Church? Spectators vs Participants

baseball-stadium

Dear Church,

Are you a spectator or a participant in building God’s kingdom?

Years of sitting in traditional church has not prepared us to be the church in the manner described in the New Testament.

We have been taught to come.

To sit.

To watch and listen to what others have prepared.

(Someone described it as “sit, soak and sour”.)

This is Spectator Church. And it is no way to train believers to be priests.

By contrast, the churches described in the Bible engaged in Participatory Church. This kind of church requires preparation on the part of all of it’s members.

This is new.

We haven’t been taught how to do this.

Therefore, some retraining is in order.

Read: John White’s article –  How to Prepare for Simple Church

Theology: Are you a Settler or Pioneer?

pioneer wagon

This is from Brennan Manning’s book Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus. (As read in class by Murray Dueck of Samuel’s Mantle)

There are two visions of life, two kinds of people. The first see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are called settlers. The second see life as a wild, fantastic, explosive gift. They are called pioneers.

These two types give rise to two kinds of theology: Settler Theology and Pioneer Theology. According to Wes Seeliger in his book, Western Theology, the first kind, Settler Theology, is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of Supreme Being, establish the status quo on golden tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life. The Wild West is the setting for both theologies.

In Settler Theology, the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small and this makes things dark inside. Within the courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse is the settler’s symbol of law, order, stability, and—most importantly—security. The mayor’s office is on the top floor. His eagle eye ferrets out the smallest details of town life.

In Pioneer Theology, the church is the covered wagon. It’s a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love and die. It bears the marks of life and movement—it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with baling wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves toward the future and doesn’t bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn’t comfortable, but the pioneers don’t mind. They are more into adventure than comfort.

In Settler Theology, God is the mayor. He is a sight to behold. Dressed like a dude from back East, he lounges in an over-stuffed chair in his courthouse office. He keeps the blinds drawn. No one sees him or knows him directly, but since there is order in town, who can deny that he is there? The mayor is predictable and always on schedule. The settlers fear the mayor, but look to him to clear the payroll and keep things going. Peace and quiet are the mayor’s main concerns. That’s why he sends the sheriff to check on the pioneers who ride into town.

In Pioneer Theology, God is the trail boss. He is rough and rugged, full of life. He chews tobacco, drinks straight whiskey. The trail boss lives, eats, sleeps, fights with his people. Their sell-being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn’t move; living as a free man would be impossible. The trail boss often gets down in the mud with the pioneers to help push the wagon, which often gets stuck. He prods the pioneers when they get soft and want to turn back. His fist is an expression of his concern.

In Settler Theology, Jesus is the sheriff. He’s the guy who is sent by the mayor to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat, drinks milk, outdraws the bad guys. The sheriff decides who is thrown into jail. There is a saying in town that goes: those who believe the mayor sent the sheriff, and follow the rules, they won’t stay in Boothill when it comes their time.

In Pioneer Theology, Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find our which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians. Through his words and actions he reveals the true intentions of the trail boss. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it means to be a pioneer.

In Settler Theology, the Holy Spirit is the saloon girl. Her job is to comfort the settlers. They come to her when they feel lonely, or when life gets dull or dangerous. She tickles them under the chin and makes everything okay again. The saloon girl squeals to the sheriff when someone starts disturbing the peace.

In Pioneer Theology, the Holy Spirit is the buffalo hunter. He rides along with the covered wagon and furnishes fresh meat for the pioneers. Without it they would die. The buffalo hunter is a strange character—sort of a wild man. The pioneers can never tell what he will do next.

He scares the hell out of the settlers. He has a big black gun that goes off like a cannon. He rides into town on Sunday to shake up the settlers. You see, every Sunday morning, the settlers have a little ice cream party in the courthouse. With his gun in hand the buffalo hunter sneaks up to one of the courthouse windows. He fires a tremendous blast that rattles the whole courthouse. Men jump out of their skin, women scream, dogs bark. Chuckling to himself, the buffalo hunter rides back to the wagon train shooting up the town as he goes.

In Settler Theology, the Christian is the settler. He fears the open, unknown frontier. His concern is to stay on good terms with the mayor and keep out of the sheriff’s way. “Safety first” is his motto. To him the courthouse is a symbol of security, peace, order, and happiness. He keeps his money in the bank. The banker is his best friend. The settler never misses an ice cream party.

In Pioneer Theology, the Christian is the pioneer. He is a man of daring, hungry for a new life. He rides hard, knows how to use a gun when necessary. The pioneer feels sorry for the settlers and tries to tell them of the joy and fulfillment of life on the trail. He dies with his boots on.

In Settler Theology, the clergyman is the banker. Within his vault are locked the values of the town. He is a highly respected man. He has a gun, but keeps it hidden in his desk. He feels that he and the sheriff have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

In Pioneer Theology, the clergyman is the cook. He doesn’t furnish the meat. He just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss, scout, or the buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned how to cook. The cook’s job is to help the pioneers pioneer.

In Settler Theology, faith is trusting in the safety of the town: obeying the laws, keeping your nose clean, believing the mayor is in the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, faith is the spirit of adventure: the readiness to move out, to risk everything on the trail. Faith is obedience to the restless voice of the trail boss.

In Settler Theology, sin is breaking one of the town’s ordinances.

In Pioneer Theology, sin is wanting to turn back.

In Settler Theology, salvation is living close to home and hanging around the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, salvation is being more afraid of sterile town life than death on the trail. Salvation is joy at the thought of another day to push on into the unknown. It is trusting the trail boss and following his scout while living on the meat furnished by the buffalo hunter.

However, this image below is key…

“Some people want to be slaves…”

…and what it means if we are not yet experiencing freedom…!

(Read the whole page below…)

IMG_7226

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Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning, Chapter 3, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1986.3

Letters to the Church – Francis Chan

Francis Chan – Letters to the Church ( #paradigmshift )

letterstothechurch.francischanA few quotes from Francis Chan that will get you thinking…!

“God designed the Church to be much more than what the majority of us experience in America. There are many of us who believe this and want change. The good news is that God wants this change even more than we do.

The early church didn’t need the energetic music, great videos, attractive leaders, or elaborate lighting to be excited about being a part of God’s body. The pure gospel was enough to put them in a place of awe.

If you think that sitting back and letting the church staff feed you will bring you the most fulfillment, you are so wrong. God promised that those who give will be most blessed (Acts 20:35).

When the Bible describes the power available to you, doesn’t it sound like hyperbole? It seems so extreme, yet we see so little of this in our own lives and in the Church. The discrepancy could challenge your faith in the Scriptures—how can the Bible promise things we never experience in real life? But are you willing to consider that the Bible is accurate and the Church has domesticated us to the point where we doubt our power?

Church, the answer is not to build bigger and nicer cages. Nor is it to renovate the cages so they look more like the wild. It’s time to open the cages, remind the animals of their God-given instincts and capabilities, and release them into the wild.

Alan Hirsch said, “In so many churches the mission of the church has actually become the maintenance of the institution itself.”

It’s time to train people to live in the wild again.

There are elements of modern churches that on the surface seem like good ideas, but they can actually keep us from the biblical vision of unity, true fellowship, mutual love, and pursuit of the mission. Too many look at these elements and insist you can’t have a church without them.

I believe God is leading a movement in this country toward simple, smaller gatherings, and I long to see this movement gain greater traction. I get so excited when I dream about the Church spreading in small, invigorating expressions that look and feel like the early church. My goal is to get you dreaming about this as well.

My hope is simply to convince you that there are compelling ways of living as the Church that look nothing like our traditional models. My goal is to get you dreaming, to keep you from settling, to affirm that nagging sense you can’t shake that God wants something more for His Church than what you’re experiencing.”

Learn more about the book: ‘Letters to the Church’ by Francis Chan

What does freedom look like?

worship

I recently asked Jesus this question: “What does freedom look like?”

He immediately brought to mind the picture of the Israelites walking through the Red Sea escaping slavery… BUT … NOT grumbling and complaining in the wilderness wanting to go back to slavery …which, sadly, is what the Israelites did …and as a result died in the wilderness, not entering the promised land. It was only the next generation who were allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Today, I reflect on this promise: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:17

And I read this from Nicky Gumbel…from his ‘Bible in One Year’ readings…

Love and unity go hand in hand. The Tower of Babel is the symbol of disunity (Genesis 11:1–9). The people said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves’ (v.4). This act of pride and power-seeking led to disunity, symbolised in the confusion of different languages in the world. ‘The Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth’ (v.9).

The day of Pentecost was the reversal of Babel. The Holy Spirit enables people to say: ‘each of us hears them [speaking] in our native language’ (Acts 2:8). The gift of tongues symbolises the fact that the Holy Spirit reverses the disunity of Babel and unites all peoples and languages.

This is a common experience today as we see the Holy Spirit bringing love and unity across churches, languages and nations.

Lord, may we never seek to make a name for ourselves or our own church, denomination or movement. Rather, may we seek to glorify your name. Pour out your Spirit, O Lord, on the church as on the day of Pentecost. May there be a reversal of Babel. May there be an end to disunity. May your Spirit and the values of the kingdom of God bring love, joy, peace, true happiness and unity.

Wow…

As I continue to reflect on …what God is calling us to BE as the church …building God’s kingdom, rather than our own little kingdoms, this rings so beautifully.

Questions to Reflect on:

Where have we been trying to make a name for ourselves? (Rather than lifting up the name of Jesus?)

Where have we settled, perhaps becoming complacent, becoming stuck in ruts?

Where have we been looking backwards to the past?

Have we perhaps been controlling or manipulating a ‘move of God’ without asking for more of Holy Spirit?

Are we open to God moving outside the box in the future, no matter what He brings?

Ask the Lord, “What do you have next?”

Invite Holy Spirit to fall on your family, your friendships, your gatherings and be ready for anything that looks different than what you’re used to.

Be prepared to fast and pray for days… God longs to invite us into friendship with Him rather than just giving us marching orders.

Did you know that in world history, all the Revivals look differently? They each look like Jesus but not like each other. People may reject Jesus’ move of Holy Spirit when He doesn’t fit their box. Let us not be people who reject God’s Spirit because He doesn’t fit our traditions.

My Prayer:

“Holy Spirit lead us to be ready for each new day of what you are doing. Thank you for your move in the past, but let us not settle and build our own little kingdoms around your movements. Let us instead, build your Kingdom by following your every move! Yes & Amen! 💗🙌

Quote Source: https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/bioy/commentary/3171

Are you ready for new wine?

What does it cost for new wine and new wine skins?

So often we want God to move but when He moves differently than we want, we shut the door on Him. Let’s not be stuck, but hungry for more of Him. You can’t see the new thing unless you let go of the old. God is on the move.
 
I enjoyed a delightful conversation this morning over coffee as a faithful friend and I reflected on all the changes we’ve experienced together. I found this video afterwards thanks to my friend and it reflects MUCH of our conversation. My friend and I both agree we are in better places today and yet grateful for the hell we both walked through together – feeling like we were ripped out of an old wine skin. (Definitely, we experienced the ‘tension in transition’ as Craig speaks of below…) Yet, today, we are hungry for more of what God has next! And what we’re experiencing today is thanks to being open to more of Him outside of any box we unknowingly put Him in.
 
God, what do you have next for us in this new year?

I’ve enjoyed reading Craig’s words on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daily.prophetic/

and on Twitter…

Locating God’s presence this past year.

reflection
image source: Biblicalleadership.com

Locating God’s presence this past year.
(The Grand Prayer of Examen)

  1. Look Back
    – Look over the past 6 – 12 months.
    – Where has the Lord been present and at work in my life?
    – What significant changes have come my way?
    – When have I been the most stressed? the most blessed, and full of joy?
    – What can I give thanks to God for?
    – Where have I been?
    – Where am I now?
  2. Look through
    – Identify any patterns, connections or themes that have characterized the past 6-12 months.
    – If you can, summarize the past year in a sentence or two.
    – Do you notice anything or patterns? specific thought patterns or emotions?
    – Ask the Lord about these patterns. How do they line up with the fruit of Holy Spirit?
  3. Look forward
    – Where do you sense God leading you forward?
    – What do you sense your spirit needs in this season?
    – What are your hopes and dreams for this coming year? Ask the Lord what His hopes and dream are for you!
    – Paint a picture of what you envision over the next six months.
    – What are you asking the Lord for in the new year? for your community, your family?
  4. Look around
    – What does your community need? How can you pray for them, help them?
    – Consider a prayer walk through your neighbourhood to help you see.
    – Who are the people you can intentionally walk with?
    – What community support do you need in this season of your life?
    – Who are the people you need to invite to walk alongside you?
    – Who are the people you can intentionally walk with?
    – How can others best support you?

Prayer prompts:

God, still my heart and mind. 

I am silent in your presence. 

You are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are fully here with me. 

Father, I look back on my year. 

Thank you for… (list off people, provision…)

God, help me to see where you were present and working in and around me… 

 …I bend my heart to you. Show me where I need to ask for your forgiveness and receive your grace. (If He brings things to mind, take time to do so.)

In humility, and renewed vision, faith and courage, I look toward the new year coming. I commit what I know and not know to you Lord. I ask for your discernment. Help me through your Holy Spirit to know you more deeply, to better love, serve, and lead others with your guidance and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 

Scriptures for Reflection:

Psalm 103:2-5 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
    may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
    and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
    and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
    My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

 

Psalm 139:1-7 (NLT)

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!

 

Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit[a] from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.

 

I bless you with a new year of greater intimacy with your loving Heavenly Father, rich in Holy Spirit fruit, in the name of Christ Jesus! Amen!

Sources:

The Prayer Of Examen, Ignatian Spirituality

The Psalms, NLT

The Grand Examen – Locating God’s Presence in 2017 : New Life Fellowship Church – New York

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZAauF3laXQ

 

Hybrid Church: ReThinking the Great Commission

Read Roy’s: “Hybrid Church” here… (free resource)

Longer video but poor quality: Roy Moran – Hybrid Church: ReThinking the Great Commission

One pastor’s thoughts on Roy Moran’s other book: “Spent Matches”

Spent Matches – Roy’s book on being apart of an institutional church but with a missional focus.

 

Making Disciples WHO MAKE Disciples

I was recently sent an interview with Roy Moran on disciple making movements.

Some of the quotes…

In order to make disciples who make disciples, you need to learn a new language. In a churched world, we have to tear down a lot of concepts.

It’s not about making disciples, but about making disciples who make disciples.

Making disciples who make disciples is a lifestyle.

Start with a group, rather than individuals…

Learn the space you are in. Where do people have relationships and activities there? Begin prayer walks there in order to learn it. Pray for God to lead you to people who are spiritually interested.

Below, I lined up all 3 parts of the interview for easy viewing… (each video has a short duplicated intro but each has new content.) Also, you’ll see below and after the videos, I share the resources he refers to.

 

Resources mentioned:

The Father Glorified: True Stories of God’s Power Through Ordinary People

Contagious Disciplemaking

Spent Matches – Roy’s book on being apart of an institutional church but with a missional focus.

Multipliers

Multipliers for Educators (I couldn’t find it but found this: http://multipliersbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Multipliers-Minimizing-Accidental-Diminisher-Tendencies-May-2017.pdf

Teaching as a Subversive Activity – Neil Postma

Seth Godin’s blog – often relates to DMM – (missional thinking)

Discover DMM

DMM Learning Lab

Hermie Smit on DMM – YouTube

DMM City Team – Now NewGenerations

Read Roy’s: “Hybrid Church” here… (free resource)

 

 

What is Church?

I recently came across this powerful illustration on church. This comic book is basically a short introduction to a much longer conversation. If you’re a Christian who’s only experienced today’s institutional form of church, you’ve probably got several lingering questions. For instance, what about pastors? What about sermons? What about baptism, spiritual authority, the Lord’s Supper, and tithes?

In September of 2017, nearly 150 supporters came together to produce this comic book…

church-comic.png

Read the comic online for free here: http://www.unchurching.com/comic

There are also some powerful articles and blog posts on the growing movement towards BEING the church and building God’s kingdom. Could God be moving us towards being ONE body under the Headship of Jesus to answer His prayer in John 17?

Ready for a paradigm shift? 😉

Related: Francis Chan – Why the Megachurch can’t be the goal of the future