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.

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The Challenge that will Transform the Church

28 06 2008

There is one simple challenge that a church can take that will once and for all

  • Shift the mission to disciple-making
  • Cause the church to be structured into small bodies (missional communities)
  • Release the 5-fold ministry to focus most of their energy on expansion

I’ve mentioned this challenge in several of my past posts especially here and here but I just discovered that it was posed by an episcopal priest named George Martin in the publication “Today’s Parish” where he wrote –

“Perhaps pastors should imagine that they are going to have three more years in their parish as pastor—and that there will be no replacement for them when they leave. If they acted as if this were going to happen, they would put the highest priority on selecting, motivating, and training lay leaders that could carry on as much as possible of the mission of the parish after they left. The results of three sustained years of such an approach would be quite significant. Even revolutionary.”

I want to work with ANY church leaders willing to serious consider taking this challenge. We need to STOP planting churches that are improperly structured requiring endless maintenance by full-time workers and the lack of serious discipleship and deep community that are their natural byproduct. It’s very simple. Structures that really make disciples, foster community and release the 5-fold are available if we’ll have the courage and fortitude to leave the familiar paths and take this ancient neglected path back to sustainable Kingdom expansion.

Please talk to me if you want to explore this.





The Slippery Slope of Extrabiblical Eccelesiology

24 06 2008

A quote from Richard Hanson in Viola/Barna’s book Pagan Christianity perfectly summed up a concept I’ve consistently encountered.

95% of my conversations with others about HOW to do church seem to center around this practice of reading their current model back into the biblical text.

Hanson writes –

“It is a universal tendency in the Christian religion, as in many other religions, to give a theological interpretation to institutions which have developed gradually through a period of time for the sake of practice usefulness, and them read that interpretation back into the earliest periods and infancy of these institutions, attaching them to an age when in fact nobody imagined they had such a meaning.” – Richard Hanson

This is so important to me because I believe, without this practice, so many true believers would fully embrace the design of the church given by the 1st century Apostles. But so many of us have decades worth of training which spins biblical teachings into a defenses for our current church practices. If we can at least get over this and admit that there is no biblical basis for the

  • worship service
  • weekly sermon
  • career clergy
  • church buildings

and that these are man made inventions that should only be used if we truly believe they will enhance our commission fulfillment, and not distort the Apostolic vision of the church. Only then will we finally have the flexibility to rediscover the Apostolic methods that lead to explosive, deep, natural, unstoppable Kingdom expansion.





Live with us for a season at Storyhill

6 06 2008

Checkout the page I’ve added to give everyone info on the opportunity of living life with our family for a season – Stay at Storyhill.

Families, young marrieds, singles all welcome!  God’s been really challenging us to open our lives and demonstrating to us that discipleship involves being spiritual fathers and mothers which requires giving people greater access.  This is an attempt to be obedient to that calling and to see what God will do.





Five Questions for my “Missional Community” Friends

25 05 2008

So I’ve been pondering this recent iteration of church many I know are developing which seems to go like this –

  • Start a worship-service(s)
  • Identity leaders
  • Have the leaders form “missional communities”
  • Create advance training programs for leaders
  • Use missional communities to create the small community feel for your church and serve the city/neighborhood (which is the missional part)

Most likely an oversimplification but here are my questions about the overall approach

1. Why apply the word “church” to your network instead of the missional communities themselves?  If people are living 1 Cor. 12 body life in these missional communities, then why promote the worship service expression as a church instead of the body?

2. Isn’t using the phrase “missional community” itself a reactive statement?  Most people in our generation feel the biggest problems with the modern church is a lack of community and a lost focus on mission.  But when you create a model designed to counter-balance the mistake of one generation you’re doomed to over correct and miss other essentials (see below).

3. In this model isn’t discipleship destined to become the 3rd wheel?  Your typical member will be attending weekly worship services and weekly missional community gatherings, so how can discipleship training be a primary focus for 100% of your people?

4. Are you sure that a worship service is the best way to gather people?  I fear many of you guys almost immediately outgrow your ability to disciple and enfold the people you are gathering.  The minute you achieve the “new cool church in town” status I’m concerned the maintenance requirements for these numbers will begin to tweak your model in an unwanted direction.

5. Are you designing a church that you (or some other paid person) will have to indefinitely maintain?  If you could structure a church that could grow and reproduce without paid staff and those of us with 5-fold callings could build new works isn’t this better for the Kingdom?  Paul did it this way why shouldn’t we (or have we found a better way than Paul)?

I’m writing this because I feel closer to you guys than any other group I know but I can’t figure out why we differ on these things.  Your help is appreciated!





How did the Story-Formed Life Start

3 05 2008

This video is a description of my quest to find an effective disciple-making strategy and the ideas and experiences that started me down the path toward developing the Story-Formed Life discipleship training and using it as the foundation of our training centers.





These Three Things We Do

3 04 2008

The best methods and models are usually quite simple but all the theological and philosophical wrestling, testing and wandering that takes place behind the scenes can be a difficult process.  But we’re at a point now of great simplicity in our model so I want to see if I can explain it with one picture and a brief post.  In our church model we only do three things (and in a new work they are done in this order) –

  • Train Disciples
  • Grow the Body
  • Release the 5-fold Ministry

That’s it.  Kingdom ministry can and should involve a lot more activities after these things are done well and the work is mature but to launch a healthy, self-sustaining, reproducible work you only need to do these three things.

So if you look at this picture – the first thing we develop is the Discipleship Training Center. simplechurchmodel.jpg Trained disciples form and deepen healthy bodies and as body members are continuously trained and living in community we release those with a special 5-fold calling on their life (from Eph. 4 Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers) to start and strengthen other works.

So I’ve been teaching my kids this because, if my 4-year old can understand it, it passes the simplicity test.

And you can see why each part is essential.  A body (house church) without a clear discipleship training process both lacks a front door and a way to deepen and unify our one faith.  A body and training center without releasing the 5-fold has no way to properly steward the unique calling given to the 5-fold.  If someone with a 5-fold gift is not released the body will be so imbalanced by that gift it will build itself around one man’s gifts and personality (picture Mark Driscoll only using his full gifting in a house church for 10 years and you get the idea).

So it’s that simple and we know it works to bring back to the church three of the things remaining to be restored –

  • Radical Discipleship
  • Interdependent Community
  • Exponential Expansion

For the first time in my life I feel I know both WHAT to do about the church and HOW to do it.  I’m super encouraged!