Archive for September, 2012

Please Make Missional Simple. What do we do?

Please Make Missional Simple.  What do we DO?

In practice, Missional Church must be kept super-simple,  or at least as simple as possible.  One of its goals is always multiplication of mission –  disciples becoming disciples who make disciples who make disciples.  Complex things don’t multiply.  There is no one right way to do this, but what I am posting below has worked for us time and time again.  Importantly, it has also transformed our “mother-ship” church to a large degree.  It will never be perfect, but there has been tremendous movement both in the mission field and in the church.  There is a whole bucket-load of theology behind the steps below, but people don’t ask me for the theology as much as for the way to get moving.  So here’s an algorithm, a set of steps to take and make your own.  My sincere suggestion is that you try to learn the steps first, then innovate.  But then, that’s up to you.  So here you go.  12 simple steps.  If you want to know the theological “why?”, I would be happy to have that conversation on here.  So feel free to comment away.  Have fun!

1)      Pray. Fast. Pray. Get a couple of Christ-followers with the spiritual gift of prayer, and walk through your mission field and pray for houses and families and people and alleys and street corners. Then pray some more.

2)      Get at least one Christ-follower from your church to go with you in the mission. If you don’t go to church, get a Christ-follower from whatever Christ-following group you hang out with.

3)      Find the “Person-on-the-Ground” who will tell you what is needed in that mission field, where to find the people in need, and when to find them. That person is out there.  The Holy Spirit put them out there to help you get started. Get them to agree to help you launch the mission.  Ask them where to meet her/him and when.  Don’t be disappointed if he/she no-shows.  They have already done what the Holy Spirit put them there to do.

4)      Get at least two people who are not Christ-followers and who do not go to church to agree to go with you into the mission.  Tell them, “I need your help to do some good for these people.”  Do not mention Jesus at this point.  Just invite them to help you do some good. Then let them help you do what you do better.  Let them have genuine impact.

5)      Go to your church and see what resources they are willing to invest in your mission.  Invite anyone in the church to help you.  Get your non-believers to go back to their tribes and nations to do the same.

6)      Gather your people at the mission site.  Tell a Bible story that relates to your mission.  Don’t READ a Bible story, tell it from memory.  Ask the people to look for that story as they serve in the mission.  Have a prayer for protection and for those who serve and are served. Set them loose to be subject and object.

7)      Launch.  Hand out the food or clothing or blankets.  Learn the names of those you serve and call them by name.  Have a conversation with anyone who will have a conversation with you.  A NORMAL conversation.  Ask them if there’s anything they need prayer for in their life.  If they say, “No”, ask them to include you in their prayers when they pray (be specific in your request if you can).  If they say, “Yes”, then offer to pray for them right then.  Tell everyone to invite their friends in need next time.

8)      Anyone that you pray with, ask to stay and help you.  If they can’t, ask them to come and help the next time.  Some of them will. Let them make genuine impact on what you do and how you do it.  Let them make your mission better. Invite them to pray with people.  Many of them will.

9)      At the end, re-gather your team and those who stayed to help.  Ask them to say something about how their experience impacted them.  What did they see that changed the way they think about something? Whose names did they learn? What touched their heart?  How do they feel?  Then connect their responses back to the story you told at the beginning.

10)   Ask all your helpers to come back the next time and to bring a friend with them.  Ask them to bring whatever resources they can get their hands on.

11)   Your team is now part of your congregation AND part of the mission.  So minister to them.  And become friends with them.  ALL of them. Live your life with them.  Invite them into your life.  Do this for no other reason than that you need friends. Kingdom conversations will begin to happen on their own, but feel free to smuggle the Kingdom into everything.

12)   Begin to look for adjacent mission fields (Other needs near your mission site, or other needs of the people you are serving).  Begin to apprentice your replacement at the mission site right away.  As soon as possible, give that mission away to your apprentice and take two of those people and start something new in one of the adjacent mission fields.

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Mustard Seeds – The $1 Mission

Mustard Seeds – The $1 Mission

For what it’s worth…a thought about mission and  “little” mustard seeds. Something that has borne fruit in our missions is to think always in terms of:

1) “disciples who make disciples”,

2) “participation on the subject and object spectrum”, and

3) “multiplication”.

Occassionally, as the Spirit leads us, we do something called the “$1 Mission”. We take an offering in worship of one dollar bills from everyone who will give one dollar. It usually amounts to a little over $100. We pray over it. And we put in the hands of a person in the pews that the Spirit leads us to. Included in the envelope with the money is a note that reads:

“God put it on our hearts that you were in need of this money and that we should entrust it to you. God also put it on our hearts to tell you that only two-thirds of it is for you. The other third is for you to give to someone else you know who is in the same kind of need that you are. Whether you give it or not is between you and God. This is not our money, It’s God’s, now placed in your hands. Ours is merely an act of obedience. May God use it to bless you and, through you, someone else that God is desperately trying to bless as well.”

We also included the positive side of the passage from Matthew 25: “When I was hungry, you fed me….As you do unto the least, so you do also unto me.” (Quoted in full though, without Matthew, chapter, or verses) The only stipulation made is that the envelope has to be given anonymously in way that the receiver could never know where it came from. Like I said, that has borne much fruit inside and outside our walls. Have fun! Peace.

Hold on for the Ride! We’re Headed for Stormy Weather!

Hold on for the Ride! We’re Headed for Stormy Weather!

My Sunday-worship part of our missional church community just witnessed what I think was its first exorcism in their midst on Sunday.  Is that what it was? I think so.  But I don’t know so.  Let’s just say some paradigm shifting went on as some really crazy, wild stuff went on.  Let’s also say that a whole lot of powerful conflict went on right before worship that threatened to throw off the Spirit of worship that day.  I got a message from a witness who laid hands on the person in question and witnessed and heard everything that transpired.  Here’s what he’s asking and my meager response to it.  Hold on for the ride.  We’re headed for stormy weather.

Congregant: (Self-described believer, and I would concur with that.  True desire to follow Christ in his life.  Part of our Sunday-worshipping community for about 10 years.  Male. Late thirties, Caucasian, middle class, college-educated, in a professional position at work.  From a Pentecostal/Baptist family heritage.)

“So what was that at church today? I’ve heard of that stuff, but never really seen it up close, much less been right in the middle of it. That was something REAL, and my cynical side wants to explain it away but can’t. I am convinced that God is real and that Jesus died for my sins, but that was something else altogether! That was something with flesh. Then after we sat ________ (the person, she actually passed out after the event) down at a table, I looked up at everyone else and they were acting like nothing happened. And I kept thinking “Did you not just see what happened?” I know we talked about “IS-ness” in Bible Study, but THAT was some serious IS-ness today. I have to admit that I was WAAAY out of my comfort zone. I was kinda expecting the pea soup to start flying. Just wondering if you can put some detail on what we all witnessed today, cause your message was very powerful, and then what happened with __________ really shifted my spiritual paradigm today. Thanks.”

My Response: (Self-described believer, and I don’t know who else would concur with that. I am a poor excuse for a “holy man”.  True desire to follow Christ in my life.  Part of our worshipping community for about 13 years.  Late fourties, Caucasian, middle class, graduate-level theological education – way too much education for this kind of thing. Pastor of this community by title – not sure yet where I stand in people’s hearts in actuality though {titles don’t mean much in the Kingdom of God}.  From an educated Episcopalian/Congregational family heritage.)

I don’t have answers to things like that. I’ve seen that three times in my life. Until I heard it and saw it with my own eyes, I didn’t believe in it either. Jesus said, “Those who believe in me will do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do.” I asked for God to act. And I tried to ask as Jesus would have asked. (I think everyone who was praying was doing that, too.) What’s killing American churches is that they have never seen the Holy Spirit actually act in their midst. It’s weird when it happens. Crazy. It leaves people confused and feeling strange. I don’t know what that was exactly. I know the voice I heard come out of her during the sermon…I have heard that exact voice come out of someone before….right before things started flying around the room (Literally, and there were witnesses). I saw the dance in her eyes before we prayed for her…light to mocking to light to mocking. What it was? I don’t know. We will all spend the rest of our lives trying to answer that. Including _________ (the person). I also know that there is more work to be done in her, and in the community. It’s either real, or it’s not real. There isn’t anything in between.

There’s this guy who uses big words named Jurgen Moltmann who writes that the Holy Spirit IS the Church. Whatever happened Sunday was the Holy Spirit’s doing, and thus it was the Church. Modern churches just fall so short of their hope because they have never seen the power of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Maybe they don’t see it because they are afraid of the other part of the equation of signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit. Where there are signs, there are also crises and conflicts, because the Holy Spirit also provokes and convicts. So wherever the Holy Spirit is people are getting healed, and demons are being cast out, and hearts are repenting and being forgiven and healed. And the wind is also always rising around it, and divisive powers are always contending against it. THAT is the Church of Jesus Christ. There is no other Church than that. Hold on tight, because it’s fixing to get windy if somebody’s getting healed. Forecast: WILD and stormy! What are you thinking today?

(Two days later, follow-up response) “I spoke with __________ last night and this morning. She has no memory of what transpired on Sunday. I told her that we think the Holy Spirit cast something out of her. I told her that a voice came out of her twice (maybe three times actually) that was not her voice: once during the sermon, and once while we were praying for her. The first voice shouted, “No!” as I was talking about the voices inside of us and that we have to move to stand apart from them so that God can deal with the demons that whisper vile lies to us. And I told her that when I asked the demon’s name while we were praying for her, a voice said, “Death!”. She said she has no memory of that at all. She said that yesterday she kicked a person out of her apartment who was bringing death into it…literally (There’s a pretty good chance that that person was involved in a recent murder.). And she said that she doesn’t know what happened but she feels totally different today, like she hasn’t felt before. I asked, “Lighter?”. She said, “Yes, lighter.” I asked, “Does it seem like there was a darkness around you and now it’s gone?” She said, “Yes. Oh my God, yes!” I told her that I think she is now clean. I told her that she can make new choices and have a fresh start (Another Christ follower in the community told her that, too, on Sunday after _________ came to.). She said, “Oh my God! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you!”

“I told her to be careful, because I don’t know exactly what happened either. I told her that the Bible relates that when the Holy Spirit casts something out, it (that dark spirit) stays around for a while looking for a way back in. And if it gets back in, it will bring seven of its friends with it. I told her to ask the Holy Spirit to fill her up. I told she has to surrender it all.  I told her that I can’t do that for her. She has to do it. (She prayed that right there and then.) I told her to stay strong in the Lord, to be in constant prayer, and to fix her eyes hard on Jesus. I told her that if she felt oppressed or assaulted, to call me immediately and I will pray with her right over the phone.

“Not exactly textbook pastoral care methodology, but then again, not everything we do is pastoral care. Do I know what happened here? No. I know what I heard. I know what I saw. I know what I felt. Now I know what she is feeling. That’s what I know so far. I’m still interested in what you are thinking and feeling.”

I’m also interested in what you, who are reading this, is thinking and feeling about it.