Saturday, June 18, 2011

Apostlic and my Church Plant -Sean Dooley

From my friend Sean Dooley who leads a church plant in the UK....


I think I have come to the place where I am able to define what I am looking for in the relationship between a local church and an apostle. Excuse the vowel-ish alliteration but I am looking for an apostolic ministry that is:

  • Apostolic - where the man that I am looking to has a clearly apostolic anointing upon him. Not that he has a big church or has people flocking to his ministry. Sometimes we mistakenly equate church success with apostolicity.
  • Equipping - they and the ministries that revolve around their apostolic ministry are indeed equipping the saints in my church.
  • International - they connect us with other churches, church plants and kingdom initiatives in our nation and the nations.
  • Open - they are totally unthreatened by us inviting in other Eph 4:11 ministries that we feel are what we need at the time. That they themselves are also open to work with other Eph 4:11 flows. Their highest agenda must be the health of the local churches, not the size or shape of their "apostolic team" (if there even is such a clearly defined thing in the NT). They must also be willing to joyfully release any emerging apostles to their own spheres without holding them into their sphere.
  • Unbounded - this apostle and the other Eph 4:11 ministries that revolve around him should not create a clearly bounded "team", but work with an organically fluid group of Eph 4:11 ministries as is appropriate for different nations, different situations and different local churches . Each local church will know very clearly which apostle and which other Eph 4:11 ministries they are looking to. The apostle and the other Eph 4:11 ministries however, will NOT know exactly how many churches are looking to them at any one time. Some churches may call on them once, or twice and then never again. Some may call on them for many years.

The local church has got to remain centre stage. Not the "apostolic teams" as loosely defined as these may be. They are there to help the local church be all she has been called to be by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 13, 2011

From Architect to Church Replanter...

My friend Phil Jensen is an architect who has shifted to becoming a "church replanter"! I know. That is pretty wild. He has been here in LA for a while now, learning and being enlarged and is going back to the UK to take on the reins of a church in Cornwall. In our replanting conversations he made the parallel to his architectural days and here is his summary:

"One of the first jobs that I had when I left university was to survey farm buildings that were going to be converted into homes. It was dirty, smelly, glorious work. I might have been standing ankle deep in manure, but each day I got to dream of possibilities. To mentally expose the gems that time and decay had hidden, and then to visualize a future where they would form the bedrock of the new.

In a recent conversation about church replanting I was struck by how much of what we were talking about related to that old job. So here are a few thoughts on renovating buildings that speak into the process of replanting.

1. Clearly see what is– The first step is to discern and call out what is strong, beautiful, full of latent life; and also what is weak, ugly and decaying. And don’t rush! A hasty survey almost always leads to unpleasant surprises down the line.

2. Clearly envision what can be - The job of the architect is to prophetically envision what can be. In doing so they create a compelling vision of the future that sees the old as an asset to be leveraged rather than a liability to be discarded.

3. Honor the old while bringing in the new The very best conversions celebrate and honor what is good in the old by the introduction of the new. Honoring sometimes will mean complementing the old, but sometimes it will mean contrasting with it. Both are equally valid options, the question is what will best serve the purpose it will fulfill.

4. Recognize that bringing life means bringing death – renovation and replanting involve creative destruction. Part of the path to bringing new life is bringing about the death of aspects of the old that are no longer needed. That process is inherently messy.

5. Plan carefully how to introduce change - Possibly the worst day I had at the office was when our builders undermined the foundations of the existing building they worked on. It went from being a beautiful 18th century shop to a pile of rubble in 20 minutes. Renovating brings risk and how and when to bring in change needs careful thought. Sometimes time has to be invested in stabilizing and strengthening what is there before what is new is brought in.

6. Be patient – Related to planning is patience. Some things simply cannot be rushed as frustrating as that might be.

7. Understand that it is costlier, messier and takes longer – The cost of converting an existing building is on average 25-75% greater in terms of money, effort and time than building new. Neither replanting nor building conversion is an easy option.

So if it is that demanding, why bother?

When a building is converted well it is greater than either the old or the new. There is something compelling about the dance between the two: the settled richness of history and the restless vibrancy of the new combining to create something greater than their component parts. Synergy is an overused (and often misused) word at the moment. But synergy is what makes renovating exciting and worthwhile. I would argue it is also what makes replanting worthwhile."

What a great visual!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Genesis Collective - Lead

Every believer a leader!

My friends muse and are amused by my continuous referral to the garden. I simply love going back to Genesis 1 - 3. Hidden in the celebration and calamity if these three chapters, lies the notion of divine original intent. What did God have in mind when he created mankind? Well, in the light of our convo today, God invested in us humans the mantle to lead. From the eternal echo that "each will produce after their own kind... to... Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea."

These words are all leadership words. When John Maxwell states that leadership at its most intro level is to "influence",we are reminded all believers are called to be leaders. Why do I say that?
  • Leader of one - of their own life - that is where the gospel first expresses itself in us, where we move from slaves of sin, to sons / daughters of the most high,
  • Leader in their homes - where the gospel gains traction in collaborative unity with diversity, like the Trinity,
  • Leader in their world - not just be missional to take the gospel to the marketplace, but also to lead in that world of ideas and practices,
  • Leader in the Christ community - continually engage in the power of the redeemed togetherness so that the world can see the God story unfold,
  • Leader with an eye on the future - as worshippers of the creator, we periodically have a glimpse into the future, by both gifts as well as worship, we get a peek into the heavenlies, not simply living in the limitations of the now and the tangible.
Therefore, a healthy church is one for whom the Leadership cornerstone has high value in the communities journey - otherwise it will be a one generational story. That is a price tag that is too costly - all the effort and labor only to peter out after round one. Hiring and firing is not Plan A. Fathers having sons who are empowered to become fathers in their own right is the true bible way:"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother..." Being celebrated to "start your own family" is the goal of all child rearing, so too for those who have church planting in their bones and again for those who are emerging apostolic pioneers.

Paul and his story with Timothy is still one of our greatest examples. Poorly called "The Pastoral Epistles", they are 2 glorious books in which Paul writes to Timothy as -
  • A father writes to a son,
  • A church planter writes to his successor,
  • An apostle writes to an emerging Ephesians 4 [E4] gift.
Following these three forms of relationships brings depth of meaning to the text. It also empowers us to use the 6 chapters of 1 Timothy as a guideline to leadership development - whether that is for a novice as in Leadership 101, through the church planter / replanter, through the weight and essential nature of the E4 gifting given to the church to partner with her and her story.

With the summer on us, here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is a good time to recalibrate with the new year in mind. May I strongly suggest, the Leadership cornerstone gains its true and legitimate role again. Not just doing leadership, but also leadership development in all its forms. Here in the LA / OC area in the fall, The Genesis Collective Initiative will include a "Travelling through Timothy" Intensive. We will not get through all of Timothy this time but will at least explore these essentials to empower the new and the novice, as well as the weary old warhorse:
  • Friday night: Discovering my Calling,
  • Saturday I - Developing my Devotions,
  • Saturday II - Expanding my Character,
  • Saturday III - Explaining my Doctrine.
To be cont...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Genesis Collective - Hubs

Hub: “The central part of a wheel, rotating on or with an axle, & from which spokes radiate” Oxford dictionary

“The central part of a circular object; a center of activity esp an airport or city with heavy air traffic” Webster’s dictionary. Such language of mobility, intensity and intentionality! I love the sense of movement in those definitions.

Whenever the Father is on about something, we try to shape it through theology and the language that that gives us. Then periodically we are faced with architectural pieces for which our vocabulary is just not enough. Then we need scaffolding - temporary words to help us understand what the Father is shaping. The thing we must always remember about scaffolding, is that it is there to build something else. The moment that becomes the building, the thing we defend the most, we have lost our way. Scaffolding is there to help us then, at the appropriate time, however we are to tear it down.

When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he said: “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere…” 1 Thess 1:6 – 8 That is what we are talking about – the E4 gifts are to be imitated, but it is the “Hub” church that is to be an example… the word has sounded forth from you… your faith has gone forth everywhere”

The future of the church is around strong, solid, sacrificial, mobile “hubs” who live for the benefit of others. The E4 gifts are there to empower them on their journey, not to be the center of the wheel themselves. I do think we are far too vulnerable to a celebrity culture - where once again we want one man to be king. I am just not seeing that in the New Testament. I am seeing honor, love and gift recognition. But any effort to make one man "the stud", Paul fights will all passion. We cannot make E4 the new nobility. We only have one king and his name is Jesus. For the rest, we are simply citizens together, with love, respect, humility and honor where each person and gifting is celebrated as unique and vital.

Here are some ingredients for a healthy hub, that may be helpful as they accpet their role as an example:

· They plant churches as a conviction that that is the basis to transform cities and disciple nations,

· These church plants can be autonomous / independent or autonomous / interdependent,

· They must be prepared to love and lead ‘orphan’ churches who have been left without partnership in their journey,

· They are to accept that they also fulfill a ‘lighthouse role’ where there are churches that simply want to come under the safety of their light but not necessarily become close cadres, but remain models of faith, conduct, architecture and exploration,

· They desire to empower those who plant from them to become hubs in their own rights. The object of this labor of love in not imperialism but multiplication,

· They are hubs of training, friendship, resourceing, collaboration, faith, prayer, catalytic conversations and sometimes simple sanity.

· They are centers of receiving the raw material of new converts or beaten up old campaigners, recognizing the God gift, investing, training, equipping, creating opportunities, then releasing them to a higher call and a great kingdom story. The hub church knows they are not the biggest story – Jesus, the gospel and the nations are.

· These communities will be riddled with E4 gifts – one need only look at Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus to see the weight and bias of a church loaded with collaborative E4 gifts operating together,

· These E4 gifts go out to empower these plants, replants, orphans but return to the freedom of the Hub as Paul did in the Antioch story.

Well, there is so much more to this conversation. I simply want to get us to detox from models that overly elevate the E4 as king. There is a new way to do this gig. We cannot simply repeat the past. It has not always been a good friend or tutor...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Genesis Collective - E4 and Hubs

Two ingredients. Two major pieces of the evolving church story. Whichever you emphasize will produce remarkably different results.

E4 are the fivefold grace gifts that the ascended Jesus gave to his church - essential, vital and foundational. Hubs are base churches that offer collaborative partnerships within the orb of their love and labor. They offer a picture of a working but not perfect church that others can glean from. Their example will embolden the new, struggling or stagnant churches to reach for new heights in their God story.

Church history is a remarkable tutor, yet so few drink intentionally at her fountain. Whilst every move of God has clear leadership, I do wonder if the emphasis should be on the E4 gifts or on the Hub churches. Which muscle will we exercise more? My thesis is that the New Testament keeps pointing us toward the churches and away from the E4 gifts. Here are some examples:

Paul says of these gifts: "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God... God has exhibited us as apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world... we are fools for Christ... we have become and are still, like the scum of the earth, the refuse of all things." 1 Cor 4: 1 + 9 - 13. This is certainly not the picture of anyone as the center of the kingdom but Jesus.

When Paul wanted his theology to be confirmed or corrected he went to the Hub in Jerusalem. [ Gal 1 + 2] He did not go to the big names, but to those "who seemed to be the leaders". They did not offer anything to improve his message but he looked to the Hub for his clarity.

The intriguing Acts 15, sees a great theological crisis in Antioch. Again note the response, Paul and Barnabas take the controversy back to the Hub in Jerusalem, where they met with "apostles, elders and all the people". Now that is a 'wow' passage. They looked to the Hub with all of its people.

The Book of Revelation was written to Hub churches and not to the E4 leaders.

Friends I am so persuaded about the role that the E4 gifts have to play in the local churches. However, they are there to empower the churches on their journey, not conform them to an external model, pattern or preferred architecture! The E4 are not there for conformity. That is what shapes denominations. There is not much architecturally that the scripture requires. The E4 are there to aid, partner, help apply great theology to the matrix of every church's unique story. The scripture points to churches as the apple of his eye not anything else.

Hub churches are the key. This is the muscle we must develop. Their clear mission, matched with their unique DNA, expressed within their remarkable, compelling community, is what must gain our focussed attention. That is where Genesis Collective wants the attention to be - less of us and so much more of Him. As E4 gifts, we can help set up key Hubs who, are seen to be extraordinary communities, together on mission with the gospel, to transform cities and countries.

True Hubs will plant other Hubs, release new Hubs, support struggling Hubs. They will seek to multiply themselves in planting churches, replant dying churches, giving themselves away for the kingdom to advance, never seeking to dominate the city landscape with self proclaimed accolades. Rather, they will see their true value in their service of others to empower churches, transform cities and disciple nations. Nothing less is worth dying for.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Genesis Collective - The Anchor Spaces

"In his book, Dan H Pink, tells the story about Clare Booth Luce, the accomplished playwright, journalist and Republican member of Congress. In 1962, Luce had a meeting with President Kennedy, who was at that time, pursuing an ambitious agenda domestically and overseas. She worried about his diffuse priorities. ' A great man,' she advised him, 'is one sentence'. President Lincoln's sentence was obvious: 'He preserved the union and freed the slaves.' So was FDR's 'He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us to win a world war.' What Luce challenged the president, was to be his sentence?" [Radical Practically: William C. Taylor pgs 115 / 6]

Wow. I have had to let that simmer a little. Most of us start this ministry journey needing to become 'specialist generalists'. We are called to spin many plates. As we learn the ropes of loving the King and loving his bride, we collide with our propensity toward self sins - self protection, self gratification, self promotion, self ambition... Slowly the eternal hands of mercy coaches, coaxes and catalyzes us towards self death and the unspeakable joy of dying to ourselves daily. This is a victory we never achieve but by dying to all these self values. Only then do we fully understand.

I started preaching on the streets of Durban some 34 years ago. That is where the journey began. On the beachfront, before tourists and friends alike - but Jesus was worth the embarrassment wasn't he? All these years later, by 'Journeying with friends' I am so stirred to live that one sentence. When we look over our shoulders, M and I have not done much well. I guess our sentence will read something like: "Establishing key hub churches and empowering very believer to be a leader". What is yours?

Genesis Collective is not about Chris and Meryl. It is about a collective of Ephesians 4 gifted friends, who, through organic partnership want to empower churches and all expressions of leadership on their journey. For the next 12 months or so, we will anchor some of the Genesis role around these spaces:
  • Walking alongside leaders on face to face time around dining room tables - desiring sons to become fathers / daughters becoming mothers,
  • Strategic partnerships with churches and plants, that we are seeking to empower on their journey,
  • Visit these churches around the world, to expand their God story, keep the gospel the center piece and ever shape the architecture, as they evolve on their journey,
  • Exploration - our monthly convo here in OC / LA for pastors and planters on matters on common interest,
  • Plant OC / LA - a monthly meal with planters, simply to hear their stories and breathe wind into their sails,
  • Marketplace Leadership - in collaboration with Rock Harbor and Southlands Church, a conversation to equip marketplace believers to be leaders in their world,
  • Traveling through Timothy - taking novice and new believers as well as some weary old warhorses through the text to ready them for the next chapter of their leadership story,
  • C2C - this conversation is for those who are or planning to be church planting or replanting, by letting current planters tell their story - also the major catalysts will be Jeff Vanderstelt and Terry Virgo,
  • Urban Renewal - which Alan Frow and the Southlands crew lead but we back fully - a Word and Spirit on Mission gathering that annually explores the genius of this journey. I do so enjoy it,
  • Church Planting training assessments and training will be ongoing,
  • Leading Large Churches is a conversation we are planning for April 2012 for some from around the world, who are in that space and feel like they need some voices to retrain them for this new task,
  • "Dubai Dialogue" has been our forum of friendship, collaboration, partnership with friends who are leading their own apostolic movements, to dialogue, learn from, enjoy...
What do you think? As always, there is more, but that reflects the Genesis heart. This is pretty exciting you would agree. I am so loving my friendships with new and old friends, from here in LA to some who are fighting the good fight around the world. When I met Dudley in 1983, I believed that I would journey for life with friends. I never wanted to spend my life building an organization and then expend enormous effort trying to uphold it. It is about doing life with friends... that is what Jesus did. That is what the great apostle of love - John taught us. I want to be part of that story - and all for the sake of the Gospel!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

CHurch Planting Conversation - C2C

I am not a big conference guy. The highly impersonal nature about these events always feels so strange to me. The very nature of my faith is its high relational quotient. From the intimacy of the garden, when the Father walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, through Jesus doing life with his disciples, relational partnerships leaks through every page of the scriptures.

Therefore when we began to explore the notion of a church planting gig, we knew that it had to have a strong relational piece in the design. It also had to be interactive, conversations more than endless monologues. And then, thirdly, we wanted to hear from church planters and church replanters themselves, not just someone who did it years ago, or who wrote a book about it...

C2C seeks to fulfill those passions. Named as such after the big idea of "church planter to church planter" it is designed for those with a strong gospel passion:
  • who are church planters,
  • who are on a church planting team,
  • who desire to raise up and release church planters as hub churches,
  • who lead multi-sites / campuses,
  • who are seeking to establish these missional communities,
  • who are taking a church that has become stagnant, sluggish and is in decline and replanting her,
  • who wish to get refreshed, strengthened and freshly empowered after a time "in the field".
Catalyzed by Genesis Collective, hosted by Rock Harbor church in Costa Mesa California, C2C will run 18 - 21 October 2011. In the next blog I will give more detail of the shape of these few days together.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Genesis Collective - The Anchor Pieces

Thanks for letting me dream with you. The challenge of any new chapter in our lives, is knowing which parts of our past we carry over into the future. Secondly, which parts were great but remain in the last chapter of the great God story and thirdly, which parts were poor, maybe destructive, and unhelpful - definitely needing to remain as lessons learnt, wounds we carry or simply mistakes we made. There is always the possibility of an immature knee-jerk reaction whereby we want to dismiss all the past as painful and miss the Joseph lesson of seeing the Father's hand in it all - thus "throwing out the baby with the bath water".

The Genesis Collective is our third chapter in a church planting, leadership development story. The 70's into the early 80's saw us part of a "Jesus People" styled church planting journey that imploded. Then we spent 25 years or so, in a remarkable brotherhood committed to planting churches in the nations of the world. I loved those years and continue to love these men and their families. Sparked by the theology of multiplication, I knew that "sons had become fathers" and had to be celebrated and empowered to leave home and start their own journeys. That brought me to this evolving revelation.

The Genesis Collective is an Ephesians 4 collective of friends, who, inspired by the Genesis account of creativity, increase, multiplication and all nations, seek to empower leaders to transform their communities, cities and countries.

The Anchor Pieces are really continuing what we have been doing for the last 30 years or so. However, we do have a new understanding that we are trying to reach and minister into a totally different world today, therefore needing to apply the sacred texts to a new culture / context conversation. The forms of this collaboration include:

  • Resources - using our website, making available writings, blogs, books, training manuals and various forms of instructions, podcasts of relevant teachings that reflect our DNA, for all forms of leadership;
  • Leadership Development - in all its forms, from leadership of self, to the home, the church and becoming leaders in the marketplace are all on our radar;
  • Planting - through personal investment and Bible conversations, we desire to aid churches to recognize, raise up and release these church planters to plant gospel centered communities around the world;
  • Replanting - so much of the pioneering nature of the great commission will include "replanting the ruined... and desolate places" [Ez 36:36] by journeying with churches that have become stagnant and decaying, to partner with them to reinvent and re-calibrate themselves once again to become key, strategic and vibrant for the gospel;
  • Mega-churches - to transition these churches from the mono-vision of simple increase to the theology of multiplication by becoming apostolic movements in their own rights.
Each of these anchor pieces are pivotal and weighty. They can only be achieved around the world by this collaboration of friends. It it not to set up new networks, denominations or organizations. We believe the E4 grace is to walk alongside in gospel partnership with these churches, leaders and marketplace missionaries... but more of that in the next blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Genesis Collective - The Theology 2

I love more than one - don't you? I mean a little alone time is fun but then a need for a hug from my beautiful wife, friend, lover, - laughter with my wonderfully wackey songwriting Jesus loving daughter, - coffee with a daughter who is blossoming into a mother of many in the Jesus story or the raw, robust "abuse" that only a father and son who love each other, fully understand.

I love more than one - don't you? They put that in us - you know, the three who danced together before the beginning and will do it after the end. The sheer beauty of unadulterated love, that is who they are. The indescribable oneness without imposing on their perfect diversity simply adds to this mystery even more.

I love more than one - don't you?

Genesis Collective is not about Chris and Meryl like this is our roadshow. "Collective" has been intentionally chosen to reflect a journey of friends. When we read the sacred text, we are delighted and astounded, that it reflects the color of friends doing life together. From the garden when Adam and Eve walked intimately with their Father, through the great friendship stories of Moses and Joshua, David and Jonothan, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and the boys, Paul and Timothy and the list goes on. It is right there on the sweet scripture pages... "I used to call you servants, I now call you friends" Jesus

"Collective" is even more intentional. Jesus took 12 men and journeyed together. In a blend of discipleship, apostolic impartation and legacy leaving investment, he set them up to be world shapers. That is pretty wild, to believe that a few friends could change the world. Yet when I met Dudley Daniel, my 'father' as a spiritual leader, he got us to believe that we could change the world by discipling the nations through church planting. What a dream to believe in, a hill to die on!

Ephesians 4 frames this theological piece. The Trinity is steeped in the first 6 verses. Its all about "unity in diversity" as a picture of a new leadership story that is highly collaborative yet celebrating distinctives. Paul then takes us in the theology of the "ascension grace gifts". Jesus did not hand his gig over to one man. The anticipation was palatable as he was waited to hang with his Father again. However there was time for one more thing. He handed over apo authority to 11 men on whose shoulders the redemption of the world rested. What a moment. What a weight. What a God plan for no man would have dreamt it up.

Jesus, messiah, healer, rabbi, leader, redeemer, friend handed his full gifting onto men and women who would continue both his ministry and his government on Project Planet Earth. These apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are to carry this collective responsibility to:
  • to prepare God's people for works of service,
  • so that the body of Chris may be built up,
  • UNTIL we reach the unity of the faith,
  • the knowledge of the Son of God,
  • become mature,
  • attaining the full measure of the fullness of Christ,
  • no longer infants tossed back and forth by the waves,
  • blown here and there by every wind of teaching,
  • by the cunning and craftiness of men and their deceitful scheming,
  • speaking the truth in love,
  • we will in all things grow up into HIM,
  • whole body joined together by every supporting ligament
  • each part does its work...
"Collective" desires to reflect the ongoing story of the Acts account, ordinary men and women who together, shook and changed their world. Even more specifically, we are a specific group of Ephesians 4 grace gifts, who, through collaboration, seek to empower pastors, churches and marketplace leaders in their story, on their journey. It is not a network or organization. It is not a denomination nor a franchise. We are E4 gifts who partner together to "get the job done down the stretch" [ OK forgive the basketball quote].

These gifts are clearly identifiable by their passion, fruit, emphasis, and impact. No church only needs one or two of these gifts. No amount of coaches, mentors and other man made surrogates can replace the beauty of these Jesus gifts - he gave them and we need them all. Genesis Collective is not about one couple, nor about one story. It is about collaborative friendships, E4 giftings who travel alongside churches to empower them in their story. These beautiful churches are the apple of his eye and we are simply the eunuchs serving this intoxicating bride.