Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seek God on Behalf of the Poor

I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. – Psalm 140:12 (NIV)

For God to establish the poor so that their spiritual and physical needs are met with dignity and stability; that God will release them from cycles of oppression and despair; that God will reverse every curse and multiply blessing.

PRAYERWALK: Walk places of poverty and neglect. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His eyes and His heart in order to pray from hope, not pity. What grieves or gladdens God as He walks amidst the poor?

Afghanistan, American Samoa, Antarctica, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seek God on Behalf of Health Care Workers


Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; He will bless him in the land. – Psalm 41:1-2 (NIV)

That God will equip health care workers of every kind to serve others with loving hearts; that God will bless them with perseverance and joy; that the pressure of their professions will not crush their families and friendships; that many will follow Christ.

PRAYERWALK: Pray on or near the grounds of a hospital or clinic.

United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands of the USA

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Friday, February 26, 2010

Living Missionally

Consumerist and missional lifestyles are opposite ends of the cultural perspective. One seeks to obtain more, the other gives itself away. While culture at large may applaud a giver, it does so because giving is considered atypical. If all people were placing the desires of others first, seeking to give rather than to receive, any uniqueness would be lost. The applause would dissipate in light of what would be typical behavior.

Of course, that typical behavior was Creator’s intent. The missional lifestyle is learned from the original Giver, not from consumerist culture. It consistently disregards personal comfort in view of pleasing the Other. The missional lifestyle serves Christ by serving others. It is expressed through a sacramental personality in which Christ is allowed to have His way. Those seeking to live missionally, relinquish their own desires to Christ. His will matters more than their own. They pray with Jesus, “nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.” And they mean it.

As I think about people who have influenced me through their own missional lifestyles, I think of humble servants whose countenance and behavior reflected the character of Jesus. They are those who have abandoned themselves to Him. They loved to serve others. Oswald Chambers said it best, “If we are abandoned to Jesus, we have no ends of our own to serve.” He is the end …and the beginning …of the missional life.

Seek God on Behalf of Ministries


Finally, brothers, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you. – 2 Thessalonians 3:1

That Christian ministries will be founded on God’s truth, anointed by God’s power and funded by God’s people; for refreshed vision and encouragement upon the dedicated workers who labor in specialized service designed to increase the impact of local churches.

PRAYERWALK: Find a high point from which you can see much of the community. Pray that God would send needed Christian workers to and from your city.

St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Five Lessons from a Denver Snow

For those of you who follow our communications, you are aware that Pam and I recently enjoyed an extra couple of days in the Denver area due to snow. In fact, the snow met us a couple of hours before we arrived and accompanied us into Denver.

About 100 miles east of the city, we saw what appeared to be a heavy fog in the distance. That fog turned out to be snowfall. Temperatures rapidly dropped to the mid twenties and our speed slowed to match the temperature.

The road surface melted the falling snow, creating a mixture of slushy mud that blowing up quickly made the windshield an opaque mess. It was then that I learned::

Lesson #1: Never spray windshield washer fluid on a windshield at 24°.

Instead of wiping away the slushy mud mix, wipers scraped over an immediately glazed surface of mud ice mixture. There was no wiping it off and immediately I was driving by looking through a relatively clear hole in the ice…about the size of a quarter!

Turn the defroster on…FAST: full heat…full blower! In about a half an hour, enough heat had been generated to melt the base of the ice covered windshield. A few wipes and we were now able to drive through a mud smeared glass. Now, let’s spray some fluid on it.

Lesson #2: Once you have sprayed windshield washer fluid in sub-freezing temperatures, do not expect your washer to spray again until three days after any freezing weather!

Okay, you don’t care to listen to the rest of the story, so let me just give you the last three lessons in succinct form.

Lesson #3: Before you drive after a car has sat out during extensive snow, clean both the front and the rear glass completely. Once it is four or more inches thick, snow does not blow off the windows.

Lesson #4: Before you drive after a car has sat out during extensive snow, clean all snow from the hood of the vehicle as well as the front and rear glass. Although snow does not blow off the windows, all snow left on the front of the vehicle will become a blowing blinding blizzard as you accelerate. White out again!

Lesson #5: Before you drive after a car has sat out during extensive snow, clean all snow from the top of the vehicle adjacent to any doors that are to be opened as well from the hood of the vehicle and the front and rear glass. If you don’t you will quickly learn that while snow may appear as ice outside the vehicle, once inside (and it will rush inside at a rate that boggles your mind) it becomes liquid on the seat where you are about to sit. And don’t think you will brush it off before it melts. No way!

Well, there were other lessons from Denver in the snow, but those are enough for now. One final thought, snow often goes from west to east. We got to spend two extra days in Denver, because the front that dumped its glistening beauty on Denver, moved right down the interstate toward Texas! And Pam and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Seek God on Behalf of International Visitors


Assemble the people — men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns — so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God. – Deuteronomy 31:12 (NIV)

Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Seek God on Behalf of Sick People


SEEK GOD ON BEHALF OF SICK PEOPLE He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. – Matthew 14:14

That God will touch those who are sick in your community with healing and comfort; that they will grow in character as God walks with them throughout their ordeal; that God will provide for their financial needs; for their caregivers and families; that many will renew their trust in Christ and follow Him boldly, even in affliction.

PRAYERWALK: Consider those who may be struggling with chronic illness or pain in your neighborhood. Pray for their healing.

Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seek God on Behalf of Marriages


Marriage should be honored by all. – Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)

Thank God for solid marriages that reflect His faithfulness and beauty. Pray especially for marriages that are strained to a breaking point or are failing, that God will bring both hope and help; that He will heal broken hearts and restore intimacy; for every marriage, that God will refresh and recenter homes in Christ.

PRAYERWALK: Pray (with your spouse if married) near the homes that may need a special touch of God’s healing upon marriages.

Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog Post from Denver

Pam and I are snowed in! I chose to drive rather than fly to speak at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado. Driving allows Pam to travel with me when I am speaking.

We arrived Friday evening in Denver after driving through snow for the final two hours. Then we enjoyed being with the Bethlehem family in a Saturday evening meeting. I spoke with windows at my back that allowed those present to watch the snow falling on the mountains. It was gorgeous. I think I should have faced the snow instead of the crowd!

Snow continued overnight. By Sunday morning everything was covered. Attendance for the Building the Body Equipping Emphasis was severely impacted. I led three one-hour workshops in which I challenged believers to live on mission in their 100 foot circle of influence while also learning about and adopting an unreached people group globally.

We touched on requirements for missional living: intimacy with God, clarity of life purpose, simplicity of life style, love of unreached peoples, serving and sharing with neighbors and nations. It really doesn’t matter how theologically informed we may be if we are not living and proclaiming the Kingdom among those who know us best and reflecting God’s passion for the nations.

After a keynote wrap-up message, we left Bethlehem with new friends like Paul and Laverne Kyriss (our gracious hosts), Ron and Tammy Uecker (enthusiasm personified), Lois Anderson (whose ministry is loving artists toward Jesus), and of course staff members, Sandy Wendelin (Director of Discipleship), Tim Ahlman (Associate Pastor with a passion for reaching the least reached) and gracious senior pastor David Langewisch.

The danger of listing these folks is that I failed to mention others. But you get the idea. We were blessed. And then it kept snowing…and snowing…and so our predicament. The only safe route to travel is toward Canada, and that really seems counterproductive since we are supposed to be going home to Texas.

Tonight’s forecast – record lows in Denver and significant snows in Texas!

Seek God for the City 2010


Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory...Wealth and honor come from You...In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. – 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (NIV)

Pray for those in support roles as well as those with higher profiles, that they will know Christ and fulfill God’s calling in their lives. Pray that athletes would be good examples of dedication, commitment and courage; that they will live with integrity and carry out the responsibility of wealth and reputation; that coaches would instill character; that God will reveal His calling and purpose for the students and coaches in college and university programs.

PRAYERWALK: Pray on-site at the scene of an upcoming sports event near you.

Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seek God for the City 2010


Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care...Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:2, 7 (NIV)

That pastors and church leaders will be filled with wisdom; that they be honored by those they serve; that God will pour His Spirit upon them in power and humility, giving fresh intimacy with Jesus; for protection from the plots of the evil one against their families; that deep friendships with other pastors will grow.

PRAYERWALK: Pray outside a church building for the pastor who serves that church

El Salvador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Greenland

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Seek God for the City 2010


One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 7:32

Pray that Christ will fill singles’ hearts with His love; that they may taste the satisfaction which is found only in God; that friendships will bring ample fullness of relationship; for sexual purity and simplicity of lifestyle; for marvelous marriages for those who desire them. Pray for those single by divorce or death, that they would find healing and new hope for life ahead.

PRAYERWALK: Bless those people who are single. Consider their story. Pray for their future and hopes.

Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Seek God for the City 2010


This woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. – Acts 9:36

That women will be honored in their unique glory as those created by God; that injustice of every kind toward women will cease; for pornography to be stopped; for protection from sexual violence; that hope would be renewed for the beauty of marriage and children; that single women would lay hold of the hope of great joy and purpose for God’s glory.

PRAYERWALK: Without necessarily being demonstrative, pray prayers of blessing for some of the women you come in contact with today.

British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Verge 2010 has only begun

Verge 2010 was blessed with the presence of God in an unusual way. Seldom have I been part of worship after which those present would not leave. When the final large group session ended, corporate prayer and confession swept across the room as the Holy Spirit manifested a Divine work. Quietly and unprompted, those present begin to call out various names of God: Comforter, Holy One, Messiah, Jesus, Rock of Help, etc.

A holy hush had descended and participants sensed they had been invited by the Father into a very special moment. Now we pray that the moment gives way to a season in which God continues to call followers into deeper relationship with Himself. We pray that the season will be observed by the world as we engage them with serving hearts and the compassion of Christ. Verge 2010 has not ended…it has only begun. This is my prayer.

Seek God for the City 2010


In you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. – Genesis 28:14

For solid, God-centered relationships among family members; that parents would be bold to instruct their children in God’s way of living and lead their families to pray together; for families dismantled by divorce to be healed; that Christ’s forgiveness would dissolve long-held anger.

PRAYERWALK: Prayerwalk as a family through your own neighborhood. Ask God to give you family-to-family prayers of blessing for another specific family.

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission. Hear more at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Apostolic Movements – Distinctive Practices and Shifts

Dave Gibbons recently authored The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for Third Culture Leaders. The following are some thoughts I captured as he spoke about Apostolic Movements during Verge 2010.

Movement is how the mission is to be accomplished. Gibbons sited five distinctive practices of apostolic movements:
  1. Ordain every believer
  2. Lead with a “Yes” then ask “How”
  3. Teach people to “Go” and not just “Bring”
  4. Plant the Gospel before Planting a Church
  5. Foster Incarnational and Apostolic – not just one and done (train an apprentice)
Significant global shifts that we are or will deal with in releasing apostolic movement:

  • Justice issues are profound. Global capitalistic ideas are resulting in a widening gap between the poor and the rich. Terrorism no longer concerned about nations but about individuals with capacity to damage all.
  • Power shifts are significant. July 27, 2048 is forecast as the date when China will surpass the US as it relates to life expectancy of persons and income per capita.
  • We must shift from creating strategies to unleashing the capacity of the Holy Spirit in lives of those on the journey; to let the Glory of the Lord Shine. Beauty is intrinsic in the fabric of the word Glory. Let the beauty of the Holy Spirit flow through your congregation, especially in the work of justice, advocacy and compassion. His glory will shine!
  • We are shifting from a church with walls (where the focus is on buildings) to a church without walls (where everyone plays).
  • We are shifting from steps and solutions to customization of tools – From our traditional instruments that analyze the strengths and gifts people possess to tools that have to do with people’s stories and narrative; how their pain has prepared them for God’s purposes.
  • We must shift to adopt a biblical theology of liquid leadership. The bible speaks clearly to contextualization. Jesus became flesh that we might know Him. Paul became all things to all me that he might win some. We must contextualize as required to become servants to reach the many.
Gibbons is transitioning toward the following priority: “How can we develop 300 highly committed instead of believing all power rests in size? A 30,000 member church does not actually yield greater influence. The greatest influence is wielded in the small things where God has first place.”

Seek God for the City 2010

Today I encourage you to join with over 100,000 believers in praying for our cities and those living in the cities of the world. For the next 40 days many of us are utilizing Seek God for the City 2010 as a resource that God will use to raise our prayers as a unified concert toward His throne. Missional Church Center has been granted permission to share portions of this resource guiding to prayers of biblical hope with our readers.

Each day between now and Palm Sunday we will share a different subgroup of people as well as continents/countries for which we will pray. For the first eleven days, we pray that God will revive His people with spiritual life.


Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace...How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD! – Psalm 144:12, 15

For people in their teens to radically commit their lives to Christ; to make wise choices; for older mentors; for solid friendships with their peers who are following Jesus; for open communication with parents; for God’s intentions for their generation to come forth in fullest measure.

PRAYERWALK: Pray with your eyes open for people in their teens. Envision them following Christ five or ten years from now.

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas

This is an excerpt from Seek God for the City 2010, page 7, published by WayMakers. Used with permission.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Magic of the Seed

In one of his Verge 2010 presentations, Neil Cole told the story of being with his daughter as they drove past a new mall. Large tractors were digging holes for trees. The next day they drove by again and full grown palm trees had been placed into the holes. Neil’s daughter exclaimed, “Wow, those trees grow fast!” He then commented, I didn’t tell her they had placed fully grown trees into the holes, because I wanted her to believe in the magic of the seed.

Cole then went on to discuss the powerful seed of the Gospel. While known as a church planter, Cole said, “Today I tell people to plant Jesus, not churches.” We can give messages about the word without giving the Word Himself. Church is the outgrowth of the message. Every piece of fruit contains the seed for the next generation. When we plant the Word, it will bear fruit. And the fruit contains the magic of reproduction.

Cole identified three components of farming: sowing, growing, harvesting. He said, the farmer is most busy at the sowing and harvesting seasons. Yet, it seems that we tend to work most at making churches ‘grow’. That is the only thing the farmer did not work for. Growth is the byproduct of sowing and harvesting.

As he talked about reproductive disciple-making, Cole confessed that he once focused on various curricula for use in disciple-making. When one curriculum became boring, they would change to another. Ultimately he even sought to write his own curriculum. Sometimes he would try having growing disciples read and discuss good spiritual books to maintain their interest and keep them on a growth track. Finally, Cole realized that the solution to changed lives was not found in curriculum, or in good books. Verge participants laughed as Cole reenacted His dialogue with the Father, “God what book could we read that might really change their lives? God responded, Well, I do have a best seller.”

From that dialogue, Cole began to develop the Life Transformation Group (LTG) process that is now widely used among believers. In LTG’s two or three believers covenant to read 25-30 chapters of Scripture each week. Then they meet to share what God said to them through the Word. They also pray for their personal witness to unbelieving friends and utilize a list of accountability questions for mutual encouragement in faithfulness.

The process focuses on getting the seed into fallow ground. We can’t make the seed grow. As George Patterson is fond of saying “You can’t make anything grow anymore than tugging on an ear of corn will make it grow.” But we can act upon our confidence that the magic of the movement is found in the seed.

White Space - By Dr. Bill Tinsley

For most of us, life starts out fairly simple. When my wife and I married we could, quite literally, pack all our possessions in the back seat of our car. But along the way, we picked up clutter. The closets and attic overflow. Periodically I move boxes around in the garage so she can get her car in. Stuff seems to multiply to occupy every nook and cranny. It is hard to throw it away. Even what looks like trash is somehow attached to memories. Every scrap of paper, baby shoe and broken toy possesses a part of my life.

It isn’t just things. The calendar is the same. Business, or “busy-ness,” expands to claim every minute. Many leave the house in the dark, stagger out to the car swigging down a last cup of coffee and maneuver onto the freeways munching a breakfast burrito. Memos, phone calls, meetings and a commute home in rush hour traffic to pick up kids and head off to practice sessions. No wonder we are exhausted.

Christians may be especially vulnerable. Richard Foster wrote, “We are trapped in a rat race, not just of acquiring money, but also of meeting family and business obligations. We pant through an endless series of appointments and duties. This problem is especially acute for those who want to do what is right. With frantic fidelity we respond to all calls to service, distressingly unable to distinguish the voice of Christ from that of human manipulators."

We need white space!

Look at Google. Someone discovered that the greatest impact is made when there is plenty of white space. Google keeps it simple. The iPod and the iPhone do the same. The iPod has one button. The iPhone has none. We need to learn how to live as Google lives, with plenty of white space, space in our lives that gives us freedom. We need deliverance from crammed calendars and cluttered closets.

It takes discipline to create white space, room for flexibility and freedom, margins in which to breathe. Some have been surprised in the present economic downturn to discover a newfound freedom by scaling back, ridding themselves of clutter, finding time for family and friends.

Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal …” Jesus knew how to order life with “white space.” He took time to listen to children, to help a desperate woman who risked touching his garment, to heal a paralytic passed over by the crowd. He had time for people, and, when he died, his robe was his only possession. He never punched a time clock. He did not wear a watch. He was never rushed or in a hurry.

It is entirely possible that, with our break neck race to “get somewhere” that we might end up “nowhere.” This might be the reason Jesus said, “… you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” (Luke 10:41). When we simplify our lives with fewer “things” and build “white spaces” in our lives for others we discover life itself.

Write Bill Tinsley at Dr. Tinsley has served as pastor and missions leader in Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He has international experience in South America, Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia. His books are available at

Monday, February 15, 2010

Faith Mixed with Sorrow

Today I have been with family members who have been wrestling with the decision to remove life support systems from their loved one. The decision is one no wife would ever wish to make concerning her husband. The believer always wonders if there is still an ounce of hope that God might allow a miracle to happen that supersedes every prognosis given by medical experts.

Just a week ago he was enjoying relationships with his family, working out at the health club, working in his vocation and serving Christ through his life. Today, he lies comatose with severe neurological damage following a heart attack sustained when alone…on his way home.

The possibility of such an experience always seems remote, but it is nonetheless real. In this instance, it was something that the couple had talked about. He had said, “I would not want to remain in a condition where I was not aware, being dependent upon support systems to sustain my life.” He said, “I would rather go be with Jesus.”

While the decision to remove life support systems is still traumatizing and painful, the words he had spoken do provide comfort. For those who remain, the pain of loss is profound. Even knowing his preference to “be with Jesus” does not remove the hurt and emptiness. Nor does it remove the lingering questions: “Is this the right decision?”

While family and friends gather round, and faith nurtures the spirit of those who remain, the darkness of the moment is real. And it feels as though the light will never shine again. That is reality, even for people with deep faith. And we, friends and family who also possess faith in God, join them with our tears.

We ask ourselves why we cry, if we truly believe the promises of God. And for just a moment, we understand another who stood at the grave of a dear friend and wept even though He possessed the power to restore life. Yes, Jesus wept.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Jesus Sneezed – Kingdom Movement

At Verge 2010 we laughed as Alan Hirsch began by saying “I have always wanted to write a book called Jesus Sneezed.” Viruses can teach us a lot of things. They are resistant and remarkable creatures. All good ideas spread like viruses. The idea becomes a splinter in your brain. It demands your attention. You cannot help but notice it and deal with it. As we reflect on the idea that has ‘grabbed us’ we ‘sneeze’ that idea onto someone else.

Very simple slogans are characteristic of movements. “Jesus, Lord is alive” is a great example. The more complex you make it the more you slow it down. The early church message was simply yet earth shaking. The simplicity of that message demands a response. It paves the way for disciples to be born into the Kingdom.

Such a message spreading virally would only take eleven iterations from the 2200 people attending Verge, following the “pay it forward” concept loving three people into and discipling them in the Kingdom of God, to “cover” all of America. Then three more iterations would reach the every person in the world!

That is the power of multiplication. Were every church plant to “pay it forward” into only three more new churches, we would quickly saturate the world with churches. By the way, they don’t have to be big, just alive.

There are two elements that make an exponential movement:
Apostolic ministry + Mission of the People of God = Exponential Movement

Apostolic ministry is about ‘sent’ leaders who equip others for their sending. Mission of the People of God (MPOC) implies the equipped, mobilized ministry of every Christ follower.The real revolution happens when the people of God actually become and act as the people of God.

Below is Video of Alan Hirsch at Verge 2010.

*Photo provided by the VERGE 2010 Media Team

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big Red Tractor – My New Favorite Metaphor

The Big Red Tractor from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.

Francis Chan has given me a new metaphor. My grandmother’s phrase for anything difficult was, “It was like pulling teeth…” In the past, I have used that phrase myself when I found it difficult to lead the congregation forward. “It’s like pulling teeth to get these people off dead center.” So often church leadership has felt like pulling and pushing an old ship trying to get it to move.

I relinquished the role of pushing and pulling when I realized no amount of human effort can result in the accomplishment of God’s mission. We do not make it happen. That is why the St. Exupery quote means so much to me: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

I found that after more than twenty-five years of ministry I had been drumming up the men, gathering the wood, dividing the work and giving the orders to orchestrate the accomplishment of God’s mission. Now I know that the only power for that mission comes from God. I can stop expending errant energy and instead rest in the Father’s power.

This background lets you know why Francis Chan’s metaphor via his cartoon “The Big Red Tractor” made such an impression on me when I saw it at Verge 2010. Watch it yourself and make your own decision to “find rest for your soul.” By the way, your kids and grandkids will love this one as well! Thanks Francis…again, you have stretched us with your creativity and passion.

*Photo provided by the VERGE 2010 Media Team

Haiti, Hope and Missional Faithfulness

In the midst of prolific conversations about the historical and spiritual background of Haiti and the influence of that history on recent events (e.g. Pat Robertson comments) a better question was included in my friend Andrew Jones’ blog, Tall Skinny Kiwi.

A better answer was provided by Dr. Dieumeme Noelliste, president of the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association. His comments can be accurately applied to many other global contexts where faith is separated from the marketplace, where there is an inappropriate divide between spiritual and secular, and where the church’s voice is not penetrating society at large.

QUESTION: How is it that a country which has so much Christianity also has so much poverty? How can the two coexist? Here’s an answer by a leading Haitian theologian, interviewed by Christianity Today.

"In my view: The gospel that has been preached in Haiti has left a vacuum—has left the political landscape untouched. The church doesn’t see its business as being a prophetic witness to those in power. The result has been a political sector left to its own devices; this is why the common people were the first responders to the crisis, not the government. This is the result of the gospel being truncated, emasculated, instead of confronting the powers that be to do what God intends for them to do: protect and enhance life."

I am amazed at the divergent interpretations of the missional movement. Some argue that ‘missional’ thinkers understand the Gospel to be about social justice, others about spiritual salvation. May God help us those of us who are communicating a missional message to be clear about the total implications of the whole Gospel as proclaimed and modeled by Jesus and His church. The Gospel is bigger than our segmentation. It is about both spiritual redemption and social justice…and it is about so much more. In fact, it is about everything that is on the heart of God.

I often say, missional is messy. The missional church will often look liberal in social engagement while it is conservative theologically. As we pursue a missional posture, some will say we have become liberal because we engage in addressing issues perceived as being in the social domain. We would adamantly respond, “No, we are not liberal. We are theological conservatives who have read the Bible and found throughout its pages a call to engage the world with loving compassion: meeting needs, touching lives, and sharing the ultimate Hope that outlasts every physical structure.”

More from Christianity Today

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Every Saint a Full-Time Paid Staff Member

Jeff Vanderstelt, one of the pastors of Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington echoed much of my own conviction about implications of the Body as God’s missional people. Soma Communities is a church planting church and I first learned of Jeff and the Soma family while in Riga, Latvia. There I ministered along side a young church planter who had attended Soma School in Tacoma. Jeff Vanderstelt and the body of Soma are making an incredible impact globally as they equip and empower believers to minister the Gospel and start missional communities.

Jeff began by reminding Verge 2010 participants of the position of Christ and the role of the Body. Referring to Ephesians 1, he said, “Let’s understand the position and inheritance we have in Christ. He is at the right hand. He is the head of the Body. God has put all things under his feet. There is no other senior pastor than Jesus Christ. It is not us building a church, but Jesus building His church through us.”

He went on, “At Soma we act upon the assumption that every saint is a full-time paid staff member to do the work of ministry. It doesn’t matter whether the check we receive has our church’s name in the upper left hand corner, or Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Wherever the check comes from, it is God’s channel of bringing his resources into your life to enable you to do your full time ministry as God’s sent one.

A critical question we must ask is, ‘Have we structured so that everybody becomes a ‘carrier’ of Jesus and see all of life as the ministry they are called to?’ The most effective carrier of discipleship is not an event. It is doing life together.

No one gets equipped in meetings. We may get informed, motivated, etc., but equipping requires us to be doing, not just hearing. We must live life together in community or we cannot equip each other. How do we know if a man is faithful? (2 Tim. 2:2) We know that only if we are doing life together.

We do not put on a lot of events that extract people from life…instead we equip for life with one another. Unless we call people to focus on mission, they will ultimately become internalized and segregated from the world. We must reorient our whole lives around reaching out to people. Do whatever it takes to be a missionary to a particular people group.

When we started Soma, it was not about a big launch service. We launched people and commissioned them to start their own groups. Each leader has an apprentice. Those who lead small flocks well are those who become entrusted elders of the congregation.”

Theirs is an equipping and empowering process that has the Acts of the Holy Spirit written all over it!

*Photos provided by the VERGE 2010 Media Team

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Francis Chan Session 1

Simon Says…Jesus Says

I was deeply moved as God spoke through Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Semi Valley, California and author of Crazy Love. Chan began by asking the Verge participants to forget they were in a conference and instead to simply be people gathered in the presence of God. He encouraged our passion for God, more than for mission, reminding of Moses’ words, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us…” (Exodus 33:15).

Chan echoed something many of us have said, that God is moving and speaking the same messages into lives around North America that do not know each other. Chan asked, “How in the world can all these people be saying the same things…hearing the same things from God…responding in similar ways?” It must be clear that God is calling His bride to a fresh love with Himself and new abandon to His purpose.

At the outset we agreed with Chan that the Verge conference was born as a response to what God was already doing in developing missional communities. “It is not our place to initiate a movement. That is God’s doing.” Disciples did not get together and organize the day of Pentecost. It wasn’t a plan. It was the Holy Spirit of God doing something. The disciples were along for the ride.

Chan challenged those present to make sure that what we are doing is theologically right. He suggested that “If we just read the scripture and follow what it says, we would make disciples.” We would obey.

He said, “When I was young we played, Simon Says. All of us have played it…well maybe not the younger generations, because there are no app’s for it. Someone would say ‘Simon Says’ and we did it. But when ‘Jesus says,’ in church we act like ‘You don’t have to do it…you just have to study it and memorize it.’ If I tell my daughter to clean her room, she doesn’t come back in an hour and say, “Okay Dad, I memorized what you told me to do.”

Jesus told us to love one another. No one out there has ever seen God, but if we as the Body would really love each other, they would get a glimpse of His love. When we love each other in unity, the world will believe that Jesus was sent from God. It is not through our apologetics that the reality of Jesus will be known, rather through our love.

When the early disciples experienced Jesus alive again after His death, everything else took a back seat to obediently sharing the Good News of Jesus with others. “Stuff” didn’t matter anymore when death was conquered and Jesus’ Spirit came upon His church. Jesus changes everything. And we are invited to join His mission of loving the world to Himself.

*Photos provided by the VERGE 2010 Media Team

Missional Living

I was blessed in reading the blog of Terry Timm, Lead Pastor of Christ Community Church of the South Hills in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaina. Terry is teaching a missional church course for which my book Shaped by God’s Heart is the text. In one of his blog posts, he quotes Dianne Bergant speaking on Advent life. I have adapted her words and copied some of Terry’s comments. Together I think they are a beautiful description of the missional life:

“The [missional] life does not necessarily require unusual behavior on our part, but it calls us to live the usual unusually well. It affects the everyday events of life; it directs the way we interact with people; it informs the attitudes that color our judgments and motivations. It is as ordinary as the birth of a child; it is as extraordinary as the revelation of God.”

Jesus calls us to live the usual unusually well. This reminds me of Eugene Peterson’s translation Romans 12:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

God is not looking for extraordinary and unusual acts of faithfulness, courage, daring or sacrifice. Worship is offering our everyday, ordinary lives back to God for the life of the world.

What would it look like for you to live the usual unusually well? And how might God take our simple acts of faith, hope, and love – infuse them with His Spirit and use them in the establishment of His kingdom here on earth?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Verge 2010 P1

Over the next days, I will be posting insights from Verge 2010 Missional Community Conference which was held February 4-6, 2010. It was my privilege to be part of the Social Media team for the event.

Matt Carter, lead pastor of Austin Stone Community Church said missional community may be what this generation of believers is remembered for during session 1 at Verge 2010 Missional Community Conference in Austin.

Missional Community has the potential to be what this generation of believers is remembered for; that which historically defines this generation. Grandparents were remembered for Billy Graham and Navigators; parents for mega churches and contemporary Christian music and worship. I believe missional community is the long awaited structure that the American church has needed desperately to release every day believers into the mission God has intended for them in their everyday life.

There is a growing tension as everyday believers wonder why what they read in the book of Acts is not occurring in their own church experience. “When do I get to get in the game? When does the Holy Spirit get to manifest himself in and through me?” Missional Community has the potential to awaken the sleeping giant of the church.

There is also a danger that missional community is what we will be remembered for rather than our love for Jesus. The danger in that kind of community is that we love our mission more than our savior. If you love your mission more than you love your savior, then your savior will have no part in your mission.

The church at Ephesus was a church that exercised discipline, held true doctrine, persevered for Jesus’ sake. Yet, this was the church of which Jesus said, “I have a serious problem with you. You have left your first love.” After having identified five good things they were doing, Jesus said, “You have lost your relationship with me. I am no longer the first thing in your life.” In other word, you love your mission more than your savior.

The consequence of that failure was the removal of the “lamp stand.” For us the question becomes: If Jesus took everything away from you, never had one shred of success in ministry again; never saw a dream come true, would Jesus alone be enough?

*Photos provided by the VERGE 2010 Media Team