SimpleChurch Journal - 5 new articles


Growing Movements in the USA

MF_03-04_Web_BannerMission Frontiers has some excellent articles, this month, on reproducing disciples in the context of the U.S.  It is exciting to see these principles implemented in Western contexts that have had such an impact throughout the rest of the world.

Curtis Sergeant shares an article entitled Growing U.S. Movements to the Lost and the Unreached:

As of December, 2013 we have multiple streams to the 5th generation or beyond and well over a dozen more to the 4th generation. All told there are about 200 downstream churches in the USA and 162 overseas, including several among previously unengaged people groups.

Read more here.

Fred and Melissa Campbell authored an article called, No Longer “Business as Usual:”

In April of 2013, after mapping the greater Austin area into regions, we sent out our first 40 teams of two to search for potential houses of peace in 12 areas. They found 400!

We formed more than 60 new groups within 60 days of this first search, and additional searches in August and November identified 150 more potential houses of peace. As of December 2013 we had more than 100 groups. Most are reproducing disciples, and one is reproducing churches!

Read more here.

These types of movements will continue to grow as the church is discovering it can take the shape of mission and gather in simple, reproducible ways.  The Holy Spirit is surely at work!

The entire issue is a great read!

       
 

The Black Swan Effect

Black-swan-cover1Following is a guest post by Felicity Dale, author of the new book "The Black Swan Effect."  Whether we are talking about reproducing churches in our own region or engaging in missions throughout the world, it is vital that women are championed and take their place at the forefront of God's Kingdom work.  Felicity has been doing this for years and this book represents the pinnacle of that effort.

Does our traditional view of the Scriptures about women overlook something powerful?  Could the role of women be crucial to the church’s future? Are we on the edge of a new era in missions history? 

The role of a woman in leadership is often a lonely one. A few years ago, a group of women, all with apostolic or prophetic calling, began meeting via conference call for peer fellowship. As the months went by, a frequent topic of conversation was the role of women in the church and why they are so often marginalized. They longed to change the status quo, but recognized that if they tried to make a difference, they would be perceived as feminists with an agenda. As they sought the Lord, he showed them that they should find men to stand with them. That way, both men and women would be more likely to listen. When the idea came for a book, several of these men agreed to contribute chapters.

The Black Swan Effect presents a vision for what can happen as men and women work together in the Kingdom of God.  The authors, including people involved in the house church world like Neil Cole, Katie Driver and Frank Viola, encourage men to champion women as equal co-laborers and partners in the harvest. They give women permission and inspiration to follow the Lord—to reach their own full potential and encourage others to fulfill God’s call. The Black Swan Effect equips both men and women to bring a Scriptural and positive contribution to the increasingly crucial conversation on gender in the church.

The Black Swan Effect will:

  • Bring a male perspective to the fore on the value of women and working alongside them in ministry
  • Go deeper in understanding certain troublesome scriptures • Offer insight into the status of women/girls worldwide
  • Show personal examples of the challenges women face in leadership/ministry
  • Feed your hope on God’s original intent for women
  • Edify and equip those who want to champion the whole body of Christ

The Black Swan Effect will not:

  • Be helpful if you are looking for feminist ammunition against men.
  • Encourage an unrighteous response on this critical kingdom issue.
  • Let you off the hook if you are using gender as a rationale for not engaging at your fullest leadership gifting and capacity.
  • Excuse you if you are using gender to sidebar the females in your life from their fullest expression of God’s calling.

Change is coming to the body of Christ. Let’s get ready!

       
 

Luke 10 and the Person of Peace

Personofpeace225x300Luke 10 provides the clearest steps for initiating new churches and, even, starting new movements.

Here are some key comments from this passage:

1. Go where Jesus sends you.  Jesus sent the disciples out, instructed them where to go, and told them he would be following up in those places personally.  This pre-supposes that we have an intimate, listening relationship with Jesus and we are seeking to go and work where He is working.  Persons of peace are people that God is already working within.  He has prepared them.  By listening and going where He sends, we join God in something He is already doing rather than needing to force something to happen.  I have spent much time hoping I can get something to work where God wasn’t working rather than tuning in to where He is already sowing life.

2. Pray to the Lord of harvest.  Specifically, pray that God will send out workers.  This means that we are asking God to send us to people who will become workers in the harvest.  We are asking, not just for receptive people, but for those who will turn around and attract others by their influence and become effective at drawing others.  By praying this way, we are engaging the principle of reproduction from the very beginning.  We are asking God to bring us to those who will not be barren but fruitful.

3. Acts of kindness, miracles, and relationship-building precede the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.  Clear, spoken explanation of the Kingdom does take place in this passage.  But prior to that, the disciples are told to display compassion, pray for needs, and build relationship through eating together.

If you want to move forward in planting simple/house/organic churches, reaching others, living incarnationally, and becoming fruitful, praying over this passage and asking God for next steps might be a great place to start.

What are some other principals from this passage that you have found to be key?

       
 

Disciple Making Movements: the Game

My friends over at Newforms Resources have put together a wonderful video that uses a game format to describe the simple, powerful principles of disciple making movements.  This is a wonderfully precise and informative vid:

 

       
 

Freedom From a Religious Spirit

(Re-posted from 2005):

Break-the-chainsThe Christian world, the entire Christian world, is permeated with a religious spirit.  It's in me, in others, in traditional churches, in house churches.  It is such a pervasive dysfunction that it's no wonder Jesus addressed it so forcefully.

The religious spirit is not just "them," it's also "us."  We think, oh so subtly, that we are somehow better than "them."  We look at externals of some kind: how we worship, how we do liturgy or don't do liturgy, how we view Scripture, our pet theological perspectives and we hold tightly to these things because on some level we believe them to be "right."  We lose our humility and our "rightness" becomes a judgment of others.  We are better than them.  We "do it" more correctly.  And there it is--a religious spirit.

We take on a religious spirit when we get focused on the way to live the Christian life rather than the Person that we live the Christian life with.  We turn relationship with God into rules.  A relationship is an ongoing, everyday, living thing.  When we are not living out of that living relationship, we begin to retreat into the rules of Christian living as a substitute.  We do, after all, know the "right" way to live.  It doesn't take long before we are judging others because they are not living the "right" way like we are.  We quickly lose sight of the fact that the reason we are in this place of judging others is because we ourselves are unsettled.  We have lost our peace because we are no longer fully embracing the Person.  We try to repair our sense of unrest by setting up the rules, the structure, in order to live right and thus feel right.  We project that onto others.  We quickly become the pharisees who encourage others to live for God based on the letter of the law and in so doing we lead people away from vibrant relationship with God.

We take on a religious spirit when our theology becomes more important than the Person behind our belief systems.  We believe we know the truth; we often believe we know MOST of the truth even though Scripture affirms that we "see through a glass darkly."  Yet we base much of our personal security on knowing "the truth" and we leave little room for humility, for paradoxical theological positions, and for learning deeper truths.  Because our "truth" makes us feel secure, we judge the theological positions of others as being "less than."  We become the scribes and we miss the heart of the One from whom all truth flows.

We take on a religious spirit when we believe we are part of a "movement" of God that others have not yet experienced but "should."  Perhaps what we are involved in is NOT what God is calling someone else to be involved in.  Yet we take whatever God has done for us and judge others by whether or not God has done it for them or in them or to them.

We take on a religious spirit when we have been hurt or disappointed by other Christians.  Rather than heal, forgive, let go, set boundaries and move on, we become bitter.  We find reason to judge them and their "hypocritical" brand of Christianity.  We hold up a standard of "righteousness" that we judge others by (because we have been hurt).  We become standard-bearers of righteousness seeking to hold people accountable to what's "right."  In the process we become the legalists.  We forget that we are all just humans deeply in need of the washing of the blood of Jesus Christ and His eternal mercy.

We take on a religious spirit when we fail to recognize God in each and every person that He has created and redeemed.  When we believe that we have something to teach others but fail to see what they have to teach us.  When we take something from our spiritual life or experience and imagine that we are, in some way, better than those who do not share exactly what we are "into."

A religious spirit robs us of our real spirituality.  We do not live out of the vitality of union with Christ, we live out of the push,the guilt, and the shoulds of duty.  We live out of a subtle pride; we lose the joy of first love.  We may feel good about "being good," but we lack the passion of a lover's life.

Worse, we pass on this spirit into others.  We model a Christianity that lacks the zest and peace that comes from relationship.  We exemplify a dour, sober, lifeless Christianity.  We sometimes even heap the guilt and shoulds on others and, in doing this, keep them from finding the joy of the Person.  We take the religious burdens that we have put on ourselves, and we wrap them around others in a way that stifles their openness to a God of relational, creative, beautiful love.  No wonder Jesus said, woe unto you!

So, I say, woe unto me.  Woe unto us all.  To repent and break free of religion in order to experience the power of relationship with Creator-God... isn't that the call of the hour?

       
 


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