Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FIVE GREAT GUIDING PRINCIPLES


 www.simplechurchletters.com

1) Embracing the blessing of not owning a church building. Of course if you have a building there may not be much you can do about that - though I did hear of a church in the UK who sold their building in order to give the money to a mission station! But if you don't own one, my advice is; don't get on the all-controlling mortgage merry-go-round of the Building Fund. Here's a number of reasons why not owning a church building is better than owning one.

  • The Early church evangelised the then-known world without owning any real estate.
  • The release of so much money. It is estimated that the world-wide church owns real estate with trillions of dollars. Imagine the good that money would achieve for health, education and evangelism.
  • They give the impression that the Most High dwells in temples made by human hands.
  • They anchor the church, hindering it from being the 'mobile force' it is meant to be.
  • One sole-charge church leader said, "Owning a building shifted my emphasis from 'filling people' to 'filling a building' ". 

2) The New Testament example of financial freedom and generosity.

The opposite of the legal, restricting Old Testament tithe is the freedom of New Testament generosity. A quick read of 2 Cor. chaps 8 & 9 will validate this. In fact if you use the O.T. Scriptures to practice tithing, you should practice keeping the Sabbath! Selah. My wife Averil and I sincerely tithed for 50 years. More recently we have changed to giving money, possessions and time as we've felt guided by God. And in no way do we want to go back to the mindless, non-responsible, Old Covenant tithe.  See Simple Church Letter, "What Should Christians do With Their Money?" and,  "Should a Christian Tithe.?"

3) Making the poor a priority. 

I've already spoken about the 2,000 + Bible passages commanding us to be generous to the poor.  One of the great blessings of Simple Church is you've got plenty of money! With no property to pay for and maintain and no staff to pay and with people who are generous givers, you can easily help local and overseas situations where there's genuine need. And I'll leave you to count the 2,000 Scriptures, but here's one you may just have missed. It identifies Sodom's major sins, and explains why God judged her - and it doesn't even mention the word "gay"! Ezekiel. 16:49.

4) Demystifying the role of the pastor.

After being involved in a life time of pastoral ministry I have learned some important truths. These include:

  • Pastor (shepherd) is a gift, never a title -- except when applied to Jesus, Heb. 13:20, 21. Note Jesus' strict command regarding the use of titles, Matt. 23:6-12.
  • The majority of Christians who have the gift of shepherding, rescuing, compassionate caring will never have a title, and never want one!
  • The sole leader in most churches today is more of a gifted CEO than a shepherd.
  • There is no mention of the term "senior pastor" in the N.T.
  • When Paul and Barnabas established churches they appointed elders (plural) to lead the new flocks, Acts 14:23.
  • This last point speaks to me of team leadership. I've experienced that during the last nine years and it beats the one-man-band hands down.
  • James Rutz in his mind-boggling book, "Megashift" lists a sorry set of statistics revealing the percentage of (mostly sole-charge) pastors suffering 'burnout', 'discouragement', 'their job affecting their family negatively', 'struggling with Internet porn', and '70% of U.S. pastors who say they have no friends'!!! (page 120). I believe 'team' leadership would cut those stats to shreds as well as turn the idle pew-potatoes into functioning members of Christ's body.
5) Major on making disciples and let God do the converting miracle, Acts 2:47b.

It's common knowledge that Jesus didn't tell us to make converts but to make disciples, Mt. 28:18-20. cf 2 Tim. 2:2.

Actually Jesus didn't even tell us to plant churches, and nowhere did he tell us to invest? ginormous amounts of time, effort and expense on Sunday mornings in order to attract people to attend our amazing spectacle in the hope that the members wouldn't jump churches and hopefully, some people will pray the sinners prayer. (I hope the folk doing this know that, it takes an average of four years between conviction and conversion, according to a recent U.K.poll). Just imagine if all this Sunday morning energy was put into mature Christians, getting alongside younger-in-the-faith believers and walking them through the foundations of the Faith and letting them observe the older members' ministry and life-style. Wow! -- (stands for Walking on Water according to Robt Schuller).

Averil and I have, with others, prayer-walked the streets of a small town near where we live. We have now found (without looking) in this town a "man of peace", (see Luke 10), only in this case she is Gill. When praying about planting a church in Gill's town, we all felt that that should NOT be our goal. All that was needed was, first, relationship, time-consuming evangelism. This to be followed by instructing or discipling the people the Holy Spirit convicts, to do the same evangelism and the same disciple making. No doubt some sort of fellowship will grow out of this process, but that can wait for the important foundation to be laid.

Be guided!
Be blessed!

Jack 

 
 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

LEADING LEADERS - WITH TWO CONTRASTING STYLES


www.simplechurchletters.com

....but which is the most effective?

 
I was struck by this provocative "LEADING LEADERS" article and believe it will be helpful to everybody who is struggling with issues surrounding how we do church. Please note the following...

 

1. It will take you longer to read than my usual Simple church Letters
 
2.I believe the time spent reading it will be a worthwhile investment of an extra 10 or so minutes
 
3. It is an interview with two very influential pastors who have extremely contrasting views on doing church
 
4. It doesn't provide any 'pat answers'
 
5. I trust that it will make you do some serious, important and radical thinking








     
     
     

     

     
    Two leaders. One mission. Two very different strategies.

     

     
     
     
     
     


     
     

     

     
    Observing Neil Cole and Ed Young Jr. is a study in contrasts. The soft-spoken Cole quietly entered the vacant sanctuary where we were meeting. He lingered in the back for a while before anyone realised he had arrived. By contrast, Young burst into the room with a shout—every head turned. The sanctuary was immediately electrified.

    Their contrasting personalities are paired with very different approaches to ministry. Ed Young Jr. is senior pastor of Fellowship Church, a seeker-driven congregation that began in Dallas in 1990. After surpassing 20,000 in weekly attendance, Fellowship Church is still growing with a highly structured multi-site model that uses video broadcasts of Young's sermons. The megachurch now has four locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and recently launched its fifth campus in Miami, Florida.

    Neil Cole is a pastor and the director of Church Multiplication Associates (CMA), a "growing family of organic church networks." Cole advocates a decentralised, micro-church strategy to reach the growing number of people who will never be attracted to a worship service. CMA began in 1990, the same year as Young's Fellowship Church. In that time, Cole's network has launched hundreds of churches in homes and coffee shops across forty states and thirty countries.

    The contrasts between Young and Cole are striking: extrovert and introvert, megachurch and microchurch, centralised and decentralised. But what's surprising is what these two leaders share in common. Beyond a passion for reaching the lost, both men played basketball in college and both majored in art. Both cut their pastoral teeth at megachurches, and both followed their fathers professionally—Young is a second-generation pastor; Cole is a sixth-generation lifeguard. These commonalities only make their divergent ministry strategies that much more intriguing.

    Leadership editors Skye Jethani and Brandon O'Brien met with Young and Cole at Fellowship Church's Miami campus to discuss their different approaches to mission. Befitting Fellowship's attractional model, the entire church had been converted into a studio set for the summer sermon series, "At the Movies." Film posters and a marquee were displayed outside the entrance; even the restroom signage was changed to resemble dressing rooms.


    While most pastors are probably not as committed to the seeker model as Ed Young Jr. or as gung-ho for the organic/missional model as Neil Cole, investigating the divergent ends of the spectrum is helpful for clarifying your own church's strategy for reaching out with the gospel.
    How did you come to faith, and how did that inform the type of ministry you do today?

    Neil Cole: I came to Christ in college and grew at a very strong megachurch. I ultimately went on staff there. Later, when the senior pastor left, our church went from 3,500 people to 600. So I've seen the struggles of being part of a large church staff.

    After finishing seminary and leading a small church in L.A., my denomination asked me to oversee church planting in Southern California and Arizona. We really wanted our first plant to succeed, so we poured in a lot of money. We paid for two full-time pastors, a sound system, worship teams, lots of publicity, consultants and toolkits. But a year later the church died.

    What went wrong?

    Cole: I think God wanted to teach us something. The parables about the kingdom are usually about starting with something small, like a mustard seed. We learned a church cannot be bought; it must be planted. And that means starting small.

    Ed Young: I grew up in a pastor's home, but when I went to Florida State University my understanding of the church changed. I was attending a good, traditional church in Tallahassee, and I invited my teammates from the basketball team to come. Nothing connected with them. That shocked me. I began seeing the church with a different set of eyes.

    I eventually went on staff at my dad's church in Houston. Like Neil, I had the opportunity to be on staff at a megachurch. But I wanted to help start a new church that would be attractive and accessible to people like my college teammates. We moved to Dallas and began Fellowship Church. I didn't intend to start a megachurch; no pastor worth their salt does. We had no idea it would be so big.

    Big is an understatement. You clearly invest a lot of energy and creativity in your worship services. Why?

    Young: The worship event is the port of entry into the church. We have many, many, many, many other things that connect people to the church, like small groups and hospital visitation. Relationships are really important, but worship is the biggest entry point. So we are very intentional about our sermons and creating an experience.

    Is it about attracting as many people as possible?

    Young: Yeah, we want people to come and hear the gospel, but it's also about creativity. I think church should be the most creative place in the universe. That's a big part of who we are. The movie series we're doing right now, and the way this whole place is decorated and transformed, that's about creativity.

    I've heard that you once preached from the turret of a tank. Is that true?

    Young: (Laughing) That story always comes up. We had a guy in our church who said he owned a tank. I didn't believe him, so he took me to see it, and sure enough he had a tank. I was planning a message on spiritual warfare, so I thought it would be great to have a real tank in the church.

    Are those ways to create buzz; to draw a crowd?

    Young: Honestly, it just seemed like fun to me. Ultimately the creative stuff we do is about good communication. A tank is a great visual in a sermon. It's got to be about communicating the message. Period. We're not interested in creating a sideshow. Church cannot, cannot, cannot become a circus. If something isn't going to reinforce the message, we just don't do it.

    But as word travels about the crazy things you've done, doesn't that attract more people?

    Young: I suppose, but that's not why we do it. We want people to connect with the message of Christ, and we'll use creativity to make sure that happens.

    Neil, how does your approach differ?

    Cole: I was trained like Ed—to create a church experience as an outpost and invite people to find Christ there. One of our early plans was to rent a coffeehouse to reach young people in Long Beach. We were getting ready to launch. But in the middle of one of our strategy meetings God spoke to us and said, Why not go to the coffeehouses where they are?

    Rather than trying to convert people from their coffeehouse to our coffeehouse where we could then convert them to Christ, we decided to bring Christ to them. So we started hanging out at their coffeehouses, and things started rolling. People started coming to faith in Christ. That's the difference between being centralised and decentralised.

    What happened after they became believers?

    Cole: We organised them into home groups that met every other week. They were so eager to grow and be together that they started meeting every week. Eventually I tried to launch a worship service, because that's what I was taught to do. People who had grown up in the church came, but none of the new believers did. I was expecting people to leave life to come to church. We learned that wherever life happens, church should happen.

    So, the meetings in the coffee shops became their churches?

    Cole: Right. And it also meant that the mission continued to spread. After a person becomes a believer, we tend to extract them from their context where they're primed to make an impact. Then we plug them into the church. It isn't long before all their friends are Christians and the impact is lost.

    What's been the impact of your decentralised model?

    Cole: We are seeing churches multiplying because we focused on the micro level, not the macro level. We all begin life as a zygote; we start multiplying at the smallest possible level. If we can't multiply on a small scale, we'll never multiply on a larger scale.

    Ed, we're sitting 1,500 miles from your church's main campus. Why have you chosen a large scale, multi-site model?

    Young: First of all, I didn't think it would work. I sometimes call the multi-site movement the gymnasium of 2008. I remember as a kid all these churches were building gymnasiums and buying roller skates thinking that would cause growth. It may have worked for a few churches, and then everyone just copied the trend. It's tempting to think if we just open another site or launch satellites we'll grow. I was sceptical.

    But do you believe it's working for Fellowship?

    Young: Yes, it's working, but I'm not just talking about numbers. I'm talking about lives being changed. Numbers are great, but what do they represent? We're seeing people come to Christ. If that wasn't happening, it wouldn't matter how many sites we have or how many people are attending.

    With multiple sites in multiple cities, how do you now see your role as the pastor?

    Young: I like to say I lost control of Fellowship Church as soon as we grew larger then one hundred people. The role of the pastor changes as you get bigger; it become less about control and more about influence. I believe churches are led by leaders. I believe God gives one person the vision—the pastor. I don't believe a committee-led church can be as effective as a pastor-led church. That doesn't mean a pastor shouldn't be accountable to anyone. It's not a dictatorship, but there needs to be strong leadership. My wife and I have four kids. If we put everything up to a vote, the immature would win every time. It doesn't work.

    Neil, what does leadership look like in a dispersed, organic church model?

    Cole: In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about five leadership roles—apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, and shepherd. And he says leaders are called to equip the saints to do the ministry. So the evangelist isn't called to reach the lost, but to equip other believers so they can reach the lost.

    The difference between a skilled Christian and a true leader is how interested they are in the success of other people. It's about equipping others instead of being the superstar yourself.

    Has your movement been effective at that kind of leadership?

    Cole: Yes, but not always. Back at my office we have a shelf we call The Shelf of Shame. We put all of our unsuccessful projects and resources on display there. Some resources may have been successful at addition, but they didn't multiply leaders—they didn't translate into other cultures. So we shelved them.

    I don't know too many ministries that display their failures like trophies.

    Cole: I had an art professor whose critiques were harsh. People hated him, but I didn't because he taught me not to fall in love with my own creations. That's why we have the shelf of shame. It teaches us not to love our own creations too much. We've got to be willing to let go, to scrap things we've made.

    Christianity at its core is about dying to one's self. The shelf teaches us not to take ourselves too seriously, and to trust Christ more. That shelf contains some of God's best lessons to us. So we're not ashamed of the shelf—we celebrate it.

    Ed, what has been an unexpected lesson you've learned since launching Fellowship Church.

    Young: When I started, I didn't realise the financial mantle the pastor carries. Even though I grew up in a pastor's home, I didn't understand what a significant part of ministry that was. Whether your church has a hundred people or ten thousand, the financial burden is a heavy one. I used to be scared to talk about giving, but that was a mistake.

    It's part of ministry, and it's part of growing in Christ. I feel that burden, but I use it to help people grow in their faith through giving.

    Cole: A lot of pastors feel that pressure, but I don't. Church Multiplication Associates has only one and a half employees. We don't have any overhead. We don't really have a budget for anything.

    And you've planted churches in forty states?

    Cole: Early on, we were fully supporting our church planters, but we realised the cost of reaching even one city would be huge. Using traditional planting methods, it would cost $80 billion to reach Atlanta! To have a spontaneously multiplying movement, we needed everybody involved. So we stopped paying church planters. The next year we got more, and better, leaders because they weren't looking for their next career move.

    So fewer paid staff means more growth. That contradicts conventional thinking.

    Cole: Three things deter spontaneous multiplication: buildings, budgets, and big shots. They may add to the kingdom, but they deter spontaneous multiplication. If ministry requires a highly trained, professional staff member, then an ordinary person is prevented from doing it.

    And buildings may be useful, there's nothing immoral about them, but they don't multiply. If buildings grew out of the ground, that would be nice. But they don't. If we have to wait for the space and money to build facilities, we're not going to multiply very quickly.

    Imagine that God calls you to make disciples in Chicago, where we live. How would you begin?

    Young: Fellowship Church started in order to reach people, like my teammates, who don't connect with the church. I'd probably launch a church in Chicago like we've done in Dallas and in Miami—one that connects with people who don't go to church.

    What are some of the key steps in that process?

    Young: We'd need to find a team and a campus leader to run the church in Chicago. Our leader here in Miami came from a site in Dallas. We'd need someone like him to move to Chicago. There would be a giving campaign to support the effort—there's that financial mantle again. We'd need to find a facility to rent or buy. Eventually we'd launch a worship service and start reaching out to the community.

    Would you use video preaching?

    Young: Probably. That's what is working for us right now, but we're always open to new ideas.

    Neil, how about you?

    Cole: We would drop two people off in Chicago and then spend a lot of time in prayer.

    That's it?

    Cole: We want to see a kingdom epidemic. That begins by sending a carrier of the virus. It doesn't really matter if that's me or someone else, but we think sending pairs is really important. You see that all the time in Scripture. But it starts very small.

    What happens once the team is on the ground?

    Cole: Our two workers will walk the streets of Chicago, in prayer, with their eyes and hearts seeking God's direction. Once they make some connections and engage a community, they'll look for a person of peace that God has prepared. We believe that if God calls us to start a church somewhere, then he's already prepared a person of peace in that city. When that person comes to faith, a chain reaction begins.

    What about actually organising a church?

    Cole: In Matthew 10 and Luke 10, Jesus sends his disciples out. He tells them to stay in one house, or oikos. The word really means a household; a social web of relationships. That's where they find the man of peace. When he comes to faith, rather than extracting him from his oikos and into a church, he is positioned to transform his original oikos. That transformed network becomes the church.

    I think that's why Jesus told his disciples to stay in one house. He didn't want them to carry the gospel from house to house. He wanted it to spread like a virus, an epidemic, from one carrier to the next. That's a chain reaction. That's multiplication.

    Apart from reaching the lost, how is your church maturing disciples?

    Young: Sometimes larger churches are accused of not doing discipleship well, but that's not the case. The truth is we have more people at more stages of maturity, so just looking at a few doesn't give an accurate picture of what is really going on. I like to think of Fellowship Church as a table, and the pastor is the dude with the food. In one chair are people who don't know Christ. In another chair are the new believers. In the last chair are the most mature—what I call "the core." We want to move people from the first chair to the third.

    As your paid staff has gotten bigger, has it made people less involved in serving and ministry?

    Young: It's a big staff, but considering the size of our church it's small. That forces us to give the ball of ministry to the people, and we measure what they do with it. We're always asking, are they serving, are they tithing, are they bringing new people? We give them a lot of responsibility in our programs, and some don't like it. That's ok. I tell them that Fellowship Church probably isn't for them.

    Cole: Most churches try to mature people by using programs. But if the program is the agent of change, then the program gets the glory.

    But can't Christ use the program?

    Cole: Yes. I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm saying it's not always the most effective way to mobilise changed lives. We want people to imprint on Christ from day one. Imprinting is a term from ornithology, the study of birds. When a baby gosling hatches, it imprints on the first moving object it sees. That object becomes its mother, and the gosling expects to be fed and protected by it.

    When a person comes to faith in Christ, most churches tell them to just sit back and receive. They're spoon fed by the church. And what happens? They imprint on the church or the pastor. They expect the church to do everything. And we wonder why there are so many passive Christians.

    What is the alternative?

    Cole: Christ immediately deployed people. Matthew was back with his friends. The Samaritan woman went back to her village. When a brand new Christian is thrust into a hostile environment with a mission, they're going to pray like crazy. That makes them imprint on Christ immediately.

    But they still need to learn and mature in their faith. How does that happen?

    Cole: We use LTGs—Life Transformation Groups. It's a gender-specific group of two or three that meets together once a week for about an hour. Every week, every person commits to reading thirty chapters of Scripture.

    Young: Thirty? That's incredible.

    Cole: They'll meet together to confess any sins. And the group's goal is to reach someone else for Christ. That is what makes it different from an accountability group—it has a missional focus. Our goal is to multiply groups of two or three, because ultimately a church is only as good as her disciples, no matter how good the programs are.

    What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the mission of the church in the years ahead?

    Young: I'm always hearing about new ideas that churches are trying, but I'm concerned that we're making things too complicated. We've got to fight to keep things simple. I tell leaders, I don't just want to hear about something new you're adding. Tell me about the things you're subtracting. To be effective in the future, we've got to resist the temptation to make our systems overly complicated.



    Cole: The way we've done church for the last fifty years, the attractional model, is going to reach a certain population, but we're getting close to tapping out that market. We have to think in terms of mobilising the kingdom to go where people are. Too many Christians are passive and unengaged. They may listen to Christian radio and read Christian books, but they're not communing with God directly. Therefore, they are not dynamic witnesses, and they rely on the church to do all the missional work. We need to help people hear from God directly and obey him.

     
     
    Your feedback is appreciated. 
    Jack

    www.simplechurchletters.com
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


     
    Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.


     

     




    Subject: Can an ordinary believer start a House Church? SCL No 34








     





     

    Waikanae,

    New Zealand


    Friday, August 9, 2013

    CAN AN ORDINARY BELIEVER PLANT A CHURCH?

     

    ...and why not?

     
    This is an important question. Felicity Dale has written an encouraging book titled, "An Army of Ordinary People." If you've read the book, you'll know the answer to the above question. And if you haven't I'll later quote from the book to help us reach a definitive answer. (Felicity's and Tony's books and free e-letter available from, www.house2house.net 
     
    First though, let's look at another question: What constitutes a Church? Neil Cole asked some students this question and they came up with answers like; must have elders, deacons, communion, baptisms etc. He pointed out that there was one necessary aspect they had missed. It was, (of course) Jesus!  The meal at the home of Zacchaeus probably didn't have any 'elders', but they had Jesus. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were only three, but they had Jesus. Nicodemus was only one but he had Jesus. I believe  Matt. 18:20 defines a Church. If Jesus promised to be in the midst of two or three, that constitutes Church. True, it's the smallest possible number and anybody with a mission vision wants that number to expand. But if you've been "gathered together" with just "two or three" others, you've got Church! And, when you get a larger number of people attending, does your gathering become more Church? Robert Fitts, in his book, "Saturation Church Planting", answers this question saying, "It only becomes bigger church."
     
    Back to the main question of this letter. Felicity Dale's book has 19 chapters, that start with, "Hanks story..." "Lisa's story..." each of the 19 stories are fascinating and encouraging examples of ordinary people involved in starting simple/organic churches. People such as Felicity and Tony planting a simple church among their medical contacts in England (they are doctors). Also among their business associates in USA. Their daughter planting a church of hotel staff - even bouncers - (handy for casting out demons!) from the hotel where she worked. A doctor in India overseeing the planting of thousands of "triplet churches" (Matt. 18:20 ones) as well as 3,500 larger groups planted in a four year period. The book describes new converts hearing from God, responding in obedience to his directions, serving people (like collecting all the students' rubbish at a university) so they can first befriend them and if they are open, talk with them about spiritual matters. Then leading them to Jesus and involving them in regular fellowship. And all of these true stories happened without special buildings or trained, professional church staff. Easily reproduced and very economical!
     
    Where can you hold these get-togethers? Almost anywhere! Your home, McDonalds, at your friends homes, at your work place. In Mexico City medical students were banned from holding Bible studies on Campus. They could not find a meeting place until they discovered the hospital morgue was available. Capitalising on this weird location, they sent out invitations: "You are invited to the morgue for a social discussion. The topic will be, 'Evidence for the Resurrection'. Here among the dead some seekers found new life. (From "Kingdom Without Borders" p. 105. Intervarsity Press).
     
    But how do we get started. First pray. Then ask yourself, do I know people who wouldn't go to regular church, but are interested in talking about things that matter in life. Suggest a get-together and take things from there. Some years ago, we met some parents through our Kids' Club and invited them to a few BBQs at our house. Out of this came a regular home and meal meeting that continues to this day. A team from our church meets regularly with a small group of prisoners at their jail. Who would say that for these 'seekers' this isn't church? Why not get a friend and pray-walk in your street or neighbourhood. See what God-surprises comes from this powerful activity.
     
    I'd love to hear about your experiences - good or bad! Other readers would like to hear and comment too.
     
    Jack
     
     

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    CAN YOU HEAR THE "SOUND"?

    ....and what is it saying?


    James Thwaites is the director of the Biblical Studies Faculty of Hillsong, (Australian megachurch). He has written a not-easy-to-read book entitled, “The Church Beyond the Congregation.” The title of the book fascinated me, knowing as I do the culture of Hillsong where the emphasis is fairly and squarely on the congregation and the multiplicity of “designer services “ that take place within their large buildings every weekend. (I must add that Hillsong has impressive community programmes, reaching out to hurting, deprived and lonely people).
     
    Being involved in such a strategic position at Hillsong , and writing a book under such a title is encouraging. As the writer of the insightful book, “The McDonaldization of the Church” boldly points out, even the most tightly controlled church can change.
     
    Thwaites quotes a young megachurch leader thus, “In my spirit I am hearing a sound that I know is calling for radical change to the way we do church. I cannot yet work out what it’s calling for, but I do know that what we will be doing and saying in the future will not be the same as what we said and did in the past. Much of the change will happen for us outside the walls of our church and our one-and-a-half hour Sunday meetings. p.4.
     
    “...beyond the congregation...” “...outside the walls of our church...” This “sound” has been reverberating in many of our spirits for some time. Readers of Simple/Organic/House churches literature will recognise the sound. The Wind blowing...you hear the sound...the Spirit blowing where He wills...
     
    But is all of this an unfathomable mystery? Can’t we see light at the end of our confusing tunnels – and it’s not the light of another “programme-train” rumbling toward us!
     
    Let me tell you what I believe the ‘sound’, the ‘light’ is NOT, and what I believe it WILL BE. (And the NOT is clearer than the WILL BE!)
     
    ·       NOT more complicated church bureaucracy                      WILL BE - uncomplicated simplicity
    ·       NOT more schemes from the mind of man                        WILL BE- more of the strategic mind of God
    ·       NOT more hierarchical domination                                    WILL BE - release of ordinary believers
    ·       NOT more “begging” for money                                          WILL BE - living in the abundance of God’s provision
    ·       NOT church centred                                                             WILL BE - Kingdom of God centred
    ·       NOT church in circumscribed walls                                     WILL BE - church in the world of suffering, loneliness, addictions, despair
    ·       NOT mega-sized gatherings                                                 WILL BE - small, active,caring, missional, multiplying cells
    ·       NOT featuring Christian super-stars                                   WILL BE - equipped saints doing the work of the ministry 
    ·       NOT focussed on attendance at meetings                          WILL BE - focussed on Godly influence in every sphere of world activity         
    Now, what have I missed?
    Let’s have your thoughts/revelations. They will be appreciated and acknowledged!
    Jack