In mid-November I spent 4 days in Southern Maryland speaking for a Disciple Now (DNow) youth event hosted by 4 partnering churches. They had long planned it, but their speaker pulled out a few months in advance. The senior pastor of one of the churches involved was Chris McCombs – I served with him in Northeast Ohio for 3 years – so he reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to step in and speak. Speaking for events like this isn’t something I do often, but it was a good way to serve a friend and his co-laborers. These churches do DNow together each year and they base the event around a theological doctrine as a topic. This year was the Atonement. I used the Creation / Fall / Rescue / Restoration framework to tell the whole story and show how the Atonement fits into the overall picture.
I certainly wasn’t expecting to find this on the wall in the host church!
We had a great crowd of students from these churches!
This is my good friend Chris – we all call him PC (Pastor Chris). He took me to Solomon’s Island to eat some amazing food and see the river. It was wonderful to spend time with him.
PC asked me to share about my calling, ministry, #NoPlaceLeft vision and #3Circles in his church – Lexington Park Baptist Church.
I have written before about how our work in a primarily collegiate setting is spilling over into the community. The same story is continuing to unfold in some exciting ways.
Perkinsville Baptist Church is where Kelly and I are members – they are our sending church and one of our supporting churches. They were quick to invite us to facilitate disciple making trainings with college students, youth, and adults. They hosted our first Gospel Conversations Training for #NoPlaceLeftBoone as well. The pastor, Seth Norris, and I are good friends and have spent many hours discussing the work we’ve been doing in the collegiate community and he has helped me refine my thinking and practice.
The 4 Fields Strategy and the #NoPlaceLeft vision has started creeping into the church and it has been beautiful. One key way we have seen local churches take ownership of the strategy is through Church Planter / Missionary Residencies. They turn the vision, strategy, and tactics into recruitable platform that fits well in a variety of settings – including a local church. It is Perkinsville’s way of taking ownership of lostness in their own community and training their members as well as other believers to make disciples, start new churches out of the harvest, and reproduce leaders.
This is just the beginning for PBC and for the broader community of Boone, NC.
PBC Residency Interest Meeting. These folks were interested enough in the idea of a residency that they showed up for the meeting. Many have been consistently out in the harvest sharing their faith in the lead-up time.
We cannot expect believers to be able to take ownership of the entire Great Commission unless we train them (give them skills) to do each part of it. They need to be able to identify people who are far from God, share the gospel, baptize new believers, and teach them to obey Jesus’ commands.
As seen in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Official (Acts 8), baptisms can happen in unexpected locations. In the last few months we have had baptisms occur in the university pool (Video 1), a local hotel pool (Videos 2 & 3), and in the river (Video 4). Each one is marked by the simple joys of disciplers baptizing their new disciples and being surrounded by friends, family, and their new church family.
I’ve written about baptisms before here and here.
We cannot reproduce healthy disciple making, church formation, and leadership development if we are not giving away responsibility at every level as we go. This is a key value in the 4 Fields strategy that we are using.
Last month, I spent 5 days at a Strategy Coordinator Training in Raleigh, NC learning from movement leaders from all over the world (US / Canada / South Asia / Africa / Haiti). I was asked to share a devotional to open the training for one of the days. Chuck Wood captured it so I thought I would share it here. He has some excellent content and resources on his YouTube channel, so go dig deep.
In Matthew 13:33, Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like leaven worked into flour that raises the whole batch. No one notices leaven but it somehow it infiltrates and raises an entire lump of dough. Jesus says that’s one picture of what the Kingdom of God is like. It is simple and understated. In works its way into every corner and affects the whole thing. It is subtle but powerful. That’s what church feels like for me these days. This (the first picture) is what church looks like for us. We were meeting for church in a student’s (tiny) apartment.
Church isn’t what happens in most college apartment complexes. I’d love to see that change.
Our student host told us that when she washes dishes, she prayed over this view in the picture above. She has a desire to have a church start out of the harvest in this complex.
Each week when meet for church we practice sharing 3 Circles in pairs. We make do with simple things because simple things can be reproduced.
Survival is one thing, but reaching a city is quite another. When it comes to missional effectiveness, our model is just too expensive. The math is there for any who would have the courage to push the buttons on the calculator.
I repeat often: We must lower the bar of how we do church and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple if we want to reach this world with the good news. We need to be about the reproduction of healthy disciples, leaders, churches and movements––in that order. I am not suggesting we shut down churches or sell off all our property. I am suggesting we invest more energy and attention to simpler and more profound opportunities all around us. We cannot focus on complex and expensive systems and try and reproduce them if we do not first reproduce the simple and more basic entities first. If reproducing disciples is too much to ask, then certainly reproducing churches full of them is impossible, right? Don’t start churches to make disciples. Make disciples…and churches will start far more easily. It doesn’t cost a dime to make a disciple; it only costs your life.
I was infected with this idea 6 or 7 years ago when I first read Neil Cole’s book, Organic Church. I’ve done the math as he suggests and it is shocking. It is also hard to square it with the New Testament. Let’s do the hard thing and wrestle with this reality. It’s too important to let it slip by and just keep working on reinforcing the familiar.
Via: Neil Cole on 100 Movements
A Church Planting Movement (CPM), according to David Garrison is:
a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.
From: Garrison, Church Planting Movements, 21
We’ve gotten to the point where the tools use us as much as we use them. This new reality means we need to re-examine our relationship with our New Tools.
The tools we’re now addicted to have been engineered for a simple purpose: To keep us addicted to them. The service they provide is secondary to the addiction.
The first step towards a solution must be to understand the reality of this new ecosystem.
I’ve been reading and thinking a lot more about the tools I use and the effects they have on me. The fact that I can publish this so simply is incredible. But I am more aware than ever that our tools shape us as much as we shape our world with them. Give it some thought.
Via: Don’t Let Your Tools (Technology) Use You
Church in the Harvest is a fun life. Sometimes it feels like wandering around in the wilderness, but days like today are pretty amazing. Wesley grew up in church but until last week, he had never decided to follow Jesus. Once he did, he immediately wanted to be baptized. I love seeing rapid obedience in the harvest like this!
Thankful to call him my brother now!
Wes had family, friends from home, and friends from Church in the Harvest joining us!
Nothing goes with baptisms quite like feasting as a family!