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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: 2013

In our own terms, the mother of Jesus would not have been following a doctor’s recommendations. She was travelling on a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlechem (meaning “house of bread), a distance of about 80 miles through Samaria. Once they get there, instead of a nice room and the help of a midwife, they got a barn. She gets through it somehow, and then wraps the newborn in a blanket she brought with her, and puts Him in a feeding trough (yes, that’s what a manger is).

We have only to read the rest of the account of Jesus’ life to realize that this was not just a story of humble beginnings on a road to fame and fortune. He chose a simple life – “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”, He was known to say. He was a PR manager’s nightmare, offending key people that could have gotten Him favor among those with influence, like his cousin before Him who provoked Herod to the point of getting decapitated.

His message was, and still is – to some a precious gift, to others an insult: “God loves you as you are, and not as you should be – and He has proven it by giving the life of His Son for every one of you.” It divides us, and redeems those who know this essential truth: This isn’t just “good news for losers”, it’s the ONLY hope for the best and brightest who are tempted to think we have earned the attention, time and money of others. Jesus didn’t say “blessed are the poor in spirit” because this made it EASIER for them to come back to God – rather because becoming “poor in spirit” makes it POSSIBLE.

May you be blessed with the simplicity of Jesus’ amazing grace this Season.

In Exodus 33 God told Moses that He didn’t dare go with the people any more into the promised land, because He would just be tempted to kill them all. (This was right after the golden calf incident) I was struck with Moses response:

Ex 33:15-16
Then Moses said, “If you don’t go with us personally, don’t let us move a step from this place. If you don’t go with us, how will anyone ever know that your people and I have found favor with you? How else will they know we are special and distinct from all other people on the earth?” NLT

Today we are offered an even more intimate relationship with God through the Messiah Jesus Christ – that we can even be adopted by God; (Gal 4.) Yet how many of us, given the offer of all of God’s promises but without His presence, have been content to go forward without Him? Not Moses. The reason God even lived in a tent back then was because He was on the move. Moses wouldn’t go without His presence, even if He could show everyone else the blessings of God…and they would all have been impressed – No, it is not His blessings but His presence that proves our relationship with the Father – As Jesus said in John 17:3,

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

TOP TEN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ORGANIC CHURCH AND TRADITIONAL CHURCH

  1. DEFINED BY SPIRITUAL LIFE, NOT PROGRAMS
    1.  “Organic” literally refers to that which is made up of living matter – in the Church it refers to the living part of a gathering, the part that is actually experiencing spiritual growth or transformation. This is evidenced by testimonials and obvious life changes occurring in people and cannot be measured by numbers or attendance.
    2. That which is not organic or “living” can be very marketable, draw a lot of people, and even create momentum in an organization. The disappointing thing is that after the wave has passed over, people are left no more empowered to walk with Christ that they were before.
  2. LEADERSHIP IS VULNERABLE, NOT PROTECTIONIST
    1. In order to cultivate spiritual life, organic church influencers practice a culture of vulnerability rather than protectionism.
    2. We believe the flow of personal empowerment to others is determined by the level of our own vulnerability.
  3. LED BY GOD’S SPIRIT, NOT CHURCH RULES
    1. Rules and traditions are a pitiful substitute for the leading of “Christ in us” by His Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:14)
    2. We believe that our spiritual birth-right is to be led by God Himself, and that we are accountable to Scripture and to one another to test and approve His leading.
  4. FOCUS ON LIFE RHYTHMS, NOT DOCTRINE
    1. We believe others have the right to respond to what they see in our lives, rather than our “statement of faith”.
    2. We look to the example of Jesus’ life, both in the testimony of Scripture and His living influence though the Holy Spirit, for all our cues in life.
  5. FOCUS ON INTEGRATION, NOT ISOLATION OF FAITH EXPERIENCE
    1. We avoid scheduling meetings or events that are isolated from the public.
    2. We look for opportunities to bring our testimony of God’s presence across cultural lines.
  6. WORSHIP DEFINED BY ALLOTMENT OF “ATM”, NOT RITUALS
    1. Each follower of Christ is spurred on to consider where their attention, time and money (ATM) are directed…not just one day a week but 24/7.
    2. We enjoy “worship experiences”, but don’t depend on them to “keep us going”.
  7. SPIRITUAL ALIGNMENT IS EMPOWERED, NOT IMPARTED
    1. Each person is seen as needing the tools for discerning and walking in the truth;
    2. Understanding of Scripture and equipping in spiritual warfare are skills necessary for all.
  8. DEFINE SPIRITUAL LIFE AS A RELATIONSHIP, NOT AN EVENT
    1. Like the difference between a wedding and a marriage, we hold to the latter as our source of life,
    2. We know that Jesus defined eternal life not as a reward for living a “faithful life”, but as knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent. (John 17:3)
  9. WE ARE OWNERS OF THE KINGDOM WORK WITH GOD, NOT CONSUMERS OF IT
    1. We do not decide where to commit based on what we feel we are “getting out of it”, but by where we sense God calling leads us.
    2. We look to God’s gifting in those who are available, not the skills of a few, to “get things done” in the Kingdom work.
  10. LEADERSHIP IS DECENTRALIZED, NOT PROFESSIONALIZED
    1. A shared vision is cultivated so that anyone who is separated from others in the organic church, for whatever reason, continues to live in the rhythms of a Jesus follower because they are living from the inside-out.
    2. The vision does not come from one human source – it is truly shared and commonly owned.
“I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!For I am the ruler of all that I see!”…

So goes the refrain from from one of the stories that shaped my young mind as grade-schooler. As I look back on that story, I cannot help but notice how current is the point of this little parable in the discussion of modern leadership culture.

As the story goes, Yurtle is “King” of the pond and unsatisfied with his power. 
I have to admit, most of my life I had no idea what the word “glory” meant, except as used in phrases like “The Glory Days”, and “Go out in a blaze of glory”. It seemed to mean something shiny, bright, or good. Then a couple of years back I dug into what the Bible means by it. What I found was that it took several words to really get the meaning of this Greek word,”doxees” : A very apparent weight of (usually God’s) presence.

As I was reading through the introduction and first two chapters of Danny Silk’s book, “Culture of Honor”, I was struck with how I was seeing concepts from “Messy Spirituality”, “Forgotten Ways”, and our “Leadership in the Journey” booklet woven together as the the author described the culture of the ministry environment at his church in Redding, CA.  There was a more thorough discussion of “five-fold” ministry and the affirmation that integrating and implementing all of these leadership giftings goes hand-in-hand with empowering every believer to find their full calling and role in keeping the gates of heaven flowing on and through us as a fellowship.



Yesterday I was with my brother and fellow church planter talking about the challenge of what we do – and the question came up of how do we know if we have what it takes to do this. We see people come and go – sometimes we lose friends over it. In carving a new path of followership with Jesus, we find out not everyone is up for it. It reminds me of the Revolutionary war: In the beginning there were people who saw so clearly the value of self-determination and freedom that they were willing to actually die for it. Now, 235 years later, our Congress has a bill that would fine people for not buying health insurance. Who understands what those guys died for any more? And would anybody here do it now?

How do you know if you’re that guy? We decided that if a person is ready at some point look around see no one else walking with them, and keep going anyway because what your doing is worth your very life, then you’re that guy.

As I was running in the heat today, I was burdened with one of the symptoms of our lack of understanding of how to follow Jesus – the way we respond to leaders. Phil Keaggy recorded a song 1994 that captures this, and how we all are walking in the same fragile grace:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b3g4_Si1P8 

Studying Acts while being involved in church planting is opening up the meaning of the Book like never before. The latest revelation for me has been the pattern of expansion for the Kingdom of God in the first century compared to the one we see now.

Kingdon Cycle (2)

Beginning with the very first chapter in Acts, there was a progression:

  1. Hear from Jesus/Pray
  2. God draws a crowd
  3. Explain what God did
  4. Many believe and become disciples
  5. (back to #1)

I couldn’t help noticing how different this is from what we do today. Now it goes something like this:

  1. Put together an event (we draw the crowd)
  2. Try to say something relevant
  3. Get people to commit
  4. Get them in a class
  5. Get them serving the event

Not that God isn’t at work among us anyway – even in our events, but there seems to be such a difference when the draw is God doing something rather than us – The challenge here is that it would require that we let go of our schedule. But maybe our deadlines do more to exclude the power of God showing up than anything.  How does God draw a crowd? It seems that He would heal a beggar, set someone free from an evil spirit, or maybe just get one of His guys arrested and then break him out of jail. This is stuff we cannot program. To start with prayer/hearing from God – that is a gesture of dependence on Him. Every time I get impatient and do it myself, like Abraham, I end up with the fruit of my own efforts. Jesus was not descended from Ishmael – the child he make happen on his own schedule, but from Isaac – whose name (laughter) is a reminder of how we too often react to God’s timing.

A God event is something I cannot take any credit for – it is something others will not compliment me on because they know I didn’t make it happen – something that leaves them struggling over why they haven’t believed in the only explanation for what they just saw. I would rather wait for God’s event, because I would rather end up having to explain what  He did than have to explain my own actions to people.

You know when someone is not moving, we worry. Unless they are asleep, we feel as though something isn’t right if they are not moving. We instinctively know that the business of life requires movement – Processes. Energy has to be provided – calories burned. There is a cost to maintaining life.

I returned from Monrovia with this reality fresh in my mind. Here, I had been scheduling monthly training days with our house church group. Coming back from having met daily with the group in Monrovia, the difference in movement was obvious to me. I realized there was no continuity in a monthly meeting – and barely any by comparison in a weekly “event”. As I looked back on the fruit of different training formats that ran monthly, daily and weekly, I had to ask myself whether a movement of God didn’t require a more frequent rhythm. No one expects to earn a living going to work once a week. A “viable” (live) business requires daily attention. Why do we think we can give occasional attention to the Kingdom of God and see it grow?

Some years ago we were doing a monthly worship event that was open to the community called “Cambridge Vespers”. At one of the first events a man came up to me and asked,”Where are you going with this?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but a true answer would have been, “no where”. We weren’t going anywhere because we were not creating movement with a monthly event. This thing of following Jesus is an every day proposition. The rhythms of followership (see downloads “Five Rhythms”) are first daily, with some of them taking place less often. So, to teach this with more than words requires a daily showing up and walking together.

We will be getting into this in the “i-factor” training starting on Sunday (this site under “current events”) – The need for daily attention to our following of Jesus the Messiah. They say if you want to get something done, “ask a busy person”. I think it is easier to redirect movement than create it…What is the Spirit of God up to? Wherever He goes, he creates movement – growth – change. He disturbs our status quo. If you are ready for that, come join us on Sundays.  http://www.mission-link.org/events/