Friday, February 28, 2014

Imitation Based Discipleship

There is much talk of discipleship these days, which is a good thing, but I still think that many people have no idea what it means or looks like to make a disciple. Discipleship is not something that happens once a week sitting in a room where the church gathers while one person teaches the whole time. Discipleship is not just the transferring of content.

A simple definition of a disciple is one who hears and obeys what the Holy Spirit and His word have told us to do. So we need to get away from this idea of knowledge-based discipleship and move to imitation-based discipleship.

The Release Initiative describes imitation based discipleship this way: "Each of us live out particular rhythms each week in our domains. We grocery shop, go to the gym, go to work, live in a neighborhood, eat and drink, watch sports or engage in hobbies. A simple way to allow others to observe you is to invite them into what you already do. This way you are not adding anything new to your already busy schedule. So as you live out your life in the normal, everyday rhythms bring others along with you. And as you go, talk about the Kingdom and demonstrate the kingdom with them, just like Jesus."

So what are your natural rhythms? Are you inviting others along with you to imitate you in those rhythms? Quit delegating discipleship to a once a week class or Bible study and start imitating what a disciple is and what the Kingdom looks like for those around you. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Elements of the Transformed Life

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the leadership from Mosaic Church Chicago a few weeks ago and loved learning the Kingdom DNA that they have as a community of believers on mission. The following is their model of discipleship that has three elements or rhythms, which flow out of their Villages.

UP: Restoring our relationship with God as Father - IDENTITY
Galatians 4:4-6 (ESV)

                1. Reconnecting with Father

                2. Restoring Identity as Sons and Daughter, not slaves

                3. Hear and Obey

IN: Restoring our relationship with each other - FAMILY of God
Ephesians 2:19

               1. Reconnecting us to each other

               2. Love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12)

               3. Hear and Obey corporately as the Body of Christ

OUT: Restoring our Relationship with our society - WORLD
2 Corinthians 5:17-20

               1. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation

               2. Reconciling the world "Kosmos" meaning all things we lost in the garden                       when we sinned

               3. Our Role is one of "Ambassador"

*Do all three at once as Disciples*

Monday, February 24, 2014

God's Mission = Reconcile All Things Lost

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. -2 Corinthians 5:17-19

At the fall of man, when sin entered the world, everything as it was intended to be by God was no longer. But since that time God has been reconciling all things to himself through Christ Jesus. For those in Christ, we are the ambassadors, the representatives of Christ on earth. In other words it is also our job to see the Kingdom in our city as it is in Heaven as we seek to see all things reconciled to God.

If I had to be completely honest, as Christians, there are many aspects of life where we do a horrible job of reconciling all things to Christ. Art through music and movies is a great example. There is a reason that only your Christian friends know about or want to watch or listen to music or movies that are titled "Christian." The reason is that most of them are not creative or of good quality, many at best are a cheap rip-off of the popular, secular movies. 

As those in Christ we, ourselves, are a new creation, and should seek to reconcile all things lost through Christ. This idea should naturally play out into all spheres of life and instead of being known for what we are against, we should strive to be known as those that reconcile all things as the ambassadors of Christ. This is God's mission and it should be our mission. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

ReFraming Four Foundational Principles In Church Planting

Over the past two weeks I have primarily allowed my posts to focus on the Release church planting cohort that I am part of this Spring. By now it should be obvious that most networks and denominations start with "church" but Jesus starts with "Kingdom" when it comes to church planting. Below is a way that you can start to make the shift from church to kingdom by reframing four foundational principles in church planting.

1. GOSPEL
         a. Church: Gospel of Atonement
         b. Kingdom: Gospel of the Kingdom

2. DISCIPLE
          a. Church: A member that shows up on Sunday, tithes, and maybe serves
          b. Kingdom: Hear & Obey. Obedient follower of Jesus led by Holy Spirit

3. SOCIETY
          a. Church: See it as an enemy. No concern for the world since our gospel atonement informs us that the end goal is limited to going to heaven.
          b. Kingdom: See it as the grid in which we operate. The goal is to bring heaven to earth. Jesus taught us to pray, "May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

4. Church
          a. Church: Building - 1611 King James Version translated "Kriche" a Germanic word that means building and it is where we get our word Church.
          b. Kingdom: In Greek, however, church is "Ek-Klesia" meaning "Called out one." It was never meant to be anything other than God's people. The Kingdom of God is the family of God living under His rule and reign.
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The above post is taken from the Release Kingdom DNA Training curriculum.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Kingdom Churches Look Like

On Monday I introduced the Glocal Church as presented by Bob Roberts Jr. Today is a continuation of what a Glocal/Kingdom Church looks like from the Release cohort that I am part of this Spring.

Kingdom In, Kingdom Out

  • The key to increasing our light potential in a dark world is to first increase our saltiness.
  • The Kingdom means that we are committed to being salt and light whether the people we serve all become Christians or not.
  • The Kingdom is about serving the whole world.
  • The Kingdom is about being in touch locally and globally with poor, the persecuted and the under-privileged.
  • The Kingdom is about focusing on exponential multiplying growth here and among the nations rather than numeric growth.
  • The Kingdom is about moving from information to transformation.
  • The Kingdom is about moving from believing it to living it.
Kingdom Churches
  1. A Kingdom Church is Missional
  2. A Kingdom Church is Incarnational
  3. A Kingdom Church is Organic
  4. A Kingdom Church is Contextual
  5. A Kingdom Church is Glocal
  6. A Kingdom Church is an Evolving Church

Monday, February 17, 2014

9 Ways the Western Church Has Wandered from God's Intention for the Church

One of the key components of the Release is Kingdom DNA, which includes what Bob Roberts Jr. refers to as the Glocal Kingdom. During the cohort we discussed some of what "Glocal," meant, much of it coming from Roberts books Globalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World.

"Glocal" is the seamless integration between the local and the global. It captures the reality of a world that has become comprehensively connected through technology, commerce, communication, and travel. The world, to use Thomas Friedman's phrase, has become flat. Over there is here. Here is over there. All religions are now everywhere. We no longer have the option of choosing to live a sheltered life of isolation from the rest of the planet.

Globalization is not the result of technology and development that has and is merging, but the end result of God's plan for the world and nations all along. This is not a test. This is not a phase. This is the ultimate connectedness that God has planned for the world since the first day of creation. Technology and development are only the means that God established long ago to connect us because it is a glocal faith.

Roberts goes on to give ways that the Western Church has lost the intention's for the church given by God.

9 Ways the Western Church has Wandered from God's Intention for the Church

  1. We became lost in modernity
     2. We became lost in consumerism

     3. We became lost in success

     4. We became lost in mega-mania

     5. We lost the Spirit to Industrialization

     6. We lost our leadership from Great Souls to Great Stars

     7. We became lost in the culture and lost our voice

     8. We lost our mission to bureaucracies - from institution to denominations

     9. We lost intimacy to religion

Friday, February 14, 2014

Reverse Engineering Church Planting

In the Release Initiative church planting cohort last week, we talked a lot about reverse engineering, specifically when it comes to church planting. Most church planting today, whether through a local church or a network, starts with church. Starting with church is not necessarily a bad place to start, but it is not the place that we see Jesus start. Jesus, himself, started with the kingdom and then moved toward church. The short of Kingdom DNA is: kingdom, disciple, society, and then church.

For us to seek first the kingdom of God then it will take some reverse engineering. Instead of gathering a core team, planning for months how we will change a city, and then moving to and launching the church; it will require us to seek and save that which is lost by first bringing the kingdom to that place.

Dallas Willard describes this process this way, "By relying on his word and presence we are enabled to reintegrate the little realm that makes up our life into the infinite rule of God. And that is the eternal kind of life. Caught up in his active rule, our deeds become an element in God's eternal history. They are what God and we do together, making us part of his life and him a part of ours."

One of the first things that one has to ask themselves in church planting is "how do I see the kingdom established in my city, neighborhood, etc. as it is in heaven?" By starting with the kingdom, it allows you to take the posture of a servant as Jesus did; but when you start with church it becomes all about us.

Many of our cities are used to seeing the banners up for a new church plant, which causes us to ask if you start with church does your city even know that you are there or care if within six months you close your doors? But when you start with kingdom, people know that you are there and it matters because you are making an impact on their life.

Reverse engineering church planting is not necessarily easy because it is not what we see many people doing today, but it is what we see Jesus doing. If you are a church planter then I encourage you to start with establishing the kingdom in your context and then naturally see the church flow out of the kingdom as you make disciples in all rhythms of society.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Everything We Do Must Flow From Identity

This past weekend I took part in the first phase of the Release Initiative Spring 2014 cohort. In this two day intensive we looked at the first two biblical lenses through which we view life and ministry: Kingdom and Disciple. As a group the cohort immediately bonded and dove in head first as we started to be trained in Kingdom DNA. There is too much information to give you on here; but I would at least like to take the next couple of blog posts and give you a few nuggets that I received from the training.

The first deals with identity and finding our complete identity in Jesus based off of John 15:1-17. As church leaders we are often times tempted to push movement ahead instead of first abiding in Christ. I think that this is in part due to the church culture in the US because everyone is throwing the word "movement" around when in reality what most people are referring to as movement is not. You don't just launch a church and you don't just see a movement take place.

Generally the motivation behind this type of language is pure, but words are often thrown around that voids them of their meaning. Do I personally believe that we are seeing any church planting movements in the West? No, but if you want to see a movement I can point you to other parts of the world to both observe and learn from the leaders in those places.

A convicting statement made by Director of Release, Sam Smith, was this, "Jesus doesn't like us working for the kingdom, just as much as he doesn't like us not bearing fruit." He went on to say, "Christ is disgusted with fruit that comes from our own strength."

This eventually opened up a discussion over the weekend that most church planting networks start with the church, but we see Jesus start with the kingdom. In the same way it is easy today if you have a dynamic speaker, a great band, and cool venue to gather a large crowd and call it a church; but most often all that we are seeing is a bunch of Christian transplants.

So to get this brief series started, everything we do must flow from our identity, which must be constantly reminded of the gospel in everyday life. Another statement that I continue to find myself returning is this, "Is Jesus enough?" In other words, regardless of your role or the results in life, can you honestly proclaim that Jesus alone is enough?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Release Spring Cohort 2014

For the next several days I will be in very cold Chicago as I partake in the Release Initiative church planting intensive spring cohort. I have had many people over the past couple of months ask me about Release. 

The Release Initiative focuses on training guys in foundational Kingdom DNA and then sends them out to plant the gospel of the Kingdom in cities around the world. The core DNA is Kingdom, Disciple, Society, and Church with each having sub-categories underneath them. In the words of Director Sam Smith, "A simple way to phrase the DNA of Release would be: As we make Disciples of the Kingdom, and send them out to engage all domains of Society, Jesus will build his Church."

The most common questions that I have received is "What does Release do?"

What Does Release Do?

Release Initiative, a ministry of Mosaic Church Chicago, is a Global, Muti-ethnic, Chicago-based church planting intensive for potential and existing church planters and leaders. We train in DNA, assess, coach, resource and release.
DNA: We spend two intensives per cohort going deep in ourDNA (Kingdom, Disciple, Society and Church). We train, equip and coach in this DNA and we believe that this DNA is foundational for the life of your church and city.
Assessment: We will do a post-cohort assessment for each participant to help you understand where you are as a Church leader and what gifts you have been given to build up the Church.
Coaching: After one has completed the cohort we will provide ongoingcoaching as you live out the DNA in your particular context.
Resources: We provide you with actual and recommended resources, including Skype coaching calls from various leaders/pastors that will help you apply the DNA in your context.
Releasing: Once you have completed the cohort we will help release you (a disciple) as a sent one into the grid of your city (society) with Kingdom DNA to see the Church emerge. This could look different for each participant, it could mean a) helping connecting you to a network for additional financial support (such as NAMBA29Redeemer City to City,Summit Network, etc), b) getting you plugged into the life of Mosaic as an apprentice or leader or c) releasing you to your already existing church leadership position. All participants will be part of the Release family as we continue to coach you in DNA and learn from one another.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Release Initiative is a ministry of Mosaic Church Chicago. To learn more or apply for the upcoming cohort visit the Release website.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jesus Is Better Than Winning the Super Bowl

Although I was pulling for the Denver Broncos this past Sunday, I am okay with the fact that the Seattle Seahawks won. Below is a video with Pastor Mark Driscoll sitting down with a handful of the players and one coach that all follow Jesus and consider following him better than football, the super bowl, or even being the world champions.

Monday, February 3, 2014

When Christians Become Atheists

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. -Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21

In the above parable, Jesus gives us a vivd illustration of what happens when the gospel is sown on rocky ground. At first it appears as if the person is receptive to the gospel, but the gospel never actually takes root in their life and therefore fails to bear fruit.

Most likely we all know someone that we could place into this parable. I remember in college having a coworker one time that was enthusiastic about his new found faith and wanted to share it with me because I was the only Christ follower at our workplace. He received some early criticisms and people made fun of him, but there was no stopping him. Within two weeks time this guy was no longer walking with the Lord, wanting nothing to do with Christianity, and ran at the sign of someone approaching him about it.

For many years these type of people confused me and I was unsure of what had taken place, but then I remembered the parable that Jesus had given of seed sown on rocky soil. And the same holds true for friends that I grew up with in church who now flaunt their new found lack of faith or atheism. Their attitude is almost this, "look at me, I'm cool now because I don't need Jesus anymore like you do."

The truth is that I am completely fine with people like that and wish that more people would do the same. What I mean by that is that I wish the faith impostors, the posers, would quit pretending and just be honest.

Does this mean that there is no hope for people like this? Absolutely not. Although I personally give them less time than I do those that have not heard the gospel at all. I look at it like this, these people have heard the gospel and rejected it. They know the truth and know how to "find Jesus." I am more interested in those that have never received the truth to begin with and giving them an opportunity to respond to Jesus in their place.