Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Update

M and I will be involved in the following situations this month:

In Sacramento CA with Rick and Cath as they set out on their multi-site journey;

Exploration - 'Pastoring Pastors and Wives' is our current conversation - we are chatting around "Marriage and Ministry", here in Orange County CA;

In Rock Harbor, working with Todd Proctor on many fronts, but the exiting pilot happening, is "The Timothy Project" - an intro to leadership we are holding monthly for the next few months to see the emergence of the next wave of RH leaders;

In Dubai UAE, M and I are honored to be with Mike and Charmaine and the whole Well of Life crew, both in the local community as well as speaking at their church planting conference;

On the way back from the Middle East, we will spend a few days with Sean and Nola and their community in Reading UK, as they explore the 'missional community' route, as well as the pastors that they are journeying with.

Added to this, I am trying to finish my book on 'Replanting', as I write "The Timothy Project" curriculum... oh for more time to write.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just how biblical... ?

"How biblical do you want to be?" - is a strange question to ask pastors and leaders but never the less one of the most important ones we need to enter any conversation. I hope I am not a pedantic legalist, nor a culturally insensitive bigot, however I simply cannot escape the sheer wonder and mystery of seeking to find God's architectural design for our evolving conversations.

Having been through 3 'revivals' and having savored the richness of 2 church planting stories, I am amazed at what we defined as 'biblical' and therefore essential. Without the slightest ounce of judgement on those days, we were all learning as we leant into the God story as we understood it at the time.

What is imperative is that we use this matrix in our conversations:
  • What is biblically / theologically imperative,
  • What is prophetically strategic,
  • What is culturally essential,
This gives us much space to explore the direction of the Spirit within the integrity of the text. Whatever is not clearly biblical we now examine as:
  • Is this 'biblical'?
  • Is this 'unbiblical'?
  • Is this abiblical [meaning is the bible fairly silent on the matter, so we use other realted pieces to evaluate its legitimacy]?
The use of scaffolding then comes into play. Where there is an 'abiblical' quotient to the conversation, we realize this now enters the scaffolding component. This is not a heaven or hell piece. This is not a 'hill to die on' piece. This is not a 'Paul and Barnabas parted' piece. All that we are talking about here is a seasonal element that we help to put up the building, but that must come down when the structure is up.

Of course there are several things that do get in the way of us fully pursuing a fully biblical form:
  • Personal preference,
  • Tradition or a reaction to it,
  • Culture or subculture,
  • History,
  • Fear,
  • Habit,
  • Absence of debriefing / critique,
  • Pride,
  • Defense of the previous generation / leaders,
  • Peer pressure...

I know this is quite elementary, but as we enter the beginning of the year, it is good to honestly matrix ourselves again through the lenses of scripture to ensure we keep shaping our journey through the essence of the biblical text. All else are helpful but seasonal, if it is not unbiblical.

For example:
  • Service length and scripting is diverse and creative in the text - one liturgy cannot be seen as 'the' biblical way or being more biblical than any other,
  • There is no word to describe the title of the guy who leads the elders. Now we now that there is no leadership egalitarianism either in God or in the text, but there is no defined role for such a person on the E team, so we have to be comfortable with scaffolding of 'senior pastor' [not one I like], 'visionary pastor' [not one I am comfortable with as it implies that all vision comes from them and that is simply not true], 'lead pastor' [one I do like as it speaks of the Rom 12:8 gift that this person seems to have to catalyze the team], 'lead elder' [is good but in some countries this implies a bivocational person who is part of the church's management team rather than the biblical picture of pastoring as well]...
I hope this helps... keep the conversations going - for through them we will find the mind of the Lord 'It seems good to us and the Holy Spirit".

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5 Lessons my mother taught me

Welcome back to the new year. It certainly stirs the juices as we engage in a new calender chapter of our lives. The new year often, and rightly I think, gives me permission to revisit my life - what am I doing well, what am I letting slip, what and where should I focus and then of course the most beautiful of all questions: What does the Lord require of me?

My mother is a remarkable woman. She was not born into wealth, nobility or education. However, one would find it difficult to find a more regal, dignified honorable woman. The nature of this honest blog, is not to divulge the private stories of my family. Those we live with. Rather, this about about this amazing woman who refused to lower her head, nor surrender her dignity even in the deepest of life's challenges that were thrown at her. Her story would require another blog to fully account for her journey of faith.

However, her lessons to us were impacting and powerful:
  1. "Laugh first" - I am sure why she acquired this gift, but she gave it to us. I am not even sure that she connected it to the text which reads: 'The joy of the Lord is my strength', but her commitment to show us how to laugh as a first response to all situations, was a remarkable act of kindness. When the scripture says that: 'In His presence there is fullness of joy', we realize that laughter overwhelms the gloom of defeat. I have invested that into my children. Now we attach that to Jesus and his victory. There is little else that can so readily defeat the devil than the laughter that comes because of an 'empty tomb' - a true Jesus victory.
  2. "Honor your father" - As your read in my last blog, you will know that I have a deep love and admiration about my pops. However there were periods of his life, and therefore ours as a family, that were extremely hard. The weight of life's challenges resulted in stuff that went down that was very difficult. However, no matter what was done or said, my mother simply would not let us speak of nor act in a way that was dishonoring of my father. Here she did quote the scripture - "honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving to you." You don't have to agree with your parent; they do not even have to be good parents, but we were to honor them in simple bible obedience.
  3. "Face your failings" - I must have been about 8 years old, when I left my cardigan at the bank where my mum had gone to attend to business. We got home when I realized the error and promptly told 'Oums'. She got me back in the car and off to the bank we went. Upon arrival, she told me to get out and go in an ask for it. I was distraught. No amount of tears or 'I can't' would convince her to feel sorry for me. I had erred and I had to face up to my mistake. Oh am I grateful for this lesson. Not blame others. Simply acknowledge the mistake, take it on the chin, and fix it.
  4. "Get on the stage and sing" - Music was very important to my mother. She used to sing over us babies. She used to sing with us at home and in the car. Later worship filled our world because music was such a natural traveling companion. I loved that. The love for music was a very generous gift. However the related gift that my mum gave me, was that I was not to pander to my moods, emotions, or doing only what I felt like. From an early age she got us onto the stage... whether it was singing in a choir, then singing in solo competitions, she simply would not let us surrender to fragile feelings. We were taught to be confident to get on the stage, to sing because had given us the gift and find the courage to take on challenges even if we were tempted to back away. " No" was simply not an option.
  5. "Forgiveness" - There were several key moments in 'Oumie's' life that were painful and damaging. To a lesser woman, these moments, seasons and encounters would have been very destructive. But 'Oumie' forgave. Somehow she found the grace to forgive. I am sure in her humanity, it was not always easy, but most times she valued freedom more important than vengeance, contempt or anger. During some of my ministry years, I have found deep grace and encouragement by her story. How could I who have experienced such little pain, carry unforgiveness, when she who carried much had found her true gospel component?
These are key cornerstone of my life - and for that I am very grateful.