Friday, September 29, 2006

Making Disciple-Makers!

Jesus was a disciple maker. That’s what he did! As he traveled around the villages of Galilee, he healed the sick, he performed miracles, he taught the crowds – but his primary ministry was with a small group of men that became his disciples. Jesus was a disciple maker. He poured Himself into the lives of his disciples.

Jesus was committed to making disciples – and that’s not just talking about the 12 disciples that everyone knows were His followers. In Matthew 27:57 it records the fact that Joseph of Arimathea “had also become a disciple of Jesus.” The verb form used indicates the process that Jesus engaged in with Joseph. Jesus discipled Joseph.

And when he left – He gave His disciples instructions to do the same thing – to be disciplemakers! As Jesus prepared to return to the Father– remember what He told His disciples… “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples told them to be disciple-makers! And you and I are here today as followers of Jesus Christ – because His disciples took those instructions seriously. They did exactly what Jesus showed them to do – they made disciples.

In Acts 14:21, Luke records – “After preaching the Good News in Derbe, and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabus returned again to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia where they strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.”

Paul and Barnabus were committed to making disciples. That’s what they did! They made many disciples! Obviously, they followed Jesus’ pattern.

And their disciples made disciples and so on and so on – so that now – 2000 years later – we are here today because of other who were faithful to the task of disciplemaking!

Isn’t that awesome? And now each one of us has been given the same task – every follower of Christ is to be doing what Jesus did – making disciple-makers!

What Is The Church For?

I’ve been reading Simply Christian by N.T. Wright. His aim in this book is to “describe what Christianity is all about, both to commend it to those outside the faith and to explain it to those inside.” (p. ix)

As he writes about the church, he asks these questions:
What is the church?
Who belongs to it, and how?
Equally to the point, what is the church for?

I particularly appreciate the pointedness of this question: What is the church for? In many secular minds the church is often known by what it is against! But, what are we for? And more importantly, why does the church exist?
“It was brought into being through Israel’s Messiah, Jesus; it was energized by God’s Spirit; and it was called to bring the transformative news of God’s rescuing justice to the whole creation.” (p. 200)
In describing the church as the “Body of Christ,” he notes, “’The body’ is more than merely an image of unity-in-diversity; it’s a way of saying that the church is called to do the work of Christ, to be the means of his action in and for the world.”(p. 201)
“The church isn’t simply a collection of isolated individuals, all following their own pathways of spiritual growth without much reference to one another….According to the early Christians, the church doesn’t exist in order to provide a place where people can pursue their private spiritual agendas and develop their own spiritual potential. Nor does it exist in order to provide a safe haven in which people can hide from the wicked world and ensure that they themselves arrive safely at an otherworldly destination. Private spiritual growth and ultimate salvation come rather as the byproducts of the main, central, overarching purpose for which God has called and is calling us. This purpose is clearly stated in various places in the New Testament: that through the church God will announce to the wider world that he is indeed its wise, loving and just creator; that through Jesus he has defeated the powers that corrupt and enslave it; and that by His Spirit he is at work to heal and renew it.

“The church exists, in other words, for what we sometimes call ‘mission’: to announce to the world that Jesus is its Lord. This is the ‘good news,’ and when it’s announced it transforms people and societies. Mission, in its widest as well as its more focused senses, is wat the church is there for. God intends to put the world to rights; he has dramatically launched this project through Jesus. Those who belong to Jesus are called, here and now, in the power of the Spirit, to be agents of that putting-to-rights purpose. The word ‘mission’ comes from the Latin for ‘send’: ‘As the Father sent me,’ said Jesus after his resurrection, ‘so I am sending you’ (John 20:21).” (p. 203-204)
Wright answers the question: what is the church for? Once again, we see this same theme being stated – the church exists for mission. And that mission is to proclaim the gospel message. In Luke 4:43, Jesus states, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."

Jesus understood that His mission was to proclaim the Good News. As those whose lives have been transformed, we must now continue to proclaim the same Good News to others.
“From the very beginning, in Jesus’ own teaching, it has been clear that people who are called to be agents of God’s healing love, putting the world to rights, are called also to be people whose own lives are put to rights by the same healing love. The messengers must model the message. That’s why, though the reason for God’s call of the church is mission, the missionaries – that is, all Christians – are themselves defined as people who have themselves been made whole.” (p. 204)
All Christians are missionaries.
All Christians are sent to proclaim the message of life and hope
and transformation that comes only through following Jesus.

Join The Missional Challenge on facebook.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Missional Leaders Summit - March 28, 2006

The Missional Leaders Summit on March 28, 2006 was designed to be a forum to open discussion among practitioners and pastors regarding what it means to be missional and how we can more effectively initiate missional activity in our churches and ministries. The event was sponsored by the MCWD Church Multiplication Team and hosted at The Garden Christian Fellowship in Chatsworth, California. The format for the discussion included:
  • Learning In Community
  • Networking With Practitioners
  • Identifying Incarnational Behaviors
  • EvaluatingMissional Initiatives
  • Discussing Multiplication Strategies
Rules of engagement:
  • Your Input is Welcome and Desirable
  • No Bashing! (contrasting is okay)
  • Give lots of examples
  • Focus on practices (not models)
    • What do missional leaders do?
Three presenters were invited to present case studies on their leadership of missional activity in the following areas:
  • Experiencing Community – Chris Fukanaga
  • Engaging Culture – Jeremiah Zimmerman
  • Embracing the Cross – Dr. Paul Kaak
EXPERIENCING COMMUNITYChris Fukunaga (chrstphrf@aol.com)

Chris explained that they are trying to create community where Christians and non-Christians come together. He described it like this: creating.un/churched.community. One of the tools they have used is http://www.meetup.com/ and created a Book Club that meets once each month. They read and discuss non-Christian books, do life together and hang out. Another activity that builds community is “The 44 Minute Long Beach Trash Pick Up” which happens one Saturday each month and anyone is welcome to join in. They have also participated in a Red Cross Blood Drive, sponsored a monthly booth at the Art Walk. The focus of their missional activities is to build friendships with people like you who are then willing to hang out.
Chris shared that when opposing, false views are expressed, he’s interested in developing trust. When two girls came in and started recruiting/proselytizing to their group, they prayed and asked God to push back the darkness.

The biggest mistake they’ve made was trying to hold on to Christians and try to get them to be missional (trying to motivate unmotivated Christians). The best practice has been constantly holding up the value of being evangelistic because people will tend to drift away from that.
Their young church is experiencing “community” without a weekly church service.
KEYS:
1) With the same people over and over again.
2) Spiritual conversation as normal
3) Natural progression toward deeper commitment (casual, but not random)

They see that their role is to make things better for other kingdom work.

Chris works as a substitute teacher, which he says is the best job for a church planter because “I’m getting paid by the government to church plant.”

Participant Insights:
  • Who you choose to surround yourself with is very important.
  • We view our church in “seasons”
    • Summer = building relationships
      • Small groups are called “Summer Ventures”
      • Volleyball tournament where teams compete
      • Cake baking class
      • Star Wars and Twilight Zone marathon
      • Pool Parties – one each week
    • Seek to involve others in creating events
  • Cousins Wine Bar – Tuesday night wine-tasting, helped create ethos, it’s been going for the last two years, don’t yet want to invite them to “my church”
  • “It’s a red flag when I’m not being invited to stuff.”
  • When we do things with intentionality – “felt like we were creating an agenda.” Jesus was not only interested in people knowing who He was, but being a blessing to people. Being missional involves “being sent to be a blessing.”
  • “There are days I don’t sense God leading me to engage in conversation. There are other times God opens a door. We have to be open to what the Spirit is saying.”
  • We thought the idea was to get them to church and we got discouraged and gave up. “The mission of Jesus is an agenda to love and bless people. To get them to church is a ‘sucky’ agenda.”
  • “I don’t care if you buy what I’m selling – because I’m not selling anything.”
  • “It’s not ‘I’m going to be missional’ – it’s who I am.”
  • “There’s a reaction against hypocrisy in the church.”
ENGAGING CULTUREJeremiah Zimmerman (jeremiah_z@scyds.com)
Jeremiah is pastoring San Diego Life Church which he started with his family. Their strategy for engaging the culture involves:
  • Find out what happens in the town on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Decide to be there
  • Meet those in charge
  • Offer to help
  • Be at the “center” of what’s happening
  • Contribute
Jeremiah and his brother, Josh, have targeted the Arts Community. His mom and dad (John and Paula) are relating to the Vegan Community.
Jeremiah is working in a recording studio: “Since most bands break-up in the studio, we want to be there.”

He’s discovered that if you are willing to help, people will put you to work. Engaging the culture is about “servanthood – willing to be the least.”

He explained – “If you are looking for results from your efforts, you’ll be discouraged and run yourself into the ground. If you are looking for spiritual results, you’ll begin to see it. We are doing this because we are obeying God. A lot of times it gets worst before it gets better.”

KEYS:
1) Being open
2) Listening 10x more than you speak
3) Focus on loving one another as Christ has loved you.
“We are out more than we are in”
“Often God’s healing takes time.”
“When you aren’t threatened or offended or affected or changed – it puts them in a very awkward position. They are totally confused…and that’s powerful.”
“They are used to being argued with…”

Participant Insights:
  • Be willing to pray for people – ask them, “How can I pray for you?”
  • It’s about how deeply you love people. It’s about helping release artistic expressions of people.
  • If you are doing it right – there is a collision!
EMBRACING THE CROSS (Spiritual Formation)Dr. Paul Kaak (GOK2AK@aol.com)

Paul encouraged us to practice hospitality. It’s important to know how to throw parties and be authentic in your own home. Also, be in their homes – that’s missional. Wherever you go, practice a “welcoming lifestyle.”

He talked about proximity – being close to people. Don’t become too busy for people as leaders. Hebrews 13:7 – “consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Mission should be a way of life for us.

Through cultivating spiritual intimacy with Jesus, Paul shared these learnings:
  • I learned how to OBEY… you need to train to OBEY
  • I learned to listen to God’s voice. In Mark 1:35 Jesus went off to pray He received His agenda by listening to His Father. In Acts 16, God speaks to Paul while he was on mission.
  • I learned God’s heart for people. Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God FOR I will be exalted in all the nations.” Luke 10:2b – call out to the Lord of the Harvest…
  • I learned courage – Acts 4
  • I learned about the nature of conversation
  • I learned that experiencing God’s grace in our lives is what sustains us!
KEY:
“Life is busy. I say no to other things to say yes to my neighbors.”
Further discussion focused on trying to understand how to transition from an attractional model to an incarnational model of ministry, and to clarify “what does a missional leader do?”
 Recommended Reading:
  1. The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
  2. The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
  3. Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fishing in an Aquarium

Unfortunately, some people view evangelism as what the pastor does on Sundays. This idea has been called fishing in an aquarium. The problem with that view is that most churches are filled on Sundays with those who are already believers. They don’t need to be evangelized – they need to be equipped to share their faith. One pastor describes this as herding fish within reach of the big fisherman. I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 4:19 when He said – “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus expects all of us to follow Him – and to be fishers of men.

If the method for sharing our faith is to let the pastor do it – few people will come to believe in Christ – and those of you who do know Him already will miss out on one of the most exciting parts of following Christ – introducing someone to faith in Jesus.
I think this starts with loving God and loving lost people with God’s love. Often times I’ve described this as “loving people until they ask you why.” Then – share how God’s love and grace have transformed your life. The more you love people – really love them – the more opportunities you’ll have to share the gospel with them.

Joe Aldrich notes, “I think it is fair to say that the majority of Christians have lost their ability to relate significantly to non-Christians….After knowing the Lord two years, the average Christian has no significant relationships with non-Christians.”

He also says - “Frequently the unsaved are viewed as enemies rather than victims of the enemy. Spirituality is viewed as separation from the unsaved.” You may think you have nothing in common with unbelievers – but the reality is, you do. You have a lot in common with them – like…a mortgage, car payments, kids who misbehave, a lawn to mow, a car to wash, a less-than-perfect marriage, a few too many pounds around the waist, and an interest in sports, hobbies, and other activities they enjoy.

I think we need to remember that Jesus was called a “friend of sinners.” Are we friends of sinners?

I agree with Leonard Sweet -
“The time for getting people to come to church is over; it is now time to get people to come to Christ.” 

Like a Missionary

“The typical church has forgotten what evangelism is. That the average church is reaching such a small portion of the unchurched in their community is evidence enough. But when you look at the typical evangelism ministry in most churches, you realize just how big a problem this is….Very few churches approach their geographical area of ministry like a missionary would. Missionaries, or at least good missionaries, try to understand the people they are seeking to reach and create a culturally relevant ministry that incorporates points of contact between the people and the gospel.”
          - Henry Klopp, The Ministry Playbook

I don't understand why so many Christians think that evangelism means bringing someone to church. The reality is that very few Christians are actually inviting non-Christians. A lot of times they invite their friends that are already Christ followers to check out their church because the worship is great, the teaching is solid or the youth ministry is dynamic.

It's obvious that we don't understand that we have been sent by God with the gospel to our culture. We are to join Him in fulfilling His mission!

Don't you think that pastors should be training believers to engage non-believers with the gospel, rather than just inviting people to church? Wouldn't it be awesome to see bands of missionaries mobilized all over the United States to reach their neighbors and co-workers for Christ?

This is what Missional Transformation is about! It's about thinking "like a missionary" here in the U.S. It's about pastors who are training members as missionaries who "try to understand the people they are seeking to reach and create a culturally relevant ministry that incorporates points of contact between the people and the gospel.”
We are His missionary people! 
Why not start acting "like a missionary"?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mission as "Missio Dei"

“During the past half a century or so there has been a subtle but nevertheless decisive shift toward understanding mission as God’s mission. During preceding centuries mission was understood in a variety of ways. Sometimes it was interpreted primarily in soteriological terms: as saving individuals from eternal damnation. Or it was understood in cultural terms: as introducing people from East and the South to the blessings and privileges of the Christian West. Often it was perceived in ecclesiastical categories: as the expansion of the church (or of a specific denomination). Sometimes it was defined salvation-historically: as the process by which the world – evolutionary or by means of a cataclysmic event – would be transformed into the kingdom of God. In all these instances, and in various, frequently conflicting ways, the intrinsic interrelationship between cristology, soteriology, and the doctrine of the Trinity, so important for the early church, was gradually displaced by one of several versions of the doctrine of grace.”
“Mission was understood as being derived from the very nature of God. It was thus put in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity, not of ecclesiology or soteriology. The classical doctrine on the missio Dei as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit was expanded to include yet another “movement”: The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit sending the church into the world. As far as missionary thinking was concerned, this linking with the doctrine of the Trinity constituted an important innovation.”
“Our mission has not life of its own: only in the hands of the sending God can it truly be called mission. Not least since the missionary initiative comes from God alone.”
“In attempting to flesh out the missio Dei concept, the following could be said: In the new image mission is not primarily an activity of the church, but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God. ‘It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfil in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church’ (Moltmann 1977:64). Mission is thereby seen as a movement from God to the world; the church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.”
David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991, pp. 389-390.


Missio Intensive - October 6-7






I will be attending this event next month. Join me!!!


Hosted by Fuller Seminary at the Pasadena Campus
Facilitated by CRM’s Missio Team and Forge Australia
October 6 - 7, 2006

Unpacking and articulating what missional/incarnational church can look like in our US context. Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost and Hugh Halter will move beyond theory and into real life pictures of "non-attractional" church. This event is for anyone who is trying to move existing congregations deeper into mission and will give "out of the box" inertia to new church plant designs. Come if
you're stuck, come if you're jaded. Come if you love The Church.

WHAT YOU'LL BE HEARING

Friday - October 6

12:00 - 1:00 Registration
1:00 - 1:45 Hugh Halter “Let’s Get Practical”
1:45 - 2:45 Alan Hirsch: “The Church in the West: The Real Story”
2:45 - 3:00 Question & Answer
3:30 - 4:30 Michael Frost: “Missional God, Missional Church”
4:30 - 5:00 Question & Answer
7:00 - 8:45 Hugh Halter: “Writing in the Dust” Missional Posture Unpacked

Saturday - October 7

8:30 - 9:45 Alan Hirsch: “Communitas Not Community” Can it be done in America?
9:45 - 10:00 Question & Answer
10:30 -11:45 Michael Frost: “Going Down, Going Deep” New World Ecclesial Practices
11:45 -12:00 Question & Answer
1:30 - 2:45 Alan Hirsch: “Jesus Made Me Do It” The Missional Call
2:45 - 3:00 Question & Answer
3:30 - 4:30 Michael Frost: “Living as Exiles: Where Do We Go From Here?”
4:45 - 5:00 Question & Answer

Saturday Evening 7:00 - 9:00 pm MCAP Informational Dessert: Strategic discussion for Denominational leaders, church planters and church planting churches. We’ll be discussing church plant training options for incarnational church plant innovators. (Cost $15)

Registration deadline October 2nd
EVENT COST

2 Day Intensive: $119
This event is limited to 250 people so register early at www.missio.us

Please register for the MCAP Dessert Forum Saturday night
if you plan on attending.

Please read “The Shaping Of ThingsTo Come” before the event.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Living Missionally















As you read through Acts you see the Church on Mission – sent by God with the Gospel in Community to the Culture!

Essentially – the church is a missionary church! The church is sent by God! The church is proclaiming the gospel! The church is making diciples! The church is on mission!

Mark Driscoll pastors a church he planted up in Seattle and he has started what he calls the ACTS 29 Network – which has planted scores of churches in 8 countries. I really connect with his understanding of the church as a movement of missionaries – “missionaries sent not from America to another nation but from America to America.” (p. 18)

He is calling Christians to reform their “traditionally flawed view of missions as something carried out only in foreign lands and to focus instead on the urgent need in our neighborhoods, which are filled with diverse cultures of Americans who desperately need the gospel of Jesus and life in his church.”

This is what I think is reflected in the first century church in the book of Acts. Every believer was sent by God on mission to reach those around them for Christ! I want to challenge every believer with the reality that “missions” doesn’t begin across an ocean or on the other side of the world. According to Acts 1:8, it starts across the street (in your Jerusalem).

All churches need to be missionary churches. They need to understand that every believer has been sent by God in community with other believers to bring the gospel of Christ to the culture! This church doesn’t exist to bring other Christians in – we exist to be sent out into the culture with the gospel!

We have to avoid the tendency to become so inwardly focused that we fail to bring anyone to faith in Christ. Community together in Christ is so important! We emphasize this all the time: “Life is Better in Community!” And I really believe it. But we aren’t here on earth just to enjoy community with other Christians and to throw our arms around each other and sing Kum-by-ya.

Community exists for Mission! We are together to bring the gospel to our culture! And that’s what we see happening in the book of Acts! Jesus sent his disciples on a mission! You and I are sent by God on a mission – to bring people to faith in Christ!

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