Sunday, October 31, 2010

What is the Gospel Message?

While on earth, Jesus continually proclaimed the gospel message.

"Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." (Matt 9:35)

"Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'" (Mark 1:14-15)

He announced to His disciples...


"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it." (Mark 8:35)

"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matt 24:14)

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

And in the Book of Acts we see them going...


"So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans." (Acts 8:25)

"They became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the gospel." (Acts 14:6-7)

"After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch." (Acts 14:21)

Paul declares boldly...


"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)

Paul writes in his letters...


"For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you." (Rom 1:9)

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom 1:16)

"And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation." (Rom 15:20)

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void." (1 Cor 1:17)

"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel." (1 Cor 9:16)

"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand." (1 Cor 15:1)

"As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" (Gal 1:9)

"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." (Eph 1:13)

"And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel." (Eph 6:19)

"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel." (Phil 1:12)

"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Phil 1:27)

"For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake." (1 Thes 1:5)

"But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with
the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts." (1 Thes 2:4)

"Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only
the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us." (1 Thes 2:8)

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for
the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher." (2 Tim 1:8-11)

After reading all these passages - it is apparent that the message of the gospel was critical to Jesus' own mission on earth, as well as central to the work of the apostle Paul. So - what is the message of the gospel.

Paul tells us the message of the gospel in I Corinthians 15:3-5:

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, 
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 
and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

I was recently introduced to a simple acronym for the gospel message: 

G-O-S-P-E-L 
(see Dare to Share)


What is the Gospel Message?

God created us to be with Him - Genesis 1

Our sins separate us from God - Genesis 3

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds - Genesis 4

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again - Matthew-Luke

Everyone who trusts in Christ alone has eternal life - John

Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever - Acts-Revelation

What would you consider the essence of the gospel message? How will you communicate it to others?

Today's Missional Challenge: Recognize that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. Memorize the essence of the gospel so that you can communicate it to others in a way that they understand and may believe.

Related Posts:
Embracing the Gospel
Be Missional: Preach the Gospel
Missional: It's About Good News

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lake Hills Community Church: 20 Years Ago



Lake Hills Community Church in Castaic, CA had it's grand opening worship celebration on November 4, 1990. As we prepared for a healthy launch, here's our vision statement that we shared with everyone we could:
A VISION FOR A NEW CHURCH HAS COME TO CASTAIC! The population of Castaic is about 8,000 people, but that will change soon. The community is on the brink of a population explosion. Projections call for 10,000 new homes which are now in various stages of development. With the completion of these homes, the population is likely to rise above 35,000 people. "The harvest is plentiful..."

The Western District of the Missionary Church and Grace Community Church have seen the vast spiritual needs of such a community and have committed to the planting of a new church -- LAKE HILLS COMMUNITY CHURCH. It is a church whose purpose is designed to meet the needs of the community through the person of Jesus Christ.

Under the direction of Bill Malick, Church Planting Director for the Missionary Church Western District, and Jim George, Associate Pastor of Grace Community Church, the foundation has been laid for this exciting new church start. Beginning with initial demographic research in the Fall of 1988, the necessary steps were taken which led to the calling of Dave DeVries to be the church planter and pastor in June, 1990.

Dave DeVries is a recent graduate of The Master's Seminary and has ministered as the Assistant Pastor at New Hope Community Church in Newhall for the past two years. He has also worked at The Master's College in the Student Life Department as a Resident Director. Dave's ministry has a strong commitment to evangelism and discipleship in the context of a local church. This is the same emphasis needed in the planting of a new church.

Dave and his wife, Deanne, and their son, Douglas, have recently purchased a home in Castaic and are excited about this new ministry to which God has called them. They have a vision to see a church in Castaic that exalts the person of Jesus Christ by making more and better disciples of Christ.

LAKE HILLS COMMUNITY CHURCH is a church with a purpose and is committed to the following distinctives:
  • Practical Biblical Exposition of the Word
  • Plurality of Godly Leadership
  • Outreach Vision for the Un-Churched
  • Training of Individuals in Lifestyle Evangelism
  • Development and Exercise of Spiritual Gifts
  • Contemporary, Celebrative and Reflective Worship
  • Caring-Centered Fellowship
  • Multiplying Congregations and Church Planting
We invite our prayers and interest as this new church begins. If you would desire to be part of this church, or if you have friends, relatives or acquaintances living in the Castaic area, please contact Dave DeVries.

"To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." - Ephesians 3:21
How amazing it's been to see this vision and purpose fulfilled over the past twenty years!

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider the distinctives of your ministry. How will ensure those distinctives remain for the next twenty years?

Related Posts:
Missional Distinctives

Transforming Missional Values into Missional Practices
Living Out the Gospel in Community

Friday, October 29, 2010

8 Reasons Why to Plant a Church



Twenty years ago my wife and I partnered together with a few friends to start a new church in Castaic, CA. We were convinced that starting new churches is vital to extending God's kingdom.

Here are 8 Reasons we were committed to starting Lake Hills Community Church (from our October 1990 newsletter):


1. The Great Commission. Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19-20). Starting new churches has proven to be the most effective way to accomplish this task.

2. The Biblical Model. In the New Testament, the early church expanded through the planting of new churches. This is the way that God works in the extension of His kingdom.

3. A Concern For People. Jesus said, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10). Lake Hills exists to help people discover the abundant life that Jesus promised.

4. The Castaic Area is Underchurched. Currently, there are only two churches ministering to the needs of over 8,000 community residents. New churches area needed to join the work of the harvest.

5. Projected Growth. Nearly 10,000 homes are expected to be built in the Castaic Area in the next ten years. With new people moving into the community comes the need for new churches to address their spiritual needs.

6. New Churches Reach a New Generation. Each generation of Christians is responsible for reaching their generation for Christ. Our challenge is to present the good news of Jesus Christ, which does not change, to a new group of people with changing interests, hurts, needs and aspirations.

7. New Churches Offer Greater Options. Not all churches are the same; they come in different shapes and sizes. No one church can reach everyone. New churches offer people more to choose from, and give them a greater chance of finding teh church home they'll be happy in.

8. New Churches Promote Growth. To survive, new churches must focus on reaching the community with the love of Christ. As they find their "niche", the result is growth.

I closed the article with this statement: "I am grateful to God for calling us to Castaic to start a new church. I believe that as we are faithful to Him, we will see lives changed through the power of His Spirit."

Now, twenty years later, I celebrate with a grateful heart the lives that have been changed through the power of His spirit. I am so grateful for God for calling us to Castaic to start a new church.

I love being involved in the process of helping new churches get started. It is so amazing to help train and coach church planters!

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider these 8 reasons and be praying for new churches to be started in your community which will focus on making disciples who make disciples!

Related Posts: 
Lessons I Learned Planting Lake Hills Church
Community Survey
Appreciating Your Pastor

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Discipling A Whole Nation (part 1)

Many years ago I was challenged with the vision of Discipling A Whole Nation. I loved the way that vision flowed out of Christ's final words to His disciples and the breadth of such a simple statement. I thought at the time - "Now that's a cause that I could give my life to!"

It's so simple to understand and yet so comprehensive! What does it take to disciple a whole nation? It takes the Body of Christ in that nation to cooperate together in a concerted effort to make disciples who make disciples.

Several months ago I started reading a book by Jim Montgomery, founder of DAWN Ministries, called DAWN 2000: 7 Million Churches to Go. I was fascinated as I read Jim's story of the development of DAWN Ministries and the strategic components of the DAWN Strategy.

My heart resonates with this vision of discipling a whole nation. I long to help catalyze the tremendous potential within believers and churches for a direct assault on the discipling of our nation and the nations among us. I long to see all the earth filled with the glory of the Lord (Hab 2:14) as every nation is saturated with local churches.
To a great extent, it is on the local level that the battle is won or lost. Local churches are a most crucial part of the body in world evangelization. Unless local churches equip and send out their people to do evangelism and church planting, a nation will not be filled with churches; it will not be discipled. Local churches must not only evangelize and start daughter congregations in their own area and among their own kind of people -- i.e., in their 'Jerusalem' -- but they must challenge and send out laborers to reach their own kind of people in more distant places. They must keep 'all Judea' in mind.

Local churches need to prepare their people for reaching slightly different kinds of people near by and more distant. They must reach their 'Samaria.'

It is also primarily at the local level that Christians will get a vision and calling for the 'uttermost parts of the earth': totally different kinds of people both close at hand and in distant lands. (DAWN 2000, pp 155-6)

There are two questions that I want to ask:

1. Will you commit yourself to this vision of discipling your nation?

2. What is your part in discipling your nation?

There is still the reality, however, that one local church cannot do it alone. It takes the combine efforts of thousands of local churches to disciple a nation, and millions of local churches to "change the world."
Jim Montgomery 

Today's Missional Challenge: Embrace the vision of discipling your nation - and all nations. Make disciples and start new churches to reach all peoples.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Obedience to Christ

(From Disciplemaking 101)

Discipleship is costly. Jesus urged those who would follow Him to count the cost. While salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, there is no conflict between receiving God’s gracious forgiveness and following His exacting lordship. As your Savior, Jesus offered to you something that you couldn’t earn or deserve, yet as your Lord, He calls you to a life of service which requires obedience at every turn.

A young Lutheran pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis on April 9, 1945, wrote a remarkable book called The Cost of Discipleship. He observed:
Only he who believes is obedient, 
and only he who is obedient believes.


To worship God as your Savior and Forgiver, without embracing Him as your Lord and Master would be as ridiculous as going through a marriage ceremony without anticipating a lifetime of loving and serving your spouse. Technically, you don’t become married just by acting like you’re married, and you don’t become a Christian by living a good life, but would it make sense to be married with no intention of acting like it? Does it make sense to rely on Jesus as your Savior without responding daily in obedience to his commands?

When you are obedient to Christ and actively following God’s leading, it is evident in your life. It’s obvious that you are a follower of Christ. The moment you surrendered the leadership of your life to Christ, a life of obedience to God became a real possibility.

Some acts of obedience are more internal, having to do with attitudes, habits, motives, values, and your day-to-day thoughts. These internal acts of obedience eventually surface in your relationships with others. The proof of your love for God is your consistent obedience to Him.

“Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.
Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”

Jeremiah 7:23

“It is not just that we should strive to live like Jesus, but that Jesus by His Spirit should come and live in us. To have Him as our example is not enough; we need Him as our Savior. It is thus through His atoning death that the penalty of our sins may be forgiven; whereas it is through His indwelling Spirit that the power of our sins may be broken.”
                                 - John R. W. Stott, Basic Christianity
Today's Missional Challenge: Choose to obey God and align your life with His redemptive mission!

Related Posts: 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Murray Moerman on Lausanne III

My OC colleague, Murray Moerman, recently attended the Lausanne III Conference in Capetown, South Africa along with 4,000 Christian leaders from 198 countries around the world.

Murray notes on his blog:
The Lausanne Movement may be the most influential evangelical mission movement of the last 35 years, and likely longer. In the perspective of history, it could be argued to be the greatest legacy of it's founder, Dr. Billy Graham.
Read more on Murray's blog post on October 25, 2010.


Watch this video as Pranitha Timothy talks about the issue of human trafficking.


Today's Missional Challenge: Like those who gathered for Lausanne III, commit yourself to confront the critical issues of our time as they relate to the future of the Church and world evangelization.

Related Posts:

Monday, October 25, 2010

How To Feed Myself Spiritually

I need to feed myself spiritual food every day! Every Christian needs to feed daily on God's Word to grow!

For the past several years, the method I've been using is amazingly simple, easily transferable to others, and powerfully practical. I follow the SOAP model and you can read more about it here: Start SOAP Journaling.


I was surprised to discover today that someone had recently done a google search on "how to feed myself spiritually" and they arrived at Day 2 of Take the Missional Challenge. This post from August 2, 2010 was at the top of the results page.

If you'd like to learn how to feed yourself spiritually - I strongly suggest that you try SOAP Journaling.

S = Scripture. I typically read one chapter from the Bible each day and ask God to speak to me personally through what I'm reading. Then I choose a key verse on which to meditate and copy it word for word in my journal. Today I read Philippians 3. The key verses I copied into my journal were Phil 3:13-14. "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

O = Observation. I write out a paragraph that focuses on what the author communicated in the key verse. Today I observed: "Paul's focus in clear. He wants to receive the prize and is committed to do whatever it takes to be found in Christ and knowing Christ. He is intentionally 'forgetting' what he's done in the past and not relying/trusting in his past accomplishments. Instead, he is focused on intentionally moving forward. His commitment is to this ONE THING. By eliminating everything else, he is able to pursue this goal."

A = Application. I write out a specific action that I will do in obedience to God's Word. Today I wrote: "Right now in my life I need this kind of focus and intentionality. I am a little scattered in my directions, and as a result, the goal/prize is not clear in my mind. Ultimately, I need to be more about ONE THING: Abiding in Christ, and less about all the other things I want to do for Christ. So, I will make Abiding in Christ the focus that I'm after. And, I will not rely on the things I'm doing or have done in the past."

P = Prayer. I write out a simple pray to God in response to what I've read, observed and am seeking to apply. Today I prayed: "God, help me not to put confidence in all the great things I've done - or in things that I'm now doing. Help me to focus on abiding in you and doing those things that flow out of that relationship. Amen."

After writing this all in my journal, then I shared what I had written with a friend. This helped reinforce what I was learning in my time alone with God. My friend then took time to pray for me that I would abide in Christ.

Here's what I love about this SOAP method of feeding myself spiritually:
1. It's amazingly simple.
2. It's easily transferable to others.
3. It's powerfully practical.

Today's Missional Challenge: Make it your habit to feed yourself daily on God's Word. You can use this SOAP model - or any other approach that helps you to read, understand and apply God's truth in your life.

Related Posts:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Take An Inventory

Guest post by Andy Ragone,
Director of InsideOut

Okay, take an inventory… get away for a few minutes and ask yourselves the following questions:

1. Does it bother you when you’re not in control?

2. Does it bother you when things don’t go your way?

3. Do you have trouble asking for help?

4. Do you get impatient when people don’t do things right?

5. Does it upset you when you don’t get good service?

6. Do you try people around you?

7. Do you look for the approval or thanks from others?

8. Do you try to keep people happy?

9. Do you reject those who mistreat you?

I don’t think we set out on any given day and intentionally try to be like God, but what did our answers tell us? If the answer is yes, then we just may be trying to control, judging and seeking praise. Sounds a little like God, doesn’t it?


Today's Missional Challenge: Make a commitment to regularly evaluate your life! Develop a regular routine of asking yourself questions to stay aligned with the mission of Jesus.

Related Posts:

Andy Ragone leads InsideOut - a fellowship of students and adults committed to showing the love of Jesus to the Estrella community. "With a mindset compelled to carry out Christ's commands and a heart motivated by love and truth, we exist to build friendships, make disciples, and empower leadership among the students and families of Estrella Mountain."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

From "Y'all Come" to Reaching Out


I met with a pastor recently who moved to Washington from Texas. He pastors a church that is over 60 years old and was started by southerners who moved to the Northwest many decades ago. He explained that the church had been very traditional and was "too southern" - the members were having trouble reaching out to northwesterners.

Over the last four years, this church has transitioned from a "Y'all Come" approach to reaching out to do something good in the community. They've found ways to meet needs...like helping put out American flags in a local cemetery on Memorial Day. They also decided to bless a local elementary school - using the VBS offering to purchase school supplies.

They've also found ways to partner with community organizations. The pastor notes, "If you are doing good work, I can partner with you. And I can share the gospel with anyone who asks."

The pastor sees that it is his responsibility to teach the members of his church to get out of the doors of the church and to start doing good in the community. He tells them:
1) You will have some opportunities to share the gospel.
2) People will start calling us their church - even if they've never been here. Someday they will have a crisis in life and come to "their" church.

He adds, "It's a long-term process."

In addition to reaching out to their community - they've also shared their church facility with four congregations including a deaf church. What a great way to invest in the extending of the kingdom!

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider how you can get out of the doors of your church to reach out and do something good in your community!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Asking Great Questions

Asking questions is a powerful way to help someone discover truth. Great questions can lead someone to change their ways of thinking, or even take actions that will change their lives.

"I never learn anything talking. 
I only learn things when I ask questions."
-- Lou Holtz

I love asking questions! In my coaching conversations with pastors, church planters and missional leaders I'm constantly asking questions to raise their awareness of their situation in life or ministry. These questions often result in taking steps forward.

Recently I was introduced to a ministry that's all about asking questions: GreatQuestion.org.
This site is designed to support a community of people that are interested in sharing ideas about important questions in life. . . questions that don't have simple answers, but how we answer them has an important impact on how we live our lives. Questions from the profound, "What does it mean to be wise?" to the practical "How do I steer my children away from using drugs?" to the compassionate "How can we reduce poverty in the world?"

This community is based on the belief that we can come up with better answers together than we can on our own. That by respectfully sharing ideas we can learn from each other. This is not a place for partisan speeches, or dogma, but for dialog. We have a shared value that humility is key to learning, and respect can be maintained through disagreement.
Here's their list of TOP 10 QUESTIONS:

1. “What is one thing you would like to see changed in the world.”
2. “What are you most proud of?”
3. “What was the best day of your life?”
4. “When was the last time you had a great conversation?”
5. “When were you most satisfied?”
6. “What are the qualities of a true friend?”
7. “How would you define the word LOVE?”
8. “What have you always wanted to do but were too afraid?”
9. “What is your favorite word?” or “What single word describes you best?”
10. “If you could ask God one question–what would it be?”

Don't these questions make you think?

I wonder if you were to ask these questions of friends in your life, where would the conversation go? I'm certain that asking these questions could naturally lead to spiritual conversations about the things that really matter. As a follower of Jesus, you could naturally share about your relationship with God as you discuss these questions.

Today's Missional Challenge: Ask good questions. Start practicing with some of the questions listed above. Engage in conversation about things that really matter!

Related Posts:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

5 Ideas about Coaching and Accountability

Accountability is often necessary and helpful in accomplishing your goals! Accountability assists motivated leaders to move further faster. Accountability ensures the completion of identified action steps.

CoachNet Ministries recently posted the following question on their facebook page.
What would you do with this situation? "I am struggling with my coachee because he's my close friend. Sometimes we come up with action plans, but they don't get done. I think it's because my friend can appeal to our friendship to avoid accountability. How can I improve our coaching?"
Here are 5 ideas I'd suggest on how to address accountability in a coaching relationship:

1. If I'm a real friend, I'm not going to let the coachee "take advantage" of my friendship to avoid accountability. I'm going to encourage my friend to be serious about action steps or find a new coach. (Of course, I'd do that even if the...y weren't a close friend).

2. My job isn't to provide accountability for anyone's action steps - my job as a coach is to help them discover what steps they need to take and to identify what accountability will help them to succeed in moving forward. It's important to resist the temptation to provide "accountability" for your coachee and to help them discover their own accountability. (The fact we are meeting again in two weeks provides "built in" accountability - but that may not be enough for your coachee. Ask them what accountability they need.)

3. If there are obstacles that keep my friend from accomplishing their desired outcome and completing their action steps, I often help them identify the obstacles and determine appropriate actions to overcome them.

4. When action steps are written down at the end of a coaching session, I try to help the coachee articulate how committed they are to taking these actions. I often ask: "How confident are you that you will complete these action steps by our next appointment?" If they lack confidence, then we coach around the issues to help them succeed.

5. If action steps don't get accomplished, whether they are my friend or not, it's important to determine how important it is to the coachee to still accomplish them. If they still want to take those steps forward, it is often helpful to break the action step down into smaller steps to ensure progress is made and to avoid a repeat of "no action taken" at your next appointment.

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider what accountability would be most helpful in your life to help you reach your goals and complete your intended action steps. 

Related Posts:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Start Churches by Making Disciples

Jesus never told His disciples to start churches. There’s not even a command to start churches anywhere in the New Testament. In fact, Jesus only mentions the church on two occasions in the Gospels (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17). In neither context does He speak about starting churches.

However, in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus does command His disciples to make disciples. He sends His followers to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. In the United States, often churches are started with expectation that if we start worship services, then we will make disciples.

In a previous post I've noted...
The typical mindset has been: "If we worship publicly and advertise to the community, people will come." This approach has worked well in communities where there are a large number of formerly churched people, as well as in new suburbs where there are few existing churches. However, many church planters have discovered that advertising the start of public worship services does not guarantee that people will come. (read more...)

I started Lake Hills Church in Southern California in 1990 and now I train and coach church planters. As I’ve worked with new churches, I’m more and more convinced that we don’t start churches to make disciples. We start churches by making disciples. That’s our mission: making disciples.

“We don’t start churches
to make disciples.
We start churches by 
making disciples.”

Today's Missional Challenge: Don't just think that if you start church services, it will automatically result in making disciples. Start making disciples first!

Related Posts:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Little Finger

Recently I met with a church planter for lunch. He shared with me a meeting that he had been in recently with other pastors in the area. Then he held up his hand and explained what he had told them...

"This is me - the little finger. 
I need you - the other fingers - 
for the hand to do the work, to lift better."

I was impressed by two things:
1) His humility.
2) His commitment to partnership with other churches.

His perspective was not typical of many church planters. Too many church planters think that they are the only pastor in their area that really knows what to do to reach their community with the gospel. Many of them have over-inflated egos and see themselves as the whole hand that God will use to make disciples in their city. 

That's why I appreciated his humility. He didn't have the perspective that he was the only one doing things the right way. He wasn't bashing all the existing churches in his community. He saw himself as the "little finger" on the hand that God was using to reach his area for Christ. 

And he realized that he needed to partner together with others. He realized that he couldn't do it all on his own. He needed others in the Body of Christ to "do the work, to lift better."

I remember years ago when I was planting Lake Hills Church in Southern California. I wanted to cast a big vision for our future. I started telling others our vision: to bring the love of Christ to every neighborhood of the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond in order to establish an active presence of Christ's church in our community.

This was a big vision! And I really wanted to see it happen. I wanted our church to do this! I started vision casting and helping others in our church to own this vision together. We began changing some of our activities to better accomplish this vision. We emphasized being the church not just going to church. We started more small groups that met in homes in neighborhoods. We offered training workshops and taught a series of messages on this vision. 

Then one day my wife asked me, "Isn't it a little arrogant to think you can do this on your own? Don't you think you should partner with other churches? Shouldn't you emphasize that 'we will do our part to accomplish this vision'?" I didn't like her questions. I tried to justify my actions. But inside, I knew that she was right. I had been acting like our church was the whole hand and that we didn't need any other fingers to help us fulfill this vision. 

Ultimately, I had to recognize that..."This is me - the little finger." 

I can only do my part! And the reality is - that's all any of us can do - our part! We all need "the other fingers for the hand to do the work."

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: 
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, 
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, 
in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."
Romans 12:3

Today's Missional Challenge: Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. Value others in the Body of Christ. Look for ways to partner together to accomplish Jesus' mission in your community.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cities at the Center of God's Agenda

Guest post by Jeff Getz, 
Director of NewYorkIsCalling


City Life. City Noise. City Traffic. City Slickers. Urban Decay. With all the negative connotations of the word ‘city’, still God has chosen that we would all live together in a City forever. Makes you wonder. Maybe God should have given us something better than city life forever to reward us eternally.

Within my lifetime, I am likely to see a world in which 70% live in cities. Rather than ask, why this many people would want to live in cities, what if we were to ask…” What is God’s agenda in moving so many people to the cities? What is God doing in piling people into a relatively small percentage of the available real estate?” We must keep in mind that, as Paul told the men of Athens, “it was He who predetermined the exact times and places where we should live” (Acts 17). And then Paul gives the reason for God putting people where they are, “so that they might reach out and grasp for God and perhaps find Him.” So, God’s agenda in migrating the world to the cities might be that they find Him there.

Why are cities so strategic in God’s agenda that He would relocate millions there now?

1. Cities are dark enough that if somebody turns on the light, it gets noticed. If you know Jesus and live in a city, it’s hard to hide him or hold him in. Lukewarm middle of the road socially acceptable Christianity doesn’t work in cities. Cities tend to be darker, so if you are the light, it’s going to be tough to hide that weird glow about you.

2. Cities are virus-friendly. Ideas spread here quickly, for good or for bad. City folks seem willing to try anything, talk about anything, believe just about anything if it works. The Gospel is no exception if lived and shared in a way that allows people to interact with it rather than only be indicted by it. Seriously, if you believe trees are gods and we are all one happy being-force, would it be that difficult to believe that a man said he was God, died, and came back to life?

3. Cities are becoming interested in practiced, practical faith. An East Village school principal asks a church plant to move into her school because she noticed another church bringing life to its ‘hood. Victims of sex-trafficking connect with a church who paid for a way out of that slavery. Volunteer-starved social services asked me to provide helpers to senior citizens with no strings attached. Faith without works is dead, but faith that works gets quickly noticed in cities.

4. Church planting in cities has its own set of rules, or lack of rules, so there’s no one way to do it or approach it, and the people of the city value unique approaches and unusual ways to form new faith communities.

Cities are ready for the church to stay there, move there, and thrive. Remember that in John’s vision of the Heavenly City, he saw “no temple there”, because everyone there was serving God. We dream of a day when cities don’t just ‘see a church building here and there’, but rub shoulders everyday with people who are serving God by serving the city. And only people who have ridden a rush-hour subway understand the reference to ‘rubbing shoulders’. Every time I have to rub shoulders with somebody, it hints of heaven….and God’s love for cities.

Today's Missional Challenge:  How strategic is your city to God's agenda? Consider how you can join God in reaching people that He's moved to the city to find Him there.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lesson 87: Train in Ministry, Not for Ministry

When I wrote Six-Word Lessons to Discover Missional Living, I attempted to capture 100 lessons that would help believers live on mission with Jesus. One chapter focuses on some of the lessons I learned while planting Lake Hills Church in Castaic, California. Consider this principle about training...

Lesson #87
Train in Ministry, not for Ministry.
Leadership development is not a program, it is a lifestyle. Learning to serve others does not happen in the classroom, but in the context of ministry.

All believers must be equipped and empowered at every opportunity right where they live. (p 122)
It doesn't make sense to front load all the training content in advance and then expect people to remember "the training" when they finally face a need to implement it weeks or even months later.  Instead, provide orientation and then allow people to start serving while providing ongoing training in a ministry context. 

I believe that this is what Jesus did with His disciples. In fact, at times after sending them out, He would debrief and provide additional training after they returned. 

What thoughts does that trigger about the way you develop leaders?
What would it look like if you adopted this principle?

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider how you will train others in  ministry, not for ministry.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tim Roehl: Life Principles

I met Tim Roehl several years ago through my friend Steve Ogne. As a missionary with CRM, Tim’s ministry gives him the privilege to assess, coach and train leaders from many different denominations and organizations across the United States and around the world.

Tim is the author of The Day that Changed Forever and the co-author with Steve Ogne of TransforMissional Coaching.

Last month on Tim's blog, he posted a work in progress - Life Principles that God has been teaching him over the past several decades. Tim notes, "All of them became a 'Life Principle' for me because the Holy Spirit first impressed and then etched them on my heart…they have become part of my spirit! They’ve also shaped who I am as a man of God, leader, husband, father, friend and teammate."
These are lessons that you don't necessarily learn in a classroom or in a book - they are only learned as you live life in relationship with God. 

Life Principles About My Relationship with God

1. I am responsible for the depth of my relationship with God. He is responsible for the breadth of my influence for Him.

2. My identity is grounded in Jesus...a life based on grace.

3. Live as a son, not as a slave.

4. “Not by might...but by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I must be, and choose to be a Spirit-cleansed, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led man.

5. Be a man of worship--I will present my whole self before a whole Holy God.

6. A shout of praise sends all hell into confusion.

7. Have a warrior’s heart, but stay tender to people.

8. Take time for solitude--it stretches and nourishes the soul.

9. Catch an updraft from heaven--fly like an eagle! (Isaiah 40:31)

10. Live from a pure heart. Holiness is essential, not optional.

11. Make it a continual goal to live with a clean heart, a clear conscience, and a faith that wears no masks. (II Tim. 1:7)

12. Greater is He that is in me than my enemy and the world! (I John 4:4)

13. Be ruthless with sin in yourself, merciful with sin in others. (Jude 20-23)

14. Integrity is integral.

15. Where God causes His name to be honored, He will come and bless. (Ex. 20:24)

16. Before revealing His will, God desires to first reveal Himself to us.

17. Only in my brokenness can God pour out His power.

18. Never underestimate the power of a life completely abandoned to God.

19. Don’t shrink back...never allow yourself to be a casual Christian! (Heb. 10: 39)

20. An outward physical/emotional craving is a sign of an inward spiritual need.

21. To take a pill to heal the body is commendable, but to take a pill to try to heal the soul is deplorable.

22. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty.

         ... read more here.

I'm so grateful for the wisdom that Tim shares. #13 above is particularly powerful - it's so easy to do the reverse. Here's a list of some lessons that I learned as a pastor.
Follow Tim on facebook.
Follow Tim on twitter.
Read Tim's blog.
Visit Tim's website.

Today's Missional Challenge: What are the life principles that God has taught you about your relationship with Him? Consider writing them down and sharing them with others.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Linus Morris on Christian Associates

Christian Associates is a church planting organization that is starting churches throughout Europe and beyond. Ten years ago they established a B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of establishing 50 churches by 2010. They've accomplished this vision and are now focused on using these 50 churches as a platform to multiply more churches.

When I was in Southern France last month at Le Chateau de St. Albain, I had the opportunity to meet together with Dr. Linus Morris, the founder of Christian Associates. I asked him to share their vision and what God is doing through them to multiply churches.

Linus explains their focus is planting hub churches that are both sustainable and reproducing - "that start multiplying out and becoming church planting movements themselves....My hope is that those 50 churches could become 500."

Watch this video (3 min) about Christian Associates...


Can you see it? 
A movement of 500 churches in Europe as a result of a vision to establishing sustainable and reproducible churches!

Today's Missional Challenge: Consider your B.H.A.G. - Big Hairy Audacious Goal. How can God use you and your church to launch a movement of sustainable and reproducing churches in your city, county or state?

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Recommended Reading:
The High Impact Church by Dr. Linus Morris

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bob Logan Blog

Bob Logan became a mentor to me as I planted a church in Southern California in 1990. I'll never forget the conversation we had just a month before our public grand opening. He looked me right in the eye and said - "Dave, just be prepared to have a premature birth."

The reality at that time was that we weren't nearly prepared for all that was involved with starting public worship services. Yet miraculously, God was gracious and we launched with just over 200 people on our first Sunday. Thanks to Bob's input through the New Church Incubator pilot that he had recently started and fantastic coaching by his colleague Steve Ogne, we were able to move forward toward a healthy start that didn't require time in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

Beyond Church GrowthBob's book Beyond Church Growth was published in 1990. Every chapter helped shape my philosophy and plan for planting a church. Here are the big ideas he wrote about 20 years ago. 
  • Visionizing Faith and Prayer
  • Effective Pastoral Leadership
  • Culturally Relevant Philosophy of Ministry
  • Celebrative and Reflective Worship
  • Holistic Disciple-making
  • Expanding Network of Small Groups
  • Developing and Resourcing Leaders
  • Mobilizing Believers According to Spiritual Gifts
  • Appropriate and Productive Programming
  • Starting Churches that Reproduce
The Church Planter's ToolkitOver the past twenty years, Bob Logan has influenced thousands of church plants throughout the United States and beyond. Together with Steve Ogne, he developed The Church Planter's Toolkit a great resource which is still helping to prepare planters to birth new churches. I often wished this resource was available when I planted Lake Hills, yet I'm grateful I was there in the audience for the recording of the audio resource.

Here's another thing that I appreciate about Bob - he's continually expressed genuine interest in me and my life. I was on vacation a few years ago with my family - and when Bob heard I was in the same community where he was on vacation too, he made sure we spent some time together. How cool is that? I got an email from him this week and he simply said, "If you have a chance I’d love an update on how you’re doing these days." The last time I was with Bob he made sure I had his personal phone number because he wanted to keep in touch. Here's what Bob communicates - I care about you and what's going on in your life. I hope that I communicate that to those whom I coach and train.

The most important lesson that I've learned from Bob is this:
Disciplemaking starts with non-disciples, not Christians. 

I'm sure Bob's not the first one to articulate that thought - Jesus did a long time ago. But Bob helped me to change my perspective on disciplemaking. It's not just a follow-up program for new believers, it's a way of life for all Christians. (see Disciplemaking Starts with Non-Disciples)

Coaching 101: Discover the Power of CoachingA few years ago, my colleague Sammy Mureithi invited me to join him for a coach training program designed by Bog Logan and CoachNet. It was fantastic. I loved hanging out with Bob and I learned so much more about how to be a good coach. The biggest learning for me that week was to allow the client to set the agenda for the coaching session. In preparation for that training event, I read Bob's book Coaching 101. If you'd like to grow in your coaching skills, I highly recommend it (read more here).

I've been serving as the Director of Church Multiplication for the Missionary Church Western District for nearly 10 years. I started serving in that role as a result of Steve and Bob's preparation through the Church Planting Institute (CPI). Bob developed a training process which helped our district to develop the systems for multiplying churches. By utilizing Bob's systems, we've started four churches every year for the past four years.

Bob is also the founder of CoachNet - a great online resource for church planters and for those who coach them. If you aren't familiar yet with CoachNet - go to www.coachnet.org.

Here's Bob's latest perspective...
Church as usual isn’t working. I know it and you know it. It’s way too complicated and you’re not even getting the results you want. You know there’s more, and you’re getting frustrated. As a visionary, you can see the need for something new-- something simple, something real and authentic. I see that need too. I'm currently planting a network of missional house churches with multi-ethnic leaders in Los Angeles, so I see the cultural shifts that have taken place and how they change the way church looks and functions. (from Bob's blog)
Now Bob is developing ViaCordis, a multi-ethnic missional house church network in the L.A. area. You can read more about that here.

It's really great to see that Bob is continuing to follow Jesus and seeking to achieve success in life - which his dad taught him years ago was simply joining God in what He's doing. Bob is a great example to me of what it means to join God.

Recently, Bob has started a new blog on leadership. I highly recommend it: www.loganleadership.com

Today's Missional Challenge: Discover what God is doing and join Him! And remember that discipleship starts with non-disciples.

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