Archive for May 2009

The Tangible Kingdom Primer Arrives

May 29, 2009

The Tangible Kingdom Primer – an eight-week guide to incarnational The Tangible Kingdom Primercommunity, the follow-up study guide for the The Tangible Kingdom by Halter and Smay, arrived in the mail this afternoon. (see my earlier post).

I am looking forward to working through, praying over, applying what I learn, and posting on this study.

The chapters of the book are:

  1. What Is Missional?
  2. What Is Incarnational?
  3. The Gospel
  4. What Is Community?
  5. Living Out
  6. Inviting In
  7. Becoming An Apprentice
  8. The Intuitive Life

Each chapter is divided into seven days of teaching, Bible study, and encouragement for those who are committed to living their lives for Christ. The study guide also includes practical  suggestions for how individual Christ-followers and small groups can live missionally and make an impact for the Kingdom of God in their relationships and neighborhoods.

There is an Epilogue statement from Hugh and a section of diagram explantions of The Missional Triangle and The Three Circles of Kingdom Life that concludes the book.

Looks like a great study.

Thank you Hugh, Matt and Missio.

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“New Ways For New Days”

May 28, 2009

Having recently written a couple of posts on church planting movements, I thought that I would share the following message about “new ways” to reach people for Christ that I discovered on the web some time ago. The message is entitled “New Ways For New Days”.

The message was given by Dr. Winston Crawley, then Secretary for the Orient of the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was presented in 1957 to a gathering of approximately 60 SBC missionaries who were serving the LORD in East Asia.

While Crawley was speaking specifically about how to reach Asia for Christ, much of what he says about new approaches to ministry has real application to our ministries today. In particular, Dr. Crawley speaks about the start of small churches (i.e., house churches) that penetrate and saturate densely populated areas where land and buildings are expensive and funds are not available to pay seminary-trained, professional clergy.

Here are a couple of quotes from the message.

“Now there is something that disturbs me …. We have established a pattern. That pattern is to have a church building; buy a piece of land; put up a building; carry on a certain type of program in that building.”

“Now the question at this point is, will that approach do what needs to be done?”

” … we have to get outside these buildings, if we are to evangelize Asia. If we let ourselves be limited by the buildings and by their capacity, we cannot hope to have enough church buildings to hold one-tenth of the people we ought to reach with the gospel. It’s utterly impossible.”

“How subtle it is – this idea that everything centers in a building, and a seminary-trained leader, and unless you have those two, evangelism can’t go forward. I doubt that you will find that subtle idea in the New Testament. Some way, we must break loose from this pattern.”

“Make the home a center … of evangelism and Bible teaching and witness and fellowship and prayer, and then from time to time have central meetings.”

As we read this 52 year-old message, may the Lord speak to our hearts about what the true meaning and nature of the “church” is. And, may He also speak to us about how our philosophy of and approach to ministry needs to be adjusted in order to more rapidly penetrate, saturate and church our communities for Christ.

Read Winston Crawley’s message here.

Czech Heritage

May 27, 2009

A personal note to my visitor from the Czech Republic: my maternal grandfather was from Czechoslovakia.

In Every Movement

May 25, 2009

In Church Planting Movements, David Garrison reports on his study of CPMs that are occuring around the world. As he studied CPMs, he identified ten universal elements that are found in every CPM. 

Prayer, the first element, permeates Church Planting Movements. Whether the prayer is for an unreached people group, for new believers, or for more laborers, prayer is critical for this ministry because the burden and vision for the reaching of people through a CPM “exceeds our abilities”.

The second essential CPM element is Abundant Evangelism, or the “principle of over-sowing.” We need to share the Good News with as many people each day as we possibly can.

For the Word to be effectively communicated, it must be contextualized – presented in the “worldview and cultural forms of the people being reached”. This end is achieved through indigenization– “the transferring of responsibility for Gosepl communication to those who naturally present it through their own worldview perspective”.

The Intentional Planting of Reproducing Churches is the third element of CPMs. When a church is planted it must be done with a vision for and commitment to the reproduction and multiplication of churches.

A fourth, and extremely critical, element of CPMs is The Authority of God’s Word. In every church planting movement there was found to be the “solid framework of God’s authoritative Word and the lordship of Jesus Christ.” Two questions constantly asked in CPMs are: “What does the Bible say about this?” and “How can I/we best glorify Christ in this situation?”

Local Leadership is the fifth CPM element. That is, for a CPM to develop and spread, leadership must be indigenous, from the harvest, to the people being reached. Garrison makes the point that the pattern of external dependency and the sense of paternalism that characterized missions in the past never has, and never will, produce a church planting movement.

The sixth element that is common to all CPMs is Lay Leadership. It is noted that “unpaid, non-professional common men and women” are on the cutting edge of leading the churches. Garrison mentions several reasons why lay leadership in CPMs are important. Several that stood out to me are: 1)  when there is the rapid multiplication of churches, it is of practical necessity to “release” the “laity”, 2) theologically, it is grounded in the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer (I Peter 2:5), 3) in terms of relevance, it makes sense that leadership be from within the group being reached, as opposed to from without, and 4) for economic reasons, when using lay leadership and churches meet in homes, financial resources can be directed toward missions and ministry, rather than salaries and facility and land payments.

House Churches are the seventh CPM element discovered by Garrison. A number of benefits of house churches are listed by Garrison and include: leadership responsibilities remain small, accountability is amplified, member care is more personal, simple church structure makes reproduction easier, meeting in homes positions the church closer to the lost, and home-based churches keep the church’s focus on daily life issues.

The eighth CPM element is related to Number 3 above. It is that Churches Plant Churches. Under this point, the author makes reference to the M.A.W.L. approach to church planting. It is that missionaries and church planters Model evangelism, discipleship, and church planting; Assist new believers and church planters in their ministries; Watch, or observe their disciples conduct their ministries, and then Leave the disciples and new churches to reproduce the pattern for the start of new churches.

Rapid Reproduction is the ninth CPM element. Garrison simply says that “because new churches radiate out from each church rather than from the missionary church planter, the reproduction multiplies exponentially”. This kind of multiplication, along with discipleship, leadership development, and theological controls are, and must be, built into the DNA of each new church that is planted. We must have a vision for church multiplication, rather than addition, because the “fields are ripe unto harvest” and the laborers and churches are few (Luke 10:2).

The tenth and final element that Garrison discovered in CPMs that taking place around the world is Healthy Churches. Healthy churches exhibit and practice the ministries of fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism and missions, and worship.

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It is exciting to read and learn about what the LORD is doing around the world in and through Church Planting Movements. The elements that David Garrison discovered in his study of CPMs, and that he has shared with us in his book, have a thrilling appeal to them.

I believe that if you and I, as Christ-followers would take and begin to implement even two or three of the ten CPM elements in our lives and ministries, we would see a tremendous difference in the way we live and minister. I believe that we would see more of God’s glory, more people coming to faith in Christ and the building of stronger disciples. And who knows, we might even discover that we are a part of a church planting movement of God ourselves.

Total Church Stuff

May 21, 2009

Back in July ’09 I read and posted on Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ book, Total Church, the UK edition. (Read SimpleChurchthe post here.) Since then the book has been published in the United States by Crossway and has been getting alot of attention, and deservedly so.

I have recently come across a couple of Total Church items on the web that I thought you might be interested in if you haven’t seen them already.

The first is a set of three videos of Steve Timmis speaking on church and community at Mars Hill Church this past winter. Specifically, Steve speaks about the Gospel-centered principles and practices of The Crowed House, the church planting network that he is involved in in England. The video series is found on theresurgence website here.

The second item is an interview of Tim Chester in which he shares about the Gospel and community-centered ministry of The Crowded House network. It was posted on the Desiring God blog back in September and can be read here. The title of the blog article is “Ordinary Life with Gospel Intentionality”.

If you have not read Total Church, I would encourage you to do so. Let me know what you think.

CPM Booklet

May 21, 2009

The book, Church Planting Movements by David Garrison, that I posted about a couple of days ago, is the expanded volume of a booklet that he had written earlier. The booklet bears the same title and can be viewed on-line here.

In a day or two I will post other notes and thoughts from my second reading of the book.

~ Reach People … Start Churches ~

Church Planting Movements by David Garrison

May 19, 2009

Church Planting Movements – How God Is Redeeming a Lost World by David Garrison was such an informative and inspirational book the first time I read it several years ago that I thought I would read it again.

The book has been as informative and encouraging the second read through as it was the first time.

In the book, Garrison reports on what the Lord is doing to bring a lost world to Himself through church planting movements that are occurring around the world.

Garrison defines a CPM as “a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment.”

He “unpacks” the definition of a CPM in Chapter 2 by saying that they …

  1. Reproduce rapidly. “Within a very short time, newly planted churches are already starting new churches that follow the same pattern of rapid reprouction.”
  2. Are characterized by multiplication. CPMs do not simply add new churches, they multiply churches.
  3. Are indigenous, that is, they are generated from within, as opposed to started by outsiders.
  4. Are a movement of churches that are starting churches.
  5. Occur within people groups or interrelated population groups.

This is exciting because we know that new churches and the starting of new churches is the most effective means of evangelism that we can be involved in and committed to.

After clarifying the difference between CPMs and mass evangelism and the Church Growth Movement, Garrison says that it is important for us to understand this activity of God because:

  • God is mightily at work in them and we can learn much about the Him through them
  • We need to be ready to “align” ourselves with His activity and how He would use us in CPMs
  • CPMs are “without exaggeration … the most effective means in the world today for drawing lost millions into saving, disciple-building relationships with Jesus Christ.”
  • CPMs “multiply the glory of God” and that is our purpose and objective for life and ministry.

Church Planting Movements in different parts of the world are described and discussed in Part 2 of the book. I was particularly interested in the description of what the Lord is doing in China (“Wo Ai  Zhong Guo”).

With respect to CPMs in China, Garrison describes a model for house churches that combines multiple lay leadership development, mutual accountability, biblical authority and rapid reproducibility. He refers to this model as the P.O.U.C.H. church.

P.O.U.C.H. churches are characterized by:

  • P – Participative Bible study and worship
  • O – Obedience to God’s Word as the mark of success for every believer and church
  • U – Unpaid and multiple church leaders
  • C – Cell groups of believers meeting in
  • H – Homes or storefronts

As P.O.U.C.H. churches are started and developed, two very important ingredients are built into their DNA. The first is multiplication. When the churches grow to about thirty members, they multiply (not divide) and start another church. Through the multiplication of churches, communities and networks are penetrated and saturated with believers and authentic faith communities. The second ingredient built into the DNA of P.O.U.C.H. churches is leadership development. The equipping and releasing of believers for ministry is critical for the multiplication of disciples, leadership, and churches to continue.

My heart is thrilled by the rapid multiplication of churches and the development of leadership that is released to do ministry and start new churches that we see in China.

If the church in the West is going to see the communities where we live and minister won to Christ, it would behoove us to seriously pray about, consider, and embrace a P.O.U.C.H. church-type approach to ministry. We do this recognizing this model’s potential for reaching people for Christ and its practical value when considering the cost of land, property, and buildings in most of our metro and urban areas. 

This approach to ministry, though it would be more properly referred to as house church network ministry, is being done in the Dallas-Ft. Worth (TX) metroplex and Denver, Colorado areas. Check out the Ethne Network (Denver) and the Church of a Hill Connection (DFW) links under the “Church” heading on the right sidebar.

I believe this model for ministry would be very effective in reaching students enrolled at our local universities and colleges. In other words, start simple churches that reach and disciple students and meet on campus or in its surrounding areas.

Over the course of the next few posts I want to share some of the information about church planting movements that David Garrison has discovered and reports on in his book. I believe that much, if not most, of this information has real potential for application in our local ministries if we are committed to doing whatever it takes to reach our communities for Christ.

~ Blessings ~

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