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READING LIST

The Permanent Revolution, by Hirsch & Catchim

With by Skye Jethani. - Reimagining the way you relate to God.

Cracking Your Church's Culture Code, by Samuel Chand

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day, by John C. Maxwell

The Forgotten Ways Handbook, by Alan Hirsch

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Brafman & Becksrom

Untamed, by Alan Hirsch

Church 3.0, by Neil Cole

The Shaping of Things to Come, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost

Yearly Archives: 2010

The last few weeks we had the chance to get to know Nikki from the Minnesota Public Radio. She shared how she had been interested in doing a story on the house church “movement”, and asked if she could drop in on us up in Isanti County. It was great to have her, and she is an amazing photographer, as you can see from the article…
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/12/08/home-church/

Most of my life I have seen examples of churches and ministries following parts of what Jesus taught and lived, but there are some things He did that I have never seen followed. I guess that is what makes trying to put the whole life of Jesus in front of us a bit scary…and inspiring.

One thing that was implied back in my days with “Sonlife”, was that there was something important about the patterns in Jesus ministry – the rhythm of how He began to build the Church. (and yes, I think this is still His job!) For instance, He called the disciples…more than once, and had them do the Kingdom along with Him for two years before He sent out the first twelve. (Did you know they weren’t the only ones?) They were referred to as “apostles” (a very common Greek word) because they were “sent”. He later, in His third year, just months before He went to the cross, sent seventy more out the same way – This is recorded in Luke 10, which is placed in the Fall of 29 A.D. He would be crucified in the Spring, around Passover.

I wonder – was sending them out a way of helping them not to get too “clicky”? I have noticed a strong leaning toward the comfort of the familiar in us – So that when get our house church groups established, we start to forget very quickly what it is like for someone to come into someone’s home where a group of people who all know each other are meeting. I have noticed that very few people can adjust and successfully come to be part of that already-established group.

So we are tugging on a plan to open up our homes again for a month in February 2011 – the two year mark of the Journey. It’s how we began this thing…giving people a chance to hear and taste and see what being the Church at home is like. We’ll see what happens. Everyone is wrestling with how much they are carrying at the same time – and we are trying to pay attention to whether the things we do refresh us, or leave us more tired. We have this theory that if Jesus is showing up, we will experience the former!

We are all still messy, and trying to keep it sorted out. But God keeps showing up, and bringing His healing and grace to us in ways we least expect it. Amazing. May the Spirit of of our Lord guide us all through this holiday season.

      When we dare to do ministry in the shadow of real needs, we walk into a place in people’s lives where the stakes are very high. 

     In The Journey, we have often felt inadequate when walking into each other’s “Need Zone” because there is no quick fix – It’s not enough there to just pray and say “God bless you…be warm and fed”. One of the three core values we have around our leadership culture is vulnerability – We lead by modeling this, sharing our own human weakness and establishing the grace of God for us first. This carves out a territory where the blood of Christ is not only spoken of as a doctrine, but relied on and leaned into by the “leader”, driving away any reasons for pretending. When this happens, often there is a flood gate opened as others release all the struggles and pain they have kept hidden in the closet in the name of being “fine” (the “F-word” in a grace-based culture).


    Our own learning curve right now has been in the area of sharing resources. We have navigated the use of a kind of “benevolence fund” for each house church, and found that no one really wants to be in the position of “awarding” funds to those in need – deciding how much, if any, to give to individuals. Even having a core group making that decision gives this group an apparent “power status” that changes their relationship with the rest of the group. The other problem we found is that others who give to the fund don’t get to be a part of connecting with the non-financial needs of those who are asking for help. 


    What we have gone to now is to have people share needs with the house church, and just “pass the hat” right there at the time, as well as offer any other resources that the group members may have to offer. We have gotten rid of the “bottle neck”, and maximized the accountability and ownership of needs-sharing in the house church “family”. Time will tell how effective this will be, but I witnessed a great weight being lifted as the Commissioned Leaders reached consensus on this change, and I was reminded of Jesus’ words: 

     “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS [Jeremiah 6:16]; For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”    Matt 11:28-30

I count others like Mark, who are doing discipleship in the trenches like we are in the Journey, as priceless resources. We double our growth potential when we can widen the “lesson” that way. Mark recently shared “8 assumptions” he makes about discipleship:


1. You don’t “know” your way into “doing.” If anything, you need to “do” your way into “knowing.”
2. We can’t “blue-print” an approach to discipleship. We need to experiment into it. 
3. We need to create space for this; it can’t happen in the context of a typical worship service. 
4. Certain ways of reading Scripture lend themselves more to this approach than others
5. Discipleship doesn’t make sense apart from the margins. The way of Jesus is wrapped up with the poor and marginalized. When we do discipleship separate from the poor and marginalized, we’re actually engaging in proto-discipleship. 
6. All of this needs to be done in conversation with the struggles of a people in a particular place. Our experimenting, discussing, and studying needs to be done in conversation with real-life challenges that rise from a particular context. 
7. Discipleship in an imperial context requires resistance. We can’t say “yes” to the Kingdom of God without saying “no” to the American Dream. 
8. Discipleship is revolutionary action.


So much of what he says here reflects our own experience, and why the call to follow the “Wild Messiah” is so difficult to answer – we are addicted to the “American Dream”, just like the rich young ruler, and the Pharisees who loved the power they had over the people. 

The Kingdom of God is not essentially academic, it is inherently…revolutionary. Revolutions aren’t nice, so we have a hard time with that in our Minnesota culture. But with Jesus there is no “Plan B”. We follow Him or we don’t. He understands the cost. Yes, He really understands the cost.

Thanks, Mark, for sharing with us from the trenches. May the Kingdom come in all you do.

So how do you know when Jesus shows up? Well, since He lives in every believer, you could say He is  everywhere we are; But there are those times He really leaves an impression….Jo Jo shared his journey into “organic church”, and gave some great challenges for us not to fall into committing ourselves into just one more formula for doing church better – That our hope is not in the format but in living a crucified life. Great stuff. 


One of his quotes:
       “A non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gatherings. Put another way, organic church life is the experience of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it’s the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings.”

Melody brought in the role of structure in organic church ministry. I loved her quote on simplifying church:


“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” — E. F. Schumacher, 20th century German economist and conservationist.


She talked about why we don’t like structure, and how decentralized leadership requires learning how to use it to empower others rather than control them. More good stuff!



Ben Erickson, after sharing a couple of prophetic words with a few that were present, brought us what seemed like the key teaching of the day: Focusing on the concepts from Danny Silk’s book, “Culture of Honor”, he clearly laid out what it means to develop a transformational atmosphere that elevates the status of people around us – the way Jesus did with people. The message meshes so well with the “Leadership in the Journey” booklet, describing the relational dynamic of vulnerability in the face of the unlimited grace of God.


After a pizza break, Abbey led us in a time of worship that invited the Spirit of God to just come and fellowship with us. Bob then gave a summary of The Journey’s path over the last 20 months, and landed on the challenge of simplifying our vision to that of Jesus and the way He empowered an organic movement of the Bride of Christ through discipleship and walking in the power of His Father’s authority. For those present, the challenge was to read Jesus words in Matthew 18:19 the way a little child would read them:


Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”


We agreed together that His Kingdom would come in Cambridge and Isanti County in a new way that transforms the culture here. 


After we closed, most of the thirty or so that had come that day stayed for a time of ministry where many received words that encouraged, and some were healed.  


Brace yourself.



I am really psyched about some new people that have joined the Mission-link Network this past week! See if you know any of these guys:

Jo Jo Spencer
Melody LaBeau
Ben & Abbey Erickson
These really interesting people will all be doing their part in the next Summit Workshop on October 17th from 2-8 pm at the Minnco Community Room in Cambridge, MN.
DON’T MISS THIS ONE! 😉

I now have the ability to e-mail blog entries to this page, so I can share what I found this past week in Colossians 2…This chapter is warning believers about those who, seeing disciples who have such a tender heart toward God, would count this an opportunity to entrap them in their religious systems of legalism. I can recall one summer I was working with high school youth in a church in the west end of Duluth, and I encountered four different cults that tried to proselytize my kids. I realize they were targeting them for their teachable hearts and openness to spiritual things. I had to confront each of them, and it was interesting how in spite of holding different doctrines, they all had one common theme: Do it right and God will love you, follow main stream religion and you will go to hell. They were all some form of legalism.

So in reading Colossians 2, I found what I call the “Four No Ones”. These “no ones” are to be avoided – warned against, and the source of their message is actually demonic. In the NASB, they are found in verses 4, 8, 16, and 18. Paul warns the Colossians believers what these four no ones will try to do…

#1. Col 2:4 “…no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”

Jesus said in John 6:44, 45, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” People who have something to gain by getting “converts” will ignore this teaching of Jesus and lean on their own persuasive abilities. As a lawyer, I can certainly imagine justifying the use of argument to bring people to Jesus, but I can’t ignore what Jesus said about how people really come to him. Back in Duluth, I tried my best arguing skills on these proselytizers, but they were not being drawn by God, so I that was accomplished was to distract me from the true Kingdom work and validate the credibility of these deceivers! I learned a good lesson about the value and place of “argument”.

#2. Col. 2:8 “…no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

The “elementary principles of the world” would be better translated “ranks of this world”. It’s the Greek word “stoicheion”, which appears in also in verse 20, and in Gal. 4:3 where is says that “we were in bondage” to them! There is a spiritual warfare element in legalism, taking advantage of a tender, teachable heart, and taking it “captive” to it’s good-sounding “principles”. These “ranks” are put opposite the person of Christ, not just His teaching – so it is not just a battle of words, but a spiritual battle as well.

#3. Col. 2:16 “…no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day,”

In the very next verse, it says how these things are just a “shadow of what is to come”. These “no ones” will cast judgment on us for not keeping certain holidays and for eating certain foods. There are a lot of people who watch what they eat, or avoid eating certain things, but when they attach religious or moral “merit” to this, I can get a little ticked off. It’s my challenge to understand that these guys have been taken captive to this conviction by the very thing Paul is talking about here. They need good news – not a return dose of “judgment”.

#4. Col. 2:18 “…no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,…”

Finally, these “no ones” will ultimately defraud us of our prize, or what is to be our real treasure: to “know” Jesus at the heart level. The way of legalism hardens our hearts to grace, because grace becomes a detractor of any merit we gain by following rules. It’s like the Prodigal Son’s brother – he found it impossible to rejoice in the redemption of his own brother because his eye was on his own comparing his own good behavior to his previously “lost” brother. Only the Father could love them both – only the Father understood the depth of grace – and the younger son was beginning to understand it because his heart was softened though hardship.

May the Lord keep our hearts soft to His grace in the midst of our struggles, and the struggles of others, and keep us watchful of the “no ones”.

Shalom

Bob Roby

The Journey, East Central MN

www.thejourney-ecmn.org

763 221-4760

This is a text message from my phone…amazing

Every so often in a journey through unknown territory you come to a spot where the view opens up and get a glimpse of what is ahead in the journey. This past month The Journey house church network went independent of Mission-link, and now Mission-link is reforming with a new team. At the same time there are Missional Core people in the Journey who are being called to branch new home groups. It is really exiting to see.

As we are moving into this next season, we are refining the vision of Mission-link. What follows is a vision “refresh”:

PURPOSE

To Change How the Church is Led

VISION

To see the decentralized, empowering, catalytic leadership culture of the Lord Jesus Christ restored to the Church, thereby igniting a world-wide awakening to the power of the Gospel.

Decentralized – Because the Head of the Church does not lead her from a central location, but from within every member of the Body of Christ – As it says of the “mystery” of the Gospel:

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27

Empowering – Because the power of God’s presence always flowed from within Jesus to others, not from others to Him. Christ in us empowers us to establish the flow of grace, resources, life, healing, and salvation, away from us to others – as it says of God’s power:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know … the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Eph 1:18-20

Catalytic – Because we are bringing people to a living Savior, to walk with Him, more than with us. We are called to give away the keys to the kingdom; To draw others to Jesus, share what we have to give, and get out of the way. As Jesus said:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” John 14:12


Under my picture to the right is some information about a Mission-link “Summit” on September 19th. If you or your group resonate with the vision and would like to be a part of this, give me a call. We looking forward to this as a time of sharing stories and tools from the trenches as we live out the Kingdom life together.


Bob