Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pray for Boldness

The new year has already shifted into high gear. So much is happening around the world; tragedies and victories, depths of pain and wonderful causes for celebration. As 2009 ended, I reflected on our need for boldness in this season. My thoughts ran to the first century church, the challenges faced, and her desperation for God's gift of boldness. This brief video captures some of my thoughts. It begins with a reminder of the upcoming Verge 2010 Missional Community Conference in Austin. I trust that you will join me in asking God to gain glory through that gathering!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Compassion Channels for Haiti Relief

My partners in ministry at Jacksonville Baptist Association have an ongoing Haitian ministry to orphaned children. Now housing families left homeless. Details and online giving at I have personal knowledge of the long term impact and integrity of this ministry.

Long term relationship with Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief ministries yields my absolute confidence in their intervention as well. Water purification already on the way. Info at

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Growing Vision for a Missional Church

After more than twenty five years of ministry as pastor and then consultant servant to church leaders, I came to realize that most churches in North America were highly active yet minimally effective in impacting their world. I spent years assisting churches in identifying ministry opportunities in their communities, pathways through which congregations could serve unchurched persons in ways they would receive. We believed churches that matched gifts and skills of their church members with ministry opportunities in the community would establish relationships with people who were open to the Good News of the Gospel.

In reality, only a handful of people in most churches would become part of those servant ministries. Most would applaud developing ministries, provide financially to enable those ministries, but few would become servants in these new “touch points.” New ministries were “added” to the already busy schedule of activities in most churches. Many members were already involved in as many church events as they deemed possible with their busy schedules. Adding something else was just not realistic. And because the other activities were deemed important, discontinuing these was not an option. So, the church calendar continued to fill.

I became convinced that no amount of corporate ministry initiatives would ever result in true effectiveness. Further, I knew that most churches struggle to define effectiveness in the first place. For many, effectiveness is measured by comparing attendance in Bible Study and worship this year with attendance in preceding years. Or perhaps, some might compare annual baptismal numbers. Hardly any churches think in terms of measuring the impact the church is actually having in its community. Few measure the number of new disciples who are equipped.

I saw clearly that churches must not simply do what they do better, but be different. Continuing existing programs would doubtless continue to produce similar results. Without new ways of thinking and acting churches would be isolated from and irrelevant to many people in their communities. Unless the church began to impact the lives of those in the community at the points where they naturally intersected, it was doubtful that they would have significant influence and impact on those lives. While corporate ministries are important and needed, true impact would only be realized through the everyday influence of members living as servant reflections of Christ in their own spheres of influence. True impact will not be linked to more calendared events, but to greater care and involvement in the lives of people at the office, in the classroom, on the course or field, and across the fences that ensure our personal privacy.

Instead of isolating ourselves from the world, or spending more hours talking about how we might reach the world, it is time to be Christ in the world. Not a select few, but all members of the Body of Christ are to live as sent ones.

Please share your thoughts: As a follower of Christ, what do you need most from your church to equip you to live as Christ’s servant and messenger among your friends, family, work associates and neighbors? As a church, how do you measure effectiveness? What is your best practice in preparing followers for effective mission lifestyles?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Verge 2010 – Austin – February 4-6

For those of you who have been asking, “no” I am not speaking at Verge. So, why do I keep encouraging you to register? Why do I keep saying, “I look forward to seeing you there?” Because I believe in the dialogue that Verge will foster. I believe in being part of the community of faith on this missional journey. It is not about me. It is not about the “speakers.” It is about God, His mission and our part in it.

While I will not be “on the platform” I will be in the dialogue. So will you, if you join us. For Verge is about more than hearing a few people speak. It is about community, family, networking. It is about what God wants to say through you and me as well as to you and me.

The day before Verge 2010 begins I will conclude three days of keynoting a west coast conference for pastors and spouses where we will explore the missional leadership challenges they are facing. From there, I will join you in Austin where we will continue the same dialogue in a different context. We are all learners on the journey. God is the guide. His church is the vessel sent to live and proclaim His Kingdom. Let’s gather to hear His voice at the Verge of this decade!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Foundation of Missional Life

“The foundation of a missional life is the decision to offer God our plans in exchange for his plans. It requires that we are willing to leave our world so he can send us to extend His kingdom.” (From The Tangible Kingdom Primer by Halter and Smay, “What is Missional?”) Do you recall Mary’s response to the angel’s message from God concerning her conception and birth of the Son of God? “Behold, (I am) the servant of the Lord.” (Luke 1:38) She referred to herself using the word for a bond-slave, the same word that was to become a favored expression of Paul.

The angel had been sent to her, a missional phenomena, with a specific message, just as to Zechariah earlier. Upon hearing the highly disturbing message, “You will conceive and bear a Son” Mary asked the most obvious question possible, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” While the response to that question was specific, it still left many unanswered questions for the young “favored one”. Her response was to exchange her plans for God’s plan. Whatever dreams and ambitions she may have had, were forever altered by the mission of God. His will was her first desire; “May it be to me as you have said.”

What personal plans and ambitions may need to be altered or enhanced as you seek God’s mission this year? What part of “your world” must be seconded to “His Kingdom” so that you may fulfill the purpose for which He has sent you? Mary did not ‘leave’ her world; she allowed herself to become the instrument of God’s blessing to her world, “the servant of the Lord.”

At Verge 2010, you and I will have opportunity to explore the implications of being kingdom servants to our world. If you have not done so, visit the Verge website, see the list of colleagues who will be speaking and guiding our dialogue, then register today! I look forward to seeing you there.