Category Archives: Gospel-Centered

Keller on The Gospel, Moralism, and Irreligion

Check out this short video from Tim Keller on three ways to view the world.  The Christian message is often rejected because it is either viewed as moralism or is presented as such.  The Gospel is really the only thing that frees us and gives us hope.

Great Missional Community Resource: Soma Fast Track Training

I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot from Soma Communities, on Church Planting, Sharing the Gospel, and missional communities that we are implementing in the creation of The Exchange Community in Jackson, Mo.  Recently Soma did a fast track training for their missional community leaders.  This is some great material to go through if you’re leading a missional community or are interested in starting a missional community

Here’s the links to Soma’s Fast Track Training Audio/Video and their notes:

1. The Story of God // Caesar Kalinowski

The Story of God Training Videos One & Two

2. Vision for Missional Communities // Jeff Vanderstelt

Notes & Assignments

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

3. Gospel, Power & Purpose // Jeff Vanderstelt

Notes & Assignments

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

4. Gospel DNA // Jeff Vanderstelt & Abe Meysenburg 

Notes & Assignments

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

5. Gospel in Everyday Rhythms // Jeff Vanderstelt

Notes & Assignments

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

6. Gospel Fluency // Jeff Vanderstelt

Notes & Assignments

7. Creating a Disciple-Making Enviroment // Jeff Vanderstelt

Notes & Assignments

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

8. Gospel Shepherding // Abe Meysenburg 

DNA Guide // Your Story, God’s Story

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

9. Missional Community Covenant // Jeff Vanderstelt  

MC Covenant Example

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

10.  Spirit Led Life // Jeff Vanderstelt 

Notes & Assignments 

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

Session 3 Audio

11.  Spiritual Warfare // Jeff Vanderstelt

Session 1 Audio

Session 2 Audio

Here’s a link to all of their materials

Picture found here along with the post: Ten Reasons Missional Communities Fail

Come Die With Me

The Scriptures are often full of calls to humble oneself, take up your cross, deny yourself, decrease in importance so Christ can increase, to lose your life in order to find it in Christ, to become less of a focus so more of Christ can be seen through you.  We often don’t find fulfillment in Christ or success in mission because we desperately are afraid of dying. Watch this short video from Jeff Vandertelt:

We’ve got nothing to really lose, and, surprisingly, nothing to gain either, in living life on mission.  We have everything already!  In Jesus we already have the eternal love, favor, and kingdom of our Heavenly Father! We have his unconditional acceptance no matter how we perform, no matter what we accomplish, no matter how we fail.  The only thing we DO have to gain in dying to ourselves and living for God’s purposes is the precious life of someone lost who can be found through YOU.   And what’s funny, is when we lay down our lives, desires, and preferences for the good of God’s kingdom and the benefit of others, we actually find life that if abundant, full, and meaningful!  Our doubts, anxieties, and problems fade away because our eyes are off ourselves and are placed where they were created to be, on our Savior and on others.  We’re then filled with the greatest joy of being on the grandest adventure of all as we join in Christ’s mission.

Questions:

  1. If what Jeff says in this video is true, how should it change your life, your ministry, your priorities?
  2. What do you need to die to in order to live for God’s glory and the salvation of others?
  3. How is Jesus the answer to all the fears in your heart on this issue?  How is he greater than the things you will give up?

Purchase the full talk from the Verge Network here for $2.99.

Why Do Our Children Leave the Church?

Why do so many people—with incredible conversions—parent children who leave Christianity? History overflows with great saints whose offspring lose faith:
•Samuel was a mighty prophet of God. His sons were a mess.
•David was a man after God’s own heart. His children were a disaster.
•Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were founded on the gospel. Now they lead the opposition.

I’ve witnessed dozens of families (churches, ministries, and prayer groups) who began with a furious fire of love for God whose next generation couldn’t blow a smoke ring.

Our children lose fire because of our mother-of-all-assumptions; we assume the gospel. This is how the gospel is lost…..Read More Here

I’d add to this that our children don’t see what we profess effect the lives we lead.  So we forget about he Gospel or we don’t allow the Gospel to be the motivating factor in our lives.

How do you relate to your members of your MCs?  How do you relate the faith to your children.  Is it “This do…then God will?”  Or is it, “God did…so we can?”

GCM Conference Audio 2012

 

For two years in a row we’ve been taking a group from our church plant down to Summitcrossing Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama, for the GCM Conference.  GCM stands for Gospel Communities on Mission.  GCM is maybe the best place to get information from practitioners on Missional Communities.  These people live and breath what others just theorize the life of discipleship could be like.  I encourage you to listen to all of the teachings below.  For more information go to GCM’s website for a lot of free resources or join the collective and ask all your questions on their very active forum.

 

 

Also check out GCM Conference Audio 2011

Our Identity in Christ

I’ve been reading, Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God, by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, and ran into a good list about our identity in Christ (pg. 71-72).  The authors call this our “position in Christ.”  This is who we are positionally before God, though in reality we don’t always or mostly live up to it in the here-and-now.  They say we are positionally children of God, yet we still live like Spiritual orphans.  The authors recommends keeping this list somewhere where you’ll see it regularly and be reminded of who you are in Christ.  Such a list, understood correctly, can lead one to repentance, strengthen them in their Gospel Identity, and call them to live the Christian life.  Here’s the list:

  • Through Christ, I am dead to sin (Romans 6:11)
  • Through Christ, I am spiritually alive (Romans 6:11; 1 Corinthians 15:22)
  • Through Christ, I am forgiven (Colossians 2:13; 1 John 2:12)
  • Through Christ, I am declared righteous (! Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Through Christ, I am a child of God (Romans 8:16; Philippians 2:15)
  • Through Christ, I am God’s possession (Titus 2:14)
  • Through Christ, I am an heir of God (Romans 8:17)
  • Through Christ, I am blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3)
  • Through Christ, I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • Through Christ, I am free from the law (Romans 8:2)
  • Through Christ, I am crucified with him (Galatians 2:20)
  • Through Christ, I am free from the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:24)
  • Through Christ, I am declared blameless and innocent (Philippians 2:15)
  • Through Christ, I am the light in the world (Matthew 5:14-15; Philippians 2:15)
  • Through Christ, I am victorious over Satan (Luke 10:19)
  • Through Christ, I am set free in Christ from the power of Sin (Colossians 2:11-15)
  • Through Christ, I am secure in him (I Peter  1:3-5)
  • Through Christ, I am at peace with God (Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:6-9)
  • Through Christ, I am loved by God (1 John 4:10)

As you read through this list:

  1. How did these words make you feel?  Are they helpful to remember?  Why?
  2. What do you feel is missing fro their list?  What truth do you cling to shake you from sin, to return you to the Gospel and your identity in Christ, and to motivate you to live the life Christ has set before us?

Image found here

God Is Generous – So We Don’t Have To Cling To What We Have

One of the Greatest aids to my spiritual growth over the last couple years are the 4 G’s, outlined in Tim Chester’s book, You Can Change.   Chester says that All Sin and Negative emotions are the result of not believing some truth about God.  Sin and Negative Emotions happen when we believe lies, and the lie of Satan, instead.  To combat sin and negative emotions we then need to hold up the freeing truth of God.  The four truths that Chester suggests are:

1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control

2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others

3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere

4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves

You can see how Chester links each truth to the freedom to us they give to follow God.  One area where I find the 4 Gs harder to apply is to Stewardship.  Yes, they do apply in part, God is Good so I don’t have to look for my good in what my money and time can give me.  God is Great so I don’t have to look to my money and time to give me the power to secure my life.  Yet I’ve been looking for another truth that could be memorized that specifically connected to us giving of what we are and have to God’s mission and glory. 

The 5th G I suggest is: God is Generous – so I don’t have to cling to what I have.  God promises to provide for us as we live for Him.    Look at Mark 10: 28-30 where Peter reminded Jesus of everything that he and the other disciples gave up to follow Him:

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

As we give God will keep giving to provide for our needs and ultimately our eternal need of life with him in a renewed creation. 

Paul says, “We are God’s Workmanship, Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). When God asks us to do something, He enables us to it. 

2 Corinthians 9:6,8-15  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously….And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work…

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; 12 for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God.

God generously gives to us so that we might give to others.  He supplies all our needs and gives to us what we need to serve others.  Sometimes we’re moved by God and asked by God to give what we think we’re unable to give.  Yet even then, he provides for us.  The Widow at Zarephath gave more than she thought she was able to when she gave the last of her food to feed Elijah, yet God provided for her in greater ways than she could imagine.  In John 6:9 the disciples forgot the truth that God was Generous and they didn’t want to serve others because the cost seemed to much for them to bear.  Yet they forgot that God was Generous and would bear the cost themselves and supply what they needed to accomplish Jesus’ request to feed the 5000 people who had come to see him.  A little boy, with the faith of a child, remembered that God was Generous, so he didn’t have to cling to what he had. He gave up all the food that he had for that day trusting that God could use it to help feed the crowd.  The amazing part is that the boy probably ate more than what he had given and they had far more left over than what they started with. 

God is Generous – We don’t have to cling to what we have.  We don’t have to run after other things either.  We can serve others and give of our time, talents, and treasures because God will give us all we need for our well-being and all we need to accomplish his will. 

Questions:

  • How often do you give of your time, talents, and treasures?  How often do you find yourself serving and sacrificing for others?  What positive and negative thoughts do you have when you give and serve others?
  • How does remembering God’s generosity give you freedom to be generous?
  • What truths do you have to remember about God to give you the freedom to follow him joyfully?

Images found here and here

No Perfect People Allowed…Except Jesus

 

Are there perfect people in this world, in Church?  Have you ever been in a church or a crowd where people acted or seemed better than you?  If so, how did it make you feel?  Did you feel rejected or accepted?  Did you feel like there was hope or did you feel hopeless?

Below is a video that was very popular earlier this year entitled, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.

After watching this video:

  1. Was the speaker saying, ditch the church and be spiritual on your own?  Or was he drawing a different distinction between religion and Jesus?
  2. How does this speaker define religion?  Is he right in doing so?  What are your thoughts?
  3. If there really are no perfect people in church and this world, what should it look like when Christians gather as the church?  How should we act in relation to other sinners?
  4. What hope do you have in a church that is a hospital for the sick that tells people “come as you are no matter what you’ve done or how messy your life is”?  What fears do you have? 
  5. How does the Gospel address the fears that we have about showing our sin and about allowing sinful people to be part of our lives and in our church?

As Christians we tend to cloister, separate, ourselves from people who are caught in sin.  It’s like they are sick and we want to keep them out of our lives in fear of being infected as well.  Yet the truth is, we are all infected.  We’re all sick with sin.  We all need a doctor, we all need healing to differing degrees and in different ways. Jesus said in Mark 2:17,

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

In our new church we will encounter many people who “don’t have life together” but it’s okay because we don’t have life together as well.  We’re all messed up.  We’re all sick.  We all need a doctor who is well and who can heal us.    We all need him.  And when we recognize that, we don’t have to hide or pretend.  We don’t have to fear other’s judgment, because Jesus was judged on our behalf.  We can be open about what we’re struggling with and allow Jesus to serve and to help us through our fellow Christians.  And we can help others as well and we can show them that Jesus accepts, loves, and can help change them too, because he’s healed and is still healing us. 

No perfect people are allowed in our Church except Jesus because only Jesus is perfect.  We can’t pretend we have it all together, and if we think we do we deceive ourselves.  Rather, we can all admit we are all sick and we can rest in his healing perfection.

For more about religion and the Gospel check out The Difference between Religion, Irreligion, and the Gospel.

picture found here

Missional Training #17 – Creating Balance in Missional Communities

 

GCM VALUES

Within our Missional Communities, you can find a balance of three Core Values: Gospel, Community, and Mission. 

Gospel 

The gospel is not just the ticket to salvation; it’s the good news of a restored relationship with God, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This good news renews and transforms our hearts and lives. The Gospel is not only what gives us life when we become a Christian, but it is what sustains, grows, and matures our life and faith.  The Gospel is the revelation of God’s love for us, His purpose for us, and He Himself come to live and dwell in us through His Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to believe, recreates us into His Family, the Church,  and enables us to live for Him. 

Gospel Activity in an MC is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ revealed through scriptures.  Gospel activity includes Bible study, The Story Formed Way, praying for one another, encouraging and admonishing one another by applying the Gospel to one another’s lives. 

Community 

We were made to live in relationships.  Everybody yearns to belong, to be part of a family.  Community forms around the world through work, play, interests, geography, family, etc.  The Gospel Community is a unique community because it is created by the Gospel.  This kind of Community forms because of the common recognition that we’re all beggars, we’re all helpless before God because of sin, yet we’re all loved, accepted, and useful to him because of the work of Jesus Christ.   The Gospel can be seen and understood through this community as they live in confession, forgiveness, love, justice, mercy, gratitude and acceptance, as they cross lines of age, sex, wealth, and occupation.  The Gospel Community can only be explained because of the Gospel, and therefore leads to an inquiry and explanation of the Gospel as we live the Christian walk in everyday life together.     

Community Activity can include Shared meals, meeting new people, introducing new people to members of the MC, learning each other’s stories, celebrations, various social activities, sports, etc.   

Mission

The Christian community is created by the Gospel to show and the share the Gospel.  No healthy Christian Community can be inward focused.  Rather it is always seeking to join God’s mission through transforming its community through acts of love and the proclamation of the person and work of Christ. Because the Christian community demonstrates and validates the gospel, mission shouldn’t usually be a lone activity.   Wherever possible we want to do mission together and introduce unbelievers to the Christian community. 

Mission activity can include service projects, cleaning, fixing, building, painting structures and homes in your neighborhood.  They can include, sharing the Story of God, sharing the Gospel, offering prayer, investing in and enriching the lives of others, seeking a relationship with those you don’t know, inviting others into the lives of an MC and the Church. 

MC Development

A healthy MC has a balance of activities shaped by these values.   Yet not all MCs start this way.   For example, Many Missional Communities will have a greater emphasis on Community early on.  For most people, a growing relationship is necessary before they are willing to open up about their faith life, fears, doubts, and hopes .  A good relational foundation usually needs to be established before they are willing to trust you enough to be vulnerable in the Gospel or take risks in Mission.

As relationships are built, and trust is earned, it is time to introduce more Gospel and Mission elements. At first, you may have simply had a prayer at the beginning of a social activity and may have demonstrated small acts of kindness and service.  Over time, you’ll probably add some sort of short devotional, and find some organized way to serve others in your community.

Your end goal is that you’re spending equal time on Gospel, Community, and Mission oriented activities and events.   You’ll be going through the Story-Formed Way, the Gospel-Centred Life, or some other bible Study.  You’ll be discipling one another in all three types of activities, and you’ll be regularly and intentionally serve in your neighborhood or community. 

Remember that there is a great deal of overlap between each of these values.  While everything you can do probably has a dominant GCM value at play, usually one or both of the other values are also present as well. 

For more on GCM Values and Missional Communities check out the GCM Collective.

Why People Leave The Church

Watch this interesting 2 minute talk from Matt Chandler on why people leave the church:

  1. Do you think Matt Chandler is right or wrong? Why?
  2. If you think he’s right, is this the main reason people leave the church?  Are there other major factors?

Think and pray about this:  How have you presented the Christian faith in a way that is legalistic and puts God in your debt?  What was the issue you were addressing?  In retrospect, How would you address it now with the Gospel?

Challenge:  Do you know people who have left the church?  Do you know why they left?  Make it a point to talk to them to find out why they’ve left and correct their misunderstandings of the faith with he Gospel.   

Image found here.

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