Thursday, November 4, 2010

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.


  1. The part of your blog that caught my attention was, "The strongest form of Christian community is, community forged under fire". As a church planter under the 150 mark, I have sensed the Lord leading us beyond the close friendship and caring community mode to something bigger than ourselves. Something that reflects the largeness and risky - ness of the gospel. We are increasing and focusing our prayer times for the city and the lost and we seek to emphasis reaching lost and different people every chance we get as we journey through the scriptures together.

    I heard someone say the other day, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". I realize the answer is not in developing a great program but rather building a culture and conviction through the word of God, with faith and patience.
    Any words of wisdom, or helpful resources for us here in NC?

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