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Serving in a Snow Storm

snow-shovel-100208-02

Jesus is a servant.  The way that he serves shows his love for us.  Jesus said his very mission was to serve us and demonstrate God’s love by saying:

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus is the good king who came to serve, who showed his love by serving us to the point of death on a cross (phil 2:6-11). It’s through Jesus service that the lie of Satan (the lie that said God doesn’t love us) is dispelled when we see that God loves us and will do anything to provide for us the very best of life and life to the full in his kingdom.

If Jesus is the Good King who came to serve, and if you are baptized into his name, you are his servants sent into the world to display the truth of God’s love through your actions–to show the world that God loves them through YOUR actions.  So how can you sere in the snow storm?

  1. Check up on the elderly and the infirm.  See if they need anything and then provide what they need.  Offer to drive to get their groceries or medicine if needed. The roads might be driveable but many won’t want to take a chance or might be to unstable to walk in the snow or ice.
  2. Shovel, snow blow, or plow your neighbor’s walk or drive way…even if they could do it themselves.
  3. Make a large pot of soup and bring some containers for the neighbors around you.
  4. Share some of the milk, eggs, and bread you started hoarding the moment you heard we were going to get snow. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).
  5. If you’ve got a good vehicle and confidence in your driving, offer to pick up a coworker or take them home if the roads are bad.

Finally, Ask the Spirit who you can serve and what you can do for them.  Use this as an opportunity to build relationships with neighbors you haven’t seen all winter or haven’t met yet.

Picture found here

5 Ways to Be Missional This Labor Day

Labor day is one of those days of rest and rejuvenation.  For our Nation its a yearly rhythm of rest that we all enjoy, but can also be leveraged for gospel purposes.  Below are 5 ways you can be missional this Labor Day

  1. Hold a neighborhood barbeque.  Invite everyone on the block.  If you’ve never done this in your neighborhood, don’t ask them to bring all the food.  Partner with a few members of your Missional Community or Small group to pay for the meal.  For those who have participated in the past, encourage them to partner with you in bringing a side dish to share.
  2. If you own a boat or have a place at the lake, Labor Day is a great day for a little cross-pollination.  Invite a couple from your Missional Community and invite another couple who are unchurched or dechurched.  It’s a great time to introduce friends and build trust between your Christian community and those who don’t yet believe.
  3. Invite your unchurched friends to join you and another Christian in Something you love.  If you love to camp or fish.  If you just take the opportunity of Labor Day to hit up a good matinée and some lunch, invite unchurched this is another great opportunity for cross-pollination and trust building.
  4. Show care to first responders.  A lot of people have Labor Day off.  Some work it every year.  Show love to your first responders.  Bring by food or gift packages for your firemen or police officers.  Talk to the Fire chief or police chief and see if your Missional Community, Small Group, or church can set up some grills and serve them a meal.
  5. If school doesn’t start for your community until after Labor Day, serve the underprivileged about to go back to school.  Pay a beautician or barber to come in and offer free haircuts.  Collect and hand out backpacks and school supplies.

 

You also might like:

6 Ways to be Missional This Superbowl

4  Ways to be Missional This Easter

9 Ways to be Missional This Thanksgiving

13 Ways to be Missional This Halloween

7 Ways to be Missional This Christmas

Picture found here

6 Ways to be Missional with the Super Bowl

Millions of people are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday. Personally, I’m not a huge football fan. Usually the Super Bowl is the only game I watch all year, but even though I don’t love the game, I love hanging out with people. The commercials and the food are always good as well. Yet can one use the Super Bowl as a chance to witness?

Here are a few things to think about being Missional with the Super Bowl:

  1. Don’t hijack the Super Bowl.  Don’t have a bible study during the half-time show or the commercial breaks.  People aren’t going to appreciate a bait and switch, especially if it means missing things something they really enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday.
  2. Host a Superbowl party and invite some unchurched people to get to know them better.  Also invite at least  2 or 3 members of your Missional Community so that relationships are formed between both groups.  This will make it easier to invite them to join your MC for the Story later.
  3. Make it better. If you’ve been invited to a Super Bowl party already, how can you “Bring the better wine” as Jeff Vanderstelf often says?  Bring the best food or drinks.  Be the biggest helper to the host.  How can you make things better for everyone so that people are glad that the Christians showed up at the party?
  4. Listen to others. As you discuss sports, the commercials, and life, listen to the stories others are telling.  They will give you clues to where the Gospel can be spoken into their lives.
  5. See this Sunday as an opportunity to serve.  Ask the host if they need you to show up early to help set up.  Be quick to pitch in as needs arise, and stay to help clean when the party is over.
  6. Pray.   If you’re hosting, share a quick prayer of thanks for the food and all your friends.  Pray before, during, and after, that God might show his love thorough you and that relationships and trust might be built.

Any other suggestions?

You might also like:

4 Ways to be Missional this Easter

7 Ways to be Missional this Christmas

9 Ways to be Missional this Thanksgiving

13 Ways to be Missional this Halloween

Picture found here along with some great Super Bowl appetizers

A Picture of Life Around the Gospel, Community, and Mission

The other night we gathered our two Missional Communities together to do a little training and to celebrate what God has been doing through our Church planting efforts.  At the end, I shared this video from Soma communities because I wanted to remind our MCs what they were working towards, why they were reaching out, why they were sharing and stretching their lives.

Spend a few minutes of watching the video below and dream of what church could be:

  1. Oftentimes there’s a disconnect between what we read about the Church in scriptures and the church as we know it in 21st century America.  How does this video challenge you?  How does it give you hope?
  2. It takes time to plant a church and to share life in a missional community.  Much of what we do is to invite people to share life with us, by inviting them to join us in what we’re already doing throughout the week.  Still, sometimes to add something we need to let go of something.   What is keeps you from having time to share life with members of your MC, or the people you’re trying to reach?  What do you need to give up to give of yourself to this new life in Christ as His Disciple?
  3. Think of all the people in your life.  Think of the people in this town and region.  For whom is God breaking your heart?  How can you start inviting them to share life with you?
  4. Is there someone who has been discontented with the church that you can share this video with and invite them along on the mission?

Keller On Avoiding Sin

 

I recently watched a short video from Desiring God, with John Piper and Tim Keller, entitled, More on Sanctification from Piper and Keller.   I’ll be honest, I didn’t think the video was all that great.  There were too many incomplete thoughts and jumping around.  Yet I did find it helpful when they were speaking about how to avoid sin.  Keller refers to reading the great Puritan theologian, John Owen’s, book, The Mortification of Sin.  Keller says he learned from Owen that there are two main motivations not to sin: Guilt and Danger.

Guilt:  This is grief before God.  As you are sinning or am about to sin, ask yourself: Is this how I respond to what Jesus has done?  Is this a proper way to live after Jesus died to free me from such things?  This is really what Joseph said to himself when he had an opportunity to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God” (Gen 39:9).

Danger: Danger is looking at the short-term and the long-term consequences of your sin.  This is really focusing on what is going to happen to you.  If Joseph were also thinking of the danger of sleeping with his master’s wife, he could have also said, “Potiphar could kill me or put me in prison” as an added motivation not to sin. 

The guilt motivation is the prefered motivation for a Christian because it is based off of the love of God.  Ideally, we should stay away from sin because God is so amazing and wonderful, and has loved us so much, that we don’t want to sin and disappoint Him.  Yet, at times we don’t think like that so we need to remember the danger of our sin as well.  Keller uses two examples here.  He says if he’s lusting and wishing to look at porn, sometimes he has to remember to dangers of the shame he’ll feel if he gets caught and the damage he’ll cause to his marriage and to his congregation.  Likewise, Keller says, if you lift a stone to knock someone over the head, If the Guilt doesn’t motivate you to not kill the person, go to the danger, the consequences, anything you can to change the course of your actions. 

Thinking of Tim Chester, and his 4 G’s, a third motivation on avoiding sin would be similar to the Guilt motivation that Keller mentions.  Yet the motivation is not simply that I don’t want to dissapoint God but that what God offers is better, greater, and more important than anything I can have here.

When you’re faced with sin, what motivates you to change course?   

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

Missional Training #18 – Preparing to Lead the Story-Formed Way Pt. 2

Two of our Missional Communities are starting the Story-Formed Way this week.  The Story-Formed Way is a 10 week discipleship course  consisting of interactive storytelling and dialogue through the major narratives of Scripture from Creation to Restoration.  Below are some tips on how to prepare to lead the Story.

 Preparation

At the beginning of the lesson, there are big picture points that focus on the gist of what the lesson is leading towards.  That is for your knowledge as the leader.  Read through the Story out loud multiple times.  Learn it.  Ingest it. Meditate on it. Think of the tone in which the characters would be speaking.  You want to story tell, not just read a paper to people.  However, remember that the Story has been crafted to accurately convey the biblical story.  Don’t change the words.  If you misspeak, reiterate what you meant by saying what was written. 

  • To prepare the manuscript I’m telling the story from, I find it helpful to underline and highlight places where I want to emphasize something important that appears in the dialogue. 
  • Look through the questions at the end and try to answer them yourself.  If there are no answers provided for a specific question, make sure you at least think of what that answer could be. 
  • When it comes to the dialogue, I look over the questions before hand and try to answer them myself.  The leaders guide provides answers, but I try to pinpoint the key answers.  If I can think of any others, sometimes I write them down as well.  If the question is difficult or unclear, sometimes I’ll write down an alternative question just in case people don’t understand the question that was written

 Setting the Tone

  • The contents of the bible were originally told, retold, and passed down from person to person, from generation to generation, orally.  Ancient Jews, as well as the church up until the 16th century, all learned the biblical story communally through story telling.  This didn’t just leave them to try to make sense of the bible on their own, but they had a whole community to help interpret the bible and to retain the accuracy of its telling and interpretation.   Two-thirds of the Bible is a narrative.  One of the benefits of learning the narrative is that it opens the door to understand everything else in scripture. 
  • I often relate the Story to being a smorgasbord or a potluck.  If only one or two people bring a dish, it isn’t much fun.  Likewise, every voice is valuable and contributes.  Our discussion is a smorgasbord.  The more variety of voices and perspective, the greater the feast. 
  • Ancient Jewish people would say that there are “70 Facets” to the Bible.  It was like a giant diamond with so many facets that at every turn you get a slightly different perspective and insight into the diamond.  Likewise, One can study the biblical story over a lifetime and still learn new insights.  It’s  like an onion.  You can keep pulling it back and find new layers of meaning.  Each person present is like that facet of a diamond that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us of the beauty within God’s Story. 
  • Relax and have fun.  Make sure that the tone matches the other activities done that night so it seems natural.  We want sharing God’s word and applying the Gospel to each other’s lives to feel natural so when we gather officially to do that, we want it to seem like a very natural thing as well.  
  • After the first week, When you start the lesson, you can ask if someone is willing to review the last lesson or the whole story leading up to the current one.  This reinforces the themes of the greater Story of God so that they are more easily connected to the story you are covering.   Once the full story is remembered, then you go into telling that night’s story.

 

Telling the Story (This should take 2-5 minutes)

  • When telling the story, I find it helpful to have already underlined or highlighted the most important phrases that are brought up in the following dialogue.  This helps me know what is most important, and also helps me keep track of my place so I can look at people when I speak.  I practice the story 3-5 times.  I try to get to the point where I’m not reading the story, but speaking it and using the manuscript to keep me on track.  The Key is to Stick to the Story.
  • Stick to the Narrative.  Don’t interpret on the fly.  Don’t add things from future stories. 

The Dialogue

  • This is where the Story begins to come alive and shape your community.  The purpose of the dialogue is to help draw out the truths from the Story.
  • Remember set up the expectation that all answers given are to come from the night’s narrative or a past narrative in the greater Story.  If someone tries to quote Luther, Calvin, Billy Graham, Buddha, or Deepak Chopra, Joyce Meyer, etc,  say, “I don’t remember them being in the story” or “where did you hear that in the story.”  This is helpful even when someone starts saying, “I don’t think God would do that!” or “I think God is more like this…”  We’re here to learn the biblical story and his truth as the story is interpreted through the individuals of the group. 
  • If you’re leading the dialogue, you’re job is to keep discussion going through asking questions.  It is NOT you duty to answer the questions or to preach.  The Holy Spirit works through hearing the word of God.  The Spirit will work through the people present to lead the group into the truth. 
  • It is not necessary that you ask all the questions.  There’s usually too many questions to focus on.  The questions are meant to spur discussion.  Remember, this isn’t a Q and A session.  The best questions are often, “What did we learn about God in this story?”  “What did we learn about human beings?” 
  • Make sure you spend some time near the end on some life –application questions.  If the group hasn’t already naturally gone there with some of the previous questions, ask questions about how the story parallels their lives, informs their lives, is seen in aspects of their life, etc. 

Also see Preparing to Lead the Story Formed Way Pt. 1

Pictures found herehere.

It’s a Dangerous Business

“It’s a dangerous business,” Frodo shares with his fellow Hobbits as they are about to leave the Shire in Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings.  Filled with excitement and trepidation at leaving home for the first time, Frodo shares the wise and whimsical council of his beloved Uncle Bilbo:

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.

It’s a dangerous buisness, opening your mouth, as well.  The conversation can bring you anywhere.   James says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9).  Our words will often flow into curses of our neighbors and God. They can set the course of our life on fire.  Yet, God didn’t create words and speech for that.

Every word and conversation is really meant to flow through the tributaries of casual conversation to the deep and powerful rushing waters of theology.  That great river of the Gospel flows into a river of life, it’s the road to God.  Every conversations was meant to point there, every road meant to lead to Him.  Why?  Because we were meant to “live, move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28).  We were created to find all our joy, purpose and meaning in our God and Father.    In the Fall we ran away from God, yet in the Gospel, God Redeemed us and calls us to to Jesus, the way and road home (John 14:6).  He desires for us to be prepared to share the faith, to season and frame all our conversations with God’s Story and Love, and to trust the Spirit to guide in showing the way to others.

Since we have been redeemed, since we’re on our way home, we have something to share, something to talk about.  We’ll run into many people on our journey home.  We’ll have the opportunity to invite them along, to tell them where we’re going.    Just as “it’s a dangerous business” in going out your door in the uncertainty of where the day will take you, there’s always uncertainty, every time a conversation starts.  We don’t know what paths words will lead us down, but what we do know is that God desires to use our words and our path to lead people home.   God’s called every person we meet to intersect with our path so that somehow, the direction and ultimately the destination of their life might change.  God’s Spirit will present opportunities to speak and give us words to say to lead others home.

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.

Missional Training #16 – Listening

The church that we are working with Jesus to plant is pretty void of programs.  We want it to be as incarnational as possible where we are in the lives of others.  We want to demonstrate the person of Christ through our presence and participation for the good in the lives of those around us.   The incarnation is when Jesus took on human flesh, became one of us, and moved into the neighborhood.  We too want to enter the stories of those around us and change them for the good by pointing to the one who changed and redeemed our story.

Listen to this five-minute Verge Network video from Michael Frost entitled, “How to Listen to your neighborhood”:

As we start planting Missional Communities, listening is a very important activity in determining how to reach and bless those we seek to disciple.  As you think of your prospects, Have you listened to them? 

  • What is their story?  
  • What do they take joy in?
  •  What do they struggle with?
  • Where do they need help?
  • What will it take for them to succeed, be happy, keep their family together, feel worthwhile, etc?
  • What do they think they need to have in life and what, if lost, do they feel would free them?

How do you feel you can incarnate their world?  In what ways can we as an MC enter into their story and bless them and show them Jesus?  In what ways can we, as an entire church, do the same?

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