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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

Monthly Archives: April 2011

It seems funny that the first childhood memory I have of talking about God was in a church building. I remember asking my mommy (I couldn’t have been more than 3) where we were, and she said we were in “God’s house”. That really impressed me, and of course I started looking around for God. I saw a man in the choir loft, and thinking God would be higher up because people seemed to look up when they spoke to Him, I asked her, “Mommy, is that God?” She said it wasn’t, but really didn’t have answers for all the many questions that now were coming to my talkative 3 year old mind….
Years later in a different town, our family was attending a big church on the top a hill. It had a big choir and a huge pipe organ that filled the back wall above the balcony. The pastor was “Dr. so and so”, and was referred to as Dr. instead of “pastor”. I didn’t like going to that church because they had Sunday School police, who if they found you outside the Sunday School room when class was in session would take you by the ear (seriously) and pull you to class. I was maybe in second grade. 
Then one Sunday while I was avoiding the Sunday School police, I found a map – well really a floor plan of the church building. The amazing thing to me was that according to this map, in one of the rooms which I discovered to be locked up tight, there were bags all tied up, stacked inside and labeled “God”. It must have been traumatic to me at the time because I still remember it in detail after all these years. I went and found the church janitor and showed him the map, and although he looked concerned, he didn’t open the door to let God out, or even investigate.He just took me back to my parents and let them deal with me. I still remember thinking, “Maybe they want Him in there”.
How much have these experiences motivated me life direction? A therapist could have fun with it I am sure – but you can be sure that I was determined to find God eventually. I did. He showed up in many ways through my youth, but I finally recognized Him with enough certainty to claim success when I met this guy named Joe. 
I was in high school by now. My parents had divorced four years ago, which created another motivation in my life around relationships. But I was searching even more intently now. Joe was a Campus Life director at my high school. He invited me to Bible studies at his house with other kids, and eventually to a big rally in Minneapolis where I was happy to show others that I had found God through Jesus. It had finally dawned on me that God wasn’t living in buildings, or bags in a store room, or up in the sky somewhere, or even in black leather-bound books. But that ever since Jesus came to make it possible, He has been living in people.That’s were I finally met Him for sure, and I hope you have met Him too. 
I just saw an article in USA Today that seems darkly prophetic. You can find it here:
I have been aware that we as a country are borrowing heavily from China, as annual payments on the interest on our national debt are now more than the value of all we export in a year (GNP).

I understand that our schools are trying to model themselves after the Chinese – while at the same time, they are looking to our older models which brought us greater success in years gone by.

When did we stop looking at results and instead chase after global trends? Maybe we are destined to be like Rome, which we ourselves used for a civic model despite the fact that it fell after a few hundred years. The world has been in awe of what America has built for almost two and a half centuries, but we seen to have no clue how we did it.

This article seems to foreshadow what may come for us as the Church in America. The tax-exempt status of churches has historically been based on the belief thatReligion, morality, and knowledge” are necessary to good government! (See the Northwest Ordinance of 1787) It’s no stretch to suggest that the American people no longer believe this. Without this organic conviction, there is no basis to continue giving any advantages to the Church, and as a consequence, any allowances it has enjoyed will go with it. 

China has no problem limiting which churches to allow or disallow because as a people they do not see a need to promote free worship. There is no interest in empowering individuals, because government takes care of people – not God. With the current direction of government policy across party lines, I see us heading this direction.

If worship becomes limited to institutions in America, there is no doubt that government regulation will increase. House churches here already face challenges in some communities based on local ordinances that try to limit worshiping in homes. The attending of events can always be accommodated in our culture, but when it comes to walking out a discipleship lifestyle, nothing can transform a culture like home-based fellowship. If we lose the freedom to assembly as believers in our own homes, we are going to be in big trouble as a nation. Let’s pray that the influence of more than 60% of the Church in China who defying the government by meeting in homes transforms the government before it turns into a blood bath.

Leadership – This word is so loaded with images and baggage that I would almost rather not use it. But it carries with it something that still matters – still has to be wrestled with. We see it at work everywhere around us, and the challenge for us is that much of the time, the examples we see are not healthy.

The biblical reference to “leadership” comes in a word that means literally to “stand before” – proistemi. The KJV unfortunately translates this word “rule” in most cases (I am sure it made more sense 400 years ago when it was translated). There are nine uses of this word: (Rom. 12:8, 16:2, 1Thess. 5:12, 1Tim. 3:4,5,12, 5:17, Tit. 3:8, 14). If one reads these passages with the the more accurate translation of “lead” (stand before), the passage makes so much more sense. There is another word, phero, that literally means to carry or “guide”, that is used in the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:13, lead us not into temptation). This word is an action, in contrast to proistemi which is a placing of someone in a position of influence.

So enough with the technical stuff. The point is that if we understand this idea of being in a position of influence (“standing before” others), we realize that this happens all the time, and mostly not based on a “plan”.  Jesus spoke of our light shining before men, not because we plan some kind of “show” or appearance, but because others are noticing how we live – all the time. We all have influence – we all “stand before” others in some way or another. To try to plan how often this happens is futile.

What we can, and need to, take ownership of is this: What is the impact of my influence on others? Am I allowing the Spirit of God to work through me, or am I living from some other source? We cannot give what we don’t have – and what we allow to guide our lives will “lead” those around us. This all brings us back to the need to allow people to help us understand our impact on others. I for one am too good at selling myself an image of how I come off to those around me. I really need the input of those whom I share a deeper level of vulnerability with. They help me ask for what I really need help with – they are Jesus with skin on for me. When it comes to facing the truth about my influence – my leadership – I need all the help I can get.