I have followed Francis Chan's journey closely over the years. We resigned from Pastoring on the same Sunday back in 2010. And our journeys have been wildly parallel. This video is 11 minutes, but basically lays out much of what we do here, that he is now doing in San Francisco. The website for their new "church" is http://wearechurch.com. I love it! Right up my alley. I am so encouraged by the way the Spirit of God is moving all over the earth to return His church back what Jesus and the Apostles started. So cool! Take time to look at this video and website.
Here is a very simple list of advice that I shared with a group of Small Group Leaders I was invited to speak to. I thought I would share it with you too. Maybe you are in a church that has some form of these groups. I like them! Believe in them. I just wish that churches actually called them churches and released them as such. Sadly, I think most churches just see them as unofficial groups that could not possibly be the full expression of church. Anyway, that is for another discussion. Here is some council for small group leaders:
- Meet as often as possible. The more the deeper. The more the closer. Weekly plus.
- Bring people far from God to your group. If at all possible, do not meet without lost people present.
- Everyone talks. No one gets the luxury of hiding.
- No one dominates. If someone talks way more than the rest of the group. they need to be lovingly asked not to. (including the "leader")
- Bible is central to any healthy group. Center on scripture.
- Interact around tellable stories, not complex topics.
- Stay in one place In bible. Do not allow anyone to verse hop from place to place. It is often done haughtily and it makes lost people feel marginalized and unqualified from the start.
- Draw people out. They are deep wells. Especially quiet people. They often have deep things to say.
- Allow for long awkward silences in the gathering. Often, what God does just after periods of silence is the most meaningful portion of the gathering.
- Include pre-beleivers in your group.
- When the discussion gets off track, point back to passage of the meeting. Bible re-aligns.
- Push everyone in the group toward one on one discipling relationships.
- Ask the more vocal people to take a risk and talk less.
- Ask the more quiet people to take a risk and talk more.
- Invite people far from God to join you. Or did I say that already? A few times? Oh, sorry.
- I Caution against DVD studies or topical book studies. I feel strongly that we need to cultivate the Word of God as the main source of our content, at least until we start to repair some of the drifting we have done as the church.
- Look for leaders- train and coach them towards starting a new group.
- Keep all you do super simple and the same so you can reproduce easily.
- Actually, Reproduce!
- If your group is all Christians, please invite and bring people far from God to join you.
- Oh, and reproduce!
- Oh, and invite people far from God
- Oh, and keep the Bible at the core as final authority.
Hope this helps. Remember, any group of people gathering to love God, love each other and love those that do not yet know God are CHURCH! Regardless of title.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine contacted me and asked for counsel. He is a Pastor in America near New York City. His church plant is a few years old and over the last few months, things have begun to decentralize and he senses that the Lord is leading his congregation to transition into many small churches. Well, he reached out to me for wisdom on the topic. He asked me this: "If feel that our church is on the verge of becoming churchES. Would you mind sending me some hurdles, setbacks and cautions of doing church like that?"
So, I did. Just some raw thoughts as they came to me. Then, I thought...."maybe someone else would benefit from this as well." So, here it is....
1. It is dangerous to transition to this as another church growth model or approach because you are tired of the old one. Jesus and his glory spreading further and faster must be your goal! Nothing else will do. You should not transfer an old wine into a new wineskin. Go for a new everything.
2. Many Westerners will not find simple church flashy or fancy enough. They know there are better shows out there that do not require them having to be real and close up with people. So they will call you cheesy and go to a real church.
3. You can quickly become critical of “elephant” churches when you land on the beauty of a simple discipling church model. We must move into this new direction with deep humility and honor for the church of all sizes and styles….holding fast to what God has led YOU to do.
4. Danger in lack of accountability. If you do not set clear vision and strongly disciple key leaders in that vision, many small churches can go many different directions fast and you will not be able to reel it back in to something biblical. There MUST be agreement on who we are and what we will do to protect people and the authority of scripture.
5. Oops, we never multiplied! This is the biggest risk. If you do not START with multiplication in your plan, it will not fit in later. Churches should multiple 1-2 or more times a year. No less.
6. Beware of a Christian Majority. I know this will sound wild, but try to start every church with more non believers than you have believers. 2-3 followers can gather 3-6 of their friends far from God and start a D-group that leads to a church. Do NOT allow a church to exits that does not have non-disciples in it.
7. Finally, make sure that ALL churches are living ALL THREE LOVES and doing so TOGETHER! Loving God together in radical worship and hearing from God together. Loving each other in deep transparent relationships. And loving the lost—reaching out together to those far from God.
Much love as you make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches.
All my life church had a Pastor or two that led the show. If and when they left, it was a big deal. Huge deal, even. Mass sadness.
2 years ago next week, I announced to a congregation I led and loved that I would be leaving them. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done!
Then, I moved to Africa to learn what this simple church thing is all about.
I found out that a major value of simple church is to find people of peace (Luke 10) and have THEM gather and lead their peers and families. (often they are not even Christians---but they lead) And this is church, too.
Then, I learned this: the faster you leave them, the better. If you are not out of the way in less than three months (some say one month), the DNA gets watered down and the probability of the group ever making it without you is slim. And it darn sure will not reproduce, because no one will want to leave the "main man". (Note: When I say leave, I do not mean that we leave relationship. You must stay in relationship and disciple the leader, but you do not attend the DBS or Church gathering.)
Exactly one year ago, me and my close friend, Viktor the German started a church with Mozambican men (they lead, but we still attend). Four weeks ago, we announced to them that we would be leaving them soon- a year after our journey started.
Last Sunday, we left them. It was their first meeting without us. They thrived! One of them sent me an SMS saying "It was unbelievable!"
Do I miss having front row seats to watching these guys grow in Jesus? You bet I do! But is this about me? No!
I want to see movements to Jesus, and that means I will need to get out of the way and let the locals lead and reproduce solid gospel DNA without outsider influence. And this is one of the sacrifices we must gladly make for the Kingdom!
Here is a tool we use that will help you...we call it MAWL:
- Model- you do it.
- Assist- they help you do it.
- Watch- you watch them do it.
- Leave- you leave them to do it.
(This is how you leave a church in 4 weeks. And this is happening all over the world!!)
So, I left my church this weekend. I miss them, but I am excited for what is on the horizon for them.
Would you pray with me that this church reproduces within the next 2 months? That is our dream.
I was watching a video today (this one HERE - fairly insightful) when I heard a guy say this: "People do not need church for community. They can get community in plenty of other places. They do not need church for tribal identity. They can get tribal identity from many other places."
I agree. Kinda. And it got me thinking.
We believe that church is three loves:
- Love for God (worship)
- Love for others (community)
- Love for the lost (mission)
The problem with this approach is that indeed it is true that people can get community outside of church. Every time I drive through Masi, I see community all around me. A deeper sense of community than I have ever lived in. So, community is a basic human need, but can be attained in goth communities, at bars, at work, and in many other places under the sun.
People need church for other things, though! And I would submit that when community is a part of those other things, it's more powerful than any community you would find apart from them.
So, what do people need church for?
Worship. People need church for worship. They want to be a part of the community that is worshiping something bigger than anything on earth. They long for deep connection to the creator that has formed to them and made them in his image. They long to fill a hole in their lives that only worship of Jesus can fill.
Mission. People need church for mission. We all long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. To join into healthy church, you join into the mission of God. People long to be a part of a community that is loving the lost, the broken, the hurting, the less fortunate, and the neglected people of the earth.
So, let me say it this way: People can get basic community almost anywhere. But, when community meets worship and mission, then you've got something very unique and with deep meaning...and God breathes on it...and we call that CHURCH.
While we were cooking dinner together tonight, Tricia and I started singing songs we grew up with in the church. Having both grown up at the same time and in AG churches, we sang many of the same songs. As we sang loudly in the kitchen, Davis just stared wondering how we learned all these songs without him! (Sometimes, I think he's convinced we had no life before him.) Then, I looked at Davis and said, "you're Mommy and Daddy grew up in a different type of church than you are growing up in and we learned lots of songs." I felt a tinge of sadness when I said it. Because I have many positive memories about church as a kid. Lots of programs and events gave me lots of feelings of involvement in something.
This caused me to reflect back on the things I appreciated about growing up in a church like that. I know that I post a lot about a new way of doing church...a way that I am deeply committed to exploring and living for many years to come. And most of what I say is positive.
But let me tell you a few things that I don't like about Simple Church:
- No music. I miss all the songs we used to sing. We don't worship God with singing much in Simple church...and when we do it can feel awkward.
- Leadership Confusion. I don't always enjoy the leadership dance of who is in charge, who is the actual leader, who is the perceived leader, etc. Oops, there is no leader. Jesus leads. Well, it doesn't always work out so perfectly...for real. Sometimes it feels clumsy, even like a game.
- Nothing's Big. Sometimes I really long for the energy & feeling of a room full of hundreds of people praising Jesus together. (We are trying to do corporate celebrations here and there, but they are not nearly as polished as a group of people that do this every week-- not that polish is the goal of church.)
- Immeasurable. The results of our life together as a church are not quite as measurable as are the results in traditional church (though, again, this is not a bad thing....perhaps it's the way it should be). You cannot gather numbers and bottom lines together to track "growth". Everything is more organic not quantifiable. Sometimes I miss assessment.
There is more, but this is start.
Note: I have neither thrown out the beautiful things I have learned in the past, nor have I embraced them as the way of the future. I also don't want you think that I am drinking simple church Kool Aid or something. I believe there are strengths for us to learn from in every type of church! And more and more I thinking that Jesus wants to use all types, styles, shapes and sizes.
Recently, I have read about several churches in America that are so large that people need a ticket to enter for a service. Easter is fast approaching. And since they cannot fit the thousands of people into their multiple locations, people need to get their ticket if they expect to attend.
Let's imagine that someone gets a ticket to church before they run out of available tickets...what is it that they receive? Basically...
1. They get to enter the building where a service is held.
2. They get a seat - and will sit in it quietly for 90 minutes.
3. They get awesome music by a talented band.
4. They get an inspiring talk by the well known leader of the church.
5. They may even get some type of spiritual nudge or food.
I got to thinking...
Imagine a church of 2,500 people in a city of 250,000 people. Imagine that the church's desire is to reach every person in their city with the gospel. Now imagine that they all come to your church this Sunday. Imagine that they don't have a ticket. Where will you seat them? Nevermind seating, how on earth would you ever begin to disciple them? I guess they just go home.
Ok, so they won't all come. What if only half come? 150,000 people. Same problem. Same questions. What do we do? What if only a shabby 10% come? 25,000 people! Same problem. Same questions. What if even just 1% come? 2,500 people show up on top of the 2,500 you already barely hold? We are still in a big jam! Are we ready? Where will they sit? How would we respond faithfully to disciple them? Is our "church" ready for this?
The structure, strategy and function of many churches on earth today tell me two things:
1. They do NOT want to reach their whole city.
2. They don't take the Jesus & the New Testament seriously. His commands are just suggestions.
What are some ways that a church could prepare itself to reach all 250,000 people in its city? Is there a structure or strategy that could make this happen?
Jesus said he wants us all-- all nations-- not just those with tickets.
Recently, I have read about several churches in America that are so large that people need a ticket to enter for a service. Easter is fast approaching. And since they cannot fit the thousands of people into their multiple locations, people need to get their ticket if they expect to attend.
I want to take a moment to tell you about one of the most major changes in my heart and views in the last year. I mean...MAJOR.
Warning: this post is a tad hyper. Please bear with me. I do this from time to time. ;-)
Most of you know that I was a Pastor for almost 7 years before moving to Africa where we now serve. What you may not know is that my sense of value, worth and ability as a Pastor rested mainly on how many total human bodies decided to get up and come to our "church building" on Sunday morning between 10:30am and Noon. In addition to the number of heads, my week would feel high or low based on whether there was more or less than $8,000 in the offering that Sunday. Our planning sprouted from these two numbers. Our board focussed on these two numbers. My eyes and heart lived for these two numbers. My emotions were linked to these two numbers.
Conference after conference, book after book focussed in one way or another on growing your church...because growth=health and bigger=better. (God help us and forgive us, please.) And I am NOT saying that small is good and big is bad. I AM saying that size is not to be our focus.
In the last year I have been on a journey of redefining what church really is anyway, and the reality I just expalined to you above has become totally embarassing and completely hilarious, in retrospect.
Let me say something clearly and boldy that will not make me very popular (I have read many Pastors blogs and tweets about why they proudly count and love numbers because God loves numbers because he loves people and people are numbers....not convinced of pure motivation...sorry):
For goodness sake, enough about church growth already!! More people coming to your church building on a Sunday morning is a pathetic and small minded goal to live for. We can do better. We must do better. The Bible invites to a much larger dream!
The Bible does not ask you to grow a church! HE builds His church (Matt. 16:18), GOD brings the increase (I Cor. 3:6), the LORD added daily to their numbers those who were being saved (Acts 2:47), and Jesus say that "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me (John 12:32).
Besides, when we count it, we are all the more tempted to take the credit for it. Being faithful is our task. Not being big! Faithful obedience is up to us. Size is up to God.
I had this strong realization of the change in my own life about a month ago. I went into Masi to have church with a group that usually numbers about 10 in size. We were supposed to start at about 10:30am. By 11am, only 3 guys were present. So I thought (and said): "Hey, I kinda hope no one else comes this morning becuase this will be a sweet opportunity for us to go deep today into the scriptures and really work at personally applying them and holding each other acountable." Then I thought (but did not say): "Did you hear yourself just now? 2 years ago, if half of your 'church' did'nt show up, you would have been devestated. Now, you are rejoicing?!"
Look, I am not judging you. I am just telling you that God has judged me, convicted me and changed me...and I hope that I never again measure success in numbers. I long to be a part of sometihng...
- Too deep to count
- Too broad to count
- Too far to count
- Too big to count
- Too chaotic to count
- Too natural to count
- Too organic to count
- Too humble to count
- Too busy to count
- Giving too many people away to count!!
Do I want big? You better believe it! Jesus wants big. And I want He wants. The Father wants the Son to be worshipped by all the people of the earth...every nation...and for his glory to cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.
How about we leave this size thing up to God and start radically loving Jesus, purley loving others and sacrificailly loving the lost so we can see the Father's dreams come true on earth?
Just an idea.
Thruthfully, even though we moved across the world in part to explore simple/organic/house church stuff, I always had a bit of a skeptics eye. I mean, I spent 30 years in real church. Ya know, the legitimate kind with all the bells a whistles a church should have. So, the idea of 5 or 10 people sitting in a living room being a church was a tad awkward to me. A tad weird. A little cheesy.
Well, off we went and here we are. We are starting Discovery Bible Studies, planting simple churches and our family is a part of a house church with other staff and families at All Nations.
Let me tell you a little about our cheesy house church:
- There are about 7 adults, 7 kids.
- We meet weekly.
- We change the time and location just about every week. It is mobile and flexible.
- We talk and text almost daily.
- We swim, play, eat, travel, shop and hike together.
- We are in intentional discipling relationships with each other.
- We give each other rides and share our cars.
- We confess and cry together.
- We wacth each other's kids.
- We pray for each other.
- We are talking about doing a vacation together.
- We prohecy over each other.
- We speak God's heart for each other over one another.
- We will spend two hours loving on one person if that is the Lord's agenda for the night.
- No one is in charge. No one is the leader.
- But somehow every time, Jesus uses someone different to lead us.
- Our kids are incolved in some special way every time we meet. 2 weeks back we acted out a story in the Bible. Last week we made prayer houses over each kid one by one and prayed and prophecied over them. They only last about 15 minutes. Then we release them to go "fellowship" kids style.
- We talk, dream and live mission.
- We warn and caution each other.
- We worship together.
- We share the Lord's supper. The kids too.
- We anoint each other with oil. The kids too.
- It is different every week.
- Jesus is clearly and boldly the head.
- We eat.
- We eat.
- And we eat.
So, that is some of what our cheesy house church is all about. Our cheesy house church is one of the most meaninful community experiences I have ever had in my life. I am officially a fan of cheesy house churches.
Key Discipleship Posts:
- I am afraid we are in a discipleship Crisis. Read about that here: A Discipleship Crisis?
- Should initiate discipling relationships or wait for them to come to me? My answer: Finding Discipleship; Wait or Ask?
- We disciple pre-christians in this way: Disciple to Convert
- Discipleship is obedience based, not knowledge based. This is major. Read this: Obedience-Based Discipleship.
- The rule of two: Rule of 2
- There are three types of discipling relationships that all of us should be engaging in. I write about them here: Discipling Up, Down & Across and here: Ahead, Behind and Beside.
- We must ask good questions in discipleship relationships: Provocative Questions And here are some more good questions: Can I ask you a question?
Key Church Planting Posts:
- Church is about living the three loves: The Three Loves
- More then 2/3 of the world can't, won't or don't read. What does this mean for the gospel: Making Disciples of Oral Learners
- As a result, many people of the world are oral. Storying is one creative way to teach scripture that sticks: Storying Video. Another way to learn scripture could look like this. Locals came up with this idea: Storying by Acting
- Some things about church planting have really surprised me. Here are some: 3 Church Planting Surprises
- Can you reproduce your church free and easy? If not, read this: Making Babies in Church
- Discovery Bible Studies are a brilliant tool: DBS. The SPECK tool is also cool: SPECK
Some other geneal posts:
- I bleive that the five fold gifting in Ephesians is majorly missing in the church: 5 Gifts...which one are you?
- We ought to know them and give them away: Give it away!
- I am understanding Apostolic leadership more and more...and it is helping me understand myself. Read this: The Apostle
- New thoughts I now have on Prophecy: Prophecy; A New View
- Here is a video I shot with some thoughts into redefining church: (Re)defining Church :: A Video Blog
- Want to experience a neat way to build simple church values into larger church gatherings? Read this: 600 Sermons
- Here are some neat ways to use your building when the "church" is not: How to use your church building the other 166 hours
Wanna hear a funny, but not so funny story?
For the last six months me and a group of men have been meeting with some brothers in Masiphumelele for church every Sunday morning. We meet in one of the guy's rooms in Masi. It is a single rented room in a house. Not only did we meet each week, but we would swing in throughout the week and drop things off from time to time and visit him.
Recently, my friend's landlord called him in and told him he had to vacate the property in 2 weeks. He was shocked. After some prying he discovered that the reason he was being asked to move out was because she had concluded that he was running a drug ring out of his room with the white men. Why else do several white men show up several times per week? Church? Yeah, right! Great excuse.
My friend has moved and found somewhere else to live.
This was a first. Accused of being a drug dealer. The truth is, I am just a Jesus dealer.
Tricia and I have now spent a year in simple, organic church community. We are in a house church and have started other simple churches. We are learning so many things we never knew before, as we both spent our lives in larger, organized churches, where learning these types of things are less common.
Here is one really awesome thing we are learning:
We all carry portions of God's heart for each other. There are oftentimes things that you are carrying in your heart for others that God wants you to deliver to them. And this is church! This is encourgament. This is mutual edification. This is the building up of the body of Christ.
What does this look like?
Simple. Create permission and space for people to walk around the room or share across the circle what God may be saying. It could be:
- A word
- A vision
- A picture
- A verse
- An affirmation
- An encouragment
- A hug
Just last night we were at an All Nations worship gathering that lasted about 2 hours. Throughout the evening I had words of enouragement for 5 different people- several of which were rather prophpetic and confirming some major stuff in people. And all evening I watched the body of Christ roam the room spaking portions of God's heart over each other!! It was so beautiful. There was joy. There were tears. It is what the Body of Christ SHOULD be doing.
But, are we? Are you? Is your church?
If not, can I encourage you to start speaking up. I would say that at least once a week you should be downloading some of God's heart into someone else. If we don't do it, who will?
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up!" I Thess. 5:11
There are 168 hours in a week. Most church services are under 2 hours long. Most churches have a building. They may even call the building the "house of God" or the "temple" or the "sanctuary"-- all fine. Just not New Testament biblical. But neither is McDonalds. Anyway, many of those buildings are not used very often at all other than on Sunday morning. This results in loads of wasted kingdom resource. This is not ok.
I will not use this blog post to expound upon why I think that we are moving away from church buildings being the primary gathering place for Christians. What I would lke to suggest are some ways to use your church building that might glorify God the other 166 hours of the week that it sits empty. Here are some options:
- Transform it into a center to love and care for the poor and needy. (Isaiah 58:6-7)
- Convert some of the space into small apartments for singles or families with a serious calling for missional ministry so that they can quit working to pay a mortgage and start serving Jesus in their communities full time.
- Start a missional training center. Train people all week long to go make disciples and start churches. Stop all other programming and just do this. Just an idea. (Matt. 28: 18-20)
- Start a homeless shelter. (James 1:27)
- Have small groups meeting in every crack and crevis of your building all week long.
- Start a prayer or worship center where your building is used for prayer and worship every day.
- Launch a world missions lab. Encourage and invite people from around the world in to strategize about global possibities for mission.
- Start and orphanage. (James 1:27)
- Open your doors to handicapped and physically challenged in your area.
- Open a widow/widower care facility. (I Tim. 5:3)
- Do something to bless children all week long. (Matt. 19:14)
- Share your space with several other churches.
- Sell the building, give the money away for the Kingdom and divide up into many small churches meeting all over your community.(Luke 12:33)
- Sign it over to another church or mission that will use the snot out of it. Give it away. (Luke 12:33)
Other ideas? What are some ideas that you either carry or have heard of? Please comment. I would like to start a long list to share with longing churches that I may work with in the future.
I have an intensely growing passion for discipleship. Especially obedience based discipleship which I define HERE.
I have blogged about the fact that I think we have a discipleship crisis HERE recently.
Then, I got lots of questions about whether you should pursue discipling relationships or wait on them. I answered that HERE.
Even earlier, I had blogged about 2-way discipleship. Read that HERE.
I actually now belive that there are 3 primary discipling relationships, not 2:
- Up (someone more spiritually mature shapes you, they speak truth into you, they challenge and encourage you, they say hard things and ask provoking questions, they are ahead of you in the race, you honor them by offering them the truth of who you are and where you are at).
- Down (you, as the more mature one, shapes and disciples the less mature follower of Jesus, you love them by digging into the dark or raw places of their life, hold them accountable and reproduce what you are receiving from the ones discipling you).
- Across (peer discipling - you and a peer disiple each other back and forth on various spiritual issues, sometimes you are being shaped and sometime you are shaping your peer, you both share openly and sharpen each other without needing to name a leader among you--deep accountable friendship).
***I want to say that this year/right now is the first time in my entire life I have had all three of these discipling relationships-- and it is paying major dividends in who I am becoming.***
Soon, I will blog a series of three posts below. I think it is a real need as people just do not know where to start becuase they have never done it:
- How to choose someone to disciple you.
- How to choose someone to disciple.
- How to choose peer disciples.
I love your church! I assume that most of you reading this probably attend a nomal, traditional, typical, western, established church. And that is the church I am talking about.
I love the way you worship Jesus together each week.
I love the heart that your church has to reach and love people.
I love the ministry that your church puts its hands and heart to.
I love that you have a building with which to care for people and their needs.
I love the history in your church and the legacy it is leaving.
I love the collective wisdom that the poeple in your church have.
I love the stories and memories you must share.
I love the people in your church. They are the most amazing resource you have.
I love you.
And it will be so neat to see where God takes you all in the years to come.
So, with Tricia 8 months pregnant now, what an appropriate time to discuss making babies and issues of reproducability. ;-) I know you love the title of my blog. If you think that churches should reproduce into new churches, read on. If not, move on to another site.
I think that God longs for us to make disciples that make disciples and to plant churches that plant churches. In order for churches to plant churches, they must have a certain reproducability feasabilty to them. Which is a problem, because most do not.
Remember this: We reproduce WHAT we ARE! When white human beings reproduce, they make white human babies. When Chihuahuas reproduce, they make Chihuahuas. When cows reproduce they make cows. We can only naturally give birth to what we are.
How do you reprocuce the following?
- A million dollar building or a rented Middle School.
- A slick sounding name.
- 501c3 status.
- A Constitution and Bylaws.
- A logo and letterhead.
- Bank accounts.
- Treasurer & a Secretary.
- A Pastor (and maybe several) who makes a full time salary.
- A Mission and Vision Statement.
- A Worship Team.
- A Projector.
- A sound system and sound board.
- A board or group of Elders.
- And a whole lot more....
This presents a major tension. Since we can only reproduce what we are, then churches that ARE the above can only reproduce the above. But, who can afford this? How many churches can manage to come up with all of this? And why would they? Most of them are not truly happy with what they have....which is why (if they were honest) they would never consider reproducing it, anyway. So they don't.
Bottom line is that I belive that our disciple making and church planting must be reproducable...so it can keep spreading....organically....because the harvest is too great for things to stall.
What would happen if this was all you needed to reproduce church?
- A small group of 5-15 people who want to follow after Jesus.
- A living room, a bedroom, a boardroom, a soccer feild or a starbucks (anywhere that a small group of folks can meet for no cost).
- A few Bibles or Mobile phones with Bibles on them.
- Open and hungry hearts.
- Willingness to love the lost.
- Trust for the people you are launching out and some courage to overcome fear of something new.
- Agreement to reproduce again soon.
I am not saying that one approach is better than the other. I AM saying that one is more reprocable than the other.
And remember-- we reproduce what we are. I want to see churches make babies! But they are largely infertile. I think that they need some medicine....maybe the Bible offers some prescriptions?
I'm sad. I'm concerned. I'm scared. Here's why.
I think we have a discipleship crisis. Globally, perhaps.
Many, many people just are NOT being discipled. Or discipling others. Africa and much of the west is over-evangelized and under-discipled.
Let me just define what I mean when I use the word "discipleship." I think that someone is discipling you if:
- You have a meaningful and totally authentic realtionship with someone who focusses on your spirtual growth and followership of Jesus. If there are secrets, it is not real discipleship.
- You meet regulalry. Weekly, biweekly or monthly. (Nice when coffee or food is involved.) Meeting less often than once a month will not bear the fruit your life needs.
- You are challenged, encouraged, confronted and loved on.
- You are being coached toward obedience to Jesus and are being held accountable in that obedience.
- It could be a spiritual Father or Mother or even a mature peer. But the point is that they care for your soul and the main agenda is Jesus, not small talk. Spirttual more than natural.
"GO and make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20
"You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach those truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others." 2 Tim. 2:2
Now, let me put in very specific and personal terms:
- Yesterday I met with a 24 year old who has been a Christian for 10 years. He has never been discipled one on one. No one has ever asked about his soul, his heart! Ever. I see major potential in him. When I offered to enter into a discipling relationship, you would have thought I gave him a new car. Broke me.
- My sister is visiting with us now. She shared with me that in 33 years of being "in the church" no one has ever initiated a discipling relationship with her. (Share this with her permission.)
- Tricia is being actively discipled and actively discipling another for the first time in her life right now.
- One young man that I am currently discipling has held high leadership position in his church for the last 5 years. Not a single one of the multiple Pastors or Elders in the church have ever discipled him. God help us.
- When I was in the Pastorate, I did not disciple a single person with any long term intentionality in the terms described above. Yes, I am embarassed to admit this.
- I am not even sure whether I was being discipled myself...through Bible College...and as a Pastor.
Honestly, almost every single Christian I meet is not being actively discipled....or discipling another. And the efffects are detrimental. I think that true discipleship is the conduit to the gift the world is waiting for....JESUS!
Are you being discipled? Are you discipling others? Is your experience different? Am I just missing it and sounding an uneccesary alarm? I hope so. Please tell me your expereince. Comment.
Here is an idea I would like to share with you. Forward it to your Pastor.
This idea starts to welcome simple church DNA into established church structures.
There is a biblical value of church that many of us are sorely missing out on. Here it is:
We ALL bring something of Jesus when we gather. (I Corinthians 14:26)
God speaks to all of us....the educated and uneducated, rich and poor, fat and skinny, greedy and generous, black and white, short and tall, mean and nice...ours is a living God that speaks to all mankind through His word, His spirit and His people.
Do you believe that? If not, there is no need to read on. If so, you may like this idea.
Here goes. Follow these 10 steps:
1. Pastor is supposed to preach on Sunday.
2. Instead of preparing a sermon, he prayerfully selects a story from the Bible. Let's say he choses John 10:1-10
3. Pastor prays that God uses it among the church and tells no one what he is planning to do (because people freak out over change).
4. Pastor takes stage to preach, opens Bible and reads passage.
5. Pastor says something like this: "This story is so good!! When I went to prepare to preach on it, I got totally excited about what the Lord may show each of you from the story. I bet that God has some powerful things to say through you today and we need to hear it."
6. Pastor asks people to place themselves into groups of 4-6 people that they are fairly comfortable with. It is ok to be with your friends and family. (At this point the people will look at you and do nothing for a few seconds and the anxiety in the room will increase 10 fold. This is how you know you are moving in the right direction.)
7. Pastor asks the groups to have two more people read the story again...once for the head and once for the heart.
8. Pastor asks groups to work at the following 3 questions: 1) What do you understand in this passage? 2) What do you not understand in this passage? 3) What will you do to obey what God is saying to you through this passage? OR these 3 questions: 1) What do you notice about God? 2) What do you notice about people like us? 3) What will you do to obey?
9. Ask for a few folks to share something that they heard from someone else, that was very powerful. (Rule: they may NOT share what they said, only what they heard another say.)
10. Pray and Dismiss church.
- Some people get mad the Pastor because he made them uncomfortable. Pastor may get some emails being told "preaching is what we pay you for."
- Some visitors feel weird for a minute cause they don't know anyone. Who cares? At least they know from their first day with you that you all share with each other and listen to each other. That's what every human longs for.
- Iron sharpens iron.
- People are mutually edified.
- Everyone shares.
- Everyone is heard.
- Scriprure comes alive for people.
- Some people make new friends.
- People learn each other's names.
- The Pastor gives some of his power away.
- The volume in the room rasies substantially as it buzzes with spiritual dialogue. So cool!
- Jesus is glorified.
- And imagine that the church doing this is about 200 people in size...instead of one long sermon being preached, there are about 600 short sermons being preached by 200 people. How cool is that?
Note: I am not suggesting that you a) do this to tick people off (that is a wrong motivation) or b) do this every week. But what may start to happen in the church that does this once a month?
I just believe it is time to get people talking. They have so much to give each other.
This idea starts to welcome simple church DNA into established church structures.