- In the 70's, Paul Yongi Cho brought the notion of "Cell, Congregation, Celebration" to the church world. His church was growing so rapidly that he needed an evolving structure that would cope with this remarkable growth, through salvations, that came from their deep and profound passion for prayer. May I suggest that multi-siting happens because we are experiencing growth, not to grow? I have seen a number of churches do it to grow and end up with exhausted folks who are simply spent by being called to duty twice per weekend.
- We tried that in the 70's. It did not work nor did it last. Here are some reasons: firstly we took a model that worked in Asia and tried to simply apply it in Africa. We did not do our cultural / contextual homework to find a form that truly was ours by revelation and conviction. Secondly, the leadership set in place was not well chosen nor well trained before or ongoingly. We floundered. Thirdly, the areas chosen to "congregate" were not given enough forethought, with no pre-launch services. Fourthly, these gatherings were not perceived by the people as weighty priority times. The Sunday night service was the big gun because the loaded gun preachers ministered there. The 'congregations' were the experimental form for emerging worship leaders and teachers. That was a recipe for failure. It was not long before we brought everyone back to the central base with another good God idea left in the trash heap of poor management. Looking back, it certainly could have worked and prevented the future calamity of the celebrity resigning, but we simply handled it so badly without substantial theological homework and thorough sociological study.
- Jethro counseled Moses to divide the Israeli community into smaller to larger manageable units. There are a number of wise pieces in his counsel: firstly, there are different sizes of leadership giftings — captains of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. This form of local church architecture empowers these leaders of different capacities. Choosing the right leaders for the right grouping size is essential. Secondly, these leaders must be men who are comfortable to be captains and followers at the same time. If not, this tug — a — war will exhaust and deplete the lead guy as the wrestle for final captaincy will gut all involved. Thirdly there is room for individuality without losing the central DNA of the brotherhood. Conformity is not the goal of multi-siting. Gospel expansion is, therefore multi-sites will take on the flavor of the context more than branding of home base.
- Collaborative leadership matched with very sharp discernment is imperative to doing this well. There is a renewed model of divinely inspired leadership on project planet earth. The old style one man, top down, impositional style is yesterday's story and as always, is a one generational gig. Multi-siting is impossible without a truly inclusive leadership heart. There needs to be such honesty at the eldership level that they can find the heart of God together. I cannot state that strong enough. Coming to faith in 1976 and being part of church planting movements, every time there is one strong leader who dominates the landscape, the movement has a one generational dimension. It will be captivating for a decade or so, then it will wain as his influence diminishes. True trinitarian team work will not only work better but will go beyond the one generational wonder.
- Project intentionality is absolutely essential. Multi-siting costs. Allow me to be blunt. This is not simply a "lets try it and see if it works" type gig. It has to be driven by theological conviction, prophetic affirmation, effective leadership training and ongoing development. It has to be treated as one does a church plant with the same level of excellence in advance. It needs to push for maturity to stand on its own feet soonest but benefits from the depth of ministry investment that the central base offers.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
- Glorious Multiplication - as with a family, muli-siting incubates these sites that will "grow up and leave home". They will get strong, get their own identity and get established as their own autonomous, independent churches, with fatherly blessing and endorsement,
- One Generational - if it is built around one key personality, it will have a one generational life. When that person dies, he must either set in a clear exit strategy ahead of time of all communities becoming local churches or there could well be sibling rivalry that will implode the movement,
- Branding Unity - please be student of history. Every movement / denomination starts with an organic bunch of radical Jesus lovers who set out to change their world with hard core conviction. Soon the real need for shape and form begins to enter their world. By the second /third generation, the system is perceived to be defended at all cost and branding has become the glue that holds all together and not the radical gospel that so changed all their lives. This is a 'must do' conversation ahead of time,
- Rebellious Visionaries - Is there room for the maverick, city shaking visionary, who may start out as a loyal, multi-site pioneer. However, soon enough, the juices of leadership begin to grab at his gift of leadership. The prophetic whispers of calling and shepherding begin to shout louder than loyalty to the status quo. What happens then? Is he seen as a rebel that must be removed from office or celebrated and released with his community, as son who has become a father?
- New Denominations - Simply put many of the current multi-sites are tomorrows denominations. For some that is viewed with delight and a sense of celebration [I am currently reading a book on the founding of the Assemblies of God - that is how denoms evolve]. If that is your passion, then celebrate you must. If that is not, then faith must keep driving your soul but this time with the theology of biblical multiplication in mind. One form getting bigger is therefore never the goal. Rather, there is a celebration of setting the many on their journey rather than trying to keep everyone in your own cul-de-sac.
- Gospel Expansion - the goal of multi-siting must surely be the gospel. If any other motivation really drives us [like fame, popularity, self promotion, community franchising] it will have a very short life and will devastate many. This must be a gospel vehicle more that an ecclesiological experiment. If the gospel keeps compelling us, there will be wineskin flexibility, changing as the gospel requires it. If not, the wineskin will become the goal and changing it will be heretical. Jesus is the big story. Actually, Jesus is the only story.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
- Creative Entrepreneur - God is introduced as a creator. I suspect he loves entrepreneurs who explore and expand the boundaries of kingdom activities. It requires risk and risk requires faith. This delights him,
- Apostolic Leader - the garden always reminds us that God's intention was to "fill the earth". A leader who engages in this big picture brings a smile to heaven,
- Gospel Exploration - when the gospel truly captures our heart, we simply cannot keep it to ourselves. There is something inside of us that demands retelling, to ever new contexts and spaces,
- Leadership Gifting - ministry has a very real possibility to take the person with a leadership gift and make a manager out of them, sucking life out of them. We cannot "hide our light under a bushel,"losing that Spirit empowered grace manifestation with the deathly repetition of daily ritual. The gift of leadership is a grace from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, and we must find ways to express it,
- City Transformation - in our journey, we became so comfortable with the 'disciple the nations' priority that we forgot our Jerusalem. Multi-siting has been an act of divine mercy to remind us that the city we minister in is still uppermost in his mind. Not that we are to go it alone, but we are to give it much greater attention,
- Cultural Reality - in Acts 2, we are told that: "we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God" vs 11. Whist this does talk of tongues, it also tells us that everyone has the right to hear the gospel in their own tongue. This architecture now empowers us toward that goal,
- Ecclesiological Flexibility - the notion that there is one model or pattern may be ecclesiological arrogance or ignorance. The village in Africa will never have the same shape and form that the kingdom community has in Manhattan. That is also true in our cities when we wrestle with demography, economics, travel distances and other cultural / contextual realities. We simply cannot do everything at one place, at one time, in one language...
- Empowered Priesthood - a healthy church will grow. The larger the church, often the more unhealthy she becomes. By percentage, fewer people are active in ministry relying more and more on the few stud celebrities. Multi-siting mobilizes the priesthood without losing the momentum of growth that a healthy church produces.
Monday, September 26, 2011
- Scripture - what does God have to say about it in the text?
- Prophecy - what have the prophets been talking about?
- History - we have to let church history be an ally. Unfortunately we are not students enough of history, so we tend to repeat it,
- Philosophy - what are the DNA distinctives that define our story, God given values? Does multi — siting deepen these essentials or water them down?
- Celebrity-ism - that once again the need to have a king is raging in the paddock, the danger of building around one personality raises many legitimate concerns,
- Imperialism - it is hard to resist the temptation to increase our sphere of influence more, to stake our claim in new suburbs, cities and boroughs,
- Terrorism - the terror of being left behind, that others will grow quicker than us, get into our space,
- Territorialism - in our quest to protect our perceived boundaries, we do this multi-site thing as a form of 'border patrol', [we just won't say it that way],
- Jones-ism - "keeping up with the Jones", well everyone else is doing it so we had better do it to,
- Evolutionism - where there is no real concern about the smaller churches, even if we empty them of their people, let the 'fittest' survive,
- Isolationism - whereby we are the best show in town, offer the best product & program therefore we do not need others, we are our own entity.
Genesis Collective is:
An E4 collaboration of friends who seek to -
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
- Pundit – the one for whom everything can be known; everything can be pronounced on, centred professionally on the importance of information. Knowledge is more powerful than Christ’s Humility.
- Engineer – the one for whom everything can be designed, everything can be produced, centred professionally on production. Production and administration are more important than Christ’s Love.
- Marketer – the one for whom everything can be positioned, everything can be sold, centred professionally on consumer satisfaction. Impact is more important than Christ’s Truth.
- Consultant – everything can be better organized, everything can be better delivered, centred professionally on management. Efficiency and workflow are more important than Christ’s Life.
- Therapist – everything can be gotten in touch with, everything can be adjusted or healed, centred professionally on healing. Human need is more important than Christ’s Mission.
- Impresario – everything can be conveyed to advantage through the presentation of images regardless of any reality, centred professionally on public relations. Sensation and Corporate Experience are more important than Imitating Christ.
Guinness states that these pathologies arise as a result of “church growth’s uncritical engagement with modernity”. In other words, the focus is on audience and church growth, no matter how rousing and noble the public ministry appears. “Sovereign Audience” has eclipsed “Sovereign Word” (“Dining with the Devil”, pp 69-70).
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
- Prophets and apostles journey together, each needing the other - Eph 2:20, Acts 11:27 - 30,
- Prophets and Teachers - Acts 13:1 - 3,
- Prophets with prophets - 1 Cor 14.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
- The prophet is formed in intimacy and thrives there,
- The prophet begins to dry up when the community times are great in friendship, word and even good hymn singing but lack divine intimacy,
- They simply cannot live without eternal intimacy,
- Their whole DNA is wired to this end - the way they eat, sleep, think, see and feel even the way they relate to people, generally they are not able to cope with compromise or mediocrity - anything that reflects God poorly,
- Their gift does not switch off as it is the central essence of their existence - they can do no other,
- This level of intimacy knows the heart of the Father in a very deep and honest way - that is why they get into trouble sometimes because they speak the Father's heart [it may be in a very clumsy awkward even accusatory way] and it is rarely well received,
- They grieve consistently because they can feel the Father's heart for the well being of the church...
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
- To see prophets spoken of with love, honor and gratitude,
- To rediscover the collaborative partnership between apostles and prophets — they really do need each other,
- To see the office of the prophet given fresh conversation as to their New Testament "job description" and the role they play translocally into communities,
- To find creative ways that can father / disciple / train up the emerging prophets, that they don't have to stumble and stutter their way forward as their forebears had to — what is the modern 'school of the prophets'?
- To discover the right ways that they can be used as "impact players" to break open new contexts or to go in and blow open the wells of churches that have faltered and fallen in the heat of the battle,
- To find ways forward to empower prophets to be released to be given to His presence and the courage to salary them to do just that,
- To explore the way forward for prophets to be truly accountable with the words they bring — to make sure they are well weighed, they are revisited to see if they did happen, forums for correction where error occurs [but in a context of honor and celebration],
- To be courageous enough to discipline a prophet if and when needed, so the sheep can truly feel secure with this great gift, knowing it can be trusted, for when it errs there are consequences,
- To create forums where prophets and pastors can iron out their differences and see in each the value that they themselves do not carry - can we get rid of the suspicion that sometimes enters these relationships?
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
- They absolutely love God - the glorious three person God whose mysterious first dance, before the beginning, has captured their heart,
- They desperately love His bride — if they guard their heart against hurt and pain, the love that I have found in the soul of the prophet is profound. Their love is passionate and all consuming [Zeal for your house consumes me], kinda like table turning love,
- They love their nation — most prophets hear the Father's groans about a nation slipping from her divine tracks and inheritance. Their love is often less sentimental and patriotic and more divine and eternal,
- They love the word — it may not be all of the word in that they tend to lean towards the texts that bring clarity to their journey, but the good ones are big word lovers for sure,
- They speak to see change — there is an inability in them to simply placate the pleasant. They can see the change needed, so it is not conceptual or philosophic — they can see it [what do you see Jeremiah?] and therefore declare it,
- They are soul stirred to open up the blocked wells — where the life of God has been stifled. The sheer joy on their faces when they see folks flowing in true, pure and fresh God life is a delight to behold,
- They love working in team - OK all you grumpies who have had some bad experiences with prophets, listen for a moment... when Paul and Barnabas got going in Antioch the prophets came down from Jerusalem - they want to gig with apostles, I think it is in their pre-pain DNA. Together apostles and prophets lay foundations [Eph 2:20] and prophets and teachers are found collaborating in Acts 13 - they do want to team together,
- They are the best hope the church has from getting stuck in the mud of systems, principles and bureaucratic "the law" thinking — they need to be celebrated...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
The Father is writing a glorious redemptive story. One chapter at a time. One
evolving moment at a time. As with the big meta-narrative, so with our lives. The Father
has been fastidious with the story of our lives. We are not the Darwinian products of random
chance plus miracle, in disconnected fragmented moments. Rather, we are the
wondrous players in a divine adventure, one chapter at a time.
Holding that each chapter has the full four seasons experienced, it is so sweet to see
the ﬂow of the God life, as He sets out fulﬁlling his story in us - seeking to complete our
mandate as well as bring us to maturity.
So each chapter seems to have these ingredients:
1. New theology - God will reveal more of himself in each new chapter. It is so good to
ﬁnd out what that is early in the chapter, not forgetting what he revealed to us before,
2. New faith - God is always loving to see our faith both current and fresh, ever growing -
that brings him so much joy - we can trust him,
3. New roles - that is so difﬁcult. We do tend to attach so much punch to the identity /
roles we carried in the last chapter - especially if it was a very good strong, robust
time. Every new chapter does tend to change our roles. That tends to be very
vulnerable and uncertain, but it is the way of the Lord,
4. New ﬁnancial trust - every chapter will have a new ﬁnancial faith quotient. We often
desire that part to be of our story is now over - namely, we have learnt the lesson,
now we live in ﬁnancial security, without challenge. This is simply not so.
5. New relationships - we certainly carry many of our relationships over from
yesterday's moments. However it seems like the scripture tends to indicate the
delight of new relationships in every new day.
6. New partnerships - there certainly is more to this Christian journey than only
engagement around the last chapter's collaborations. That is how denominations are
formed. The kingdom advances with new partnerships with each chapter... Here
loyalty and sentiment are volatile foes of the kingdom
Hope this helps... we have been there a few times. They are exciting but vulnerable times.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
- Acts 6 - the matter of the Hellenist and Hebrew widow conflict was resolved by the new layer of leaders we believe to have been 'deacons' - this valid role was not one the elders were to give themselves to - the result - the word of God continued to increase...
- Acts 13 - the role of prophets and teachers was weighty and specific. There was no evidence that they were elders, yet they were task specific, empowered to fulfill this mandate as they worshipped, fasted and prayed, they sent Paul and Barnabas on assignment - no elders were seemingly involved...
- Acts 15 - is the great theological debate. The apostles bring the key voices to the Jerusalem base for resolution. Those involved were "the apostles and the elders and the whole church" [vs 22]. The picture presented here is a most inspiring one of collaboration of apostles [the E4 gifts], the elders [the E team] and the whole church [the priesthood], not just the elders behind closed doors...
- Acts 18 - keeps ever before us the role of marketplace voices, in this case folks who never seemingly hold a specific position of leadership in the church but are pivotal in the entrepreneurial conversation - here helping start the Corinthian church. Their eyes, ears and voices are so key to keeping the church sharp and moving forward...