Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to be a good wingman II

I loved being on another man's team. When I came to faith back in the 70's, I was on Carl's elders team as a college student. Then when we planted back in 1983, I joined Dudley's transl-local team for around 20 years. Even when we moved to America 16 years ago, I valued the opportunity to wear both hands - leading and following. It was always so helpful because I both led a team as well as was on another man's team. This kept my feet on the ground, as I was constantly being reminded of the "agony and ecstasy" of collaborating on a vision that I hadn't initiated.

One of my favorite quotes in this regard comes from Colin Powell when he was leader of the American Armed Forces. When he gathered all these top generals together he would remind them with words to this effect: "When we gather to discuss and debate this matter, you are obligated to express your opinion and give your perspective. You owe that to the team. When we reach a decision, you are obligated to own it as if it were yours."

Being a good wingman, demands your honesty and integrity. The moment a team can no longer express their opinion freely and easily, it has lost it true trinitarian model. It is in fact dying and will ultimately fragment. It may take a few years, but it will implode. The very nature of true team in includes:

1.   Every team player is valuable for their value as people, with their integrity, faithfulness and gifting;

2.   Every player is valued for their eyes, lenses on each conversation. Their voice in dialogue is essential to the health and maturity of the team. Silence or worse a sense of being patronized is a sure sense that the team is losing her way, and surrendering to the dominant voice of a single leader. That then leads to a form of dictatorship even if it a is a pleasant or benevolent one;

3.   Every player is drawn out to be engage in the conversation - it is not dominated by the alpha personalities in the group. That will always lead to imbalance and bias. A true wingman is valued by the leader, when they know that their perspective is essential and necessary. They are to honor this value by doing their homework, research and coming into the discussion, ready, studied and prayed up.

4.   Every player leaves the room with the decision reached after prayer-filled discussion, owning it as if it was theirs. There is a conviction that we will all carry when the decision is made by "It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit". It is so important that the private conversation never drifts towards "... well I never really agreed but..." This does so much damage and opens the door for the enemy to divide the team. Ownership is imperative to being a string and steadfast wingman.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to be a good wingman I

Over all these years of empowering and releasing church planters, there is one thing that I do hear with some frequency -  "if I had known what I know now, I would have been a much better team player..."

I would like to have some fun, with a touch of honesty and a splash of reflection, and share some of the ways in which we can all be better wingmen in this journey of leadership.

The more I study the Trinity, the more collaborative my leadership approach becomes. Of course there is captaincy in any leadership arrangement... It is is the trinity. It is in the home. It is in the church. But  there is far too much alpha male thinking in lead pastor models in the modern church. We act as if that is the biggest piece of ecclesiology evidenced in the scriptures. Unfortunately, it is not even in the text - but that is for another conversation.

How do you choose whose team you you will play on?

Simple peep over his shoulder - what do you see?

1.   With a new leader, you would not have had time to see him as a seasoned campaigner. Therefore, you can look and see what he was like as a wingman. Did he love, serve, care, sacrifice or was he self preoccupied, promotion driven, only fussed by how he would benefit by the moment [what is in it for me? Danger, danger, danger]

2.   If married, how does he treat his wife, publicly and privately? How he treats her is how he will actually and ultimately treat the bride.

3.   How does he speak of those who were once his leaders? Is there honor, respect and appreciation? Where there has been human weakness, is it treated with love but honesty in a redemptive way?

4.   How has he handled others? Does he treat his team with authentic collaboration and partnership or are they there to fulfill his vision [where on earth is that in the text?] Are their giftings recognized, given air time, applauded or silenced and forgotten? Are staff joked about behind their backs and patronized? Danger, danger, danger. How do they handle staff no longer with them? Are they forgotten, spoke of poorly, disrespected?

These and others are certainly reasons to avoid these kind of leaders. If they have done it to others, they will just as easily do it to you.

More to come....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tyler and Houston

We arrived in Houston this afternoon. It was a remarkable few days with Dave, Lea and the community in Tyler Texas. It is such a privilege to work with these churches - one at a time, personal, intimate and intentional.

Apostolic ministry is in part about being a father - what do father's do?

For one, fathers are life givers. Through love they they give others life, rich authentic and substantial.

They also empower others to live without them. They raise up their kids to leave home not create eternal dependency. I love working with these churches, helping them find their story, empowering them to that end. Then one day they may leave home - as happened with Jesus on that farewell moment.

This weekend we are here with another remarkable community with Brian and Rachel, and One Life here in Houston. In both of these plants we have been involved since the initial possibility talks. These folks have poured themselves out to establish themselves in new cities - parachuting into new cities to bring an expression of kingdom advancing, gospel preaching to their respective communities.

It is such an honor to partner with these churches

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Living Legacy

Delighted my new ebook entitled "A Living Legacy" has been published by Exponential...

Todd Wilson asked me to write this book. When we were together in Miami a while back, he listened to our story and was intrigued by the raw radical nature of discipleship with the view to church planting.

As with all of us, we have enjoyed our journey, but never felt like it was particularly amazing or that different. M and I have simply loved journeying with mates, believing that we could change the world through church planting.

Thanks to Dudley Daniel, this audacious notion was seeded in our hearts, changed the way we did life, giving us a pretty wild ride.

Enjoy the book as much as I had fun and tender moments, thinking of the dear friends and their remarkable acts of obedience.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Genesis Collective - 5 Yardsticks.

In Steve Addison's book entitled: "Movements that change the World", Addison argues that there are certain ingredients that are seen in every movement that has had local or global impact.

He writes: "In general, movements are informal groupings of people and organizations pursuing a common cause. They are people with an agenda for change. Movements don't have members but they do had participants...

"Movements are characterized by discontent, vision and action. Discontent unfreezes people from their commitment to the way things are. Movements emerge when people feel something needs to change. If the vacuum created by discontent is filled with vision of a different future and action to bring change, then a movement is born. Movements change people and changed people change the world...

"The renewal and expansion of the church, the breakthroughs always occur on the fringe of ecclesiastical power - never at the center. In every generation, in some obscure place, God is beginning something new. That is where we need to be."

Addison says that all movements have these characteristics in common:

1.   White hot Faith;
2.   Commitment to a Cause;
3.   Contagious Relationships;
4.   Rapid Mobilization;
5.   Adaptive Methods.

He quotes Victor Hugo:
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world and that is an idea whose time has come."

Applying this to genesis collective, 

1.   White hot faith - we are simply passionate about being a gospel-centered Trinitarian crew. The gospel burns in our soul - not just in salvation, but in ongoing transformation and kingdom advancement;
2.   Committed to a cause - we desire to see cities, counties and countries touched by this great gospel by planting effective, healthy, growing, multiplying, New Testament churches, partnering with God and his supernatural power as he continues project planet earth;
3.   Contagious relationships - we love doing life with mates! In the humility of our humanity, we carry out vulnerability with honesty, removing any notion of being professionals and maximizing the idea that we need each other going forward;
4.   Rapid mobilization - we are committed to the theology of multiplication. Seeing churches as seedbeds of leaders with a passion to multiply out, we are continuously on mission whether it be in the shadowlands of our city or the uncertain culture of foreign nations;
5.   Adaptive methods - outside of the key, clear biblical 'must-do's', we give much room for each church to explore and discover their own adventure. There is certainly not one model, pattern or way of doing things. Culture and context must be factored in to ensure that this gospel is global in impact without losing the biblical essence.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Genesis Collective - name

There is always a chasm between what is biblically accurate and what is culturally understandable. So seeking to be biblically accurate can at times, alienate us from cultural impact. Similarly, seeking to be culturally connected as the highest value, can equally alienate us from remaining true to the text.

When we stepped from the NCMI team, we gave ourselves time to:
1.   Applaud and re-own the NCMI best practices. This has been very easy, especially thinking back on the earliest years, pre-NCMI when we actually learnt the most from Dudley. They were certainly remarkable years, with some weighty life changing lessons learnt and values defined - those days were very organic, fun, uncertain, adventurous.

2.   The next thing we did was to put all our desires and convictions back on the table and revisit them through the lenses of scripture. There are times that we all have to admit that we are deeply influenced by our prejudices, biases, traditions and history. That was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.

3.   Third step was to be very honest about who Meryl, I and our friends are, what we can do, cannot do, strengths and weaknesses. I suppose we were rather amazed at the vulnerability you experience when you step out from the role you have played, are known by - 27 years of leading 2 churches on 2 continents, as well as 25 years of being a key player in the unfolding of a church planting movement. Step from these 2 roles and one has to face the reality of who you are as opposed to the traction that you carry by being in a very defined leadership space.

4.  As these matters became clear, we were then stuck in the biblical / cultural dilemma. When we studied the New Testament and became more than ever committed to reflecting that, we realized there was no cultural framing for that understanding. People asked me: "So are you a missionary?" or "Is this the Chris and Meryl ministry?"or "Are you a guest speaker in these churches?" or "Are you a mentor, a coach or consultant?". It was then that I realized that we needed to give verbal empowerment to those who desired to understand what we do. Hence the name...

genesis collective

genesis - I love going back to the very beginning whenever I set out on a new study. In a perfect world, what do the first 3 chapters of Genesis teach us? It was here that the call to Adam empowered me to see that God's created order was defined by - "increase, multiply, fill the earth..." Gen 1:28 This is the fundamental framework that should fashion the way we do life, so too our marriages, families and churches. This is the very essence of being apostolic.

collective - The ascended Christ left his ministry on the earth, not just with the priesthood of all believers [and that is wonderful] but also, through his fivefold gifting as seen most beautifully in Ephesians 4. The forgotten gifts that history keeps trying to write out of the church's story, remains one of the major keys for these, the last of the last days. The apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are still gifts to the church, not to dominate or dictate but be servants to empower each church in their unique story.

So, we are a group of mates who desire to see the nations discipled by planting New Testament churches, each on their own journey by serving them through the E4 gifts that Jesus has given for their adventure. We love being a grassroots church planting movement that works with new plants laying strong foundations, secondly revitalizing and recalibrating churches that have grown stagnant, and thirdly helping large churches become movements through church planting, multi-siting / planting campuses as well as leadership development.

That is what the name stands for...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Genesis Collective - the faith foundations

Wow what a year!

It has been an amazing year for M and I.

We took this year as a pilot year, to see how God unfolds the biblical apostolicity that would define our future - it has been an adventure. The danger in times of entrepreneurial uncertainty, is to repeat the past. Whether successful or a failure, it is what we know, so we do it over and over again.

Our past has been extraordinary. The numbers look like this

We came to faith - 35 yrs ago,
Married 32 yrs ago,
Pastoral ministry for 30 yrs,
Served in 2 international church planting movements,
Led 2 churches for a combined 27yrs,
On 2 continents,
Have 3 biological children, - [now 4]
And 4 grandchildren,
Helped plant many churches,
In many countries.

Yep - an amazing adventure. However, we still have another good 20 years in the saddle.

In many ways the next 20 years are the most intriguing. They are certainly unchartered, but unlike 20 years ago, we now know just enough to be dangerous. 20 years ago, we knew that we were ignorant - and I guess ignorance was bliss. Now after all these years of study, leadership, pioneering, brotherhood, we can begin to believe our own press. There is just enough for us to be impressed with the story, thereby relying more and more on repetition rather than on the destructive nature of faith.

Why 'destructive'? Faith always has to undo us first - our knowledge, our experience, our wisdom, our ways, our thoughts, our efforts. Then, in the midst of this seemingly calamitous undoing, is the first stages of the discovery of the new. It is scary, painful, vulnerable, but empowers us to divine dependence.

The world we live in is simply not the world we set out in during the "Invis" Jesus People days of the 70's, nor the same as the pre-NCMI days of the early to mid 80's. These are such different days to the 'heady and intoxicating days" of the 90's. So much is changing. So much has evolved and transformed. So must we.

Over the next while I am going to walk you through the Genesis Collective unfolding story. It has been amazing watching God put the journey together.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


"The deepest enemy to Christianity is not atheism, but sentimentality. And
sentimentality is seen most clearly in Christians' unwillingness to have
their children suffer for their convictions. They just don't want to think
that to be a Christian means you might have to pay some prices for it. Being
a Christian puts us at odds with the world. Try being against war
or...greed. Christians think that they know what they are talking  about in
sexual issues, because they know what lust looks like. But I think most
forms of lust today are really forms of greed, because you never get enough.
So, our lives are deeply challenged by noticing that we are formed by greed
in ways we don't even know how today. What would greed look like? Two SUVs?
So we concentrate on sex because we think we know what that looks like when
we get it wrong. We don't know what greed looks like, so we don't even
notice it. So how to recover a sense of what it really means to be a
Christian, putting us at some odds with the sentimentalities that determine
what most people mean by 'morality'..that's what's needed. Therefore it
deeply angers me that in the accommodated form of  Christianity that so
possesses our lives today, we hardly know what an alternative would look
like". Stanley Hauerwas on Christian Sentimentality

Nick Davis

Monday, September 24, 2012

Genesis Collective

I am so excited!

Today a number of us go away as we continue to explore the nature of apostolic christianity - especially in the way God has called us to express it.

Seeking to define a legitimately American apo story, we will scrum down around Gal 1 + 2 as well as 2 Cor 10 + 11.

Your prayers will be appreciated

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The "Curse" of the American Church - Celebrities

All of us, I am sure, have looked back on a saying our folks had, that irritated the lights out of us. It was a mantra that was repeated, that stirred up the thought: "Why don't you just shut up?". Then one day, a situation arises when it all makes sense. Sheesh, dad was right after all. Now I understand.

My mentor, Dudley Daniel, drilled a value into our hearts and minds: "Avoid fame like the plague!" That was so irritating to a young ambitious church planter. Why would I want to do that? Surely I should use very opportunity 'for the Lord', 'share the love of Christ', 'advance the kingdom'? But Dudley would say it to us repeatedly - annoyingly so.

But he was right. My ambitious heart would have been sucked down the road of celebrity-ism, and stumbled and fallen like so many before.

The American culture is very vulnerable to the celebrity [and so are most cultures]. In fact the disciples were so too. When Jesus was 'the flavor of the month', they wanted him to work the angles, piggy back off the popularity [and they would benefit of course]. But he saw through it. He sent them ahead to Jerusalem but he quietly drifted into town unnoticed. He knew the hearts of men and was not going to submit to that.

Even when Saul was made king, God, through the prophet, tried to warn Israel that that was not his wish, will or ways. But they persisted. They wanted a king. They wanted a celebrity.

Many years ago I read a very sobering article written by Jamie Buckingham. He told of a poor inner city church in Detroit I believe. In their desire to have a king / queen, they took up an offering to buy the pastor's wife a fur coat. Buckingham said there were two tragedies in this story. Firstly in their poverty they bought the fur coat. Secondly, she accepted the gift. I know some may argue this was their effort to honor. There is such a subtle line between these two. This plumb line is only found in our hearts.

The big story in the church is the priesthood of all believers. The small story is the eunuch's that Jesus uses to prepare his bride for marriage. Paul undermines any notion of the big celebrity when he speaks of himself as being: "servants of apostles as last of all... spectacle of the world...fools for Christ...scum of the earth... refuse of all things." 1 Cor 4

John Stott says that at the cross we shrink to our true size. 

Dear friend, we must avoid fame like the plague. Honor, recognize and appreciate, sure. The text loves honor. But when the line gets crossed, especially in our hearts, the church comes out of the street fight bloodied and bruised. We were not "made again" to step into the spotlight of celebrity-ism.

Avoid fame like the plague! Especially now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The "Curse" of the American Church - Corporate

I am loving Tim Keller's new book called "Center Church". Buying it for my iPad was a delight as we sat on the Dallas runway, delayed by several hours for a maintenance matter. The reading, especially on movements, was very helpful.

"Church" is such a rich word with such a remarkable history. Has there ever been such a brutal assault against any other system, movement or organization in human history? She has held herself in the everlasting arms and found the courage to continue. It is a remarkable story, where she has had to deal from enemies from without and from within - and she lives to shine so bright.

Many years ago I read from one commentator that there were 93 pictures of the church in the scriptures. Now I have tried to find them and have failed. I have found some beautiful pictures however - great kodak moments that include the church being called a bride, an army, a building, a temple, a family, a household. Amazingly, the one picture that I have never found her to be called is a business. Of course that does not mean that business is bad. Quite the opposite, the bible inspires the entrepreneurial ideas of the marketplace. It is just that of all these metaphors, the Holy Spirit just does not see business as a great metaphor that describes the church.

The corporate world is simply not an acceptable frame to architect the church around. This does far more harm than good. Now we do understand that the church must abide by the law of the land in her financial practices and systems. However, many churches in this remarkable nation have defaulted to business being the primary model that shapes the church. Let us look at a few:

*   elders are chosen who are successful businessmen but may not be shepherds, pastors and bible lovers, chosen to be decision makers but do not have to be in the trenches of the community,
*   boards are established as pillars in the modus operandi, yet there is no board ever mentioned in the text,
*   scripted meetings hold a higher value than being Spirit-led - this requires spontaneous obedience,
*   church leadership has moved from pastor / shepherds to CEO's who run the church like one does a business,
*   annual reviews have replaced the value of personal accountability and discipleship,
*   'hiring in' has been a surrogate for effective intentional recognizing of, raising up and releasing "sons to become fathers, daughters to become mothers,
*   Coaches, mentors and consultants have replaced apostles and prophets,
*   If the church is to be a family, then surely the community is to be led by 'fathers and mothers' in relational authority and not by the positional authority that a role or title gives the man,
*  And then of course the family do things around the dining room table more than on glossy campuses.

Of course we need some organization - the larger the church the more complex the administration. However, the prevailing culture must not be the systems and programs  but the people as I am sure Jesus did to the 1000's who followed him. The lenses must surely be the biblical matrix for church and not the self-imposed images that do not aid the God life.

In the last of the last days when all nations will hate us, the church that will stand strong then will not be the raging corporation captivated by their facilities and charismatic celebrities, but the humble one's who are known by the love they have for each other, living in kingdom accountability, intentional discipleship and missional engagement - whether the communities are large or small.

Simply put, the corporate must go and the community loving, Spirit-led leadership return. We have no option.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The "Curse" of the American Church - Hiring

I love a thinking man's faith. My mentor when I was a young, new believer, Carl introduced me to the world of knowledge, biblical knowledge. I suppose it is true to say he empowered me to doubt - believing nothing till it was worth believing.

There is therefore a legitimate role that seminaries have in the evolution of leaders. Of course it is not biblically obligatory to study in this capacity, but to have sometime in an environment of learning does have value. Too many planters and pastors are preaching very lightweight theology, often really only devotional talks that really don't cut it in a world that demands a more profound response to life's questions.

The limp that these schools and the culture surrounding them produces, is that the graduates leave their studies for  a world of church hiring - get your resume out there, apply for jobs, get into the ministering marketplace. Oh dear - how culture has dominated the church landscape!

Why is this problematic? Simply put - "Hiring produces hirelings!".Jesus warned against hirelings - those who are committed to their careers more than the church, they love their promotion more than they love the sheep. Changing churches to "greater" ministry opportunities is a curse to the church. We preach the church as a family - that means dads and moms who have kids. These kids are loved and raised up to become adults themselves. But the practice of hiring undermines the very fiber of this family message. The church is a family not a business.

In the same way, the approach the text seems to take us into, is the journey of salvation, discipleship, through faithfulness, to leadership. Families who raise up their own leaders - those who love Jesus, love this bride, love this story and lay down their lives to that end.

Hiring bows at the altar of selfish individualism - I want the best job, at the best church  for the best salary, to give me the best stepping stone for the best future. This dear reader is a tragedy. It is one of the main reasons why the church in this great country is stumbling.

Can we pause and be honest? This system has not worked. The turn around of staff has not produced family of community. The local church cannot be called to live 'family' if they are not truly led 'family'. This disastrous way has to change. From hirelings, we need to go back to raising up "sons who become fathers", from hirelings to shepherds who know the sheep, call them by name, lead them with love, laying down their lives for them. Can we be courageous and bold and revisit the bible best? I hope so.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The "Curse" of the American Church - Pragmatism

Earlier in the year I was invited to attend a gathering of "Network Leaders", facilitated by a church we would all be familiar with. The 3 day event was wonderfully and generously hosted with attention to detail and extravagant in their new facility.

As the sessions rolled by, I became increasingly intrigued by the fact that the bible was not opened nor used. Besides the scripture being referenced for devotions, we were never taken to the sacred texts to wrestle with what they say about the great conversation. In fact, to be quite honest, I left after the second day feeling so saddened by the fact that these leaders were being instructed by business consultants and sociologists [and some of it was very interesting for sure, and we certainly can learn from them] but not by apostles or prophets who take us to the scriptures.

I am seriously alerted to the notion that the American church is governed by the "if it works use it" mantra. When Playboy caught the attention of the world with their highly appealing "if it feels good do it", it was serving a palatable diet to an emerging postmodern world. Has the church gotten on that gravy train with a little more elegance?

Now I do know that there is a debate about whether the New Testament is "prescriptive" or "descriptive" in the way church is suppose to be run. This eternal debate must not distract us from the need to make our first pitstop in the word no matter what the conversation must be about. To simply head down the road of "best practices" before we scrutinize "bible practices", is to really reflect the charge against Israel where "everyone did as they saw fit".

I love the entrepreneurial nature of American society. The entrepreneur makes "from nothing, something". This 'can do' attitude is contagious and so empowering to a church that can so easily get stuck in "old practices". However, this strong cultural component can perpetuate a biblical illiteracy that already pervades the width of this nation's churches.

Surely, we can be courageous enough to ask questions like:

Is this conversation,
biblical - is it clearly in the text and must therefore be replicated, or
a-biblical - the text neither endorses nor rejects this, so it is scaffolding useful to get the job done, or
unbiblical - it is clearly against the teaching of scripture and must therefore be rejected at all costs?

Although I will look at this separately, allow me to add here that one of the great sacrifices at the altar of pragmatism is the role of Ephesians 4 gifts to the church. Replaced with coaches, mentors, consultants, these Christ ascension gifts have been sidelined to irrelevancies. Surely a tragic mistake. To ignore that part of Jesus that he left of himself in the lives of men and women through his gifts, to replace it with a very poor surrogate is surely a serious tragedy.

My suggestion is that we get back to the posture of humility that once again sees us getting to the text first with grace and faith. This is not a call to bland legalism. It is a joyous appeal to see what the bible says in this regard. Where the word is spacious and expansive let us step into those places with courage and boldness [like multi-media and lighting -  reflecting the fun and power of an exotic thunderstorm] but where the word speaks clearly, let us forge our architecture with similar intentionality [like raising up sons rather than producing hirelings].

There is a road back from this most unhelpful of lenses. What will we pass on to the next generation - a passion for the doctrine and practice of the scriptures or an abandoned irresponsible quest for success that reflects our consideration and not that of scripture?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The "Curse" of the American Church - Success

In the first blog initiating this conversation I quoted a megachurch pastor who said the "the American church wants the shortest possible route to success".

I have loved being in my third decade of walking with Jesus and "watching the tide rolling away" [With all due apologies to the songwriter]. Over this time there has been an ever evolving description of what this "success" may look like. From the Jesus People movement, salvation was the true measure of success as1000's rolled into the kingdom. The Charismatic Renewal captured us with the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Success was the priesthood operating and the gifts flowing.

Well I could trace the history of the last 30 years and show how each major divine visitation took that moment as the "true" measure of success - at times it was prayer, then healings, then again it was church planting and so the list goes on.

For the American church beyond any doubt, the most consistent yardstick of success is statistical growth. The more 'butts in chairs' in gatherings over the weekend, the greater was the 'success' of the leader and his church. That dear friend is the tragedy of this unfolding story.

As I have sat with planters and replanters aground the USA, many have wanted to give up. Between the tears and heartache, the ultimate reason often is simply given "Chris we are not growing". This is extraordinary. When one looks over their shoulders, one sees community doing life together. The word is preached, they have over 60% of their congregation in prayer, they are loving and serving their community in true missional love... yet their growth is negligible, so they are slowly getting crushed by this great cultural demise.

Dear reader this is not a lightweight matter. The Damocles sword hangs over them day and night fearing that the dreaded call will come when someone will leave the community and they will again be faced with the raw reality that they are not successful because they are not growing.

Conferences are shadowed by the "successful" pastor who has gathered large groups of people. Their loud inaudible whisper is that you have to grow like me to get to speak at this event, write your book, sell your DVD.

Applause at feedback times swiftly jump to 'so-n-so' who has grown by 20% this last year - raucous and loud. Yet the genius who plods with diligence and obedience, feels the embarrassing silence of being forgotten and neglected.

I do believe in the role and value of large churches -  M and I labor with many of them. However it is not the size of them that measures their true biblical "success". It includes these textual plumb lines:

1.   Is there a clear gospel focus and hub in all that is done?
2.   Are they Trinitarian in theology and practice,
3.   Is their mission clearly communicated and embraced by the largest part of the body?
4.   Is there true community, doing life together in real, honest and transparent relationships?
5.   Is there true sacrificial devotion to worship, prayer, fasting and the scriptures - personally & corporately?
6.   Is there a culture of generosity that includes tithing but outstrips it as a revelation of God's giving nature?
7.   Is there a conviction and intentionality to recognize, raise up and release leaders for the church, the city, the country, both marketplace as well as for the church community?
8.   Within the theology of multiplication, is there a passion to see churches / campuses planted that advance the kingdom more than they replicate the brand?
9.   Is there an urgency to 'eager desire the greater gifts', a priesthood desperate for a greater collaboration with the Holy Spirit,
10.  Is there a passion to see this gospel "go to all nations". to disciple all nations, so that the end will come?

These are the true measures of success - then we can let God take care of the growth factor, as that is His part of the deal.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The "Curse" of the American Church - Intro

I love America. The first time I travelled through was 1985. The church we planted in South Africa had just completed a 3 week fast [soup and fruit juice], when the leaders felt it would be good for us to come to the USA to get some new and fresh lenses for the next chapter in the community's evolution.

It was a very fun trip - from eating the biggest burgers I have ever seen, to tripping down the LA freeways in an old Cadillac, to doing the Disney thing, to meeting some of the most humble, sincere, Jesus loving people I have ever met. We simply never thought we would end up here.

I love America. She has enlarged me and my family. Her natural entrepreneurial juices keeps the economic energy pumping [even in these times of economic uncertainty]. There is a belief that we will ride out this downturn and emerge afresh from this wave.

I love America. She has served the nations of the world. She is often amongst the first to send in help to  tsunami ravaged areas, earthquake torn nations and the poorest of the poor. [OK and been in wars she probably should not have been...]

But I am saying this because I do want to focus in on some of the weaknesses of the American church. There is much to applaud and it does come easy, but we cannot look in the mirror, see the zits and shadows then walk away and ignore.

I am aware that the word "curse" is a strong one. Can I use it in the broadest possible sense? I would like us to reflect on those things that is ensnaring the American church - putting her in bondage, limiting her true Spirit led power to advance the kingdom.

If there is a question I ask most often when I work with leaders and churches it is this: "How biblical do you want to be?" I know you are probably reading this saying "Chris are you serious, that is such an obvious question, why is it even asked?".

The answer lies in the fact that the limp of the church is that the leaders want "the shortest route to success" [as a pastor of a megachurch told me]. That is the primary value and priority.

We want to explore what these "curses" may be and the way back from this wilderness. My objective is not to be critical but to be empowering, to rescript a way back to a greater biblical American church, loaded with grace, freedom and passionate mobility.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Teaching Schedule for September

I love the fall here in LA. The edge of the overwhelming heat lifts as the city regroups after the long summer. Schools start up again, colleges stumble into the energy of freshmen arriving and the older students seeking to refocus after the break. The roads are busy again. The 'new year' has begun.

For M and I, we too refuel after the summer on the road. We had a remarkable trip to South Africa in June - our role there includes strategically working with some of the large base churches who are becoming movements in their own right. There is also the joy of helping friends who are developing their own apostolic spheres. This is simply a massive privilege.

July saw us back here in the LA area working with the local churches before we headed off to Australia. It has been 22 years of traveling in and out of Oz. We have learnt to love the nation, her people and the challenges of ministering in "the land down under". As the Father has been teaching us that the Ephesians 4 gifts are their to empower the churches on their journey - the churches are not there to empower the E4 gifts on their journey - so we can easily apply that in Oz. August was truly a most wonderful trip where we invested into a church that is replanting after 18 years, one that is a new plant of 1 year, and a large church that is becoming a very weighty, influential community in her city and beyond. Very strategic stuff.

For September, here is our ministry schedule:

Labor Day weekend off - simply enjoying the ministry of others, Although...
Sunday night 2nd we are hosting a dinner for potential church planters at our home,
Thursday, 6th - Exploration, our monthly gathering of planters and pastors picks up again - we will interview Darren Rouanzoin, planter and leader of The Garden in Long Beach...
Sunday, 9th - Houston, at the opening of One Life's new building, love this community and the story they are unfolding,
Sat 15th / Sunday, 16th - Rock Harbor here in OC, doing the 6, 9, 11 gatherings,
Sunday night 16th - the Genesis prayer crew will meet at our home for some friendship and prayer,
Sunday 23rd - Redemption Church in Costa Mesa - church plant of Phil and Jen Wood,
Mon 24th - Wed 26th - gathering of Lead Couples who journey with us here in North America for 2 days of fun, friendship, theology, prayers, ministry, worship,
Thurs 27th - Sat 29th Urban Renewal hosted by Southlands Church,
Sat 29th / Sunday 30th - Rock Harbor at the 6, 9, 11 gatherings.

Thanks for all the love and friendship.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Church Planter Coffee Conversations

Today I had a delightful coffee appointment. Of course the coffee shop was well chosen [all who see coffee making as an art know this is essential to supreme moments].

While in Australia, I was emailed asking if I would meet with some guys who are looking to plant in Costa Mesa. Now that is always interesting, this request was particularly intriguing. This was a plant from a church planting stable that dates back to the British Restoration move that found its expression in the 1980's. The founder of this part of the movement, Bryn Jones, I met in 1984. Their work around the world I have always watched with interest as it had parallels to our own story.

Our coffee was a delight. These are two remarkable men - Andrew is an older statesman. One of those who asks many questions yet you always feel that behind that inquisitiveness is an old kingdom veteran with many stories to tell, experiences to share. Carl, the young planter is hungry, eager and teachable.

The conversation drifted around church planting in Orange County. It was fun to be asked questions around what I would do, where I would do it and how I would approach it. Well here are some of the pointers from the conversation:

*   Although over 4000 churches are planted in the USA yearly most of them will fail - the reasons seem to be a lack of sufficient financial backing and the absence of true, intentional, in the trenches partnership with Ephesians 4 gifts - by way of calls, skypes, visits, listening, praying, befriending - the biblical way is not coaches and mentors but apostles and prophets;

*   Parachuting into a city requires doing the hard yards of getting street cred - with so many plants failing and a growing mistrust of churches and the clergy, there is no replacement for the value of the pre-launch. Here time is taken to establish a core team where vision and DNA are fashioned into a working narrative even before the plant is launched. This may take somewhere between 6 to 9 months...During this time trust is established in the community. I am here to stay. I love the city, her people and I want to lay my life down for her;

*   One must discover the "ant trails" [Ed Stetzer] - only time will allow us to find the rhythm of that city - where do folks go, what do they do, what drives them, how do their view their spirituality, where do they spend their money, who do they view their families and how do they recreate;

*   I was asked where I would plant - definitely near a university and a freeway... this is LA. Universities are a gathering place of folks coming in, they are disconnected from their old worlds, they are looking for new ideas and are looking for community in their new setting. In LA with the lack of public transport, one has to be within walking distance if possible or near a freeway for folks who drive in;

*   Connecting with other pastors and leaders in the city is a must. Planters are always standing on the shoulders of these who have labored in the paddock for many years. There is the integrity and humility of coming to town to respect and acknowledge those who have gone before. There is the teachability and collaboration of learning from those who have knocked on the doors of grace with their prayers. There is the kingdom mindedness of realizing we all need each other to get this glorious gospel out to all cities and countries;

*   We spoke of the notion of being weary of planting a brand rather than the gospel. It was so refreshing to hear of a plant that is passionate for the miraculous, signs and wonders, and healing. What a relief to taste such a hunger for the real, the authentic, the supernatural.

So that was a couple of hours in my life. Now you know why I love what I do. Jesus is so very kind.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grace and The Narrow Gate

The trip from Perth to LA is long. Leaving behind the precious little tear filled eyes of those grandkids is never easy - never mind a pregnant daughter which adds weight to the final hugs and kisses.

This trip down under was particularly weighty. Meandering through the 3 centers of Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth restored in us the clear sense that the Father still has a role for us in the land of the 'diggers'. We have been going there since October 1990. Oz is buried deeply in our hearts.

Coming home always takes a few days to find our land legs. The sheer flight recovery alone takes a few days. Getting out on the road to run again is simply imperative to rediscover the new day time line, as well as wrestle off the extra pounds we accrued from people's generosity as well as the Ozzie treats - not just TimTams... oh my weakness, the Ozzie 1 meter licorice rolls - they kick my butt!

Then back to my daily conversations with my heavenly Father. These early morning musts are such a gift to a spent soul after so much ministry and love exchange.

This morning I found myself digging back into Matthew. And to crown it all - Matthew 7 to be specific. Reading this chapter through the lenses of the gospel and the grace lace, I found myself stirred by this most noble text.

It is amazing how some dismiss these teachings of Jesus as being of the old order of things as if Jesus could ever teach anything that was not empowering, liberating, transforming. This whole chapter is profoundly grace soaked. It is a most simple mirror to gage our true spiritual measure - not one fashioned by passing fads or even false prophets.

These texts are true reflections:
"First take the log out of your own eye and then you will clearly see to take the speck out of your brother's eye..."
"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few..."
"So every healthy tree cannot bear good fruit nor can a a diseased tree bear good fruit..."
"... many will say to me: 'Lord, Lord did we not prophecy in your name and cast to demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them. 'I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.' "

Where does grace fit into this? Simply grace empowers us to say 'no' to sin and all forms of ungodliness.... to find the log in our eye first. Grace is the most power evidence of the Father at work in us - the true evidence of humility.

Grace finds great joy in the unchartered adventures of the narrow gate - the journey where the Father's good pleasure is our highest call. Grace gifts us with health to produce good fruit. The easiest way to discern someone's grace evidence is to peep over their shoulder. Good fruit speaks of healthy trees.

Grace walks easily in the ways of the Father. Lawlessness is the evidence of the father of lies. He butchers, bleeds and breaks the great God story to self promote his brand of "spirituality". Prophecy, miracles and mighty works are not evidence of divine endorsement. Only fruit of doing the will of my Father is the lasting story.

I love grace, it is the ongoing evidence of a life under gospel transformation. It does not justify sin as true freedom, nor is it dismissive of glorious rich biblical texts. It is the very life empowerment offered through the work of the Spirit out of the truth of the text who is Jesus himself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home time

What a remarkable trip down under! For 3 weeks we have spent time with remarkable men and women [and children] who have poured their heart and soul into the land of the "diggers".

I do love this nation. Coming here since Oct 1990, we have seen this nation and our small role in it go through some amazing transitions.

Seeing the tenacity of our friends in Brisbane, the creative evangelistic punch of our friends in Adelaide, and the pioneering passion of our friends in  Perth has been truly inspiring.

We came here to serve Jesus' 'girl', but we have come away loved and refreshed more than we imagined.

Folks there are saints out there who will receive great rewards for remarkably difficult assignments. We may not think much of their "success" but the kingdom surges under their "little by little they took the land".

It is a huge privilege to be a trench digger - a foundation layer. No it is not very glamorous, but boy is it satisfying. M and I love working with church planters - what a unique breed. We love working with those who labor replanting churches. This recalibration is so essential to refuel them. Then we feel so honored to be helping large churches become movements.

Wow - back to LA tomorrow for a very important next stage of this story

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to make our kids 'gods'

I was preaching in a church last month when I heard my mouth say: "One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is that we love Jesus more than we love them". Well you can imagine how that went down. The placed hushed to a pregnant silence, as folks tried to process their revulsion at the thought that anything would be loved more than their kids and a vague recollection that maybe that is what Jesus spoke about somewhere in the sacred text.

So many decisions made by parents, however leave their children with the misperception that they are the center of the universe. The problem is that they are not. Then, when they engage this God of the gospel, he is certainly not placing them in the center of his universe and they end up in endless combat with the Ancient of Days as a result.

However, if you do with to make your child a 'god', here are some helpful tips:

1.   From when they are born, ensure that there is only ever silence in the house so as not to disrupt their sleep in anyway,

2.   Make bed time a set time that cannot be broken under any circumstances - of course that makes going to evening life groups and the like impossible,

3.   Never let them sleep anywhere but in their bed as that may be very inconvenient and disrupt their rhythm, - or in your bed, so that if you and the missus don't make love for weeks, it is not a problem as the 'little god' is not inconvenienced,

4.   Only let them eat what they like. The notion that they must 'eat what is set before them' is fiercely anti their rights to choose,

5.   Clean their rooms for them all the time. They must be served as they are royalty

6.   Always tell them they have done well - even if they haven't. These are not lies but pleasant encouragements. Honest debriefs and assessments are to be discouraged because they may reveal faults and flaws when what we really want to do is applaud all the time [surely that is what God does with us isn't it?]

7.   It is never their fault - I mean we know a poor grade is the teacher's fault, the distracting child in the other seat, or it may even simply be the school, so we need a new learning environment,

8.   They got drawn into the wrong crowd - of course they are never the wrong crowd, it is those other kids,

9.   We must certainly never give them chores nor even expect that they fulfill these duties - they are tired, [from late night TV or video games] and this has no bearing on how they will shift from job to job as adults,

10.  They must definitely never let them acknowledge wrong doing, apologize, make right, pay for the damage...

I am sorry if my humor is not very funny. However, my desire is not to poke fun at nor belittle - I simply want to take daily mistakes we all make inadvertently letting them believe that the universe spins around them. Then, when they come to faith or even simply have to deal with life, they are floored by the fact that neither God nor humanity are there to serve their needs and they spend their life, angry, grumpy and disillusioned. There is only one God - and it is not them.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


It is a delight to wake up to the sites and sounds of Queensland. My first trip to Oz was in October 1990. Since then, M and I have loved coming back to this remarkable country many, many times.

I love the raw, honesty of the Ozzies. They will say it as they see it, loving the notion of honest conversation. There is little affection for organized religion [as they see it]. Yet they are deeply fashioned by the notion of "mateship". Reading the account of the Ozzie soldiers in a book called "The Diggers", I was fascinated by the level of commitment that the Ozzie has towards his / her mates.This is a deep cornerstone in the culture down under.

Arriving in from LAX yesterday morning, I got T onto the flight to Perth [his first solo flight - I do wander what his future is in Christ] I know enough of my heavenly Father to know that this is not coincidental. His heavenly Father is building key components into his soul, that we will only understand looking back. The nations are in his soul.

Our dear friends Leon and Sonia, hosted a gathering of pastors and wives in their home for the afternoon, ending the evening with a delicious curry. There was not much room for jet lag. We had a most wonderful time chatting around how effective text management is essential to empowering people with a love for the word, reading it, studying it, applying it, living it, getting it.

Getting ready to teach in their community in a few hours. Oh God, give this remarkable nation a most powerful but unique visitation. So few love you on these shores yet a redeemed Ozzie is a great kingdom advancer.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Text Management

It is wonderful to see more and more churches empowering the pulpit and the people by being more and more committed to teaching through books in the bible.This focus and priority of text management is pivotal to developing healthy and ever maturing believers.

I love being part of the Rock Harbor teaching team who scrum down weekly, finding the key components as we wrestle our way through the intriguing book of James. With many of the teaching team being quite young, we are continually reminding ourselves of some of the essentials for accurate, yet Spirit empowered teaching. James is often poorly taught as a book of morals, ethics and marginal legalism. That is not the case. Here are some simple guidelines to effective verse administration:

1.   Author: It is essential to know who the author is, as it does fashion the understanding of the text significantly - try to find the story behind the story.

2.   Audience: In the same way, one does need to know who he is writing to, as it gives meaning to the angle of authorship as well as the use of metaphors, illustrations and OT references.

3.   Phone: Every letter is written as a response - this could be to questions being asked or issues being faced. The cell phone analogy is helpful as we are only hearing one side of the conversation and this does have significant implications. Having only half of the conversation is an important matter we have to remind ourselves about.

4.   God piece: Our eye has the tendency to look for the "I must do" piece first. This is not a good way to read the scripture. It is more important to see what the "God piece" is. As with James 3 the temptation is to rush off to my tongue management. But the God piece is "bless the Lord". Framing the chapter through worship does change the way we preach it.

5.   Bookends: The front end and backend frame of the verses, enables us to put the text into context so we do not become guilty of butchering the true meaning.

6.   Mirror: Finding a complimentary text elsewhere in scripture is very valuable to see how the apostles  or prophets were teaching  side by side.

7.   Story: Find the narrative piece. Scripture is the God story, not a book of principles. Like Jesus we are to be teaching far more in a story format than "10 principles of anything" - that is not good bible management.

8.   Pastoral prophecy: We do use good exegesis to understand and teach the text. Once we have been true to the meaning, we can then seek the application of the text in both a prophetic and pastoral way to truly minister to our people. Finding what God is saying to our congregation through this scripture now, is  imperative to effective pastoral care. Simply give the Holy Spirit words to work with...

Hope this helps. Anything you want to add?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Teaching Itinerary for August

Wow, we are into the second half of the year already.

Thought I would update you'll on the teaching story for August:

Sunday 5th: @ The Garden with Darren and Alex, in Long Beach, with the 2 morning gatherings and then lunch with there core leaders after;

Thursday 9th: Exploration @ Rock Harbor - our monthly gathering of pastors, wives and leaders for the LA / OC area;

Sunday 12th: @ Brisbane with Leon & Sonia's community,

Tuesday 14th: @ Gold Coast with Brad and crew,

Thursday16th - Monday 20th: @ Adelaide with Tony & Cath Rainbow and the Victory Church, with a full program; Lunch with Dudley & Anne as well;

Monday 20th - Thursday 29th: @Perth with Mark, Nas and the Kingscross community - obviously excited to see the family as well as 1 year after their reallocation from the suburbs to downtown Perth.

Would love your prayers for these communities.

Monday, July 30, 2012


It is my birthday today...

Born 1958 in Vanderbijlpark, Transvaal South Africa.

Married for almost 32 years
Have an incredible wife, remarkable kids,
Teaching and preaching since the age of 18,

Simply love Jesus and his bride


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prayer points

Dear reader

There are a number of key vital and major matters that require much prayer in our story - can you help?

Global Collaboration - a massive piece of God's plan for gospel advancement internationally - with whom, where, when

American apostolic story - we are hosting a gathering of American apostles in Jan - getting the right folks in the room for clear God conversations and relationship building

Personal questions we are asking the Father for clarity

Your prayers are appreciated

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Apostolic Empowering

I loved teaching at a gathering of around 120 planters, pastors and wives here in Durban yesterday. The deep sense of brotherhood, obvious love for Jesus, his bride and each other was palatable. Rory Dyer, my dear and deep friend, hosted the moment with real tender courage. I suspect that is exactly what these times need.

The book of Galatians was used to expand and explore the biblical framing for clarity in the present day reality. Essentially, Paul is answering 4 major questions / accusations:
1.   The questioning of his apostolic authority,
2.   The assault of legalism on the churches founded in gospel-grace,
3.   The leaning to existential behavior where Christianity becomes reduced to endless encounters,
4.   The vulnerability to cultural imperialism - where we sell our culture as biblical.

We need every apostolic sphere to be steam in on all cylinders. The subtle undermining of these emerging spheres is foolish. It is partnering with the devil in his game plan. Take out the leaders and a generation is lost. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.

God is raising up many new apostolic households / spheres. Just as there were many apostles in the New Testament, each with their own style, emphasis, ways yet being obedient to the Father, so too, there are many apostles being raised up in our hour.

They are not fancy CEO types nor celebrity, conference speakers. They are foundation layers, trench diggers, concrete workers. They are unglamorous but most necessary to empower a generation of new church dreamers on their journey. Some of these new apostles will be more Johanian - deeply invested in Communities of Love. Others will be big and large and home based. And others will take the more Pauline way of establishing works then, as they gain traction, they move on - the most challenging of them all.

Lets not be guilty of applying the arrogant comment: "Well I would not do it that way". That is not our call to make.It is not our story. But, by Galatians 2, we can applaud and endorse cool evolving God stories, watching as the Father does something very cool with them. Gracias.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Global Collaboration

Every season and chapter in a God adventure tries to find the vocabulary that will best describe what God is doing "in our day". These 'abiblical' words are scaffolding that help us adorn the bride, build the temple, empower the army.

"Missional" has been such a big word over the last while. Whilst we may get weary of the word, we simply must not get tired of the mandate.

"Global Collaboration" are two massive words for the next decade. They will define us, shape us, enlarge us, empower us, alienate us, activate us, separate us.

What will it look like?

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I received a very delightful surprise call from Todd Wilson. As the leader of Exponential, catalyst for Future Travelers amongst other things, he had a very interesting proposal for me - Would I write a book about the way I have approached discipleship over the years?

The thought was both delightful and scary. Delightful as I have simply loved the notion, over the years, of investing into the lives of a few and launching them out on their God adventure. Scary, because I have no formula, program or matrix. This form of discipleship is simply doing life together. It may be a very small book.

I would love to hear your discipleship story... including a few in the book

Sunday, June 3, 2012

5 Years on

About 5 years ago we were in London in a prayer meeting, when a very weighty prophetic word broke into our time of worship together .

Several things made it important - not only did it call to attention the importance of the voice of prophets to whom God often speaks first, but it spoke of new alignments, allies, partnerships. These circles within circles created an Ezekiel-like notion of blurred lines... wheels within wheels. The future would be very different.

Now, half a decade later, it is remarkable to see how all of this is playing out. Of course there are some who were drawn to the excitement of the prophecy initially, until it became clear that it would disrupt the old order, so they retreated behind the fences of the known. Others wished and expected everything to change overnight and stepped from the prophecy because it did not happen fast enough. This discouraged them deeply.

I guess the lesson we have all had to learn is the humility needed to let God lead us through these unchartered waters, living daily with uncertainty. None of us thought it would be like this. Of course we were unfortunately guilty of mismanaging the moment and fragmentation went where multiplication was meant to pioneer.

Yet I am so grateful that the Father is righting the wrongs and building the beauty of his divine design. That word was not given for simple creative architecture. It was for the sake of taking the "gospel of the kingdom to all nations and then the end will come". When that soul is lost, some will defend the status quo while others will rage about the new, the eclectic, the radical.

It is not about either. It is, was and will always be for the sake of the gospel. To miss that is to draw earthly battle lines, losing friendships, defending causes, missing collaborative moments. If it is not for the gospel, it not worth anything. If we lose this we will be authors of implosion or institutionalization and not co-conspirators for gospel advancement - and that is what Jesus died for.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Back up

Dear friends

It has been some time since I last wrote. There are times when one needs to listen, heed, quieten a very cluttered soul to find access to heaven's throne of grace.

It is early in the the morning here in Capetown South Africa. The winter darkness, blankets the city with its dank reminder that cuddling in bed is where I should be right now. But an early time of prayer and sacred text reflection feeds the soul more than anything else. A cup of hot tea [don't know how to work Thomo's coffee machine] and some time in His presence is my very great reward.

In a few hours, I will be in a room with some of the most remarkable young mean and women in this great country. The privilege to open the scripture and scrum around Paul's personal pain, is one of the things for which I am most grateful in God's kindness.

These are such pivotal times. Don't miss them because the "demons" of demand clutter one's life from sitting in His presence. Staying in step with His Spirit is the most important priority right now.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The brook detour...

Thanks for your grace in my silence. I have had a very fruitful time in North Carolina with some remarkable men and women. It is amazing how deep one can love men, when there has been such a history of a shared journey together.

I was reading through 1 Kings last week when something caught my eye. In both chapters 17 and 18, Elijah stands before the king. Well in and of itself that is not really that remarkable. True prophets will find themselves standing before rulers and those in authority over them. So my eyes then jumped to the texts between these two appearances. What happened between the two confrontations? What more did God have to do with Elijah? That led to quite an 'aha' moment.

God gave Elijah a 'brook detour'.

The rest of the chapter sees the prophet on a very specific divine journey. God had some deep work to do in him - and that is so often necessary before a larger faith assignment. We hate the God direction to isolation and a sense that we are being forgotten and left behind. God calls Elijah from a pretty cool prophecy moment when the heavens dry up. There is no time for him to be impressed with himself. Preparation for the next faith project is at hand.

Firstly God sends him to a brook. "Far from the maddening crowd" God will show him, as with Abraham, God will provide, 'he is my very great reward'. All too easily we begin to believe our last miracle... sell our podcast, write our book, move our DVD. But the Father says 'No. I have more to teach you - not in a classroom, but in a life or death situation.' I will teach you that I will take care of you. I love the fact that the food was brought by a raven. Wouldn't an eagle have been more cool? A raven? Not so much.

Secondly, God sends him to the widow at Zarephath. Its like, you have passed elementary school of faith -"I have provided for you. Now I will show you my provision for more than your needs". My how hard the 'widow assignments' are. After having to call a famine on the land, it is a little of a let down to go and serve a widow. That is certainly not the promotion in the marketplace. Before a large assignment dear friends, God will always send us on a very humbling chapter - it reveals his love for the disenfranchised and exposes our humility - real or imagined.

Thirdly, we get falsely blamed for something we did not do [the reason for the son's death]. This really hurts, especially when we are simply serving them. But the Father has to teach us about miracles through tenacious faith. Elijah had to pray three times [don't you love the old fashioned way of saying 'thrice'? It sounds quite spiritual actually]. He had to literally lay himself on a dead corpse such was his conviction that God would heal the boy. Biblical conviction will outweigh personal awkwardness and embarrassment. The boy lives - now Elijah is ready for the next assignment...

Dear friend, do not fear the isolation, for God does reveal himself to us that he can only do in the wilderness - ask Jesus himself. We will get sent on a fairly innocuous assignment, yet a most necessary, humble one. I do wonder if Philip knew that he was pulled from the revival in Samaria to speak to a eunuch on a dusty road. Mmmm. It does make you think. And then there is that miracle moment that only God can explain - but one we have to believe in and fight for.

The brook detour... we just can't live without it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Movement Dynamics - from Tim Keller

Movement Dynamics by Tim Keller

JANUARY 7, 2010

The Global Cities Initiative Conference took place in New York City on September 9 – 11, 2009. Over 80 cities were represented by ministry leaders and church planters. Tim Keller gave three plenary addresses at GCI. Go here for info.

September 9th – “Gospel Renewal”

September 10th – “City Focus”

September 11th – “Movements & Ecosystems”

His discussion of movement dynamics, with the following characteristics: [summary by Jay Lorenzen: Campus Crusade for Christ]

  1. Unified vision and beliefs,
  2. Cooperation and catholicity of spirit,
  3. Sacrificial commitment,
  4. Spontaneity and creativity.

Below is a summary of his points as Tim compared a movement with an institution. Let me suggest that you discuss these “dynamics” with your missional teams and help move your ministry to a movement and keep it from becoming an institution.


Oneness from common vision and beliefs: A movement is driven by a clear vision for a particular future reality, based on common beliefs.

Marks of a movement

1. Organized around a common vision for the future.

2. All leaders and key players share same goals.

3. Forward movement through arriving at consensus or near consensus on next stage in reaching the vision.

Marks of an institution

1. Organized around by-laws and ground rules.

2. Each leader/department presses for own differing agenda.

3. Forward movement through negotiated compromises to form agreed upon ‘strategy.’


Emphasis on cooperation across lines: A movement is peopled by workers who put the vision ahead of other differences and learn from and work with people of other preferences, temperaments, and secondary beliefs.

Marks of a movement

4. Leaders have high tolerance for ambiguity and organizational “messiness”; what matters is the cause and vision. Result: lots of cooperation with those outside your organization who share the primary beliefs and vision.

5. Responsibilities of leaders overlap; everyone ‘owns’ the overall organization’s health; result is much cooperation within. Emphasis on ‘roles’ – who you are in the movement. Structure looks more ‘flat’ and like a network of teams.

Marks of an institution

4. Leaders have high need for clarity and compliance; what matters is proper procedure. Result: little cooperation with those who don’t share secondary and tertiary beliefs.

5.“Silo”and turf consciousness; the result is contentiousness. Emphasis on ‘tasks’-what you do in the organization. Structure is more ‘top-down’ like a pyramid of individuals


Devotion to God’s kingdom over self or tribe: A movement is peopled by workers who put the vision ahead of their own interests and needs.

Marks of a movement

6. Great sacrifice is tolerated: low pay, long hours, poor conditions. Leaders need less approval and encouragement; self-starters.

7. High level of trust. Less need for accreditation and close supervision.

Marks of an institution

6. Individual needs more important than progress of the whole. Workers need rewards, much accountability from top.

7. Little trust. Constant meetings. time-consuming reporting, long approval processes.


Spontaneous growth without top-down command: A movement constantly generates new ideas, new leaders, and new initiatives across itself—not solely from the top or from a command center outside of it.

Marks of a movement

8. Movement spreads through recruitment from relationship networks. Organic growth through friends’ enthusiasm and an appeal to sacrificial commitment.

9. New ideas are solicited and incorporated quickly. Lots of openness to creativity; freedom to try and fail. Leaders give workers more support than control.

10. Relationships strong; much “off-line” thinking occurs through friendships. Leaders naturally attract and ‘train’ new leaders through relationships.

Marks of an institution

8. Organization grows through formal processes of communication and “sales” appealing to individuals’ self-interest.

9. Innovation is seen as threatening if not coming from top. Great fear of any failure. Leaders keep tight control, give little support.

10. Few friendships; little happens outside of meetings. New leaders have to be recruited through formal processes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Gracious Marriage

Eph 5:18 - 33

These are my notes from a co-teach Meryl and I are doing with pastors and wives today. The notes may be a little sketchy, but I hope you can make head or tail of them. I have been fascinated by this text as it is read and applied through the eyes of the gospel - how to live in a grace-filled marriage. Meryl is doing the ladies stories. Here are my notes:

Husbands - Very clear, specific Spirit focus so that there is no ambiguity as to who he is addressing and what their response is to be.

Love - this is not to be determined by personality, prejudice, culture or age. This is to reflect all the forms of love found in the scriptures - phileos [Friendship], agape [unconditional fellowship love - treat her as you do the 'sisters' in the church and then better still], storge [fondness through familiarity / family style], eros [romantic, emotional connection]- this is supernatural! Every man [pastor] is to offer this width of love to his wife - all 4 components that C.S Lewis spoke of

Your wife - this is a clear call to be a “one-eyed man”, where she is the measure of all beauty, chosen by God for collaboration, borrowed but to return as his daughter.

All the following components are linked with the husband’s leadership. Now the ministry has many uniquenesses that we spoke about last month. Let me recap on a few:

  • Living in the pain and privilege of the public life - it is not a curse, but you cannot let it rule you,
  • Living without clear work & home - friendship & function lines - it is imperative that the husband provides clear intentionality or the blurring of the lines will create conflict in the home,
  • Living with the joy of emotional expenditure yet ensuring that I do not get to empty, as my family do have the right to expect me to be a resource to them,
  • Living free - not allowing the family to accrue hurts, wounds, disappointments, people leaving / criticizing / being insensitive
  • Living within our ‘faith means’ - not within our 'budget means', our leadership is essential to lead our family in our budgetary journey - and it must be a faith journey

As Christ loved the church - he is the measure of this love [in the same way] - so how did the incarnate Christ love the church? It is only possible to love your wives this way if we are ongoingly, continuously, filled with the great empowerer...

  • Be filled with the Spirit Eph 5:18 vs drunken debauchery... we get refreshed in beauty, not illicit sensuality,
  • Walk in the Spirit Gal 5:16 vs desires of the flesh [cant get married for the flesh]sexual immorality, impurity...
  • Led by the Spirit - vs vs led by the law [everything is not always right or wrong; good or bad; black or white...we do need to find the discerning wisdom to be Spirit led and not always default to the letter of the law - like Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery]
  • Fruit of the Spirit - vs governance of the flesh - being dictated to by these emotions, but rather letting the Spirit be our guide and fruit producer,
  • Live by the Spirit vs not conceited, provoking, envying...[where some marriages dwell]

he gave himself up for her - he was the giver of grace!

  • Undeserved mercy 1 Cor 15:10 - I am who I am by the grace of God
  • Unmerited favor [approval, acceptance, special blessing]Rom 5:15
  • Free character of grace Rom 3:21 - 26, Eph 2:8 - 9,
  • Distinguished from the law Gal 3:1 - 14
  • Cause thanksgiving... do not lose heart 2 Cor 4:14
  • No to ungodliness Tit 2:11 - 14
  • My grace is sufficient for you - 2 Cor 12:7 - 10
  • To each grace is apportioned - divine empowerment 1 Cor 12 Rocognize, respect, their grace gifts

he might sanctify her - “appears to be the present process of making her holy in character and conduct by the power of the indwelling Spirit” John Stott

he might cleanse her - understanding as Peter said: “Like wise, husbands live your wive in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1Pet 3:7. When are they weaker? Roger Foster said when they “menstruate, gestate, lactate” - monthly cycle, pregnant, nursing... and that maternal instinct is also released if you build your church with the family in mind

he might present her - we will present our wives to their eternal groom... is their beauty more captivating, their perfume more intoxicating, their worship more exhilarating, their affection more liberating, their soul more purified

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies - now what did Jesus do with his body? From my vista, he took it to the cross - in his quest to bring liberty, salvation, redemption to all, he offered himself as a living sacrifice - our wives must have the sense that we are not just laying our life down for 'his bride' but for ours as well