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against modern evangelism

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David Platt speaks strongly against the modern church’s creation of the need to “say this prayer” and “accept Jesus into your heart.” Instead, we are to be about making disciples. Through this process, we are to communicate a “full picture of the gospel.”

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Over the past weeks I have been busy with travel, meetings, and a writing project. I am expecting news to be available on the writing project soon, but it is under wraps for now. I can share that my writing has involved a good amount of research which has turned up all kinds of interesting things as usual. One of those, I wanted to go ahead and pass along. It is a video of Caesar Kalinowski, one of the planters and elders of Soma Communities. He has spent time learning from missionaries about the process of storying with pre-literates and now is advocating use of story with post-literates.

Storying has potential application in urban centers among nationals and what some may consider an emerging people group of transnationals–people that are more at home in international cities than they would be in smaller towns or villages among people that share a language and cultural background. I have used elements of storying with post-literates among multiple cultures and feel like this deserves more trial both in the U.S. and among the nations.

Ceasar Kalinowski – Story of God from Verge Network on Vimeo.

Categories : trends, video
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Our call is to make disciples. He builds His church.

Often it seems we give ourselves wholly to building our church and trusting her to make His disciples.

Categories : church
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a good bit wiser

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A recent conversation with my pre-teen daughter about the latest happenings in her world at her new school where she is seeking to live as salt and light led to some healthy thinking and great conversation. (I really love talking with this kid and am thankful that I get to be her daddy.) Anyway, the conversation is an important part of what it means to live on mission.

In the gospels we see numerous times where the religious leaders came to trap Jesus with their sophistry. Following these encounters, the questioners would be silenced, red-faced, apoplectic. On the other hand, we see genuine questioners coming to Christ that were deeply impacted and changed or struggled with the answers he gave. Each encounter makes clear that he was the wise one. He seems to be thinking, speaking and seeing things on a higher plane. So, if we are sent as he was sent then….

The same goes for peace-making. Jesus didn’t make a let’s pretend to be nice ignoring the elephant in the room peace, but more often a reconciliation of relationships that were completely severed with no hope of making things right. For example, there was no way that Mary and Martha were going to have another minute with Lazarus on this earth until Jesus went and changed all that. If that’s a bit too extreme then how about the prostitute at the well that Christ restored to a healthy standing in her community. So, if Jesus was a peacemaker and we are sent as he was sent then….

We have such a privilege and I believe it is fair to even say a huge advantage in interacting with others. We are sent as the wise ones, the peace-makers. We go out from our homes into our community, the places where we connect, our workplace and our schools with our eyes wide open. There is a purpose behind who we are, a mission that propels us forward. We meet and relate to our neighbors to bless them. When they are kind to us, we in turn honor them. If they curse us, we in turn bless them. If they hate us it is OK because we have enough love for both of us. When they want to speak only of mundane or immoral things, we have the privilege of elevating our interactions to things that matter and are lasting.

Categories : discipleship, missiology
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missional pooch

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With tail wagging wildly, our new Christmas puppy has found her place in our home (though not exactly inside it) and our hearts. She goes from a flutter of spastic activities before hitting the wall and crashing for a time only to get a full recharge. We have laughed a lot over the past days and tossed a few things that Super Pup bested.

Our biggest concern with getting a dog in the first week was the whimpering and whining at night and the resulting displeasure of the neighbors. Just separated from her mama, the new love of my children’s lives proved true to nature and whimpered intermittently through the first several nights. A couple days into it though, with no complaints from neighbors, all seemed well. But actually it was better than that….

On New Year’s Eve night, my father-in-law and I visited my neighbor who washes his Jesus to share some food and wish him well. Gus was broken prior to our arrival and often incoherent due to some amount of alcohol and large amounts of emotional pain over the last year and anger through recent events with others. Through our time together, he shared that he had been awakened by a whimpering puppy the previous morning at 4:00 AM. Then, for the first time, he began to read his Bible. We finished our time together praying a prayer of blessing over a man who was at first scared to be holding a bottle of Bud Light while we began to talk to God. By prayer’s end, he was deeply moved and thankful.

The story continues…now with Super Pup in the cast of characters.

Categories : discipleship, story
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Here is Hirsch with some thoughts about the imperative and pervasiveness of discipleship. Thanks to the Verge Network for making this available.

Categories : discipleship, video
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the world would notice

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Pure religion is practical, straightforward and non-negotiable–care for orphans and widows. James records these instructions as the clear outcome of what it looks like for believers to combine faith and action. Anything less than practically meeting the needs of the needy is simply an exercise in worthless religion. Not taking action is a sure way to fool ourselves into thinking our religion has meaning and purpose. But….

But we are to make a difference. We are not to be served, but to serve. We are to give our lives as a living sacrifice. We are to feed those that are hungry and clothe those that are naked. We are to care for orphans and widows.

Toward this end, I am happy to introduce and shamelessly promote theworldwouldnotice.com. These guys are encouraging the church to make a difference in the lives of orphans–all of the orphans in the state of Florida and beyond. Their challenge is this: For every one church, let there be 1 less child that needs a home.

Advocating that we impact the world together, the site founders promote the idea for every church to have multiple families that rally around one adopting family to be their support network and community to love and embrace a new member of the family. As a result, the church living in obedience will impact so many as they experience and live out the love of Christ. And one more thing…if done on a large scale, the world would notice that something unique and good is happening among these people seeking to obey their God.

Categories : church, social justice
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toward building programs (3 of 4)

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For regular readers of this blog, this post may initially sound a bit off-kilter for me. However, I believe it is time for churches to seriously consider the need for undertaking a new building project. Right now. No, I am not proposing the next $130 million dollar project. But I am proposing something that should be promoted and celebrated with the intensity that some would allocate to constructing a state-of-the-art worship center celebrating the majesty of God. This humble project should be fast-tracked. Regardless of a church’s financial condition, a capital campaign for this undertaking will likely be met with enthusiasm from those that are passionate about putting the words of Christ into practice. The church would do well to consider ways to put in gardens and greenhouses on church property and empty lots throughout the community.

During a time of rapid growth in unemployment, with food stamp usage nearing an all-time high, and even signs of escalating suicide rates because of financial stress, the church needs to be active in feeding the hungry. To provide ways to deal with one of the most basic needs of life for those struggling financially the church can equip and enable them to plant, cultivate, and harvest produce. In addition to providing much needed food, the process gives a sense of self-worth while providing multiple metaphors and object lessons of God making us into a new creation. Depending on geographic location, greenhouses may be beneficial to allow year-round produce to be harvested.

Called to seek the lost, the church will do well to make the garden visible to the community. It is possible that the garden and/or greenhouse function as a sign of service to the community. This sign could replace the symbol of the steeple for the church signifying that this is where a group of people that love and minister to their community for the glory of God in obedience to Him may be found worshipping and working. It may serve as a new symbol of trust, hope, and safety for the community.

To take this into the community more, creating multiple gardens throughout the community may serve as points of engagement with the lost and hurting. Use of empty lots as a way of beautifying the city while meeting needs for the surrounding neighbors through their labor and collective work will allow people to begin a process of discipleship and journeying toward Christ long before they have made Him their Lord.

It is time for the church to rethink the old food pantry and to look for creative ways to meet needs and share the love of God through being the incarnation of Christ as we live and work and relate to those that are lost. Additionally, considering other alternatives that maximize resources such as Angel Food Ministries will be a blessing to those in need.

Continuing with this series that began with stating the obvious and pursuing prioritization, the next post will address the need for pursuing mass conversion….

Categories : church, trends
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a walk

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Having just moved into the new place a couple of days ago, we are still settling, unpacking, cleaning, organizing, etc. But we took some time out this weekend to pray as a family in our home and out in our community. As we were walking along, something simple, yet beautiful happened.

My youngest daughter has been praying for a couple of years now thanking the Lord for such a wonderful day and usually praying that He would have a wonderful day as well. But as we walked along in our community praying for our neighbors, she began to pray that our neighbors would see Christ in us…that they would come to Him…that He would touch their lives.

It was a blessing for me to be walking along, holding her hand as we agreed in prayer for what God may do in our community. It was a blessing to see her self-focused prayers switch to be prayers about seeing God’s glory revealed so that those that are around us may come to Him. During this time she had learned something from me and I was learning something from her.

Categories : discipleship, story
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Current Lessons from a Historic Church

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This week I had the privilege of participating in some interviews (behind the camera of course) offering me the opportunity to hear some good perspectives. One of these key interviews was with Ed Stetzer and Greg and Ruth Haslam of Westminster Chapel. Ed posted a piece with the video and helpful insight on “Involving all of God’s people on all of God’s mission.”

Here is some additional background information that may provide more scope and meaning for the video.

Westminster Chapel was planted in the early 1840’s. Some 25 years later, the church moved to its current location which had a large amount of poor people in the area. Some years after the church’s relocation, the word “slum” was introduced to the English language. This word was used for this area of London at that time. It had been for this very reason that the church had moved into this area according to the pastor’s wife, Ruth Haslam. Since that time the community has gone through a gentrification process.

There is a history of great preachers that led the church throughout its many years. These men include: Rev. Samuel Martin; Dr. G. Campbell Morgan; Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; and Dr. RT Kendall. In our modern day it is more difficult to encourage and observe obedience with only a preaching point as the means for discipleship. Though not captured on the above video, Pastor Greg shared that the transition he is leading to establish community groups is necessary as church participants need to be participatory in becoming more obedient to the Savior and His mission.

Categories : discipleship, story
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