Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Genesis Collective - The Theology 1

Artists taught me. My Christian experience drew me out of the comfort and relative safety of suburbia into the deep realty of the inner city. God in his kindness, never let me choose the ease of the outer city. Rather, my early Christian experience was living communally and ministering on the streets of Durban, South Africa. When M and I planted Glenridge back in the 80's, the church was young [M was 21 and at university. I was 24] For reasons of divine genius, we somehow attracted many students and artists and they changed my life.

They opened my eyes to the divine introduction of Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created..." Of everything that God could have said of himself, he chooses to introduce himself not as the All-mighty, nor as the Sovereign One but as the Artist - the ever creating one. Starting our spiritual story here will make all the difference. As Francis Schaeffer [philosopher and theologian] said: "We are living in the 8th day of creation" meaning God is still creating today. This revelation keeps our spiritual journey full of color, creativity, spontaneity and uniqueness, anticipating the new morning, new dawning, new creation as a common part of our lives.

The theology behind the " Genesis Collective" is rather simple:

"Genesis" is chosen because it speaks of:

* new birth, new beginnings, new life,
* it defines God original intent,
* it introduces the wondrous mystery of the "three in one" God we serve,
* it clarifies the nature of God, man, Satan and the fall,
* it introduces us to the great redemptive narrative.

Added to these wonderful components, Genesis frames the way we are to do life, ministry and shape an apostolic future:

* God blessed them - the wonder of grace and favor, empowers us to live lives of impact and sacrifice, by faith with the Holy Spirit's power,
* Increase - as with a family, the natural outworking of marriage is the expectation that God will add growth, have children. Furthermore, it gives us a peep into the reality that where there is true God life, there is growth, because He adds it,
* Multiply - this theology of multiplication holds the key for movements not to stagnate or simply seek to grow one essence larger. Rather, as families move from increase [having children] to children leaving home, getting married and starting new families, so health in churches is to plant others, whilst health in movements is not to get one fat large one, rather start and empower emerging apostles to fire up their own movements and not forever be "sons in the house",
* Fill the earth - the garden was never the destination. It was the point of departure. Walking with God, conversing around Project Planet Earth was the foundation which the fall interrupted. This seeded the apostolic thirst that resides in us from the moment we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. We somehow know there is a bigger story out there for us to give our lives to. Simply being put in a repetitive holding pattern of being pleasant christians fulfilling suburban requirements is not going to satisfy this thirst for a supernatural life of risk and adventure.
* According to their own kind - this DNA inheritance is catalytic for the way a church or a movement will evolve. As the adage goes "so the leader, so the people". Leadership development is therefore essential for long term life. Resisting the temptation to embark on a "hire / fire corporate approach" this form of Christianity is known by the way "fathers invest into sons to make them fathers who have sons..." This marvelous God fashioned way of doing life and church will never be replaced by any modern ideas or fandangled notions. Parents have children in whom they invest, to empower them to get out into the world to live their story as kingdom advancing, gospel centered leaders. That seems to be the bible way, God's original intention.

These key ideas have helped to anchor the way we do life and church. Next blog will explain the "Collective" piece of the puzzle.

Genesis Collective - the Dream

Monday, May 30, 2011

Religion or Discipleship

My friend Nick Davis sent me this text. It is used with his permission:

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1:16–18)

To paraphrase D Bosch, the disciples of Jesus - called as firstfruits to us all - stand in stark difference to the disciples of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law

  1. THE CHOICE.............The religious student chose his own teacher; but Jesus chose his disciples. We have not enrolled, but been enrolled. This is not a career move but the Call of God.
  2. THE FOCUS...............The religious student enrolled to study the Torah – the law of God; Christ’s disciples are enrolled to study Him. He is the Word of God, the radiance of the Father.
  3. THE RELATIONSHIP....The religious student was only a student; Christ’s disciples are his servants too. They serve with Christ, even as He serves the Father’s will. Students become lecturers, servants become friends.
  4. THE MOTIVE..............The religious student enrolled to be trained, so he could get a chief seat; Christ’s disciples always remain his students, and being discipled by God is their destiny. Only Christ enjoys elevation.
  5. THE HALLMARK.........The religious student can boast in his teacher; Christ’s disciples boast in the Lord. We also learn from Christ through community; we are not “of Paul, Cephas, Apollos”. No man hallmarks us.
  6. THE PURPOSE............The religious student learns the Law to be able to teach others and preserve Judaism and her ethos; Christ disciples learn from Him to enjoy God and proclaim his kingdom to the world.
  7. THE TIME FRAME.......The religious student learns from the past and preserves this knowledge in the present; Christ’s disciples learn from Him and lean into the future. The knowledge of God will keep increasing until His appearing.

So, religion today would include:
  • being in charge more than responding to God (control).
  • being a student of the Bible more than one who studies God (knowledge)
  • being a learner but not a servant (obedience)
  • being a means to an end, not making Christ the Worthy End (worship)
  • being known as disciples of a system or teacher, more than disciples of Christ (sonship)
  • preserving Christianity more than propagating it. (purpose)
  • being a conservative in the present day rather than a progressive for the future kingdom (relevance)

Genesis Collective - the Dream

I have loved my life. There is such a sense of deep rooted gratitude for the Father giving me a life beyond my dreams. When I think back now over the past dreams, they are embarrassing. They were both too small as well as ideas of grandeur. Honestly, I am so relieved that the Father did not let me live out my dreams. His are so much more empowering, lasting and satisfying.

Since coming to faith at the end of the Jesus People Movement, I was part of a church planting movement that seeded this great and noble dream in my heart but also showed me the consequences of poor, non-bible planting. At best it will last a decade.

From 1983, I spent the next 25 years, again planting churches with friends. I am so grateful to God for putting a spiritual father in my life, who not only fashioned me but gave me a hill to die on - the raw gutsy naive notion that we could change the world through church planting in all nations. I believed him then. I believe him now.

But the Father turned the page, a third chapter of church planting was starting to happen for M and me. Stepping out of the known into the unknown was once again Abrahamic in heart and Pauline in passion. Getting out of the boat is never easy. Moving from the known, formed, shaped and predictable into the unformed and uncertain is loaded with both faith and vulnerability. I knew there would be a period of detoxing needed. Not because the last chapter was bad. I loved those 25 years - warts and all. It is just that everything had to come under the anvil of divine scrutiny. All that was not biblical or of only one season's value had to be removed. That is never easy.

However the dream lives on in me. I live to disciple the nations. I live to train up leaders to impact these nations both in the marketplace with missional mindedness as well as through church planting. But I want to discover the new story, the new adventure of what that looks like in the 21st century. That is the birth point of the Genesis Collective.

Blog Difficulties

Hey all

Sorry about the recent lack of convos... I have had some difficulties with this program but I am up and running again. Lots to chat about and update you on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gifts of the Spirit

Today the "Urban Renewal" conversation starts here in OC. This "Word / Spirit conversation around mission", is going to be a fun time with some dear friends from both LA and the nations gathering together around this most weighty matter.

Alan Frow asked me to speak on "the Gifts of the Spirit". The temptation is to simply take what I already know, salt it with some gospel, spice it with a few stories, and then repeat the old tune. The problem is however, I may have read it and taught it poorly or insufficiently from days gone by. Projecting the past into the future is one of the most regular errors made in leadership, when we do not audit our journey with honesty, biblical censure, and regularity. Sometimes the busyness of leadership, subtly distracts us from the vital necessity of review and revisit in order to remain fresh, true and current in our theological thought and practice.

So I sat at my desk and began to study the subject as if, for the very first time.

What soon became clear, was how my past experiences had fashioned my thinking and not all of them were biblically accurate nor gospel empowering. Furthermore, anyone who has been a Christ follower for any period of time, will already be the victim of cultural / contextual conclusions but not necessarily have gotten there by their own investigation. This may be:
1. Cessationism - the gifts stopped flowing at the end of the apostolic era, when the church got the scriptures, God stopped speaking...
2. Pentecostalism - born out of a great divine visitation, but many of them got stuck in the culture it produced, as well as making tongues the center stage conversation piece,
3. Charismatics - again forged by a most remarkable God visit, this time not producing denominations as much as taking the living Holy Spirit presence into churches of all shapes and forms. Many wondrous stories can be told of these times but also, much excess and weirdness discredited a most intriguing moment of church history,
4. Kingdom now - is sneaking into the radar again, whereby poor theology is directing many down the path that sets believers up for pain and disappointment. These hungry seekers are once again living in the misunderstanding that somehow, somewhere, believers can usher in a world where all can be healed every time, now...
5. Ignorance - some just don't know, living daily without the "awesomeness" of the Holy Spirit's presence, person, power and partnership that is so captivating and real.
6. Or... is there another way?

I had such a helpful convo with my friend Rick Martinez yesterday. He worked with John Wimber for many years and saw God do some pretty amazing things. Yet Rick was deeply dissatisfied, so he too set out on a journey to revisit the great and wonderful texts to see what the Holy Spirit would reveal. His perspectives were most helpful...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wigglesworth prophecy...

I have been trying to get hold of this prophecy for awhile. It is one the intriguing British plumber gave just before he died in the middle of the last century. Thanks to Alan Frow, here is the "word":

Smith Wigglesworth, the simple Welsh plumber known as 'the apostle of faith,' prophesied the following before he died in 1947.
"During the next few decades there will be two distinct moves of the Holy Spirit across the church in Great Britain. The first move will affect every church that is open to receive it, and will be characterized by a restoration of the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The second move of the Holy Spirit will result in people leaving historic churches and planting new churches.
In the duration of each of these moves, the people who are involved will say, 'This is a great revival.' But the Lord says, 'No, neither is this the great revival but both are steps towards it.'
When the new church phase is on the wane, there will be evidence in the churches of something that has not been seen before: a coming together of those with an emphasis on the word and those with an emphasis on the Spirit. When the word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest move of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed, the world has ever seen. It will mark the beginning of a revival that will eclipse anything that has been witnessed within these shores, even the Wesleyan and Welsh revivals of former years. The outpouring of God’s Spirit will flow over from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, and from there, will begin a missionary move to the ends of the earth."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Letting God finish my fathering...

The news came through on my iPhone yesterday as I was driving on the LA freeways - the song the my daughter Daena Jay sang for ABC TV [ "Home Again"] has been nominated for an EMMY award. M and I got so chocked up as we sought to let her know. God is so kind.

Why is this so amazing? When we moved to the States, it was such a surprise for us. We had wanted to move to the East to take the Gospel to the billions of people who do not know the name of Jesus there. Yet God spoke so clearly to us that the USA was our next gospel destination. Arriving in LA to replant that community was very tough. Not the people but the challenge of the mandate, the history of the community and the enemy's efforts to spoil our labor. In the heat of the replant we had to make many calls that required sacrifice for and from our children. Added to this wildly busy time, was that, on occasion, they had been approached by agencies - for Nas to model and Daena to go to TV. We resisted these temptations. Too busy and too many pitfalls.

As a dad, I often asked God not to let my bad decisions prove to be a hinderance for my children. Every public "no" to an opportunity, did leave me privately wondering if I was somehow messing with my children's future. I simply had to trust this wonderful God that he would complete the work in their lives. So I have seen God at work. He has finished my fathering where I have been limited and short sighted. He has perfected their story where I have erred. He has opened doors when I was not able to see them. God is so good. His immanence is overwhelming.

Whether the song wins or not is not my place of worship today. As I write this blog, I am so awed by His goodness. For those, who like us, have sacrificed for the sake of the gospel, my story tells you, watch God finish the journey for your children. Your acts of generosity have not gone unnoticed in the wonder of eternity. Our good God is busy with your story too. He has seen the games your children did NOT play. He has noted the toys that you could not afford and the opportunities you did not let your kids take up. My Father has seen and will finish the story. He loves our children more than we do. He is committed to them walking out every act of kindness he has scheduled for them. He is their Father and for that I am most grateful.

Thank you...

The last two weeks.

Just got back from a 10 day roadie. Loved the time in Raleigh NC. Freeway Church, under the captaincy of Frikkie and Liesel is doing so well. To have 6 days with them, scrumming down on the big leadership conversations for their future, was an honor. For this new church plant, to emerge with 2 or three new elders as well as a flurry of deacons, was delightful to see.

For so many years we tried to conform all churches to "the model / the pattern"... believing by default that "one size fits all". That was a dreadful error. I am so sorry. There was a subtle insinuation that God was then obligated to fill the gatherings with people - after all, we had 'the model'.

The last four or five years has seen the humility return [we cannot say we have "the model" - that is sheer arrogance]. God has been so kind to take us back to the central story - we are called to plant the gospel, then shape the community around that story in such a way that is culturally aware, contextually accurate and biblically true. The churches that have been born under these new skies are doing so well!

The gospel has brought revitalization to the older believers ["I feel like I have been born again again"] and drawn "not yet Jesus lovers" to see what this gospel journey is about. The difference between these types of plants is night and day. I am so proud of these planters.

In Toronto, I was asked to be part of the transition of the captaincy of the community [can you believe, also called Freeway Church] from Loys and Sharon to Jaco and Catherine. This is a community very dear to our hearts. We have watched her 12 year journey. As with all churches, she has had some remarkable highs and some devastating lows. Some of this has been caused by man's weakness and some of it by the enemy's endeavors. I am so delighted that there is new leadership legs for this new chapter. This is a very good community that is entering into the signs of spring.

Then yesterday I spent much of the day with the Rock Harbor staff. This incredible mega-church is shrouded with humility - I think the Lord loves this about them. M and I have planted a church, we have replanted a church and, in God's kindness, we have been asked to empower this mega-church to become a movement. Let it be sufficient to say at this time, most medium sized churches remain there, not because of calling or mandate but by style and approach. The corner store cannot become a major retailer if she continues to operate with small store systems. But we can talk about that later...