Church Planting Movements

Holy Crap, are any of you reading this?
This book is just getting me pumped about everything I'm doing, everything I've been thinking/hoping/praying for months. I haven't been this gripped by a book since Harry Potter.

iPhone Bible app

How is there still no iPhone app that uses the sword project
repositories so we can have ESV and many many different languages.
It's bewildering to me that the iPhone can do everything better but
windows mobile still has e-Sword and we have nothing.

Drives me nutty.

You're a soldier, not a civilian (2 Timothy 2;4)

"No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him." - 2 Timothy 2:4

I'm sure I've written about this before, probably almost two years ago now because this is a life verse for me. I read this section again today and was really chewing on it particularly because verse 7 says, "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." So I read this and the verses around it and then began to pray for understanding. Now having said that I don't want you to think that now I'm saying, "So this is the word of God," because I'm not. I'm merely going to tell you what I've been pondering since then.

First of all I remember reading this written more like this, "Therefore as a soldier of Christ do not be caught up in the affairs of this world, you are to please Christ your commanding officer." Okay I don't know why I remember this way, I cant find a translation that writes it this way but this is how I remember it. There are some subtle differences and some large, but the biggest is the difference between "the affairs of this world" and "civilian pursuits."

See if I'm not supposed to be concerned with anything in this world then I'd be so "So heavenly minded" that I was of "No earthly good." But that's not what we're called to be. God left me in the world and called me to be IN but not OF it. If I live my life only for heaven then I miss the opportunity I have here and now to bring redemption to all of creation.

So what does "civilian pursuits" mean? I think this is the things that the non-kingdom minded people are pursuing. That means money, fame, lust, (insert your idolatrous sin here). For me the biggest thing is fame. My civilian pursuit that I get caught up in is wanting to be known. I don't know why I have this longing as strongly as I do. I want to be published, or at least well known in the blog-o-sphere (which is sort of like being published by a loser). I don't know why but I begin to pursue this instead of pleasing my commanding officer.

As soon as life becomes about something other than the battle (namely ME), it falls apart. I can't take it, can't process it. I'm supposed to still be involved in this world in a practical way, but I'm not supposed to be OF it. Pursuing the things the civilians are pursuing.

Because I am not a civilian. I am soldier of Christ. "I'm in the Lord's army. Yes sir!" My concern is winning the battles, focusing on the fight, with my eyes on the war which is already won. I have the privilege to fight, I don't want to be sidetracked and taken out of the battle because I forgot what the role of a soldier is.

Anyhow. These are my thoughts. Still a life verse, but now I have a different take on it.

haiku meme

Seems like it's been forever since I was tagged in a meme (that I know of) so I thought I'd hop in. Seeing as how my other love is poetry (and by that I meanthe sieve and the sand) I'll jump right in.

First, here is the original post by Jeff.

weightless winds brush drops from
leaves of intricate design
screaming You're awesome

i feel bad tagging folk because i don't read hardly anyone else's blog these days... but don't think just do.

The Bible on being effective and fruitful (2 Peter 1:5-8)

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. " - 2 Peter 1:5-8

You already have faith. Add to that virtue and knowledge. Self control is an interesting one though because it's you who is lacking the control. How can you who lacks control just go and control yourself?

The concept of self control is a joke outside of a higher-power and really our God. Because something outside of us has to give us the strength to control ourselves when we lack it.

Steadfastness - Standing firm. Being fixed, steady. Do you know why you live? Are you living for Christ and are you doing so steadily? Are you holding fast, firmly to God? Are you constant in your battle for the expansion of the Kingdom of God?

Godliness, brotherly affection, and love.

All of these could take days to talk through,

But if these qualities are yours and you're advancing them, increasing them, working on them, you will be effective. You will be fruitful.

Want to know how to succeed at what you do? The scripture tells us VERY clearly.

And don't forget that because godliness is in there by it's very nature you're not going to accomplish these things if you're doing something ungodly.

But take a minute to think about your life, your work, your ministry and your family. Which of these needs the most work?

Be in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fear like I don't fear. And giving it up to the Lord.

I dislike airplanes, I think I've mentioned that. But there is one thing that stresses me out much more than any airport problem can. And that is my family having health issues.

We're in northern Thailand because we (like most people who live a third-world country in this part of the world) flea the country when we need to do something big medically, like have a baby. So we'll be here for two months. Well, Sunday night my wife and I went to church at an international fellowship here (we don't speak any thai so this is a good fit for the two months). My daughter was running and playing and came running toward me and then tripped. Except this trip was a little different, she went face down and didn't stand back up. I went over to look at her and she was seizing.

To say that fear that struck me was overwhelming would be an understatement. I don't process that well. And seeing my daughter do that was absolutely terrifying. Thankfully there was a doctor nearby who knew what to do. Apparently she was having a Febral Seizure. So once we were able to cool her off the seizure stopped (only about 2-3 minutes). Then it was off to a hospital and gripping fear for hours until we knew what had happened. Later just about the time we calmed down she seized again as her fever spiked again.

Take my word for it, if you have kids this is not something you want to see no matter how much the doctor tells you that it wont have lasting side effects.

My daughter is doing well now and she and my wife just went home from the hospital an hour ago or so. I'm waiting around for them to solve all our insurance issues and then pay the bill.

But in all of this I'm faced with something anew. Something I hate. And that is God asking me, "Do you trust me with your family? Will you stay here even if your family is not healthy?"

I want to say yes. I don't want to leave the mission field because of health issues. But that said, if this had happened while we were home in a place where I do not trust the doctors to know what to do anymore than the insects, I would have panicked even more, and I would begin to question God.

Again, that said, I wasn't at home when this happened. I was in a country where I trust the medical care. I was standing 25 feet from a doctor because I was at a church. If that's not the Lord's hand taking care of my family I don't know what is. But this is the hardest thing in the world for me to give up.

Would you be able to live and serve in a place with little to no medical care? Many people have lost family in the field. Is that a sacrifice you would be willing to make? I am still trying to answer this one myself. I hope I never have to.

Update: After discussing this with my wife it feels much less like God asking, "Would you be willing?" and much more like Him saying, "I've got you, and your family is in good hands with me."

Life priorities

Sometimes I feel like I'm not clear enough on what my priorities are. So I wrote them out quickly to order them and remind myself what's important. It's encouraging to see the things that excite me.

Thoughts on "How To Find Time For… Everything!

"How To Find Time For… Everything! - Smashing Magazine"

An interesting article on time management by Smashing Magazine. What's interesting about this is as a believer I have found that I have the most time when I'm walking closest with God. I think what it is is that I'm focused, I have extra energy (grace), and I don't burn out because I'm walking in the spirit.

I know it sounds a little cheesy, but this has been my experience. If I haven't been walking with the Lord my time starts to feel crunched more and more and pretty soon I don't feel like I have time for the Lord. But if I make the time, then all of a sudden I feel like I have much more than I should.

An interesting paradox.

Is anyone out there?

I actually hoped to create a bit of a stir on my last post and there was basically a pin drop. I recognize I haven't been commenting on anyone's site in a while. Nor have I been posting regularly. I'm getting substantial traffic from google, but thats about it and I'm wondering. Is anyone reading this anymore? Or is everyone just coming via google searches and new content is all but a lost cause?

Just curious.

Leave your pulpit, start a podcast

A plea for church movements instead of church heroes.

Today I sat and listened to a fantastic sermon on 2 Timothy at a church of about 500 or so in a city where I will be visiting for the next two months and thought to myself, "This is a waste of my time."

Because the truth is I can stay at home and listen to a podcast that will have just as great of teaching (although it was a fantastic sermon) and have about the same amount of people interaction as I got from going to this church.

Then the service was over and on the way out I was able to talk with one man for five minutes. It was a great conversation but I was easily as encouraged by my talk with him as I was with the whole hour and half stiff-formal-service.

Why have we taken church - a gathering of believers for fellowship and sharing - and turned it into a place for intense Christian education and awkward liturgy? We can't raise up people who feel equipped to lead a church because they cannot reproduce something that has taken an entire team of people to do. If our churches were lunch meetings, or even brunch meetings where we shared wine, food, and dessert slowly over the course of a few hours while people shared, sang, and prayed it would be reproducible. In fact it would be so reproducible people would be excited about doing it themselves.

I'm not saying we should form our concept of church around what is easily copied. But I am saying a church was supposed to be something that WAS easily copied.

Your church service looks like this:

10:00 AM start
From the pulpit:

Opening 2 worship songs (10 minutes)
Announcements / Welcoming new people (5-10 minutes)
3-4 more worship songs (15 minutes)
Prayer (5 minutes)
Teaching (30-40 Minutes)
Benediction/Wrap up (5 minutes)

But what if your church service looked like this:

10:30 AM start
Around the table:

Catch up and eat snacks (20 minutes)
Eat and that week's appointed person share on what they've been learning or whatever verse has been assigned (15 minutes)
Discussion (15-20 minutes)
Wine and singing/prayer worship (15 minutes)
Desert, hang out, individual prayer time for those who need it (until people leave)

This sort of meeting would be manageable for just about any believer. Of course you would still want a leader whom you could trust to keep the discussion from veering into heresy. And you would encourage people to be learning outside of church and sharing what they're learning. Church would become a place for fellowship and growth rather than a one hour school lesson. It would be a place where friends gather rather than hundreds of strangers. And where you can find community when you need it, prayer when you're hurting, and it could be something you enjoy because you're encouraged by the body of Christ. And hey, on the drive home you could listen to the theologically/seminary trained guy's podcast.

I grow most when I see and share in the lives of other believers. I don't know the life of my pastor. I don't grow because of the relationships I have at church, they're for the most part shallow. I grow because of the relationships I have outside of church and the ability I have on days other than Sunday to go deep in those in relationships and talk about what God is doing in such people's lives. A great teaching on 2 Timothy is great for about two hours until I forget it. No matter how great of a sermon it was, it would be much better if I had a personal relationship with the speaker, and understood why these things were important to him, so I could understand why they should matter to me.

If you're doing this sort of church soon you could raise up a leader within your group who was capable of doing the same thing at his house. He would invite a few friends and you would give him some of your people to help start it. You could invite new friends and begin thinking again about who to raise up to split.

This would lead to movements rather than hero speakers who mass more and more people around them to hear a "perfectly formed 3 point sermon" or "Bible teaching that's not boring." I think our churches would look more like the early church (which isn't necessarily THE reason to do it, but I think they had some things right) and bringing a non-believer would be like inviting someone to a friend's house for lunch rather than an uncomfortable 1.5 hours of liturgy.

The hard thing about this is that most pastors are longing to be the best speaker they can be and have the best and biggest church around. No longer would this be the case. Soon you would be seeking to lead the pastors and then help them to lead the other pastors and you would have movements on your hands rather than one big church you could control. It is my opinion that this is the model we should be seeking.

If you are a gifted speaker, please by all means continue to try to reach a large audience, start a podcast. We need all the great teaching we can get so that we can share at church about what we've been hearing in your great podcast.

Thinking about missions theory

I'm still in the field. Albeit on a nice 2 month furlough to have another baby. But still very far from my motherland in America. The longer I'm in the field and doing ministry the more I think about how much I would love to teach missions at a seminary level. I've been pursuing my MDiv (I'm a depressing less-than-half-way through) but still making progress and not having to leave the field, which is my passion still.

Whenever I think abut what I'd like to teach someday (you know in like 15 years when I finally finish a PhD) I keep going back to missions but getting stuck on the idea of teaching missions history - a topic I'm interested in but would hate teaching. I'm much more interested in the theory. But then I'm realizing that theory is a field in itself. And now my lips are watering.

I love that all day long my job is to think about furthering the Kingdom of God and figuring out how to do that practically. I love thinking about how to plant churches. How to raise up leaders. How to properly do evangelism. How to depend on the spirit. Where to stretch and let go and where to hold on. I love these things more than anything else I've studied... And I cant wait to teach it.

Anyone out there study missions theory. Have any good places for me to start? I just picked up "An Introduction to the Science of Missions" by J.H. Bavinck. And I'm stoked to see where I can get started.