Archive for communication
It has happened before. Recently, I am aware of situations where it has happened again. What if a leader was suddenly, unexpectedly unable to talk for an extended period of time? What if the best (and worst) sermons a pastor could give were already taught? What if a teacher’s audible lessons in discipleship were already taught? What would it look like now? How would the disciple(s) do?
I have seen and experienced situations where those who were making disciples relocated in places far from the disciples they were training. Perhaps we thought they were ready. Maybe not. It is beyond us…still at times it hurts.
This weekend I had the privilege of meeting Brother Sam in person. We didn’t talk much because he was unable. Due to significant pain in his mouth of late, he visited the doctor and learned that he has oral cancer. More tests and treatment are soon to come. My prayers go out to him, his family, and his church. I look forward to having opportunities to sit and talk with him in the future. Through being with him and praying for him at this time, however, I have been prompted to ask many questions.
What if I lived my life with the expectation that I would soon be mute and no longer able to teach or disciple those walking with me? What would I do differently? What if, as one who makes disciples, I was suddenly unable to speak? What would I do to help advance others in walking more as He did? What if all the lessons I could ever teach were by example? How much would I pray? How much would I serve? How much would I think of others as better than myself? What changes would that make in how I view church?
He didn’t come in the VIP door. He hugged so many before and stayed and talked and took pictures with people after. Though he has reasons to boast, he was humble…and wise. Here are some of Rick Warren’s quotes from this session:
“The more important your job, the more humble you must be.”
“Don’t take early losses seriously.”
“Don’t focus on attendance. Focus on attendance and discipleship.”
“You have got to get over the prima donna complex….For the anointing of God, you must build your life on integrity, humility, and generosity.”
“You don’t have to be perfect to have integrity, but you do have to be authentic.”
“What matters is do you love people.”
“We actually grow best and we grow fastest through models.”
“The lesson of the whale…. When you get to the top and you are ready to blow, that’s when they harpoon you.”
Thank you Rick!
- “We have to assume now that all mission is cross-cultural.” ~ Alan H
- “It’s not that the church has a mission, but the mission has a church.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- (Speaking about planting churches,) “I’m not even sure what we are trying to do the world wants.” ~ Shawn Lovejoy
- “If you do church to reach church, then you’ll reach somebody else’s Christians.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “The [Christian story] is a peasant’s movement.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “…community has to be the witness now.” ~ Hugh Halter
- “You cannot sell a Christendom approach to a post-Christian world. They are anti-Christian.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- “Go among the people. Don’t assume you know what church looks like.” ~ Alan Hirsch
- “You plant the gospel. You don’t plant churches.” ~ Alan Hirsch
Billboard ad for a church:
“Unlike any other church you have ever seen.”
Mega church pastor:
“Pray and ask God to do big things this weekend.”
Heard from multiple pastors:
It’s not the pastor’s job to win the lost. His role is to equip the believers.
“I don’t do lost people.”
(This is the second post of this type. See “Say what?” for more.)
Two men walked into a village to tell the people about the Savior. The peoples did not show any interest in believing or even seeking a full understanding of the story. One villager told the men that here they worshipped the spirits, but if their God is so powerful, then they should have Him make the tree where the spirits dwell to fall over.
With the conversation over, the two men began to pray early in the day for this very thing to happen. At noon, they continued praying on the edge of the village, close to the tree. In the evening, they continued praying. Throughout the night, they continued praying. Just before dawn a few villagers began to stir outside. They turned as they heard cracking sounds begin. The tree began to move as it cracked and popped with force. Then in a swift motion it crashed down into the village. Immediately the villagers came running to see what had happened to the tree where they had previously felt compelled to worship the spirits. Seeing the power of “the God,” they heard the story and many believed.
Today, whether living in a post-Christian, animistic, or other context, there is a deep and abiding reality that we would do well to remember:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We must increase our efforts in prayer. I must pray more than ever before. May we:
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Happy New Year! Let’s roll….
Aaron, a non-believer, said, “I’d like to say something about Christians trying to convert non-Christians.” This video provided by Jonathan McIntosh is VERY worthwhile.
Hmm. What do you think?
Conveying what is arguably the best metaphor for missional, incarnational living, “Live Sent: you are a letter” is a healthy, needed read for followers of Christ. Jason Dukes, who I am proud to call a friend, uses an extended metaphor or conceit throughout the book to share the ever-present reality that as disciples and disciple-makers we are the image of Christ to the lost. Like the snail mail or an email that is sent to be read, our lives are the content that communicates who Christ is. The reading of a letter or email can happen anywhere, but it must be close and personal. It is real. The book is a call to examine the way we live our lives. It is a call to live sent. Constantly. Consistently. Christ-like. Living sent.
Jason poses the question, “What’s my part in this epic called humanity?’ His answer is that each of us is to live our lives just as we are sent by God–because we are. In the book he communicates four main points.
First, he suggests that “there may be some things we need to rethink.” These things include life, church, relationships, and our intentions. He encourages the reader to ask if the way we are doing each of these is consistent with our call to live sent?
Second, he states that “living sent is all about trusting your value.” Made in the image of God, we can move forward in confidence that our life or our “live” (short “i” there) is worthwhile because of him.
Third, he shares that to live sent, we must do life together. He writes that the “epic of humanity…should be seen most beautifully within the movement Jesus started that he called His ‘church.'”
Fourth, we are to be consistently “giving ourselves away intentionally.” There is a really good example for that. Enough said.
Pick the book up and read it–to the end. Don’t miss out on the stories and the post scripts. They are important to make this both a “construct shift” and provide some practical, non-sequential handles to put this in motion. Because after all, living sent is about making disciples as we go.
One final note here that is important. It is the unwritten but very read post script. Jason is one humble guy. Borrow or steal his stuff and he’ll be fine. Just live and share it is his hope. Jason is unique in that he is not reacting to something that he grew up with that he needs to fix or improve. He has seen this sentness lived out in his family as he grew up in inner-city New Orleans doing life there. Watching his parents live sent there. He is blessed as he is part of a network of other humble leaders and followers and learners. He walks through life with some great guys that are also humble leaders: Jim Collins (no, not that Jim Collins the other one), Hal Haller, Robert Beckman, Adam Mayfield, Billy Mitchell, and others. These men along with their wives and children make up a great cloud of witnesses that are making disciples as they live sent. This is a tribe that has encouraged their brother Jason to write down the way that he has lived and shared and modeled and lived…so that others may see the realness of it. So that others may be challenged and encouraged to live sent. These are guys that are a blessing to me though we have been together only for a spot of time so far. Thank you Jason and crew.
In Shakespeare’s famous balcony scene, Juliet shares that the name of an object is not what’s important, but the object itself.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene II
This is evident in Antioch where the people of the church were first called Christians. Today, these people refer to themselves by another name. This name, not stated here for security reasons, also identifies them with Christ. Why the change? The connotation for the word Christian has morphed into representing religion or an assortment of religions that have Christ as part of the story. In the view of the believers there, this is not representative of identifying with Christ as Savior and Lord in their culture. Being called by a name that represents religion as an activity is not, based on their actions, worthy of living for. While identifying with Christ as their Lord is worth dying for.
Similar in some ways, re-naming is occurring across the U.S. Some existing churches that have a long history continue to hold onto the existing name. Others have re-branded themselves. New church plants are discontinuing the use of “First (denominational name) Church of (city)” or “(community description) (denominational name) Church.” Whether or not this shift in names is made depends on a few key aspects including the church members’ cultural understanding of their community. Does the current name identify the church in a way that allows the community to relate well with them? Or by changing the name would more goodwill result among the unchurched in the area?
In a previous post, Non Sequitur, I posed the question: “Is the church name to be: 1) descriptive of the sending of God; 2) a tool to bring people to God; or 3) nomenclature of the people that are being sent out that bear the image of God?” I believe that selecting a name that is well-received by the community is important and worthwhile. However, I firmly believe that the name by which a group of believers identify their local meeting of church cannot replace the Missio Dei and what he calls his disciples to be about. To choose a name that is not offensive is a good thing. If it appeals, even better. The stumbling block to which we point, however, must be the cross of Christ, not a name that we select and promote.
Name changes can be good. Selecting a good name for future church plants is a good thing as well. But embracing the idea that we can be attractive enough for people to want to come to us so they can pick up their cross daily to follow Christ is a bit optimistic at best. The majority of our time and energies will be well-spent in prayer as well as encouraging and challenging each other to be about making disciples as we go. Having relationship with the lost so that they can see the glory of Christ in how he has transformed our lives, our families, our relationships is of far greater worth than working with consultants to re-brand a building or location.
One final note is that this post is an elaboration of some ideas from two previous posts: Sequitur and Non Sequitur. Based on these and a post on Erik Reed’s Savage Generation, I hope that this is helpful to clarify some thoughts. It is my intent that this post not reflect negatively on either the Relevants or Reconstructionists, but would instead place emphasis on the focus that is to be the passion and call of every disciple and every church.
Both simply straightforward and overwhelmingly complex, the nature of God is comprehensible to a child yet ever fascinating for an adult (an idea fleshed out in “The Ethics of Elfland” chapter in Chesterton’s Orthodoxy). A range of books on the topic illustrate this fact as you can see this in books such as the children’s book What is God Like or adult classics such as J.I. Packer’s Knowing God or Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy–all great reads. One aspect of the nature of God that profoundly impacts an evangelical’s understanding of Scripture, worldview, life, family, etc. is the missionary nature of God. The Missio Dei or “sending of God” is key for us, I firmly believe, to “think rightly about God.”
This is a key theme that will receive space in this blog. The “sending of God” impacts church past, present, and future. The creation and implementation of Sunday School reflects the church’s understanding and identifying with the Missio Dei when it was instituted a few generations ago. The Willow Creek seeker-sensitive model also is consistent with the Missio Dei for its time and place. The future is now in the making. How we move forward will be consistent with how we understand God and our willingness to be passionate about the things he is passionate about (aka obedience).
Continuing to be impacted by this, I have been reading the Bible with Missio Dei as a filter for some time now. Recently, I had the privilege of sharing “The Missio Dei Story” (MP3 download) with the wonderful people at Northstar Church in Blacksburg, VA. This is available through their website (10/13/09) as well as on the mission resource page on this blog as a tool to further thinking about the “sending of God.”
I have had chances to speak and meet with a lot of people this week that are looking for opportunities to get involved. Below are some links that may be helpful to those that are looking for ways to get info. and to begin to make a difference.