SimpleChurch Journal - 5 new articles




Prayer as the Main Thing - a Potential Organic Movement

Prayer_silenceSome things don’t change. We may seek new wine skins. We may adopt new methods and tools for seeing God’s Kingdom come. We may give up worn out programs, systems, and paradigms. We may adopt the newest and most ‘in’ way of making disciples, living incarnationally, or gathering together.

But the most significant thing does not change regardless of where we are in our journey with church, life, and ministry: we love God and we spend time with Him. This is the heart, fire, fuel, and foundation that is the indisputable center of a meaningful, purposeful, God-infused life.

Our own prayer life may need to go through some retrofits of its own.

Perhaps we have become stale or neglectful.

Perhaps we need to seek new ways to connect in deeper intimacy and to intercede with more faith.

Perhaps solitude is calling or a new encounter with Scripture is needed to stir up our faith-muscle in intercession.

Perhaps the New Year will spark in us a new desire to get back to the main thing as the main thing and find ways to be near to the Father.

Let’s not replace intimacy with knowledge, or the pursuit of ministry, or good activity. In fact the former will lead to the best activity as we seek His presence to live out of and His voice as our guide.  As David and Paul Watson say (Contagious Disciple Making), “A culture of prayer creates an environment and spiritual posture God can use to mobilize His people to do His will and catalyze complete social and spiritual transformation in a community.”

Perhaps this will be a year for an organic prayer movement that starts with each one of us and spreads to others until transformation, real transformation, is taking place in and around us.

Is God stirring you in this way? If so... share with us!

       

The Joy of Adventure

Step-Out-in-Faith_EditAs we gather a new group in our online course (Simple/House Church Revolution), I find myself surrounded by enthusiasts who are daring to experiment, step out of old boxes, and risk trying new things for God.

My feeling is, ‘these are my people.’  It’s not even about trying to fit people into a different “simple/house church” box.  It’s about being with the explorers, the risk-takers, and those who are willing to follow a God who is often messy and untamed (as one course participant wrote).  It’s about saying to God, “You lead, and I will follow even when I often do not understand what that will look like.”

My prayer is that none of us lose the joy of adventure that the life of faith is all about.

Perhaps if our life as a follower of Jesus has become tedious and mundane, it’s time to consider if we are willing to listen—really listen—to whatever step of faith God may be calling us toward.  The mundane life that leads to rest and restoration in the embrace of our beloved is wonderful, and even important, for a season.  But when that season turns into boredom and lethargy, it might be time to resuscitate our risk-faith muscles and turn our ears and heart toward the vision that God is wooing us toward.

Because the course participants I mentioned are stepping out of well-worn systems of church gatherings, their sense of risk and faith is palpable as they leave comfort zones and push into some unknowns with nothing but a dependency that God is leading.

This stirs and encourages me to a fresh openness for today.  I want to be open to any and all places in my life as a follower where I have substituted a life with routines and ruts that are no longer serving His cause.  I want to be open to His voice without any filter—a voice that always woos me sweetly into those places where risk and faith lead to the joy of adventure with Him.

By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. Nehemiah 9:19

       

Online Course on Simple Church Revolution is Now Registering

Online-course-manIt’s been almost a year since I offered the “Simple/House Church Revolution Online Course”  The course begins January 6.

NOTE that there are only 12 spaces remaining as of this writing!

The goal of this course is for participants to discover more fully God's story and the nature of His church in a way that fully celebrates the freedom of the Gospel and the simplicity, reproducibility, and joy of simple, participatory, 24/7 church life.

  • It’s fun.
  • It’s interactive with lots of opportunity to share and hear from others who are on a similar journey.
  • It provides a lot of great material that challenges our perspectives and paradigms in order to help us shape our own non-traditional journey.
  • It can even be life-changing as it can set our course as pursuers of Jesus in the context of simple church life.

Who is this course for?  It’s ideal for those who are newly exploring simple/house churches or who are in the process of starting simple/house churches or networks of simple/house churches.

"A unique and extremely insightful collection of resources, experiences, and other people who will finally let you know that you are not crazy for hoping that there is more of Jesus to be known and shared in a way that is actually simple."

Read more of the description and register here.  Look forward to this journey together!

       

Contagious Disciple Making -- the Book

ContagiousDiscipleMakingI am excited that David & Paul Watson’s book is finally available entitled Contagious Disciple Making.  Their material has helped to shape our work, particularly in East Africa, for years.

The first part of the book lays out some key principles for seeing the Gospel multiplied (the mind-set of a disciple-maker) while the second part of the book outlines practical strategies and practices.

Here are a few key thoughts from the book:

Disciple-makers deculturalize, not contextualize the Gospel.

The role of the cross-cultural worker is to deculturalize the Gospel—presenting the Gospel without commentary, but with the question, “How will we obey what God has said?” If it’s not in the Bible, don’t introduce it to the culture.

Disciple-makers plant the Gospel rather than reproduce their religion.

We must never equate religion and spirituality. Religion is about how we do church. Spirituality is about how we live out our relationship with God and people in such a way that we, our families, and our communities are transformed. Lost people are mostly repulsed by religion but inexplicably drawn to spiritual men and women.

Disciple-makers realize how hard completing the Great Commission will be for strategies and organizations built around branded Christianity.

What we realize, however, is that organizations that promote a particular brand of Christianity will have difficulty completing the Great Commission.

Disciple-makers realize the structure of the community determines the strategy used to make disciples.

If you believe in only one brand of church, or if you are familiar with only a few different brands of church and allow these tool structures to determine your tactics, then you will fail more often than succeed in disciple-making. Success will be found in creative and intentional diversity of tactics and churches.

Disciple-makers understand the importance of the priesthood of all believers.

The doctrine of the Priesthood of Believers is incredibly important to disciple-making. It affirms the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all believers; it affirms the ministry potential and responsibility of all believers; and it empowers all believers to function as needed for the church to minister to the people who are not a part of the body of Christ as well as those who are part of the body of Christ. This one doctrine opens the door and fuels the passion for any believer to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist (better understood as disciple-maker), and pastor/teacher. It moves Christianity from a profession to a lifestyle. It empowers the ordinary to do the extraordinary. It makes the church relevant and essential to a healthy community. And it appears that much of the modern church is throwing this doctrine out the door.

The practices of a disciple-maker are each discussed in relevant detail which I simply outline here:

  • Thinking strategically and tactically about disciple-making
  • Be a disciple who makes disciples
  • Prayer
  • Engage lost people
  • Finding a person of peace
  • Discovery groups
  • Establishing churches
  • Leadership
  • Mentoring

An excellent read and guidebook for unleashing today’s church throughout the world!

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Categories for this post include house church, simple church, organic church

       

When Disciple Making is Broken, the Church is Broken

The-calling-of-disciples-of-ChristThe church, of any form, is made up of disciples, followers of Jesus.  When disciple making is not taking place, then the church consists of converts rather than followers.

Too often we provide substitutes for disciple making:

  • Church attendance
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Listening to our favorite teachers

All of these are good things, and some of the processes for making disciples may even take place in some measure. But too often we provide mediators for the word of God rather than invite people to discover and engage in the word of God for himself.

Disciples are formed as they engage with Jesus Christ personally.  We make disciples by modeling this and by inviting people to:

  1. listen to God through His word and Spirit – discovering what God is saying
  2. act on His word by faith
  3. experience His person and power as a result of those faith-actions, and thus encounter the living reality of God

A personal relationship with God develops through this process and believers become followers.

A key example of this type of disciple making is found in the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) approach.  Such disciple making is simple, it keeps the word of God at the center, and it allows the Holy Spirit to speak to the person without mediation from others.

Restoring the simplicity and powerful reality of disciple making is key to seeing the church-universal come in to her designed glory in a greater measure.

David Watson has a 30 minute talk here on the importance of disciple making that keeps the word of God central, removes filters, and makes room for the discovery process.

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Categories for this post include house church, simple church, organic church