Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The "What" and "How" of Ministry

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-12
I've been around the church culture and in ministry long enough to realize that in ministry one is always told the "what" of ministry, but not often told the "how." This carries over further into the entire body of Christ as most know that they are called to evangelize and make disciples, but often the how of doing those things are left out. This is the reason that when I am having a meeting with the group of church planters that I am pouring into we take time to learn the "what" but we also practice the "how."

Our basis is the great commission, but instead of camping out on the great commission passage only, I also equip them with the tools to do the ministry and we also as a group practice the how. That means that I give them tools to share the gospel, we practice with one another, and then I send them out to do the real thing. I give them short-term and long-term discipleship tools. These guys not only know that they are to baptize, but we practice baptisms. Instead of learning that we are to teach from the Bible and hold one another accountable, we actually practice how to prepare a lesson and then how to teach it.

The reality of what I am doing with these guys is developing them as leaders. It is not that they are not already leaders, but I am helping develop them further through equipping them for future ministry. Practically this looks similar to the five steps of leadership development given by Dave and Jon Ferguson in their book Exponential

The Five Steps of Leadership Development
1. I do. You Watch. We talk.

2. I do. You help.

3. You do. I help.

4. You do. I watch. We talk.

5. You do. Someone else watches. 

So if you are one in an equipping role make sure that you are not only giving the people the "what" but also intentionally give and show them the "how."

Friday, October 24, 2014

What Holidays Like Halloween Should Mean If We Are To Live As U.S. Missionaries

[Editor's Note: The following is a re-post of George Robinson's Sep. 28, 2010 blog.
October 31st.  For most Americans this date means one thing: **Halloween.**  Costumes, candy and trick-or-treaters spending to the tune of $2.5 billion making this holiday second only to Christmas in marketing revenue.  But good Christians don’t celebrate Halloween.  Or do they?  Some Protestants may prefer to call it Reformation Day, for after all, that is the date that Martin Luther nailed his Theses to the door at Castle Church in Wittenberg back in 1517.  That does pre-date the first usage of the phrase “All Hallows Eve” (commonly known now as Halloween) which didn’t emerge until some 40 years later in 1556.[1]

Ironically, most good Christians that I know won’t be celebrating either Reformation Day or Halloween.  Instead, they will be showing support for their local church by attending a “safe and sanitary” alternative called a Fall Festival.  This alternative allows good Christians to invite their neighbors and friends to come to the church and get candy, play games and have some good, clean Christian fun.  No pagan witches and goblins allowed.  But they can dress up as David or Moses or some other biblical character.  All the fun without the pagan revelry, right?

I would like to propose another alternative – that good Christians should indeed celebrate Halloween.  I think that they should stay home from their church’s alternative Fall Festival and celebrate with their pagan neighbors.  Most of them wouldn’t have come to your Fall Festival anyway.  And those who did would’ve stopped by briefly on their way to “real” trick-or-treating.  I’m sure that some of you reading this blog might be more than a little unhappy with my proposal at this point, but stick with me for a moment.: The reason I propose that good Christians celebrate Halloween and stay home from the “Christian alternatives” is that Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.

Living with missional intentionality means that you approach life as a missionary in your context.  I lived with my family in South Asia and we had to be creative and intentional in engaging our Muslim neighbors.  We now live in the USA and we still need to be creative and intentional.  That’s why for the past 2 years we have chosen to stay at home and celebrate the fact that Halloween gives us a unique opportunity to engage our neighbors.  In fact, last year we had over 300 children and 200 adults come to our doorstep on that one night.  And we were ready for them!

We had a tent set up in the driveway and gave away free coffee and water to the adults who were walking with their children.  Our small group members manned the tent and engaged them in conversation and gave each one of them a gospel booklet (“The Story” gospel booklets are available with a Halloween distribution rate here:  http://story4.us/offer).  The children ran up to our door while the parents were waiting and got their candy, along with gospel booklets (even if they were dressed as witches or goblins!).  In all we gave away more than 500 pieces of literature that night, each with our name, e-mail address, and a website where they could get more info.

I sure wish more good Christians would celebrate Halloween this year by staying home and meeting their pagan neighbors – an option which I believe surely beats the “good Christian” alternative.
__________________
[1] John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary 2d. ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1989).

Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Form A Missional Community

A conversation that I regularly have with church leaders revolves around community. Many within my own background are part of small group ministries and some missional communities, but it seems like many are uncertain on how to form new groups or multiply their existing group in a healthy way. Whether it is a small group, missional community, or a new church forming I believe that there are some core foundational principles that are the same. I am thankful for Soma Communities and the gift that they are to the larger church. They recently released a video series on how to form missional communities and gave away the first video. I wish that I could make every single small group leader that I know watch this because it is worth the time and investment in my opinion. Watch this preview training session below and decide for yourself.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Beat God to the Punch Book Giveaway

THE BOOK

Dr. Eric Mason has recently released his newest book Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life. In this book, Dr. Mason encourages readers to beat God to the punch by willingly submitting their lift to the lordship of Jesus Christ and seizing a grace-filled life. This is a book that's like a steroid shot in the arm for church leaders and laypeople, and a challenging read for nonbelievers to consider placing faith in Jesus.

THE GIVEAWAY

I am giving away two free copies of Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life to a couple of my faithful readers. There are two ways to be eligible to enter the giveaway or double your chances by doing both. Here is how you can enter the giveaway:

1. Share a link of this post via Facebook or Twitter and tag me in the post or show you shared it in the comments section below.

2. Leave a comment below, briefly sharing how .

3. The winners will be selected on October 22 and then the books will be shipped out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: Beat God to the Punch by Eric Mason

Pastor Eric Mason recently released his newest book, Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life, which is a book about coming in contact daily with the freedom that comes through Jesus finished work on the cross. The idea behind such a bold title is meant to draw the reader into the complexities (and simplicity) of a grace-filled life (1). Pastor Mason starts the book off with Philippians 2:9-11, which makes it clear that eventually all will bow to Jesus either by choice or by force.

Mason does clarify that beating God to the punch is never accomplished through our own effort, enlightenment, strength, or power, but only through the grace of God is one able to bow. He shows how God saves us from something, but also saves us for something (7). Throughout Scripture we see this idea of Kingdom being in part here now and complete later. This book is for those that have a desire to thrive in the Kingdom of God right now.

Mason clearly and articulately walks one through what it means as a follower of Jesus to continually abandon your own life and plans in order to pursue Jesus fully. By embracing this type of lifestyle we enter into a lifetime of apprenticeship with Jesus. This does not guarantee an easy life that is free of pain and suffering, but a life full of God's grace that will sustain us through all things that we endure.

This is a short book, just over 100 pages, but a book saturated in the grace of God. Although one can easily read this book in an afternoon, I recommend using it as a supplemental book to reading the Word as a way to spend time learning about how the grace of God enables one to beat him to the punch. I highly recommend this book to those that have surrendered and those curious about what it means to fully surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.

For a taste of this book you can read my post from Monday, which is a dozen or more notable quotes. And be sure to check back on Friday and enter to win one of two FREE copies that I will be giving away.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Quotes from Beat God to the Punch

Last month Pastor Eric Mason released his new book Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life. The publisher graciously sent me a free copy to read through and review as well as to host a a giveaway. I have really enjoyed working through this book as it has helped me sense my need of the continued grace that God bestows upon me.

Today I just wanted to share some memorable quotes from the book and on Wednesday of this week I will post a review along with a chance to win a copy on Friday, so be sure to check back then.

Notable Quotes 
Beating God to the punch involves willingly bending one's life to Jesus now, and forever. (2)

Let's be clear: beating God to the punch is never accomplished through our own effort, enlightenment, strength, or power. Only be God's grace is one able to bow. (3)

The apostles embraced the Lordship of Jesus over every area of their lives. (5)

Real life, for a disciples, is a journey of wrestling with a pattern of faith and loyalty to who Jesus is. (6)

As God's unmerited favor, grace is God choosing to place His affections on us and thereby lavishing us with Himself through the person and work of Jesus. (10)

In all of our lives we should be able to point to an encounter with grace in which we were signaled to follow the Son of God. (16)

Following Jesus always means abandoning something else that preoccupied our lives prior to grace passing by and being preoccupied by Him. (16)

A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who has renounced himself or herself and pledged to being in a lifetime apprenticeship with the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:39). (17)

Jesus changes the normal pattern between student and teacher by choosing the student and choosing those who wouldn't normally be on the radar of any rabbi in His day. (22)

The grace of God found in the person of Jesus Christ saved us not merely from sin, death, hell, and the devil, but also from the wrath of God. (32)

We must recognize that there is no grace-filled life without comprehensive spiritual renewal. (50)

My point about Jesus is this; people who truly encounter Him and people who truly respond to Him will always have their perceptions blown by Him. (52)

Being filled with the Spirit also means being filled with the grace of God. (59)

The role of grace is not to eliminate suffering, but to sustain us through the valley. (62)

Friday, October 10, 2014

What is the Church? vs. Who is the Church?

It is common in my conversations with guys preparing to plant to hear the question, "What is the Church?" In the video below Jeff Vanderstelt unpacks why we are asking the wrong question and instead should be asking, "Who is the Church?" This subtle difference should make a difference in how you live your life and what your focus is in being the church.


Who Is the Church? from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

God's Preparation in the Pasture

Most of you know that for the past nine months I have been in a season of extreme transition and uncertainty while waiting on the Lord. In many ways it has felt like an identity crisis as I went from international church planter where I equipped and trained men that planted churches in places there have never been churches and are continuing to do so to wondering in the American context what is my place exactly? Where do I fit in to the Western Church? How does a guy with an apostolic gifting go back to his sending multi-site church? 

This season reminded me of a study in 1 Samuel in a series titled "Search for a King," that the Summit Church did a few years ago. I distinctly remember studying chapter 16 on David being anointed as king and I recognized some things about this story that I had not really paid much attention to before that allowed me to have this new perspective for where I am in life that I am being reminded of now.

Verse 7 is key in understanding this passage as we see that what the world and God are looking for in a leader are two totally different things. In fact some would even say that God is the worst chooser of people in all of humanity because look at who he chooses. Although, this verse is key, it is not what had the most impact on me. If you look at verse 12b it says, "Then the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he." Verse 13 says, "...And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward." 

But what really sticks out to me in this passage is the gap between verse 13 and 14. David had just been anointed as king, the Spirit of the Lord had rushed upon him, and he is now back in the pasture where he was before any of that happened so that God could prepare him. During this series the Summit's teaching pastor J.D. Greear had us fill in that blank space between those two verses with the following words: obscurity, monotony, and reality. Remembering this truth definitely struck a chord in me as I feel that this is something I have been dealing with during my transition.

I am not saying that God has set me apart as he did David because it is unlikely that you or I would ever be able to fill the role that David did as he had a unique role in this story. But I do know that God has called me to serve Him in a clear way and that 16 years ago I publicly recognized and surrendered to that call. Honestly over the last 16years I have been along for the ride, but the last couple of years wondered and questioned at times why I am where I am in life as I look back on these years. God has done some amazing things and used me in unreached areas of the world, but I often come back to this flesh induced sense of uncertainty. 

I fully recognize that God has been and is preparing me for what it is He has for me and part of that preparation process is being in the pasture of obscurity, monotony, and reality. And Just as with David, God has recently showed me what it is He has been preparing me for, but for now I still need some preparation time in the pasture.

Friday, October 3, 2014

You and Me Forever

3 Marriage stories that are worth watching and should be a challenge to all of us married couple on how we are living our lives and what is considered "normal" for those that are in Christ.


You and Me Forever from You and Me Forever on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Identity - Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:3-14
This past year I feel in many ways as if I have had an identity crisis with all of the transition and being uncertain about the future. The book of Ephesians is one that I continually come back to as a way to remember my identity in Christ and the spiritual blessings that I have in him. In my preparation to preach through this passage this weekend I continue to see a number of ways that we are blessed in Christ no matter our circumstances or situations we are currently facing. 
  • Blessed in Christ 1:3
  • Blessing of Holiness 1:4
  • Blessing of Predestination 1:5
  • Blessing of Adoption 1:5
  • Blessing of Redemption 1:7
  • Blessing of Forgiveness 1:7
  • Blessing of Grace 1:7
  • Blessing of Being Sealed with the Holy Spirit 1:13-14
In a season of difficulty where do you find your identity? On a hard day, is Christ Jesus enough?