Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rummaging through Romans-Stats

Wouldn't you love to have an entry window into Paul's world? This 'apostle to the Gentiles' lived a life of raw honesty. Did he know he was writing letters that would one day be regarded as the holy text? The miles of desolated travel, fierce loneliness that opened hours of demonic bombardments at night and the weight of dramatic gospel advancements with poor theology and false teachings that ravaged the early church, loaded him daily. It makes my daily groans seem like whispers in a raging wind storm.

I know that there is so philosophizing and conjecture around apostles today. Yet much of what I hear seems more reflective of a sociological conversation around cultural leadership than this most noble humble office. The book of Romans has been my vacation musing. Oh Lord what a wondrous gift. Paul was a man of many words and certainly not easy words. Yet his pain for these new believers as well as for his Jewish brothers rampages through these pages.

Here are some interesting stats about this amazing letter, that was written to a church that faced the weighty challenges of urban church planting in the prevailing civilization of the day:
  • Written around AD 57 [ESV study]
  • 16 chapters,
  • mentions of the kingdom x 1,
  • of signs and wonders x 1
  • God's wrath x 10,
  • the gospel x 11,
  • justified x 11,
  • grace x 17,
  • righteousness x 41,
  • the law [in all its forms] x 75.
Isn't that just WOW? One must always be very wary of reading too much into stats. This is one of the letters that Paul wrote. To get a more complete Pauline theology one obviously needs to study all his writings. However it is widely regarded that this epistle is the yardstick for all theology. May I draw attention to these propositions:
  • The apostle's primary task is to see the gospel proclaimed toward salvation,
  • To let this gospel then establish believers in the faith,
  • To lay solid gospel centered Christological foundations,
  • Defending and guarding truth / doctrine,
  • All other parts of his mandate do fall behind these matters.
More musings to come...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It is that time of the year! We are looking forward to some very needed hopefully deserved, vacation time. I will do very little writing during this time.

Enjoy Christmas with family and friends.

Make rich memories.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2011-what does it look like?

I would love to hear from you all -

What do you believe 2011 holds for you?
What is the Father emphasizing into the new year?
What direction are you setting for your church?
How is the gospel affecting your business?
What are the "must read" books?
What is your big adventure in 2011?



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Is there another way? Apostolic Philanthropy.

I came to a faith story in 1976. It was the tail end of the Jesus People in South Africa. They were "heady and intoxicating times". My wonderfully kind heavenly Father, took me, a suburban kid and placed me in an inner city church, meeting in the industrial part of town. Our outreach was a flat bed truck painted with the brash "Turn or Burn" in psychedelic colors, was parked on street corners, at the beach and about anywhere we could. There the raw ravaging rock band would strike up and we would bash out passionate but poor renditions of Barry McQuire, Larry Norman and anyone else who could help us attract a crowd. The gospel would then be attested to with 3 minute fire before the band would launch out again. We lived in communes. We met in a bare warehouse. Many came to faith as we preached the gospel in night clubs, in the red light district and filtered our new converts through the detox that these communal homes provided.

There is a most noteworthy record of a meeting between five apostles in Galatians 2. Peter, James and John found themselves in the same city of Galatia working with the same believers as did Paul and Barnabas. It is a most intriguing gathering for a number of reasons — it speaks of apo collaboration [something we will explore later]. It speaks of two different sets of apostles working in the same context together without a sense of conflict or territorialism. But given our subject today, there is a strong exhortation from the Jerusalem based crew to Paul to "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do" .

How does one define apo philanthropy?

"Fix you thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess" the writer of the Hebrew text teaches. It may be said that pastoral philanthropy is focussed largely on the local community, the Jesus apostolic model is captivating. One cannot but be empowered by his story. Here are some convo points:
  • He modeled his love for the sinner, the poor, the disenfranchised by going to live among them. We cannot talk about this without exploring the incarnation — "the Word became flesh". The picket fence dream of the scripture includes a consideration of loving the shadowlands of society so much that we go and do life with them,
  • Whilst he fulfilled the Law and the Prophets by simply gathering 12 hebrew men as his disciples, he was a liberator of women. He drew them into his circle. He taught them. He forgave them. He valued them. From the woman at the well to the woman caught in the act of adultery, he chose the grace encounter rather than the consequence of the law, which was stoning. In fact, the first gospel message was preached by Mary as she was told to rush back and tell the disciples that he has risen. What a moment to destroy convention by establishing a new culture-that of the kingdom, and the restored value of the daughters of his Father.
  • Jesus breached the limitations of His culture and national boundaries. His now famous "good samaritan" story blew the narrow lines of a mono-cultural philanthropy to include the fragile of society beyond any of our prejudices and preferences. His love actions included all — irrespective of age, gender, culture, ethnicity.
  • This Jesus call includes a voice to the voiceless — like the modern sex slaves; food for the hungry — like the feeding of Haiti; clothing of the naked — like the sprawling squatters of the modern cities that are producing millions of pavement children, left to sniffing glue to find something to hide their pain; setting up medial clinics to heal through prayer and medicine — like many ministries are doing in some of the most improvised parts of the world; sending teachers and starting schools — like friends are doing to educate the dump children to empower them for a greater life opportunity...
The early church started this way.
  • As early as Acts 2 and 4, we see that "there were no needy among them". Whilst this is more pastoral than apostolic, it is the responsibility of the church to firstly look after her own.
  • Land was sold and the money was given for the apostles to distribute in Acts 4,
  • The first deacons were appointed to resolve the tension created between the Hebraic and Grecian widows in Acts 6.
  • Amidst all the wonder of signs wonders and salvation, of church planting and pioneering doors of opportunity, the Antioch church plant gets a prophetic word about a famine that is to strike the world soon. Their response was global and apostolic. They committed themselves to "each according to his ability, decided to help...". This was what all these early believers did. It was not left for the rich, nor only for those with the gift of [financial] faith. It was apo christianity 101. All were involved. They gave the money to Paul and Barnabas who in turn took it to their apo friends in Judea for distribution — love working with friends across the globe.
  • So many of the epistles record instruction and responsibility to engage the poor — be they widows, slaves, unemployed...
We cannot be ambassadors of the King, if we forget the poor. Whether we minister in the inner city with an urban plant, or in the suburbs with wealth and opulence, we are simply not exempt from the mandate. Church planting, healings, signs and wonders, teachings, life groups are simply not enough. The church as true followers of Jesus, will always find ourselves in the shadow lands of society, the "Word became flesh and dwelt amongst..."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is there another way? Apostolic Q & A.

Here are 2 requests for clarification on an earlier blog:

Alan Frow said...

very helpful,Chris! What would you say is the difference between prophetically essential and Spirit - led. Also the difference between culturally imperative and contextually vital?domthey not overlap?
All in all great thoughts though.

Matt W - Harvest said...

Agree with Alan on these thoughts Chris. Great concepts.

I am curious as to your thoughts on the "prophetically essential" as well. What forms do you envision this taking? How do you think the church can manage change on a consistent basis like that?

Is there another way? Apostolic Fathers

This question: "Is there another way?" covers way more than the matter of apostles. I would love to spend much time exploring these implications with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. For each there is a unique kingdom job description, set of roles and responsibilities as well as partnerships and friendships. I am simply having fun thinking aloud around the apostle story right now.

"Apostolic fathers" is one of those phrases that create pictures in all of our minds. For some it provides the drama of the early church, their fight for faith, martyrdom and the scriptures. For others, it raises the deep longing to get the fathering that has so long been desired-especially true for many church planters and leaders. For me, I was so honored, graced by having an apostolic father who walked me through my evolution as a church leader. I am absolutely certain Dudley saved me from the ruin of ambition, absence of wisdom and into the value of the bigger story.

When I speak of "apostolic fathers," I am speaking of apostles who are fathers both to individuals as well as churches. This is never a position/title nor is it an imposed role. There is a God connection that creates a long term journey together, not to create ongoing dependence but true fathering life. Here are some thoughts:
  • Genesis 1 and 2 draws us into the divine intention that fathers are to 'be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth". This apostolic heart was planted in us from the beginning-even before the fall,
  • "... A man shall leave his father and his mother..." true fathering prepares his sons to leave home, to engage in marriage, establish their own families, have their own kids. These apo fathers do not create ongoing dependence but empower the children to leave home - a moment of much celebration,
  • "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go from your country & your kindred & your father's house to the land that I will show you.'" This Genesis 12 text is such a pivotal piece of the Old Testament puzzle. It is a call to take the family out from the known story. However God goes on to tell Abraham that he will be the father of "many nations". God never intended the apo father to simply make one big growing catholic organization. Rather to seed "many nations" just as Terry Virgo and New Frontiers is doing,
  • "Timothy, my true son" the greatest legacy any apo father can leave is the sons and daughters of his ministry who are now walking with great fullness, confidence and fatherly endorsement into their future. As Jacob blessed each of his sons in the latter part of Genesis, so too apo fathers should invest into sons, raise them up "in the ways of the Lord", journey with them to ready them for when they leave home, bless them to go to live their dream but remain in the wings for those informal dad / son moments. I am so saddened that so many apos see their organizations as their legacies, therefore these must be kept / maintained at all costs, leaving many 'sons' feeling betrayed and used. It should not be.
  • " I became your father in Christ Jesus..." Whilst Paul said this to the Corinthian church, not every church had an apo father so intimately involved with their journey. The weakness of the modern church seems to be that 'many churches equals success'. I am not sure that is true. It would seem that the apos did journey closely with some churches but never to create long term dependence nor become territorial and possessive. As with fathering, it is close intimate involvement initially but progressively release them to other voices and influences.
  • "Apostolic oversight" is not a biblical phrase. I fear it has become more than it was ever intended to be. There can be no layer of leadership between the local elders and the Father. That leads to control of the worst kind. The elders then simply become management of an external requirement rather than God lovers who hear His voice personally and clearly and lead the community with the faith that "comes from hearing the word of God". I believe the biblical image is one of "our partnership in the gospel" - Phil 1. This is a picture of walking alongside rather than being over.
  • "To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae" Paul writes this from prison. Epaphras comes to faith in Ephesus. He heads back home and plants a church. Soon however he runs into difficulty with false teaching so appeals to Paul for help. Paul writes this beautiful epistles, loaded with truth and gospel life. However, Paul does not pretend to be this church's father - grandfather if anything. However he is of huge assistance in their journey through his "blog, twitter, facebook, book". In this very real world, every church may not have 'their own apo father', but they can learn from those whom God is raising up around the world to fulfill this most necessary role.
I hope this has helped. There is a better way. Better that coaches or mentors. Better than apo oversight and control. Better than impersonal distant organizations. Simply apostolic fathers who journey with you and your church, readying you to leave home, empowering you to live your story. I do like that very much.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is there another way? Emerging Apostles

This is a simple obvious conversation, yet one cannot believe the kind of confusion that the mismanagement of this matter has caused. Let it be stated that we believe that apostles are still needed and essential for today. They are not the chief gurus of the church. They are not the CEO's of the modern imperialistic corporate megachurch. They are not "over all" in a papal way. They are not more important than any of the other Ephesian 4 gifts. Yet they do have their place and are pivotal to a healthy church.

Lets pause to reflect on the wonder of the early church. Every honest reader will be astounded by the sheer surprise of the Spirit led church. They were not 5 step strategists. They planned, dreamt, set their course [as Paul did to get to Spain] yet they were always flexible enough to flow with the God surprises, interruptions. The divine intentionality was clear looking back. Yet I am sure than these early men and women were baffled at times at the way in which God let "His will be done".

The first generation apostles were clearly identified. Jesus called them, trained them, then entrusted the "discipling of nations" to them. It is the second and third generation apostles that now intrigue us. Bear in mind, that the early church did not:
  • Start organizations or denominations. They are not necessarily evil, they just often get in the way of the God life so clearly evident in the text,
  • Hand over leadership to another. There is no apostolic succession in the scripture. One can hand over administration or even positional leadership, but one cannot hand over this God appointed gifting,
  • To be an apostolic movement is to be led by an apostle,
  • The very fiber of this early church was missional - get this marvelous gospel of the kingdom to every ethnic group as soon as possible. It was a case of all hands on deck.
So how did the next generation of apostles emerge?
  • "Paul, an apostle-not from men nor by man..." Gal 1:1 This is so important. Michael Eaton says that 'apostles fall from the sky'. They are not appointed by men. They are clearly God-anointed and appointed. No one can be taught to be an apostle. One can learn to be apostolic but the grace gift is simply from heaven.
  • "On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles... my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles" Gal 2:7+8, This gift to be an apostle is then clearly recognizable. There is a track record of matters we have described to be evidence of apostleship. Therein is our safety - the fruit is clearly evident.
  • "Paul, Silas and Timothy... as apostles of Christ we..." 1 Thess 1:1; 2:6, This mandate is now including two of Paul's 'sons in the common faith'. So beyond the original 11 / 12, add in Paul and now a few more.
  • "[Paul] came to ...Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived... Paul wanted to take him along on the journey... As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders" Acts 16:1 - 5, Paul recognized this apo mantle on this young man. It was there in seed form but he now gets him to do this apo life with him. He travelled with Paul. He was sent on apo sojourns on behalf of Paul. He went to Ephesus to learn to lead a church and so forth.
  • "I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus ..." 1 Cor 4:15 - 21, Timothy is sent to Corinth as part of Paul's apo story. He is not simply an ambassador or a help. He is being trained to fine-tune his emerging apo gift. Initially he is simply taking Paul's gospel. However in the 2 Timothy epistles, he is now encouraged to preach this message as his own.
  • "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all your duties of your ministry..." 2 Tim 4:5 This is the last known communication between Paul and Timothy. For me, I see Paul setting a son free to become an apo father in his own right. These are his coming of age texts, that are worthy being studied through those lenses.
There are several emerging apostles in my world. They are strategically positioned to lead key churches around the world. They do not all know that this mantle rests on them but they soon will. Our task is to journey with them, taking them with us as they get prepared for this future role. Some are a little too arrogant right now as they are running very successful churches. Others do not yet believe it. Like Timothy, they are paralyzed by their frailties. But they are emerging apostles-and we need thousands of them.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is there another way? Apostolic Entrepreneurs

OK. We are on dangerous but fun grounds when we begin to explore ideas that are not clearly and overtly in scripture. I was on skype recently, when chatting with a dear friend about his future. Inadvertently, for many the only big adventure presented to them was "plant a church". Like the old traveling medicine man of days long gone, there was one cure for all ailments - for any person who had a big story in their heart, we directed them to plant a church. That was not conscious nor was it malicious. We were so impassioned to change the world for Jesus, we gave a very narrow adventure, even a career path — become a church planter.

Church planters were the heroes. They were the role models. They were the real believers. They really wanted to serve Jesus. Churches that planted churches were the real deal. So the message was clear and obedience was pre-scripted. The validation for many was not the marketplace, but the church. It was never intentional but the career path for all was 'become and deacon, then an elder, then a church planter...' That wrong needs be corrected.

I am passionate about planting. It leaks out of my very pores. We are merely scratching the surface of what we are to do. More churches to be planted. More churches to be replanted. So I do not want to water down this clarion call. However, it does require that we clearly and overtly validate, train and facilitate others who have a similar heart but have a very different mandate in how they are to express this call — the apostolic entrepreneur .

As this is a newer vocabulary, it is not a new idea. May I add, I am not an expert on this subject but am wanting to stimulate this conversation? What is an 'apostolic entrepreneur'?
  • To be 'apostolic' should include some of the following ingredients:
  • To have a desire and grasp of God's bigger story,
  • To understand the redemption nature of all that we do,
  • To see the gospel as central to our journey,
  • To be a guardian of doctrine and a proclaimer of truth,
  • To view all ventures through the lenses of 'discipling all nations'
  • To use the scripture as the matrix for all decisions,
  • To be a masterbuilder both in architecture as well as in building,
  • To be in partnership with other Eph 4 minded folks,
  • To be fully kingdom minded,
  • To have an ability to identify and develop leaders,
  • To seed many other apo ventures,
  • To set in order that which is lacking,
  • To be the scum of the earth,
  • To continuously be catalytic of new God adventures and stories.
To be entrepreneurial with this in mind may well include the following:
  • The entrepreneur is a risk taker. They are not overly preoccupied by systems or forms. They are more captivated by converting big ideas into strategic projects,
  • They operate best in space and are dreamers of new angles and ways,
  • They are comfortable with risk and dislike empty repetition,
  • They want to make much profit but the administration of the profit begins to set them apart from others,
  • They delight to see this profit as vehicles of kingdom expansion,
  • They are not imperialistic, so do not ask them to sell your brand,
  • They are driven by money as world changers but are finding it more and more difficult to simply pour it into the church. They want to invest in other world changing forums,
  • They are wanting to play a role in empowering those involved in social justice, strategic philanthropic projects, uplifting the poor, disabled, uneducated, abused,
  • They see the world as their stage but want one successful project at a time,
  • They want to empower others to start businesses to multiply the journey, not just create ongoing dependence,
  • They may need to be coached on how their business plan can be shaped by the gospel, the kingdom and biblical financial adventures,
They need to be validated, even if most of what they do is not to the church nor for the church — but is for the kingdom.

I trust this creates a conversation that may help some understand their apostolic heart matched with a marketplace passion. We can help each other forward with some pretty cool big stories.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is there another way? Apostolic Scaffolding

I love the early mornings. Many years ago, the Father spoke to me about opening the gate for our marketplace folks as they enter that exciting world daily. [I was studying John 10 at the time. Jesus as our good shepherd] My response was 'Father will you wake me up? This is not naturally me'. I did not want to fight the alarm every morning. So for a couple of decades now, I have loved waking up before the sun comes up, over coffee review the day, gather around the sacred text, see which folks and which churches the Father would have me pray for. I have loved knowing that by the time others drag themselves from their beds, they have been prayed for and their day covered in partnership.

The apostolic conversation is such a pivotal one for the evolving church in the twenty-first century. Bringing all the ingredients of 'apostles, apostolic, apostolicity' to the table is essential to ensure healthy churches that will not be one generational wonders.

The apostle is a master builder [1 Cor 3]. He is not a theoretician or an idealist. There is clear evidence of the fruit of his apostolicity seen in the leaders he has raised up, the churches he has worked with, the doctrine he has declared and the contexts he has pioneered.

The notion of 'master builder' is one of both architect [designing each situation uniquely as it requires yet upholding the universal building code of the text] whilst also being the engineer / builder [fully functional, practical and helpful, never building a one size fits all, with the fruit of his labor being seen in churches still powering many years later].

In order to build, scaffolding is needed. I remember being mesmerized by the building of these huge tower-like structures in Hong Kong when I saw them for the first time. The amazement was not the height of the structures but the scaffolding made of bamboo. They towered into the misty skies, flexible yet firm enough to empower the builder to take this building into the unknown. Then as the building neared completion, these scaffolding structures were dismantled. They were not incorporated into the building no matter how effective they were in helping the building go up.

Here are some scaffolding convo pointers:
  • What is clearly and truly biblical that we have to include in every church — that is every church worldwide needs to have these ingredients in place as the texts demands — whether it is a village church under a tree in Africa to an urban plant in New York to a secret house church in China? We must always go back to the text.
  • What is prophetically essential for now but will need to be removed when the season changes? What has the Father said that requires our immediate obedience yet only involves today's responses. Tomorrow they will be different.
  • What is culturally imperative as a key to the heart of that community? Paul's genius in Athens is still worthy of our scrutiny. However we cannot become slaves to this piece of the puzzle as it is scaffolding and the culture convo does change as culture evolves.
  • What is contextually vital for the church to be planted or replanted in a given locale? The story needs to be known, the historical trends understood, the people's lenses translated. Yet our response to these realities require scaffolding solutions and not building blocks that will stand till he returns.
  • What is Spirit led ? The Spirit is like wind that 'blows where it wills, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit of God'. It seems like every move of God starts with that life but never resides there. What starts out as spontaneous, flexible, changeable so often ends up as fixed, rigid, repetitive.
  • What is gospel centered? The gospel does not and will not change. There is one meta-narrative, one Jesus story that will be the cornerstone and foundation. To change that is to imply it is scaffolding — tragedy. Yet there is glorious freedom to robe that gospel with the coat of many colors-full of creativity, fun, joy.
  • What is yesterday's success may become tomorrow's curse. As with a child growing up, so one cannot ongoingly rely on the First Grade applause or the Third Grade victory. Each year requires its own transitions and achievements.
  • What are some of the keywords that will determine ongoing apostolic impact? Let me list a few: humility, teachability, organic, flexibility, togetherness, partnership, demolition, evolution, courage, love... or in simple Trinitarian language - Unity in Diversity.
Hope this helps the conversation in your community to ensure apostolic effectiveness is not lost with dead repetition without organic God life.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is there another way? Simple Apostolicity

I had a delightful lunch with 3 very special friends yesterday. As always, we set about solving the world's challenges, and as always we engaged passionately in the wonder of His bride and how we can do this journey better.

My story through the Jesus People Movement, the Charismatic Renewal and the Restoration of apostles today, has taught me many lessons. I have been part of a movement that imploded. I have loved and served in one that institutionalized. And what is most challenging is that church history reports that these are the only 2 long term scenarios that every movement ultimately ends in. But can that be true? Did the Father not place in His cosmic design an alternative conclusion for His divine interruptions? Is that what Jesus died for? Was the cross simply a key that produces a journey of unmet dreams as movements implode or access to a form of faith that simply keeps repeating yesterday, tomorrow? Has the Holy Spirit come, the wind, fire, water and dove Holy Spirit, to a predetermined non existent conclusion of stifling religion?

Please let the dreamer speak...

I am persuaded we can repeat the 63 years of recorded New Testament text where neither of these 2 scripted outcomes occurred. There is another way, but it will need to be sculpted by the sacred text continually, never believing our current grasp on these matters are the final version of truth. Is that not raw arrogance? Some thoughts that may help:

  • Abraham was the father of MANY nations. The notion of starting something that must just keep getting bigger than be fashioned by a theology of multiplication, is foolhardy,
  • Without faith it is impossible to please God. Fear because of past experiences cannot be the driving agency. The wonder of the text and faith in the God factor must keep us free from the disappointments of the past.
  • He gave some to be apostles... prophets... evangelists... pastors... teachers... These ascension gifts simply cannot be reduced to every believer is one, nor can we prefer coaches, mentors and generic middle management teams. History will repeat itself.
  • Sons become fathers. As with the family, so with the church — let the sons become fathers and start their own families.
  • No longer call you servants, I now call you friends. There needs to be a strong personal, real, honest, transparent relational glue. Being held together by a system, or code just is not in the text.
  • I went up to Jerusalem. Paul going to Jerusalem to volunteer theological accountability is a forgotten humility. The absence of a strong theological base will be the ultimate demise of every movement. It is not our ecclesiology, nor our mission that will hold our foundation — just Christ Paul said — but that we have a substantial, processed theological / credal set of convictions.
  • My ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. This text is both missional as well as anthropological. Every movement has to ensure that she is clear about her divinely designed mission [the what] as well as whom the Father wishes for them to reach.
  • Garments... wineskins. Movements begin to die way before they know it. Part of the reason lies in the fact that they simply repeat a successful model year in and year out. What is the wind of the Spirit saying now? Forget the former things... behold I am doing a new thing.
  • Your name is no longer Jacob but Israel. It is a fascinating thing to see how powerful a name is. I suspect, as with our daughters leaving home and changing names, we may need to be much more open to name changes. They often reflect yesterday's call, mandate and architecture.
  • One will put a 1000 to flight, 2... There is still a power of togetherness. Two can simply achieve more. Fragmentation and isolation are the curse of the fall not the reflection of the Trinity. In fact, it was said in the book of Judges - everyone did as they saw fit.
  • First of all apostles then prophets...NOT over all but in front of. With a hierachical mindset, the text is so often mistaken to depict CEO styled structure. This will guarantee an institution.
  • Timothy my son... The future will surely be more than one generational wonders. Rather fathers who are comfortable to step back and let sons run their own race, forge their own journey.
  • You [local church] are the seal of my apostleship... Forget size, notoriety, age, apparent success. True apo future will be seen by the individual churches they journey with — personally, intimately and effectively without creating ongoing dependency or a single system.
  • Prophets came down from Jerusalem... Healthy apo ministry will partner with prophets. The prophets will keep exploding the dead wells while the apostles will keep the architecture true to scripture.
Hope these help. Do you have your own conclusions based on your journey? Keep open to His kindness. He aint done with us yet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Early Preaching Whitefield - Evangelist

I hope you enjoyed the little extract about Whitefield's conversion. I loved the sense of thirst and what that translated for him. I do get a little nervous by the modern charismatic definition of spiritual thirst. It seems so subjective, disconnected from scripture, connected rather simply to manifestations. His thirst was directly linked to the wonder of the gospel and the biblical consequence it brings.

Today's quote comes from that section which speaks of Whitefield as an early preacher. Remember, he was a highly intelligent man who gave himself to study, reading the scriptures in Greek...

"I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees; laying aside all other books, and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat indeed and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light and power from above. I got more true knowledge from reading the book of God in one month, than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men.

[In spite of his age and counter the rules of the day which said that one could not be ordained before the age of 22, he was ordained at the age of 21 on June 20, 1736]

In preaching that men, of all ages and conditions must be 'born again' or never 'see the kingdom of heaven' though there were some in the land who believed it, he found himself practically alone, going forth as a herald of a doctrine which the public agreed to consider as new; but which he felt, God had made known to him that he might proclaim it to others, and thus revive the power of Christianity in the land. And as God had raised him up and enlightened his mind for the work, he doubted not that God would be with him in the performance, and make his strength equal to his day. He went, therefore, fearlessly as well as earnestly and affectionately, about his work.

Moved in his inmost soul by the sight of his fellow-men, ready to perish and yet ignorant of their danger, he could not fetter himself with the rules by which ordinary men were taught to construct dull sermons; he must pour forth the desires of his heart and the convictions of his mind. And he did pour them forth, in a style natural and clear, animated and pathetic [sic], which sometimes the intensity of pathos rendered truly sublime. He poured them forth in a voice of wonderful flexibility, compass and power and accompanied with the most graceful, impressive and appropriate action.

In look, attitude, gesture, intonation - in all that constitutes the manner of an orator, the world probably never saw his superior, perhaps, never his equal... but it was his ardent love for souls that were perishing, his sense of the unutterable importance of the truth, which God had raised him up to proclaim to a world that had forgotten it, and his firm assurance that God was with him to give that truth success, that was the fountain of his power. When he proclaimed that truth and besought men to hear it and think of it, that their souls might live, they could not refuse. They were interested; they were affected, they were alarmed. They were persuaded, that they must 'strive to enter in at the strait gate'; that if they continued to neglect salvation, they should not escape final ruin..."

I have loved reading of an evangelist in full flight. In a day of generalists, coaches, mentors, and generic teams, I do wonder if we are losing the wonder of the evangelist. Their raw gutsy power, their rich theology shaping a gospel appeal, and the role they play in opening nations is so pivotal and yet seconded to the fringes of the Jesus journey as we seek to be contextual, current relevant. I would love to enter into convos with those evangelists whom the Father is raising up for this next decade...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Early Whitefield

I stumbled on this book called The Great Awakening by Joseph Tracey. It was first published in 1842. What has been intriguing has been reading the passionate Whitefield as he fought his way to salvation. These obsessed men and women are the world changers. There are truly so many ways that men and women seek to castrate a Jesus lover to conform to their image and comfort. To step outside their boundaries, requires their immediate and instant denunciation. Another's passion simply exposes their mediocrity.

Here are some quotes:

George Whitefield was born at Gloucester, England on the 16th day of December in 1714. His father, Thomas Whitefield had been a wine merchant, but was now an inn keeper, died two years after his birth. ... [George] distinguished himself among the boys at the public school by his progress in Latin and by his speeches and dramatic performances... his mother kept the inn; as the decrease of business enforced more economical arrangements, George was obliged to leave his Latin... and assist in the drudgery of the house. He put on his blue apron-"washed mops, cleaned rooms, and in a word, became a professed and common drawer for nigh a year and an half".

[Whilst at Oxford] he spent much of his time in reading the Greek Testament and in prayer. He gained more clear, rational and affecting views of his own sinfulness and saw how hopeless was the effort to remove the sense of guilt by a series of observances. He remained in this condition till as he informs us: "One day, perceiving an uncommon drought and the noisome clamminess in my mouth, and using things to allay my thirst, but in vain, it was suggested to me that when Jesus Christ cried 'I thirst' his sufferings were near over. Upon this, I threw myself upon the bed and cried out. 'I thirst, I thirst'. Soon after, I perceived my load to go off; a spirit of mourning was taken from me and I knew what was truly to rejoice in the Lord. At first after this, I could not avoid singing psalms, wherever I was; but my joy gradually more settled and blessed be God, has abode and increased in my soul, saving a few casual intermissions, ever since."

Some years afterwards, in reply to objections, he said: "My crying, "I thirst, I thirst' was not to put myself upon the level with Jesus Christ. But when I said these words, "I thirst, " thirst', my soul was in agony; I thirsted for God's salvation and a sense of divine love. I thirsted for a clear discovery of my pardon through Jesus Christ and the seal of the Spirit. I was at the same time enabled to look up to and act upon faith in the glorious Lord Jesus as dying for sinners and felt the blessed effects of it".

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Key Factors in the Theory of Change:[1]

Pastors are rarely good agents of change. They tend to be lovers for whom the people’s comfort and wellbeing is the highest goal, or they are teachers for whom the text and its accurate management is the greatest goal. Sometimes the church is led by a prophet for whom the “Word of the Lord and immediate obedience” is the numero uno priority. This can then be very muddied with much blood and pain.

Yet change is here to stay. Commerce and industry are pioneers in the study of change. If a company does not adapt, it will die. Pure economics drives this reality, whereas the church often can rely on other ingredients like tradition, need, sentimentality that provides somewhat artificial buoys to keep the church afloat in the short term. May I suggest that we become students of change, reading all we can from all quarters of human study so that we can be more effective in this conversation? I have led 2 churches through dramatic changes. I have sought to influence a number of church planting movements to embrace change. A more profound knowledge of this dynamic would have helped me enormously during these changes. I thought theology would have been enough. It was not. Here is a simple adaptation of an introductory table for the change conversation:

Dimensions of Change:

Theory Combinations:

Scriptural Pointers:


In general to create a culture of change, specifically to replant the community.[2]

Is 40:10-11, 42:6-9+14-16, 43:1-3+18-19, 45:1-7, 46:9-11, 48:2-5+17-19, 54:1-8, 60:21- 61:3. 2Cor3:16-18.

Hos 2:23 “I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’”


‘Set direction from the top, engage the people from below’

Acts 15 is a great case study of ‘the church, the apostles and the elders…”


‘Focus simultaneously on the hard [structures and systems] and the soft [culture]’

Luke 5: 36 – 39 – this conversation about garments [culture] and wineskins [structures] has to be visited theologically and anthropologically and not sentimentally.


‘Plan for spontaneity’

Is 46:10 – 11 “I make known the end from the beginning…my purpose will stand… what I have planned, that will I do”

Jn3:7 + 34 “The wind blows wherever it pleases… so it is with everyone born of the Spirit”

Reward System

‘Use incentives to reinforce change but not drive it’

Heb 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus… who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”

Isa 49:4b “Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God”

Use of Consultants

‘Consultants are expert resources who empower employees’[3]

Eph 4:11 – 16 “It was he who gave some to be apostles… prophets… to prepare God’s people for works of service…until we all reach the unity of the faith… become mature… each part does their work”


Through collaboration and partnership, by getting the right strategic people into the room define the future and the next step very clearly. Communicating it at every opportunity. Open and honest communication

Hab 2:2 – 3 “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that the herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay.

[1] Adapted from Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria, “Cracking the Code of Change”. Their model is for corporate business. I have adapted it to the notion of change in the church.

[2] These are my words to place clarity on the discussion for churches.

[3] All these quotes are from their table

Stott: 4 cornerstones to All Souls Church London

While I was with Deryck Barson in New York this week, he showed me this quote that is worth getting to you - too long to tweet - but a good conversation piece:

At All Souls Church in London in the 1950s, John Stott pioneered a kind of church that united
  • vigorous gospel evangelism,
  • concern for the needs of the neighborhood and the city,
  • discipleship of people for the integration of their faith and their secular vocations, and
  • a high regard for expository preaching and theology.
Most churches, however, tend to major in just one or at most two of these—either evangelism/church growth or social justice issues or arts and culture or sound doctrine and exposition, and so on. All Souls and other traditional center-city churches (such as Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia) found ways in the last generation to balance these ministries and keep them interdependent and interrelated.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reflections from New York

I love New York. There is something compelling about this extraordinary piece of land that juts out into the ocean. The mixture of romance and tragedy, of affluence and homelessness, filters down every street and alley way that crisscrosses the city. This time of the year warms the dweller's heart as the leaves drift from their branches where they perched for the summer, while below, the bustles of Christmas lights, color, sounds and smells begin to bristle the sidewalks.

They love their city. That is part of the mystery. Like the wonder of the feminine form, this brazen city has many lovers. Her dwellers speak of her with affection and intimacy. What was once an arrogance, seems now to be replaced by a quiet confidence - "this city shapes the world... and we are part of her". And new suitors are flooding to her beauty and mystery.

I loved meeting new friends. Aaron Coe is a young passionate Southern Baptist pastor who has been drawn to the NYC story. Meeting him in a very cool hip cafe, I listened with delight as he told his story of the evolving affection of New York drew him from the safety of the south to the intrigue of the north. Having planted his church, that he has now handed over, to starting SendNYC- a catalytic call to plant 100 churches in the next 10 years. There is no arrogance. A simple confidence in his God who loves this city, permeates and leaks out of his growing passion. He is a very good man, with an eager heart and hungry soul.

It was my honor to lunch with JR Vassar. Formerly a teaching pastor in Dallas, he too left the privilege of a career laid out for him, to journey into unchartered waters. Supported by 12 partner churches he set off to the Big Apple. His confident humility settled him at the doors of Redeemer Church where he engaged in the conversation of postmodern urban church planting. Our Texas BBQ lunch had us engaged in the story from Southern styled ministry to the evolution required to serve Manhattan. His "Apostle Church" is gaining traction and it is easy to understand. He is a leader who is humble in his questioning, yet confident in his calling - a leader with a hill to die on and an army that will follow him. This is a very good man.

Just before we flew out M and I met with Mark Reynolds. As one of the architects of the Redeemer planting movement, this is a man loaded with knowledge, discernment and strategic thinking. In honest humility, Mark is a wealth of resources, yet chooses to engage you in your story first. A strong and very capable man, yet one who has chosen to invest his life in the shadowlands of training and coaching rather than being a platformed player in his own right. I am looking for many a future conversation learning from this gift to the body. We really did like him and appreciated our time together.

Lastly, we spent much time with our dear friends Deryck and Cathy Barson and their community. From the amazing Sonia who moved out of her apartment so that we could have a little space, to meeting some brand new, hot off the press Jesus lovers, we love this very brave community, Landing on these shores 12 years ago with little besides a love for Jesus, a word from the Father and a dream, they have given their all. Initially planting "the model", they expected God to fill their church, many tears and prayers later, the kindness of the Father broke in on them "You don't plant a church, you plant a message - the Gospel, and watch God plant the church". This is a very courageous community. When others may have been tempted to give up, they have persevered. They are emerging from the ashes of their journey with gems of believers and jewels of truth. Their story will be told, their discovery will empower many. I am so proud of them and love them deeply.

Next year, we will stand amazed again as we will find ourselves in that city of mystery. God is there. His mercies are new every morning. They are there, palatable, real and growing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reflections from Toronto

There is something exquisite about the early morning when the mists robe the tree laden skyline hauntingly. For those of us who live outside of the snow zones, we do miss out on some of the wonder of these mornings.

I have been coming up to Canada for about 12 years now. The Canadians are very intriguing people. Applauding the cultural diversity from which they come, the Canadians seem to have enormous grace to still honor the ethnicity of the new immigrants. Whilst there is an authentic pride in being Canadian, it does not come with an arrogance but a quiet gentle humility. They will give you respect and the benefit of the doubt, but to cross or dishonor them, is to incur their distance. It may not be combative. It will probably just be quiet disengagement. They are a very noble people, strong, courageous and tenacious — a people of God's choosing.

Then I went to a hockey game. It was like being at a cultural worship service. The music was inspiring, the big screens showed the words. The announcer provided the continuity as the gladiators pounded each other in regal combat. I loved it. The adrenals powered as I got into shouting my ignorant passion across the ice, assuming someone would find my perspective essential to the evening's proceedings. I satisfied myself with such ignorant wisdom taking the silence of my Canadian friends as obvious endorsement of my strategic perspectives. I actually think a few Afrikaner words splashed with some key rugby ideas resounded as I suggested "Slaan hom" as a fight broke out. A very good worship service.

These are not easy times for the church in Canada. It seems like there is a divine realignment as men and women are finding new collaborations in the kingdom. New roles and responsibilities are being placed upon these tender shoulders. The heavenly chiropractor is realigning stooped shoulders and lifting lowered eyes. There are good conversations being had on how to grow beyond the ceilings that have held the churches captive for some time. For some the old ways are being held on to with tenacious glee. For others, there are new ways being sought with hungry anticipation. I am glad I came. There is much partnership a father needs to bring into this next chapter over the next while.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beyond 150 - Apostolic Partnership

Our conversation wrestles with the community that finds herself stuck around the 150 mark. Universally known to be one of the most difficult sociological groupings to break free from and enter the next level of growth, development and impact, it is a most worthy study indeed.

In our last blog, we started exploring the role that apostles play in this transition. We cannot complete a full study of the role of the apostle throughout the biblical text, not throughout church history as space does not allow for this, nor is it the subject under discussion. That will have to wait for another time. However I do believe that God has given the church gifts that empower every church on their journey, during every chapter, through calamity and disaster, as well as through times of success and growth.

So, how can apostles help churches through the 150 mark? Here are some suggestions:

1. "He gave some to be apostles..." Eph 4:11. Churches need more than fathers, coaches, mentors, teams. It is the God authored role, that is God appointed, anointed, prepared. I am amazed how easily we neglect this as if it is an optional extra. The apostles lays foundations [Eph 2:20]. These foundations are needed when:
  • When the community is being formed,
  • When the community has gone through devastation and foundations need to be relaid,
  • Before there is growth, enlargement,
  • Before there in increased profile or impact.

2. "If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord" 1 Cor 9:2 It seems like each church in the New Testament walked personally and with reality with 2 or 3 apostles. This was not sole ownership or territorialism. Yet the relationships were real and the involvement ongoing. When Paul wrote his letters one, can hear the detail with which he knew each community, with his instruction clear and essential. The churches he worked with were the evidence of his apostleship. Churches did not work with generic teams nor nebulous committees.

3. "Saul...[stayed in Antioch] a whole year they met with the church... they stayed there a long time... Paul stayed there for a year and a half, teaching..." Paul's approach was not like Peter's. His modus operandi was to be available with a full life's investment, to a few churches at a time. He invested himself in their journey to empower them forward. He went to them. He stayed with them. He taught them. [look at Acts 20:17 - 38]

4. "They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them..." Acts 14 21 - 22 There is certainly a space in the apo journey for quick return visits to churches. The notion that the only way is long protracted visits to churches is not an accurate picture of the New Testament experience. Short visits of love, prayers, encouragements and fresh apo instruction are just as valid.

5. "When we pray for you..." Col 1:3. Of all the texts I can choose to indicate the prayer side of the apo partnership, I have intentionally taken this Colossians one. This church was not planted by Paul, nor did he ever visit it, to the best of our knowledge. It seems like one of his disciples [Epaphras] went home, planted a church and called out to Paul. Paul was by now in prison. He could not get to this community, yet he was invited in to be an apo voice into the church as she wrestles with the matter of false teaching. So his apostolicity is reflected in his prayer and in his writings. This in no way indicates less of an apo role. Between emails, skyping, texting, blogs, podcasts, telephones and cell phones, the partnerships can be real, with the benefit of all the modern technologies.

I know for some of our readers this may seem very intriguing. If your background has been denominational or independence, this may seem very different for you. We have sought to find our way around these truths for almost 30 years now. We have done it well. We have done it poorly. Yet, in all of this, I am persuaded that God way is still the best.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Beyond 150 - Apostles

It is not often one has the privilege to wake up to the sound of rain pounding down on our LA roof. The early Monday morning, after a very powerful Sunday set of gatherings, brings a deep and pleasant smile to my face.

I have been leading churches for 27 years. For around the same amount of time, I have been involved with church planting, church replanting, church closures, church mistakes, church growth, church discipline. The list goes on. This is an intoxicating journey to see what the Father loves, what the Son does, what the Spirit empowers. The full weight of heaven is behind the scriptures, as "The Lord said to me, 'You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.'" Jer 1:12. We do not have the prerogative nor the privilege to determine which part of the text we choose to apply and which part we choose to neglect. Nor can any of us have the audacity to suggest we have "the model or the pattern". There is a vast amount of humility required to journey within the understanding that our revelation is progressive but our obedience needs to be immediate. As the Spirit reveals truth to us, we have the obligation to a full and complete response.

This series is about moving churches through the challenge of the 150 mark. There is no fixed formula nor a one size fits all. However there are some clear biblical road signs that can be very helpful indeed. One of the major "Forgotten Ways" [to quote my friend Alan Hirsch] is the partnership between apostles and the local churches. All to easily, we have used non-biblical alternatives to explore this deeply desired role. We have used words and concepts like coaches, mentors, teams, team leaders, superintendents, regional coordinators, mother churches when the scripture is very clear on who the key players are and what their roles are to be. I am certainly not wanting to be pedantic here. I simply want to take us back to the text to have the right conversation, ask the right questions, take the right actions.

"I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now..." Phil 1:3 - 5.

Our hierarchical minds mixed with some poor experiences, invariably leave us very wary and wounded by a possible opportunity for control, dictatorship, excesses — and rightfully so. However we are not to throw out the baby with the bath water. God has no plan B. From the sublime moments when Jesus chose 12 men and designated them apostles, to his last few moments on the planet when he handed his apo authority on to these men, to the picture painted by the Book of Acts, his intention was clear — he gave his gifts to men, to "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God... grow up in every way... held together by every joint..." Eph 4:11 - 16.

In my next blog we will look at how this partnership can catapult the church through the ceilings that surround them. We will also look at the other parts of the Eph 4 giftings to empower planters to push through these limitations. In nearly three decades I have seen the Father seek to reintroduce these gifts to the church. As they have been abused and misused, the Father has seemingly withdrawn them, to reintroduce them to the next generation to see if they can be a wondrous partnership one more time. Can we do it right this time around?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dr D.M. Loyd-Jones on Revival

So I am at home doing some preparation for my coming trip to Toronto, when I came across this chapter by the Doctor, on Revival and it got me yelling. Those of us who are on a more reformed / charismatic journey can sometimes be a little sluggish when it comes to expecting God to come with Revival power. Well listen to what the good doctor has to say:

"... there are two main groups. There is a group that always talk about revival and only about revival. They are only interested in the exceptional and the unusual and they tend to 'despise the day of small beginnings', the regular work of the church and the regular work of the Spirit in the church. The other group so emphasize the ordinary, regular work of the church and of the Spirit in the church, that they distrust the whole notion of the unusual and the exceptional. The answer is of course that both are wrong. Let me quote from Buchanan on The Office and work of the Holy Spirit. [written in 1856]...

'The Holy Spirit is not limited to any one mode of operation in the execution of His glorious work; and His sovereignty ought ever to be remembered when we consider a subject of this nature... the former have given a too exclusive preference to what is extraordinary and striking; while the latter have fallen into the opposite error, of preferring what is more usual and quiet. We think it were better to admit to both methods of conversion and to leave the choice to the sovereign wisdom and grace of the Spirit...'

' We have been so much accustomed to look to the more slow, and quiet, and gradual method of maintaining and extending the kingdom of Christ, that we apt to be startled, and even to listen with some degree of incredulous surprise, when we hear of any sudden and general work of the Holy Spirit.'

God does it at the most unexpected times. You never know when He is going to do it; there is always a suddenness and unexpectedness about it... nothing so shows the irresistible character of grace as revival...

The conclusion of the matter is this: that we are called at this moment above everything else to pray for revival. God forbid that we should become a body of people who just denounce activism and do nothing! That has been said about some of us. God forbid it should be true!

What then are we called upon to do? We are called upon to go on with our regular work of preaching the gospel in all its fulness, in all its wholeness... Let us do everything we can by every biblical and legitimate means to propagate and to defend the faith. Let us use our apologetics in their right sphere. Let us do all that, and let us go on with the work of reformation in which we are engaged; but let us at the same time maintain the balance of which we were reminded by Buchanan. Let us pray for revival, because nothing else will avail us in the fight in which we are engaged. Thank God our efforts are producing results, and far be it from any of us to despise them or underestimate them; but it is not enough. The age in which we are living and the condition of the church not to mention the world, call for a mighty conviction of the sovereignty of God, the absolute necessity of the work of the Spirit, and these various other points I have been trying to emphasize. And that means that nothing less than revival is needed."

Quoted from Dr D.M. Loyd-Jones: The Puritans. The Banner of Truth Trust. qoutes from pg 15 - 20

Beyond 150 - Boot Camp

The movie "The Officer and a Gentleman" is possibly the best one to describe a major portion of how we do church. Obviously it is more than this, but it does reflect the a key conversational component in forging beyond our ceilings. The raw recruit arrives at the training academy with a story. It is not a pretty one. It is loaded with baggage that produces a serious attitude. There, awaiting the young gun, is a tough old narly drill sergeant. His uncompromising demeanor soon lets you know, this is not a sunday school picnic. This is preparing men for war. This is not frills and flowers but tough, raw, gutsy tenacity. Boot camp has begun.

One of the challenges of the church at 150, is it's highly [maybe even overly] developed sense of community. This, often formed more by sentiment than scripture, can be the enemy of the church. It can forget it is a people at war. A little conflict or challenge may well be the Father's way to take us from community to communitas. Alan Hirsch speaks of that in his writings, suggesting that this is the strongest form of Christian life — 'community forged under fire". In the same way that we watched the HBO series 'Band of Brothers," we were captivated that such a deep brotherhood was formed under the pressure of war. So too God uses the very nature of hardship to empower us for the spiritual combat which is at hand. "These were the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan [he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had no battle experience]" Judges 3:1 - 2.

The planting core have fought their battles of survival. They have landed on new terrain and have had to engage the enemy who does not want them to succeed. They have prevailed. Unlike many other plants, they have survived the trauma of the early days. Now others have joined them. However the new additions may not be as engaged in the nature of combat as much as they are enjoying the fruit and spoils of war. The urgency to go forward it is thwarted by the delight of 'communitas'. So what will change that?

Boot camp will! I do love 1 + 2 Timothy. I think they have been poorly called 'The Pastoral Epistles'. It seems like Paul has sent Timothy to Ephesus to provide leadership for a church that is beyond the planting stage. His instruction for this young leader on possibly his first leadership assignment, is weighty and clear. I suspect this is the text written as a "Boot Camp Training Manual". It is loaded with strong clear unswerving language that readies Timothy for the role of the officer as well as empowering him to lead his troops.

Blogs, I am reminded, are not lengthy mini-books nor are they manuals for instruction. I will therefore limit my thoughts to tickle your appetite for further reading, study and application.

Our Boot Camps can include the ingredients of training that Paul puts into young Timothy:
By chapters of 1 Timothy:
1. - Calling; the officer must be certain of His call to lead in times of war,
2. - Devotion; the officer must have a personal devotion that will keep him strong,
3. - Character; the officer cannot be appointed unless he is of the highest God character,
4. - Doctrine; the officer will save himself & others with sound doctrine,
5. - Connections; the officer has a history of good relationships especially with the fragile,
6. - Apo Charge; the officer is given final commands — get all ready for war.

We can certainly explore these two epistles in further detail later. However I am not sure we can take our churches beyond the ceilings we are in without running our regular and intentional Boot Camps.