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Apr
07

Church as Trailer?

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In this third installment of interview videos with Michael Frost, he deals with the question of the purpose of the church. Frost proposes a wonderful metaphor of how he believes the church should function.

If you would like to view the previous Frost videos as well as other videos that present ideas important to the church, you may visit or subscribe to the almost an M You Tube channel or feel free to sign on to this blog page for email notifications or the RSS feed.

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Apr
06

Need for a re-Think / Human trafficking

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Here is the second installment of an interview with Michael Frost–co-author with Alan Hirsch of The Shaping of Things to Come and REJESUS. In this segment, he speaks of a majority in the west that are “disgusted, repelled, disturbed, [or] want nothing more to do with [an attractional model of church].”

russia badge2 Sharing is GoodThe U.S. State Dept (2004) estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are caught in international human trafficking every year. A majority of those are female and half of them are children. This unthinkable crime is happening on an epic scale.

Anne Jackson, author of Mad Church Disease and prolific blogger, is increasing awareness about human trafficking in Eastern Europe and Russia–some of the main exporters to Western Europe and the U.S. prostitution industry. Please check out her thoughts throughout the week to learn more about the modern day slave trade and possible ways to be involved in acts of mercy and justice for those involved.

Categories : trends, video
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Mar
11

Key Findings in Trust Research

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Key findings of original research made available on the resources page of this site this week sheds light on some key findings about trust levels and discrepancies between these levels for the person on the street and the person in a Baptist church in Moscow, Russia. This research dealt with five key areas: 1) business; 2) government; 3) non-profit organizations (NGOs); 4) religion; and 5) media. Some of these findings include:

on business – “Moscow Baptists are significantly less trustful of business in general than are their secular counterparts, especially foreign companies (by an astounding 29%).” As a result, one analyst concluded that, the cultures of the Muscovite man on the street versus the person in a Protestant church, “do not have much overlap.” The analyst continues to state, and the church “just [doesn’t] get it” and, as a result, church-goers “appear, in the eyes of the lost, to have very little that is relevant to offer.”

on government – “Baptists seem wary of outside influence, showing less trust for the UN than the average Russian.”

on non-profit organizations – Russians have more trust in business than in non-profit organizations that are politically funded–whether the funding came from within or outside of Russia.

on non-profit organizations – “While in all other categories Baptists are distrustful of foreigners, they have scored foreign NGOs with the highest marks of the entire survey. Being believers, Baptists likely have less of a problem understanding an organization seeking to do something good for humanity without alterior motives…. Potentially, this could be an area where the Baptists could demonstrate their trustworthiness to the secular population. They could show a real sense of relevance and true community involvement by participating strongly and intentionally in this area.”

on religion – The man on the street in Moscow does not distinguish between Mormon or Baptists as he or she equally distrusts both (some 3%). They do have a 5-fold higher trust of Muslims. Yet the official religion, Orthodoxy, is viewed as being 20 times more trustworthy than religion under the names of Baptist or Mormon. For a religion that is practiced by some 2% of the population to be quantified as 20 times more trustworthy than another religion gives insight into the dearth of trust in general and in religion specifically by the average person in Moscow.

on media – Both the person on the street and the person in the trust distrust most forms of media. The man on the street prefers Russian magazines and international news while the person in the church prefers Russian newspapers and radio.

conclusions – “It’s clear that to garner the trust of Russians, the motives for your actions must be up-front and obvious. It seems that even self-serving or immoral motives are better than hidden ones. The particular history of the Russian people has apparently made them highly suspicious and careful in what they place their trust. They no longer want to have things controlled for them, and want to make up their own minds and form their own opinions.”

conclusions – “It’s pretty clear that Russian Baptists have a culture in their faith and in their churches that dramatically sets them apart from secular Russians on many levels. They are less open to new trends, less involved in change, more disposed to trust the government (at least locally), and less accepting of outside influences. While this traditional approach has its virtues, it will continue to alienate them from their neighbors as time goes on, and make them increasingly irrelevant in their communities. They must look for points of commonality to avoid this fate at all costs. Relevance often breeds trust, and without it, they will continue to score 3% among Russians in general. If 97% of the population finds you unworthy of their faith, then it’s time to take a hard look at changing something. Moscow will never be won by people who are disconnected from its society.”

Categories : trends
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Mar
02

question?

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Why is a multi-site video venue format synonymous with imported preaching? Is it thinkable to have the worship be piped in and the preaching live? What if each campus had it’s own live music and preaching, but the announcements were fed in via video to help the church be on the same page?

Feel free to share your thoughts. There must be a good reason for the way things are or perhaps there are stories out there that are not well known.

Categories : church, trends
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Feb
22

Velocity Quotes

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Here are a few quotes from presenters today at the churchplanters.com Velocity conference.

  1. “We have to assume now that all mission is cross-cultural.”  ~ Alan H
  2. “It’s not that the church has a mission, but the mission has a church.”  ~ Alan Hirsch
  3. (Speaking about planting churches,) “I’m not even sure what we are trying to do the world wants.”  ~ Shawn Lovejoy
  4. “If you do church to reach church, then you’ll reach somebody else’s Christians.”  ~ Hugh Halter
  5. “The [Christian story] is a peasant’s movement.”  ~ Hugh Halter
  6. “…community has to be the witness now.”  ~ Hugh Halter
  7. “You cannot sell a Christendom approach to a post-Christian world. They are anti-Christian.”  ~ Alan Hirsch
  8. “Go among the people. Don’t assume you know what church looks like.”  ~ Alan Hirsch
  9. “You plant the gospel. You don’t plant churches.”  ~ Alan Hirsch
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Jan
24

Art and CPing in KC

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This week at Union Station in Kansas City I saw the following…. Can you guess what it is?

cans1

Here’s a little more scope. Figured it out yet?

cans2

Zoomed out here…

cans3

In Andy Warhol style, there were several different color images of Marilyn Monroe each constructed from cans of food such as tuna and beans. This was one of several constructions designed for a food drive endeavor.

Surely there are many lessons to come from this, but I’ll leave these for the reader.

While in KC, I also had the privilege of meeting with a group of church planters. They were making plans to start 30 churches in the next 10 years. It was a blessing to hear their hearts and to be a small part of the opening questions we should be asking session. I have already and will continue to pray for you guys. Press on!

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Dec
09

If, then

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Lately, I have been thinking, studying, and writing a lot on the area of discipleship. Last week I was on my way to be with some church planters in AR. While in route, I stopped for a plate of fried catfish (perhaps this is important when considering being a fisher of men or perhaps I have just missed it the past several years) and to write down this syllogism.

fishermenJesus calls us to be his disciples.
Therefore, I am to be a disciple. And…
He teaches his disciples to be disciple-makers.
Therefore, a disciple makes other disciples.

Two possible outcomes:
I make disciples.
Therefore, I am a disciple.

or

I don’t make disciples.
Therefore, I am not a disciple.

By extension, if this is the characterization of the disciples that make up the church, then it will be the characterization and evidence of the church. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 should not be descriptive of the church. However, verses 10-17 should be consistent with church.

Hirsch makes a similar argument in his upcoming book, Untamed, and in “No Disciples, No Mission,” a post on the Catalyst site. Not only is this a worthwhile read, it merits serious consideration and reevaluation.

Before wrapping up this post, I would like to encourage those who may attend the churchplanters.com conference this February 22-23 in the Atlanta area to consider participating in the pre-conference event with Alan Hirsch and the founders of The Upstream Collective. The event will deal with Lessons from Post-Christian Cultures. Like other Hirsch talks and Upstream events in the past, I am sure this will be insightful and thought-provoking.

Categories : church, discipleship
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Nov
13

A Missional Conversation Continued

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Yesterday’s post had part 1 of this conversation. It is really good video. Part 2 here is worthwhile, but part 3 is essential. For 3 to make sense, best to do 2 first. After the second portion, it appears that Stetzer & Fitch agreed (even requested) to have the camera turned back on in order to communicate some things very important to both of them. Very worthwhile.

Ed Stetzer & Dave Fitch – a missional conversation Part II from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

Above Ed and Dave provide their perspectives on whether mega churches can be missional. A lively and fun discussion.

Stetzer & Fitch – a missional conversation – Part III from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

After a few minute break whilst shooting the conversation (see end of Part II “…you’re wearing us out” then laughter), Dave and Ed came back with some final thoughts on the importance of the church telling a new missional story.

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Nov
11

What’s in a name?

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iStock_000006851283XSmallIn 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 sw
eet.
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.

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Nov
03

Sequitur

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iStock_000004312581XSmallIt follows. If the God we serve is the missionary God, then what follows? While my last post, Non Sequitor, had 5 things that did not follow the Missio Dei, here are 7 that do. While the non-sequitur list does not include examples for obvious reasons, there are a number of good examples here. Here are some positive expressions of church that reflect the “sending of God.”

  1. Just do it – Some slogans transcend time because they ring true for now and other times. In athletics, Nike’s advertisers hit a home run. Some church slogans that ring true in light of the Missio Dei include Northstar’s “Don’t go to church, be the church.” This is key for a church that is awakening to the lostness around them. Another great slogan (and book) is by author Jason Dukes. His church seeks to “Live Sent” 24/7/365.
  2. Healthy networks – Teaching the things one has learned to others is evident in a number of networks, not the least of which is some great guys that are the Reproducing Churches Network. Multiple expressions and strategies here. Humility abounds. The message of Christ is being spread through churches that are planting churches. Through disciples that are making disciples.
  3. Taking it downtown – There is a movement of churches going into the heart of inner-city areas, bars, and other places where people live. Where lostness dwells. Where an incarnational witness has previously been scarce. Some expressions of this include: Redemption Hill in Richmond,  Branch Life Church in Birmingham, and Evergreen in Portland. Another encouraging expression of this includes Christ Presbyterian Church where several families sold their suburban homes to move their families into inner-city Nashville to live among those they are loving and serving through a school of the arts.
  4. Taking it to the streets – Some have moved the church or made other radical changes. Rodney Calfee converted the children’s area of the The Downtown Church into a halfway house. Seeing people from the suburbs coming into the city for church, he realized that the population segments of downtown were not being reached with the gospel. With radical changes attendance plummeted, but God began to do amazing things in transforming lives. Matthew’s Table is an experience in community in Lebanon, TN. They meet in a coffee shop, and in homes, and wherever else along the way as they live as the church among their community.
  5. Sending Churches – Churches are sending people out in teams to the nations to be a blessing to communities and to seek to plant churches there. One church, LifePoint, is preparing to send multiple units comprising two teams to two different continents.
  6. Acoustic church – Caleb Crider with The Upstream Collective presents the “sound system rule” where a church moves toward either an attractional or missional model. Acoustic church could refer to what some call simple, organic, or house churches as well as some larger gatherings which are currently happening in other countries where Church Planting Movments (CPM) are underway. This is church with both a little more and a lot less. Some additions may include food, increased emphasis on prayer, relational discipling while also taking out lots of bells and whistles. Acoustic church is not for the glory or material enrichment of man. For some it serves as a place for the burned as well as the burned-out to have fellowship with believers. For others, however, it is a missional force. Exciting things are in the works here as a number of mega, multi-site, well-known churches are saying enough of our satellite or campus additions. Enough of us reaching a small segment of our city. Let’s go out to where the lost are and be the church among them. This is the church participating in the “sending of God.” Thanks to Neil Cole and Church Multiplication Associates for being one of the leaders in this for some time already.
  7. Ethnic awareness – Across the U.S. there are churches being planted for people groups from languages and countries including hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Europeans, etc. Additionally, church for skaters, surfers, cowboys, and others are encouraging. When this can coexist in one group of believers it is encouraging as well. Kudos to Mosaic and others that follow their lead.
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