourself saying, “That’s not what I meant.  Let me try again” and this time you use a different word.  The same is true of the word “church”.

The Greek word (the language in which the NT was written) behind our word “church” (by the way, this word didn’t come about until the 12th century) is “ekklēsia” which comes from two other words “ek” and “kalew”.

Ek means the origin or the place or point whence motion or action proceeds”.  It means you are moving away from or out of one area into another.  It also denotes that the action is completed.  Bottom line, you are no longer at point A, you are now at point B. The other root is “kaleo” which means “to call, bid, call forth.”

ekklesiaThe meaning of “church”

Now put these two concepts together and you have those are who called out, those who have moved from point A and are now at point B.

Acts 20:28 reveals that point B is God.  Romans 16:16 says that point B is Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:18; 14:5 states that it is other believers in Christ.

“Church” then is not about programs or buildings, it’s not about Sunday or Saturday morning services, nor is it about a place.  The ekklesia is about relationships—period.  Relationships between Jesus, who is the head of this group, and between other called out ones.

You heard me say this before, and you’ll hear me say it again, you can only take two things with you to heaven—your Christ-like character and people.  Sound like what the ekklesia is all about?

The moment we place our faith in Jesus as our LORD and Savior, the Spirit of God puts us into relationship with other believers and He expects us to walk with them, not in our old ways of dealing with people (point A), but with new ways (point B).

The movement from A to B

We are no longer to be like the world, copy what society tells us or live in the various lifestyles that we did before we put our trust in Jesus (point A or what Paul calls in Eph. 5:8 “darkness”).

No, we are “taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self” (point A) and instead “be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loves us” (point B—Eph. 4:22; 5:1).

A person who belongs to the called out ones should be on a journey to be like Jesus, which means getting along with other believers.  It is no coincidence that the Spirit has given over 30 different ways in which to walk with each other on this journey (i.e. the one-another phrases).

Stuck at A though Showing B

I hear it all the time, however, and you probably have as well, “I don’t like Church.”  What they are really saying is, “I don’t like the people that meet at such and such a place.”  In fact, I’ve heard this complaint go a step further, “I feel more accepted and loved by my non-believing friends than I do by those at church.”  This should not be!

I believe a partial answer to this problem is found in the infamous bumper sticker, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.”  This statement is true, but it’s also deceiving.

Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are truly forgiven of all our sins—past, present and future.  So the statement is true.  I am on a journey to be like Him and will make mistakes, sin, along that journey.  Therefore, I am not perfect just forgiven.

But the statement is deceiving in that it leads people to believe that since I am not perfect, I can act any old way I desire because I will be forgiven.  This is from the pit of hell.  This is why people are turning away from the “church”  The called out ones at “church” are stuck at point A yet want to make others believe they have arrived at point B.  This is fake.  This is unhealthy and it is flat out repulsive to those who need real people to love and accept them on their journey to be like Jesus.

Be Real and in Process

Healthy ekklesians are in process, taking steps of faith on the high wire act of being like Jesus.  Sure there are risks of falling when you step out in faith, but don’t let that hinder you from walking on that high wire.  Why?  You have a safety net!

“Grace (aka the forgiveness on the bumper sticker) is the safety net of faith, not the license to be complacent.”  As we walk with Jesus by faith, by taking risks in trusting Him, we will at times stand and at other times will fall in the process of putting off the old and putting on the new, but grace is our safety net.  It will catch us and give us another shot on that high wire.  And just as we want that room to grow, let’s make sure we give that same grace to others on their journey to be like Jesus as well.

Healthy believers will be real with each other.  “Brother, I’m on a journey too.  Let’s walk together.”   Let’s not act church, but be called out ones—people moving together from here to heaven.

____

© 2011 Chris Suitt
Used with Permission. Originally Posted on his blog MORE THAN A SUNDAY FAITH

 

Coaching Intrinsic Motivation by Katie Driver

One of the ways our family lives missionally, is by having students from other countries live with us while they attend college.  They learn U.S. culture in our home which is a safe place where they can ask questions, make mistakes, practice their English, and see and experience how Christians live and relate to each other and the world around them.  This has worked out great for all of us – until this semester.  The two girls who came to live with us lasted just 6 weeks, and then they left because according them, “the environment was not good”.  They went back to their previous environment.

MotivationMany jump into the adventure of simple, organic and missional church and then end up leaving because the experience was not what they expected.  They return to old environments that feel safe, require less, are more familiar, and fit their expectations. Not everyone likes to live in a simple, organic, and missional way once they find out what the environment requires of them.  It requires personal responsibility for their own intimate relationship with God, and then with others both Christian and not.  It requires initiative.  It forces a deeper level of accountability, and a participatory expectation that many are surprised by, and don’t have the motivation to pursue.

People are their own best motivators.

Psychologists have determined there are two different ways people are motivated; intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when someone is driven by an interest or enjoyment of something that exists from within the person.  For example, for someone who loves to read, reading many books in a given year is pleasurable, fulfilling and is not thought of as a chore, but rather enjoyable.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when someone or something from the outside of the person initiates and sustains the motivation.  Some examples of this are grades, fulfilling the wishes of others, abiding by the law, working for tips as a waiter, etc.

As someone who has spent hours and hours coaching people in the simple, organic and missional journey, I can tell you that it is a waste of time, if they don’t have intrinsic motivation.

Many people initially think they want this paradigm. Then, they begin to understand that the environment is different.  Much like our past students who left our home because they determined that “the environment was not good.” Many find the realities of living simple, organic and missional are different than what they expected.  They lost, or never really had, the intrinsic motivation for this paradigm.

A benefit of good coaching is that it asks the right questions.  It begins to unlock within you, just what is “the environment” your looking for, because that will be the only thing that will motivate you to find and live it.  Good coaching taps into your intrinsic motivation and encourages what God is doing within you.

___

© 2012 Katie Driver
Posted by permission

Originally posted on Katie Driver’s blog “The BackSeat Driver”: here

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)

 

 

What is church? by Neil Cole

Coffee MakerIn the Bible the church is not defined but instead is described with pictures: a flock, a field, a family, a body, a bride, a branch, a building made of living stones. Never is it described by the pictures we typically have today: a building, a business, a school or a hospital. We have replaced an organic and life producing view with an institutional one that does not produce life but at best simply tries to preserve it and contain it.

The predominate way of seeing the church today contains, conforms and controls the people. The biblical pictures of the NT are all about releasing and reproducing the life of the church, not managing and controlling financial interests.

Inorganic things can produce, but not reproduce. As Christian Schwartz points out so eloquently, “A coffee maker can make coffee (praise God), but it cannot make more coffee makers.” Jesus intends for his bride and body to be fertile and for his branches to bear fruit. Jesus didn’t use images of an institution, nor should we.

With much study, research, experience and time spent seeking wisdom from smarter men than us, we have come to understand church by this simple yet profound description: “The church is the presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family, to pursue His mission on this planet.”

Read the rest here

Review of Viral Jesus by Felicity Dale

I’ve been looking forward to the release of Viral Jesus: Recovering the contagious power of the Gospel by Ross Rohde for some time. A few months ago I was given the privilege of reading the manuscript and writing an endorsement, and immediately I was struck with the relevance of Ross’s message to not just the simple/organic church movement of which both he and we are a part, but far beyond that, to any Christian who desires to make an impact for the Kingdom of God.

We have known Ross for several years, and every time we meet him he has a new story of how he has met with a “person of peace” (see Luke 10), led him to become a disciple of Jesus and started a community of Jesus followers. The book is full of stories of supernatural encounters, God working miracles in people’s lives.

The early church spread like wildfire, spreading throughout the then known world in a comparatively short time. Since then, it has become something different–a lethargic parody of the vibrant life it was supposed to be.

Could we see a viral Jesus movement again here in the West? Christianity is meant to be an adventure, we as his ambassadors on mission with God. Do you want to see your church revitalized? In this outstanding book, Ross examines the principles of what it would take to recapture the excitement and viral nature of evangelism and making disciples.

Don’t start reading this book late at night–you’ll not be able to put it down. I highly recommend it.

Originally posted on Felicity Dale’s Blog HERE

Our Role & God’s Role in Disciple Making by Gavin Duerson

Can you cause a person to grow spiritually?  When it comes to disciple making, what is our responsibility?  At a Greenhouse Training event hosted by CMA Resources, we examined the following text from Mark 4:

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

 

 

 

From the text, we see that a farmer can cultivate the ground and plant seeds, and even put the sickle to the plant once mature, but can do nothing to cause a seed to grow!  In simple/organic church planting, the church planter (or disciplemaker) cultivates and plants, but realized that Kingdom growth is God’s work.

When we plant good seed in good soil, growth and multiplication naturally happen as they receive rain and sunlight.  This is true of plants and it’s true of the Kingdom as well.  The only thing that can stop this natural process is failure to sow good seed generously on good soil or farming in such as way to impede the natural process that God has in place.

At the Greenhouse training, the leaders made the following comparison between an organic/simple church approach and a traditional church approach to sowing, growing, and harvesting.

  Cultivating Sowing Growing Tending Harvesting
Institutional Approach Passive Passive Active Active Passive
Organic Approach Active Active Passive Passive Active

 

Do you agree that the traditional church focuses most of its energies on growing and tending the garden (flock) while being passive with regards to sowing and harvesting?  What would it look like for you to cultivate and sow good seed more generously? What does it mean for us to be actively involved in the harvesting—putting a sickle to the “ripe plant?”

Enjoy this great video that was at the greenhouse training event to illustrate the teaching on the Kingdom.

6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. – 1 Corinthians 3:6

To learn more about attending a Greenhouse Training event visit www.cmaresources.org/greenhouse

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Originally posted on Kentucky Simple Church Alliancehere

Finding the Person of Peace by Ross Rohde

peace-to-this-houseRecently a blog friend, Tim, asked a very practical question:

Just out of curiosity, what methods to you employ in your context to search for persons of peace? This statement made me think of you walking down the sidewalk looking for a person of peace. So, I’m wondering what that type of searching looks like for you. Thanks!

You can see the dialog that this question started in the comment section of Cesar, Man of Peace. However, I’d like to share the core of what we discussed and develop it a bit further.

 

My Response to Tim’s Question

Hi Tim,

  1. Finding the person of peace is not about technique. Every person of peace story I know and every person of peace I have found has been different. Having said that, there are things we can do to find the person of peace. Here’s what I would say:
  2. When I consistently pray about finding people of peace, I find them. When I don’t focus my prayer on this, I don’t.
    1. Finding people of peace is about listening to the voice of the Master. Therefore, it is a spiritual exercise based on a loving, abiding relationship, not something we can manufacture.
    2. Luke 10:5-6 say: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” The house mentioned here is the “oikos.” I don’t think it is particularly focused on the building where people live but the connected people who may just live is a particular building…or not; see An Oikos Isn’t a Building.
  3. This giving of peace, I think, is speaking the gospel of peace, or giving a blessing in the name of the Lord. It is, in essence, making Jesus the potential for conversation. I don’t think it means necessarily giving the whole gospel, just opening the conversation. If the peace rests on them, i.e. they respond and engage, stay there!!! Don’t take off, after having spilled the beans. Focus! On the other hand, if they don’t have interest, don’t cast your pearls before swine. Just move on and look for a real person of peace and a real “oikos” of peace. We focus our attention and energy on people who are moving toward Jesus, not convincing the uninterested that they should be interested.
  4. With this in mind, apostolic ministry (finding men and houses of peace then making disciples) is about finding ways to make Jesus the subject of conversation. How do we do that? Any way He tells us to, as he speaks to our heart and mind. It is not a matter of us coming up with a clever plan. But, if Jesus gives us a clever plan, then do it.

Further Thoughts

  • Jesus is our model for ministry. Yet little of what we do in ministry nowadays looks anything like what Jesus did, or what he taught his disciples to do. Our idea of ministry has been so damaged by institutionalism, and the individualistic Western worldview, that we find it hard to think about doing ministry as Jesus actually taught us.
  • When we start actually doing what Jesus taught his disciples to do, and what he expects us to do, we start bearing fruit. I know this from experience, and it is why I wrote my upcoming book Viral Jesus.
  • This kind of actual obedience to Jesus, who speaks to our hearts and minds, should be normative, but is actually very, very rare in the West.
  • We have replaced Jesus inspired ministry with what we think of as following biblical principles. Yet, supposed biblical inspired ministry actually ends up not looking at all like what Jesus did? Isn’t that ironic?
  • I find myself wondering, and praying about, what would happen if say 500 Christians in the Bay Area of California would just do what Jesus actually speaks to their hearts based on an intimate relationship with him. This would end up reflecting Jesus’ and the apostle’s ministry in the New Testament. Yet, I only know about 20 people in the entire Bay Area that are willing to live like this. Does this make you as sad as it does me?
    • I spoke about 500 people in the Bay Area of California actually following Jesus into ministry. What would that look like if all over the world people where doing this?
    • I suspect that what we would discover in the West is what our brothers in China began to discover in 1949 and onward (see The Miracle of China and Thank You Chairman Mao). This would be both exciting and dangerous. Are we really interested in something exciting and dangerous? Do we prefer something we can control, even if it ends up being unfruitful?
    • Do you agree with me that institutionalism and the Western worldview get in the way of the viral ministry I’m talking about? Why or why not?
    • Where do you think the disconnect, between what Jesus did and taught about ministry and what we actually do, comes from? I’ve laid the disconnect at the feet of institutionalism and Western cultural worldview. Do you agree or do you have different ideas?

©2011 Ross Rohde
Posted by permission

Originally posted on Ross Rohde’s blog The Jesus Virus: here

The Mission of Leaders with Ed Waken

Ed WakenEd Waken shares with the Valley Life Church network and others about leadership. What is the mission of leaders? Are they to feed the sheep? What are they to do?

Take a listen now or download the MP3

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