Becoming an Antioch Church

31 07 2008

God has impressed on me lately the importance of not neglecting the Antioch model so I want to simply introduce some observations and how this tiny, new church plant was responsible for the single greatest church expansion in the history of our faith.

In our effort to plant and grow churches, in the past 50 years we have gone through 3 major model shifts –

Pastoral model – This is where someone with a 5-fold pastoral gift plants a church and stays there, growing and maintaining it for life.  This has and always will ultimately result in the decline of churches because there is no chance for exponential growth and the number of churches is always limited to the number of Pastors.

Evangelistic model – This was kicked off with Bill Hybles church plant in Chicago and has been reproduced a thousand times around the world.  This model is where a 5-fold evangelist plants a church and restructures it around their ability to enfold thousands of people.  If Billy Graham would have planted a church it would have been like this.  These churches tend to be 1000+ but are even more difficult to reproduce then pastoral churches because there are fewer 5-fold evangelists.  This model results in the fast decline in the number of churches the slow decline in the number of church goers and very fast decline in the number of devoted disciples since evangelists do not have the gifts or calling to thoroughly train disciples.

Church planting Churches model – Very recently there has been a call for churches to plant churches.  New churches are both better at evangelism and contextualizing the Gospel in emerging cultures than existing pastoral churches.  While this is smart strategically this model tends to carry with it the same problems as the above two if the model for church being used is based on finding the right 5-fold gifted person.  If they chose a new model (actually an ancient model) not basing a church on a person and his gifting they may become an Antioch church and learn how to reproduce in a way that expands the church.  I have the most hope for this model.

So what is the Antioch Church Model

Acts 13

1In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

  1. The gathering of prophets and teachers.  It is important for the prophets and teachers of a church to spend time together before the Lord seeking his will for the church
  2. Sending out the most called and gifted of the group.  Any church that wants to see this kind of expansion can NOT be dependent on their most gifted members but must be preparing to build itself up (Eph 4) as they are equipped by those gifted members so they can send their best out and not suffer.
  3. Spiritually and financially support the Apostolic team you are sending out.

I know many of us have been trained not to pay any attention to Acts to find models.  We’ve learned well that what the Spirit of God did in Acts and what the Spirit of God inspired Luke to write in Acts should have no bearing on our models but we should instead follow what the spirit of Brian McLaren or Mark Driscoll says or trust in our own limited understanding of the Bible and our context to discern how to structure the church.  But I believe church structures must flow out of divine revelation and then work toward strategy because it is given to apostles in our day to understand what models and forms will result in the proper functioning of the church.  We cannot and should not divorce form and function because one leads to the other.

I’d encourage you to dig into Antioch and see if these elements are true of you and your church and for the sake of the Kingdom, consider the impact of this tiny, obedient body.

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Learning to Walk with God

27 07 2008
  • “Have you had your quiet time today?”
  • “Are you spending time in the Word?”
  • “How is your prayer life?”

These accountability questions have, for me, betrayed a belief that a walk with God is ultimately a discipline at its core.  Even when we train people we focus such attention on consistency but we can easily skip the root issue.

In my life I’ve neglected walking with God because it felt like a chore.  It was toilsome and not life-giving.  But this is the opposite of the abudant life Christ came to give us.

Recently I’ve been seeking two things in my walk with God – joy and deep connection.  Now it’s almost impossible for me to imagine not spending time every day with him but its because I’m so filled with joy in his presence.  Temptations that used to seem attractive pale in comparison with what I experience every day in my time with the Lord.  When you worship what you were made to worship all the silly counterfeits fade away.

What a difference this has made.  I think I finally get what Piper was trying explain with “Christian hedonism” and our purpose in “glorifying God BY enjoying him forever.”  But I had to experience it myself, and so do you.

It takes an entirely different approach than the way I was trained.  The minutes and hours slip by as I worship him, listen to him, feast on his Word, pray in the Spirit and I know he is right here with me, directing my thoughts and filling my being with life in his Spirit.

Take an hour a day and just pursue joy in the Lord and deep connection with him using whatever helps you discover this.  I started with writing on a white board what I would do if I had an hour with my only goal being to connect with God.  If you go through the motions and haven’t connected with God you might have actually made the problem worse by draining your spirit of joy, entering your day with less energy and hope.  So start over, erase what stole life and dig into and expand what gave you life.

Connect with God the Father through the work of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and dwell in his presence, listening to his voice and glorifying him with all your being.  In a phrase – walk with God.

So let’s start asking questions like

  • “Did you connect with God today?”
  • “Are you experiencing the joy of the Lord?”
  • “Are you looking forward to anything tomorrow more than your time with the Lord”

We might then actually discover the real problem and so doing, discover “life to the full.”





Family Teams Podcast

27 07 2008

While in D.C. I presented the Family Teams philosophy to a small group of folks and wanted to get that on here and for feedback and thoughts as this is the first time I’ve recorded the big picture ideas behind my take on a biblical philosophy of family.

Family Teams Philosophy Podcast

Also, here is a conversation about sharing a Sabbath meal with your family that Gavin and I did last year.

Sabbath Meal Podcast

***Click on the title to listen or right click save target as (or save link as) to download





Mission D.C. Debrief

23 07 2008

A team of us from Storyhill spent the past 5 days in the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. area discussing the restoration of our mission through discipleship training, the restoration of our church through body life and the restoration of our families through visionary headship.  It was an amazing 5 days and here are some of my observations –

I think everyone alive should make a pilgrimage to experience the Long family’s hospitality at least once during their life because it is truly a taste (both literally and figuratively) of the Kingdom’s presence on the Earth.  Many thanks to all in your household!  May your Sabbath table always overflow in abundance and may your daughters always dance with joy before the Lord.

Lifelong friendships were forged.  All the men I met on this trip excude a passion for Christ that deeply encouraged and connected with me.  Our journey together on this road to Zion is just beginning my brothers.

The Gospel was beautifully reenacted.  Being served communion by Sammy and observing the daily offices in readings, worship and prayer through Gavin’s leadership has deepened my faith and connection to Christ and the Gospel.

Major steps of faith are being taken.  I saw people courageously embrace change in a commitment to reclaim our lost practices.  I can already see the hundreds of disciples that will be made and the Body of Christ that will grow from the faith being demonstrated.  Let us run the race with perseverance.

Roomies Rock!  Luke and Lindsey were such a help to me and made the whole trip run seamless and smooth.

God willing it appears I’ll be back very soon to begin Story-Formed Life training.  Can’t wait to see you all again!





Is Serving the Poor the Christian Mission?

13 07 2008

Update: I’m suspending this post.  A friend has asked that I phrase this as a question and work my theology through more deeply with him before writing such firm convictions so I’ll gladly do that and post later my thoughts after submitting some of these ideas to those I trust.  In the mean time feel free to continue to post your thoughts on the subject so I can gain further insight.





3 Powerful Tools for Discipleship

7 07 2008

Often when I discuss discipleship with church leaders they point to some program – yearly conferences, small groups, sermons etc. that they see as their attempt to disciple their congregation.  But if you go a step deeper and try and discover if the tools they are using are actually effecting lasting change they’re not sure, they just assume.  It’s almost like they want a program to exist so they can feel like discipleship is happening and get on with what they think of as the “real mission” (growing bigger, maintaining church, planting churches, living in community etc.).

But pulling off a program for discipleship does NOT mean you are off the hook.  If you choose tools that are simply too weak to transform believers into devoted, obedient disciples what difference does it make?  You have not and are not fulfilling our Commission.

I believe discipleship is the mission and I am on a constant hunt for the most POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE tools in existence to create lasting change in the life of a disciple.  These tools also must be accessible for everyone.

Here are the three tools we use in conjunction with each other to disciple the bodies in our city (this 3 part approach also fits into a triperspectival frame work of prophet, priest and king).

1. Teaching Courses (75% content, 25% application)

These are courses like the Story-Formed Life and Koine Essentials where we spend 1.5 -2 hours midrashing and then go into training groups for the last half hour.  These have been extremely effective at building and growing foundational beliefs essential to the disciples life.

2. Traning Intensives (75% application, 25% content)

These are intensives like Rhythm Training and Walking in the Spirit where we teach a concept for half an hour, workshop the specific implications out for each individual that they will follow the next week, and debrief and pray over what happened when they tried last week’s training.  It is not uncommon to see someone’s entire approach to life completely transformed during the 5 week intensive, equipping the disciple with the tools and practices to live out the life of Christ.

3. Mentoring Relationships (50% content 50% reactive to what is going on with the disciple)

Whereas both Teaching Courses and Training Intensives are done at the Training Center level (city church) the Mentoring Relationships happen at the body level and are overseen by the Elders.  Currently we are doing this in groups of 3-4 (one mentor with 2-3 others) and we are experimenting with Greg Ogden’s 25 week process called Discipleship Essentials (you just need a starting point each week so curriculum is not central to but helpful).  After the 6 month process the mentoring is not complete until those going through the process mentor their own group of 2-3 for 6 months (thus a one year process).

Combined these tools are strong enough to truely and completely transform people’s lives.  We have to stop making excuses and focus ALL of our attention on fulfilling the Great Commission (make disciples…teaching them to obey everything) and not get side tracked by some other cool sounding mission, causing discipleship to be side-lined by a competing passion.