Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Church Planting Movements

I love this clip on Church Planting Movements from the organization Pioneers. They are a very like-minded organization in church planting and I believe that this video clip helps capture the conversation I feel like I have with family and friends everyday who do not quite understand what it is exactly that I am going to be doing over the next couple of years.

Below I have also included some of my favorite quotes from the video that really help capture the essence of what church planting and church planting movements look like in an international context.



"A Church Planting movement is a movement of the Spirit of God."

"We don't want to simply see a church raised up where the missionary becomes the pastor forever and ever, amen. We want to see church planting movements that are indigenous to the people, even from the very beginning, that has as one of its core values the desire to reach out to others and to plant churches that will plant churches."

"So we're not here to Americanize this place or try and stimulate a church planting movement that looks like the US, we want to empower, equip, and involve the local church here... in what God is already doing."


Monday, November 28, 2011

Training for Trainers

This week I spent some time studying the essential elements of Training for Trainers (T4T), which is the primary way in which our team will operate in developing church planters in S. Asia to be sent out. The end goal will not be to only see them plant a church, but also train new leaders that will go on to also plant a church and continue to train more leaders. This training method has in the past and will hopefully continue to lead way into a church planting movement.

Due to its simplicity and its effectiveness, I found it worth sharing some of these essential elements with you here. T4T -- an all inclusive process of evangelism, discipleship, church planting, leadership training, and reproduction.

1. Built on the Word of God.
  • II Timothy 3:16-16
  • Psalms 3:16-17
2. Obedience based Discipleship.
  • Luke 6:46-49
  • Matthew 28:19-20
3. All believers equipped to share their faith.
  • Matthew 28:19-20
  • Acts 1:8
4. Emphasis on training those who will train others.
  • II Timothy 2:2
  • John 15:16
For a more in depth look at T4T check out T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness

It is my favorite time of year again and one of my favorite holidays is tomorrow. Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to me because it allows me to be with my family, eat a lot, watch football, and reflect on the last year of God's provision in my life. This year in particular my family will be spending it with my aunt and uncle in Chesapeake, VA.

This will be my last Thanksgiving in the States for a few years so I look forward to cherishing the day with loved ones and appreciating it for everything that it is. God has really blessed my family in the last year and I wanted to express a few of those here.

On March 9 this year I was given the best gift that I have ever received, aside from my salvation, in the birth of my son Elliot. I was and am a huge proponent of waiting to have children, but I am so thankful for his life and look forward to having him with us for the holidays this year.

I am also extremely thankful that God has opened the doors for my family to move to S. Asia in order to plant churches. The cooperative program of like minded churches have made this possible through their gracious gifts and I am thankful that they all helped make this possible.

Lastly, I am thankful for the support of both of our families in this huge transition in our lives. Goodbyes are never easy, but it has made it easier that we have their support and that they both desire to see our obedience to Christ.

I hope you too can recognize God's perfect provision in your life, even if it has been a difficult year. Be safe if you are traveling this weekend and I encourage you to take some time this over Thanksgiving to reflect on God's provision and express your thankfulness to him!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Message for the Heart of Muslims

For over a year now I have had Breaking the Islam Code by J.D. Greear on my reading list, but just now managed to start reading it this past weekend. It is already promising to be a great starting place in order to understand the soul questions of Muslims and to be able to see them come to Christ. Although I have only read about 25% of the book, I wanted to go ahead and share what J.D. calls "A Message for the Heart" in chapter one.

A Message for the Heart:

1. You most effectively share Christ with Muslims when you are genuinely friends with them.

2. You must learn to listen to Muslims.

3. You must look for the Holy Spirit to do in the heart of your Muslims friends what you cannot do.

In addition Greear offers three preliminary questions that he suggest you constantly be asking:

1. What does my friend actually believe?

2. Why does he believe that?

3. Which of his beliefs, questions, and experiences can I affirm?

I look forward to finishing up the book this week and offering further tools in reaching Muslims, but hopefully this will help get you started in the right direction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rules as Guidelines vs. Rules as Law

Finally at the age of 26 I have come to realize that sometimes rules are just necessary. It is not that it took me 26 years to actually realize that or fully understand that, but I struggled with the rules mentality for so long because I have often experienced rules as a law when in many cases they are not. My main issue with rules over the years has been generally when someone lays down a rule as if it is biblical or the only way.

My issue with rules being presented this way is that it does a couple of things. First, it many times causes something to become sin that was never sin to begin with. A great example of this is alcohol. Often times an institution will prohibit the consumption of alcohol, which often results in turning alcohol now into a temptation and sin when it is consumed. Alcohol is a gift from God, the first recorded miracle of Jesus, and when consumed appropriately and moderately can be a wonderful thing.

Second, by presenting or making rules as law it makes them appear as the only way. This in turn often results in the judgement of others when they may not be following those same given rules. It is important to remember that you can and still should have fellowship with fellow brothers even though their rule following may look different as the body of Christ is unique. What some can do in good conscience, other cannot. So, in some instances an issue or certain behavior maybe a sin issue for some and not for others. We must not make the mistake of making something a sin for all believers that was not clearly given as one in Scripture.

Now, are rules necessary? Absolutely, but I have come to see the freedom in rules as guidelines and not as law. Any organization and institution will have rules and I fully believe that you should follow those as your general guidelines because in most cases you agreed to those in working with them. And following rules as guidelines does not give one an excuse to sin, but rather respect them for what they are by submitting to the authority over them in their lives in a way that is Christ honoring(1Peter 2:13-16).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Obedience Based Discipleship

Starting next year, part of my role as a church planter in an international context will consist of me coming alongside national believers and discipling them. These followers of Christ could be at any level from seasoned Christian to a brand new follower of Christ. The key in my discipleship with them will be to equip and train them to be sent out on mission.

I will not be coming in as if to say that I am the man with the answers, but rather I will walk with them, point them to Jesus, and explore together what the Bible has to teach. This way there is not a dependency created on me in anyway, but rather all dependency is on Christ and what the Bible teaches. In many ways I will be equipped by these believers within my equipping of them. 

A key aspect within my discipling of these brothers in Christ, will be obedience based discipleship. In other words I will initially meet with all whom are interested, but very soon I will look for those that are serious about their faith, on mission, and ready to be sent out to plant churches. This may come across as harsh to some, but the truth is that in the context that I am going, I do not have time to waste on those that are not serious. This does not mean that I will not come back to them later at some point if they express and prove their seriousness, but initially I will move on. 

I am fully on board with this model and often question why we don't do that more within my current context within the American church? I love both the church local and the church universal/glocal, but believe that more of us need to get to a place of obedience based discipleship. We tend to let people play church too much, when the reality is that there are serious needs everywhere in the world.

The U.S. alone now has an unchurched population over more than 120 million. That number is only going to grow larger if we do not get serious about our discipleship within the church. So in order to reach the 120 million plus we need many faithful disciples that are on mission to be sent out. So my challenge for you is to start obedience based discipleship if you are not doing so already. 

Please feel free to comment below on how you have seen discipleship work and fail in the past within your own setting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Propaganda - G.O.S.P.E.L.

I know this video went around on facebook a few months ago, but thought it was still worth sharing for those of you that may have missed it. Artist Propaganda is putting together relevant music and poetry that reaches across the spectrum of youth and pop culture. He is highly respected in the LA hip-hop underground scene, but the key difference between him and many of those within the hip-hop world is that Propaganda is spreading the truth in his message.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chasing Hard after God

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
Psalm 63:8

Chasing hard after God should be our highest goal and first priority in life. I was challenged with this recently in my preparation to move to another country to be a church planter. It struck me how often my highest goal has been to please fellow man in many ways such as coming off as a good communicator, a respected leader, or even at times a good blogger. But the truth is that if I am not chasing hard after God to please him as an audience of one then I have ultimately failed.

Before I go any further I do want to point out that the only way in which one can chase hard after God would be dependent first on a work of enlightenment from God of himself to that individual. In the words of A.W. Tozer, We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. 

Tozer further says, The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: "Thy right hand upholdeth me."

So if God has originated a work in you then your natural response of that work is an impulse of following hard after Him. To do anything less would be to fall short of all that God has for you and your life. Remember that you are created to please an audience of one, God himself, therefore chase hard after that audience. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Nations In the City

Fulfilling the Great Commission and taking the gospel to those people groups that are unreached is no longer about only going to another country because many of the unreached people groups are coming to us in our major cities across the world, including the US. EthneCity is a conference that is focused on just that by looking at ways to reach the unreached in the city.

Nations in the city on Vimeo.

The gathering of ethneCity is designed to do three things:
  • Explore the reality of the urbanization of the world and what it will take to engage the unreached in the urban centers of the world.
  • Equip mission leaders and church-planting strategists in the development of strategies to reach unreached people groups in their indigenous homeland and urban centers, including in the U.S.
  • Provide an environment for mission leaders and international and U.S. church-planting strategists focused in urban centers to network and develop opportunities to work together. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lingering by Failing to Grasp the Situation


As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
(Genesis 19:15-16 ESV)

But he lingered, a simple statement that has huge implications. I had never really paid much attention to this statement in the story of Lot because I always remembered the outcome of him coming out on the other side okay. But what I failed to recognize in that statement is that in lingering over the situation it shows that Lot himself was slow to grasp the seriousness of the situation. 

Thankfully in the case of Lot, although he lingered, the Lord still showed mercy to him and his family. But this got me thinking about how many of us linger over things in our lives, specifically temptations and sins. I would say that it is only by the grace and mercy of the Lord that we ever escape those, but in lingering we too are failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation of sin in our lives. 

In regards to temptations and lingering, the longer one lingers then you are that much closer to go from lingering to sinning. An example of this that is often seen in the life of men is a beautiful woman walks by and in that moment if a man is faced with the temptation to lust after her he is much more likely to do so if he lingers as he looks at her and decides. Instead the better choice in that moment is to abide in Christ and turn from the lingering of your mind, therefore suppressing that temptation and sin in your life through Christ. 

So lingering is almost always failing to recognize the seriousness of the situation.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great Commission Basics

This week I had the privilege to sit in on a two part seminar given by Missiologist and Ethnographer Dr. Jim Slack. He specializes in using a selection of anthropologically-oriented tools that are valuable when planting churches, specifically those among unreached and unengaged ethnic people groups. But in the words of Slack himself, The biblical foundation for embracing, engaging and evangelizing a "panta ta ethne" ethnolinguistic people group as found within Christ's Great Commission precedes all other tools and presentations. 

Here is a helpful summary that Dr. Slack put together on The Basics of Christ's Great Commission:

Matthew 28:19-20
Luke 24 and Acts 1 & 2
  • The Great Commission from Christ was given to each and every believer, not just to apostles, pastors or missionaries. (Matthew 28:19 & Luke 24:47-48)
  • An everyday responsibility - "As you are going"-starting in each person's "Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47 & Acts 1:8)
  • The task of the Great Commission is "making disciples"-Evangelism and Discipleship. (Matthew 28:19)
  • The focus of "making disciples" is very specific-"making disciples within each and every ethnic people group-the panta ta ethne. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • Each believer is responsible for "making disciples" within each and every ethnolinguistic people group beginning in each person's Jerusalem, and moving beyond to each person's Judea, Samaria and uttermost. (Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8)
  • Witnesses and evangelizers are to engage each and every ethnolinguistic people group in their "mother tongue" (heart language) (Acts 2:6 & 8 & 11)

Friday, November 4, 2011

God Doesn't Want Your Flattery


This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me...
(Matthew 15:8 ESV)

This past week I was involved with a seminar dealing with ones relationship with God. We discussed how many things that used to be able to be assumed in the life of a believer can no longer be assumed anymore as the church is constantly allowing the culture to dictate how many view things. This is perhaps seen no greater than in my own generation as it seems like the majority of my "Christian" buddies that I grew up with are no longer identifying themselves as Christ followers. 

In essence I grew up with a bunch of Pharisees for friends, not all, but the ones that I referred to in the above paragraph. Then there is also a group that still honors Christ with their lips, but their heart is far from God. The classic example of this is seen as someone is publicly raising their hands in worship, declaring their honor and worship for Jesus, only to leave and go sleep with their girlfriend or perhaps to have many secret sins in their life. 

This boggled my mind for a long time growing up as I started to wonder when my time would come, my time to profess Christ with my lips, but go and live in whatever way pleased me. The reality is that this no longer boggles my mind, but what it does cause me to do is be saddened for those individuals who are wasting their lives away after hearing and knowing the truth of the gospel. 

The reality is that their hearts are far from God and the worship they professed was merely in vain. They may have fooled man, their parents, and youth pastor, but nobody fools God. The truth is that God doesn't want your flattery, so don't be a stupid pharisee. So if this is you, stop what you are doing and take time to consider what your life is truly like. You are the definition of a hypocrite and in need of true repentance. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Impressions

For over a year now my wife and I have been proudly Wal-Mart free, but occasionally we will venture into Wal-Mart for an exchange on an item such as diapers that nobody else will accept without a receipt.  The other night ended up being one of those nights where we needed to do an exchange. So we fought through the cars to find a parking spot, experienced an unfriendly greeting at the front door, waited in long lines, and walked the store what seemed like fifteen minutes to find the section that I was looking for.

Let's just say that immediately my mind was flooded with the many reasons that we are no longer Wal-Mart shoppers, aside from the ethical implications of shopping there. I finally found the item that I needed to get and proceeded to the checkout line. The checkout clerk was very pleasant and we had some small talk as he overly explained their return policy to me and pointed to a manager about ten feet from us. Since he had pointed to the manager I thought it courteous to walk over to find out the information.

To my surprise her response to me was, "I'm off the clock!" I kindly smiled and left, but immediately thought how that was horrible customer service and a really bad first impression. As a manager of a store it shouldn't matter if you are off the clock as long as you are still wearing the uniform, smiley face name tag, and standing out on the open floor.

This in turn made me think about our first impressions team at the Summit Church and Danny Franks in particular. We go above and beyond to make sure that first time guests have an excellent first impression of not only our church, but Christians and Christianity. It is commonly said around our church that "The sermon starts out in the parking lot."

I find this to be true, but think of the many churches that treat first impressions just like this manager at Wal-Mart. They may be all about doing what it takes to get you there, but if it appears you are interrupting their life or want to talk to them after church then you are mistaken.

As Christians it is important to remember that in a sense we are all leaders and never off the clock. We are always called to be representatives of Christ and ultimately called to do everything in and with love (1 Cor. 13).