Archive for January 2010

Ride The Camel & Verge 2010

January 29, 2010

I will be attending and participating in a couple of training events next week that I am really looking forward to. My prayer is that both will equip and prepare me for better and more effective ministry.

The first event will address ministry to and among Muslims. The two night training time will feature Kevin Greeson, a 16 year veteran missionary to Southeast Asia and author of The Camel – How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ. This training opportunity is scheduled for February 2 and 3 (Tuesday and Wednesday) in Bryan, Texas. For information about the training, check out the Bryan-College Station Oasis Group blog post here.

Verge 2010, a “Missional Community Conference”,is the second event that I am looking forward to. The theme of Verge 2010 is “The DNA of Gospel Movements”. The conference will be held Thursday the 4th through Saturday the 6th at Hill Country Bible Church Northwest in Austin, Texas.

This conference is one that has been highly promoted and much anticipated by those who are involved in and or interested in missional ministry. Two thousand people are registered to attend the conference and there is a waiting list.

The conference will consist of general sessions and breakout groups. Speakers will include pastors, practitioners, and authors such as Neil Cole, Tony and Felicity Dale, David Garrison, Hugh Halter, Alan Hirsch, and Jeff Vanderstelt.

For more information about Verge 2010, click here.

Fellowship, Food And The Word

January 23, 2010

The Saturday evening pot-luck meal and Bible study schedule for this spring semester mentioned in my last post is going to begin tonight. We are looking forward to having friends and new friends into our home for a time of  relationship building, good food, Bible study, and discussion of the Word.

We are praying that these Saturday evenings together will be used of the Lord to draw people to faith in Christ and into Christian community.

It is also my prayer that as we see people accept Christ as Savior and Lord we will be able to start smaller, more intimate groups that will focus on more in-depth discipleship, equipping, leadership development, and the casting of vision for evangelism and the starting of organic, simple churches that will penetrate and saturate family and relationship networks, student and academic cluster groups, and career work places for Christ.

Spring Semester Bible Studies Kick Off

January 20, 2010

This evening we begin our spring semester of international student Bible studies at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

The Bible studies, using a simplified English language version of the Bible, provide the students the opportunity to practice their English reading, speaking, listening, and comprehension skills. During the course of the reading and discussion time we also discuss grammar, word pronunciation, and various parts of speech as the students endeavour to improve their English skills.

As important as these aspects of our studies are to the students, the most important aspect of our time together is the discussion and application of God’s Word to our personal and daily lives.

Many of the students that we have been involved with over the years, and are involved with this semester, have virtually no knowledge of the Bible and most do not know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It is our prayerful desire that many will come to faith in Christ and follow Him as devoted disciples as the result of our time in His Word.

Over the course of the years that we have been involved in international student ministry at Texas A&M (beginning in 1997), we have seen the Lord draw people to faith in Christ and be baptized, believers grow as disciples and in His service, and seekers move closer to accepting Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

Knowing that many students have very heavy class, seminar, and lab schedules during the week that prevent them from joining us at week-night studies, we are planning to conduct a Saturday night Bible study this semester as well.

Four students have already told us that Saturdays will be a better day for them to be involved in a Bible study group. We believe that Saturdays will prove to be a better day for others also.

So, this Saturday, the 23rd, we are going to initiate our Saturday night Bible study schedule with a pot-luck meal and Bible study at our home.

Each Saturday group will start with a meal which will then be followed by the reading and discussion of God’s Word.

We have conducted Saturday groups in the past and they have been well attended. Students, and their families, seem to enjoy weekend gatherings more than week-night studies. A home environment is very comfortable, casual, and conducive to the study of God’s Word and the building of relationships as we eat around the tables, children play, students talk about their studies, and wives ask about American home and family life. 

Please pray for us as we seek to expand the Kingdom of God at Texas A&M University and beyond through these international student Bible study groups.

International Student Ministry History In Pics

January 14, 2010

I have just gone through some pictures that have been taken at some of our international student ministry events over the years.

Looking at the pictures has stirred warm memories of the men and women in the pictures. Some of the folks were already Christ-followers when we met them. Others became Christians and were baptized as the Lord drew them to faith by the Holy Spirit as they participated in Bible studies, asked questions over tea, and joined us for special events. There are some that we have known and worked with who still do not know Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

I have also remembered and reflected on how the Lord drew us into international student ministry. In the summer of 1997 we conducted a simple Backyard Bible Club in our neighborhood that opened the doors of relationship with a number of international student families. There was the God-ordained encounter with a young Korean PhD student and his family in a doctor’s waiting room. This family, who were believers when we met, became very active in a local Korean congregation and were used of the Lord to connect us in ministry with the church. This man and I became “co-workers” with one another in ministry to students. We stay in regular contact even though he and his family are now back in Korea.

There are so many stories that I could share with you about the men and women and families we have been blessed to know and minister with and to over the years … about the Lord’s activity in and through and His provision for our ministry. I am sure that I will share more about our friends, ministries and experiences as this blog progresses and develops.

I do want to say now, though, that our involvement with international students and this ministry has truly been, and continues to be, what Henry Blackaby refers to as an “experiencing God” ministry. He deserves all of the credit and glory.

Below are some pictures from our ministry with international students and others.

*****************************

 

Backyard Bible Club (Spring 1997) – Our first international student ministry. Conducted in our yard in the “North Gate” area immediately north of the TAMU campus. The “North Gate” is a business and residential area densely populated by international students.

Our first English language Bible study group (Fall 1997) – This study was comprised of Korean students. The study met in our home. The man on the left is the friend mentioned in the post above. (One of the men in the study took this picture.)

One of many International Bible Fellowship field trips to Houston markets and parks (Fall 1998)

A gathering of IBF friends (Spring 2002) – One of the young women and one of the young men in this picture met while serving in IBF’s childrens’ ministry. They later fell in love, married, had children, and are now serving the Lord in a foreign nation.

 A Chinese Bible Fellowship picnic (October 2002) – This home-based Bible group started in January of 2002 with eight people in attendance. The group met consistently on Friday nights for 2 1/2 years, grew to an average attndance of 24 and saw several accept Christ as Savior and baptized.

A&M Korean Student Church (May 2005) – This is a wonderful congregation that has a tremendous heart for evangelism and missions.

An evening meal with friends in our home (June 2008) – These four students were participants in a week-night Bible study that met on campus for about two years.

Ice Cream and Converstion (August 2009) – Four of these students have recently enrolled at TAMU. We met the evening of the first day of classes to talk about our first day at school and discuss new English words and phrases.

Kolache Festival (Fall 2009) – A cross-cultural field-trip to a Czech festival in nearby Caldwell, Texas. Food, crafts, music, and Czech culture.

 

Pot-luck Meal (October 2009) – Old and new friends, and a wife from Germany visiting her husband.

(Originally written and posted on taethnenetwork, September 10, 2009.)

Paul’s Missionary Journeys: A Fresh Perspective

January 13, 2010

Neil Cole wrote a very interesting and insightful paper on the missionary strategy of the Apostle Paul that I have just discovered and read. The paper was written in 1998 and is entitled “A Fresh Perspective Of Paul’s Missionary Strategies.” The sub-title really speaks to the content of the paper. It is “The Mentoring for Multiplication Model.”

In the introductory section of the paper, Cole writes,

This article will examine Paul’s missionary methods, and demonstrate that he improved upon their effectiveness and fruitfulness with each journey as he focused more concerted energy in mentoring and multiplying leadership.”

Cole then walks us through the missionary journeys of Paul, showing us from Scripture how the Apostle’s strategy for ministry and leadership development matured with each journey.

The first missionary enterprise was carried out by a two-man team – Paul and Barnabas. By the time of the third missionary journey, Paul understood the need for the multiplication of leaders for the work of the ministry and the spreading of the Gospel. He then established a teaching and training ministry at the School of Tyrannus in Ephesus which, in essence, was a “regional church planting saturation strategy” training school. From this school, according to Cole, church planters were sent into Asia Minor and churches, such as the one at Colosse, were started and established. The men who had been trained in the school and served as the Asia Minor church planters are, per Cole, the elders that Paul addresses in Acts 20.

Neal then shows us how Paul, years later while under house arrest in Rome, continued to minister the Gospel, mentor believers and multiply ministry leadership.

The thrust of Neal’s paper, based on the ministry of The Apostle, is that if we are going to effectively reach our world for Christ, we must place an emphasis on the raising up, mentoring, and multiplication of leaders for the work of the Kingdom.

“Out of the harvest … For the harvest”

Read the paper in its entirety here.

******************************

This article was originally written and posted on taethnenetwork, December 2, 2009.

See Neil Cole’s book, Church 3.o, Upgrades for the Future Church, at WTS Books here.

CPM Principles For North America

January 11, 2010

Last night I was going through some files of church planting-related papers and articles that I have collected over the years and found an article that I was excited to read again.

The article is entitled “Lessons on Evangelism for North America Church Planting.” I first read it in 2005 when I found it on the Church Planting Village website of the North American Mission Board (SBC).

The author of the article, a missions professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by the name of Dr. Morgan, writes about three particular principles and lessons found in CPMs that are occurring around the world that he believes “can be especially useful in establishing an evangelistically effective church plant” in North America.

The three principles are:

  1. Immediate Redeployment of Converts in Evangelism
  2. Obedience-Based Evangelism
  3. Discipling New Believers in Groups of New Believers

Under the “Immediate Deployment” heading, Dr. Morgan makes a reference to the T4T (Training for Trainers) “system” of training new believers how to share the Gospel with their networks and organic (natural) connections. I was interested to see the reference to T4T, something I had forgotten was included in the article, because I have recently been exposed to the  T4T material and am currently working my way through it and the accompanying facilitator training material.

While we know that CPMs are the result of the activity of the Lord of the Harvest, these three principles can, and should, be intentionally integrated into the ministries of established and new church ministries. If we do so, I believe that we would discover that our churches are more effective in their making of disciples, the spreading of the Gospel, and the starting of new churches that penetrate and saturate our communities and world for the cause of Christ.

Read the “Lessons on Evangelism for North America Church Planting” article here.

******************************

“CPM Principles For North America” was orignially written and posted on the taethnenetwork blog, November 27, 2009.

Movements That Change The World

January 9, 2010

Movements That Change The World is a great little book that I first learned about while perusing one of the church planting blogs that I visit frequently.

In the book, author Steve Addison writes about and discusses five core characteristics of missionary movements that he has discovered as he has studied Christian movements throughout the ages and around the world. These core characteristics are : 1) white-hot faith, 2) commitment to a cause, 3) contagious relationships, 4) rapid mobilization, and 5) adaptive methods.

Addison makes two statements in the Introduction of the book that established the tone of the book for me.

The first is his very succinct definition of a “movement”:

In general, movements are informal groupings of people and organizations pursuing a common cause. They are people with an agenda.”

The cause that we are concerned with here is the cause of Christ and the agenda is the expansion of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.

The second statement is:

In the renewal and expansion of the church, the breakthroughs always occur on the fringe of the ecclesiastical power – never at the center. In every generation, in some obscure place, God is beginning something new. That’s where we need to be.” (p.33)

And that is exactly where I want to be.

Below are a number of quotes from the book’s chapters as well as some of my own comments on each characteristic.

Chapter 1 – White-hot Faith

Church history is not made by well-financed, well -resourced individuals and institutions. History is made by men and women of faith who have met with the living God. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (p.36)

You can run an institution with systems of command and control, but Jesus founded a movement…. A passionate faith is at the heart of every dynamic missionary movement. It is the greatest resource. Today, where Christianity is expanding quickly in the developing world, it is often the only resource.” (p.49)

Chapter 2 – Commitment to a Cause

Movements that change the world deal with the ultimate issues. They are causes that make demands on followers. Apathy changes nothing, and it is the surest sign that a movement, organization, or society is in decline. Change takes place because people care enough to act on their deeply held beliefs. They choose ‘to live divided no more’.” (p.56)

Addison points out at the end of the chapter that commitment does not necessarily guarantee the rightness of a cause. Any one of us can think of evil causes and movements that were and are characterized by the commitment of their adherents.

But we are talking about the cause of Christ, His glory, and His Kingdom. So, the author reminds the Christ-follower that “Jesus expected the same unwavering commitment from His disciples …. to make the same sacrifices and demonstrate the same commitment that He did” to the will and purposes of God. (p.65)

As we make this commitment to Christ and His cause, we must remember that Christ said if we are going to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23), and that unless we place Him above all others and all affections, we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:26,27).

Chapter 3 – Contagious Relationships

This chapter, and the next, were my favorite chapters in the book. In fact, it was as I was reading this chapter that I decided to read The Bridges of God by Donald McGavran (posted on below) because of the emphasis of both on “people movements,” organic connections, and the multiplication of churches.

Here are several of Steve’s quotes from this chapter.

Like a virus, the Gospel travels along the lines of preexisting relationships.” (p.72)

Christianity’s spread was fast and spontaneous; it happened without a centralized coordinating agency.” (p.73)

Christian conversions followed networks of relationships. Missionaries often led the way, but their ministry focused on making initial contacts with members of a social group. Once some insiders were converted, they became the key to the Gospel spreading throughout the rest of the social network, ….” (p.74)

New religious movements fail when they become closed social networks. For continued exponential growth, a movement must maintain open relationships with outsiders, and it must also reach out into new, adjacent social networks.” (p.75)

These quotes in the chapter are followed by two insightful sections on “principles of contagious relationships” and “Jesus and contagious relationships.” Addison notes that “Jesus recruited His band of disciples through relationship networks” and that He “…turned individual encounters into opportunities to touch whole social networks.” (p.81)

If this was Christ’s missionary-relationship strategy, how much more should it be ours as we seek to reach our world for Christ?

Chapter 4 – Rapid Multiplication

The rapid mobilization of leaders and new churches are the subjects of Chapter 4.

A few pages are devoted to the teaching of Roland Allen, the Anglican missionary, best know for his Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? and The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church. From Spontaneous Expansion, Addison lists Allen’s conditions that inhibit the spontaneous expansion of the church and those that enhance its expansion. Pretty interesting stuff.

The author then makes reference to Jesus and His ministry of mobilizing workers and leaders.

Jesus’ model of training assumed that the disciples did not know something until they had learned to obey it. Jesus’ teaching was obedience oriented.” (p.97)

This statement of Addison is characteristic of much of the material that I have been reading lately in which much is made of the need for obedience-based discipleship in our churches and church planting endeavors today. It is one thing to know about God and the Bible; it is a radically other thing to obey God and His Word.

I have read or heard the following question asked at least twice lately as I have been studying CPMs: ”Why is the United States not experiencing church planting movements like those occurring around the world?”

The answer: Failure to “obey every command that I have taught you.” (Jesus)

Chapter 5, the last chapter of the book is entitled, Adaptive Methods, Addison declares that it is important for movements to be flexible in their use of methods because “adaptive methods enable a movement to function in ways that suit its changing environment and its expansion into new fields.” (p.106)

The thought is furthered when the author states that,

Movements that drift away from their core beliefs are always at risk, but so are movements that regard the way they currently function as sacred.” (p.110)

I believe that this thought can not only be applied to materials, methodologies, and strategies, it can be applied to church form as well (traditional program based-design, contemporary, seeker, etc.)

Ralph Neighbour, pastor and cell church authority, wrote about this matter of adaptation (at the church level) in his book, The Seven Last Words of a Dying Church – We’ve Never Done It That Way Before. In the book, Neighbour tells his story, and that of the church he pastored in Houston, Texas, West Memorial Baptist Church, as it adapted and transitioned from a traditional, program-based design church to a small group-based church, and then, to a cell-based church in an intentional effort to better reach and ministry to its surrounding community and regional area.

A couple of last quotes from this chapter come from Addison’s discussion of “Jesus and adaptive methods.”

Jesus trained His disciples in a way that was reproducible and transferable. He did not place unnecessary restrictions on who could be trained and entrusted with significant ministry. He expected faithfulness to the Gospel in word and deed, but there were no artificial academic or institutional requirements for trainees.” (p.115)

Jesus did not come to found a religious organization. He came to found a missionary movement that would spread to the ends of the earth.” (p.115)

The Early Christians … wanted to win as many people as possible to faith in Jesus Christ and gather them into communities that became mission centers as they eagerly awaited His return.” (p.115)

Paul argued for cultural relevance, not cultural relativism (I Corinthians 9:19-23).” (p.116)

An important element in Paul’s strategy was the establishment of new churches. He did not just win converts, he gathered them into communities of faith.” (p.116)

This chapter includes a great chart in which Steve compares “Unsustainable Church Planting Strategies” with “Sustainable Church Planting Strategies.”

Finally, in conclusion from the Conclusion:

What would it look like to align your life with Christ’s command and join a missionary movement that will one day reach every tribe, every language, every people, and every nation? … What needs to change in you (in me)? What do you need to do differently? (p.128)

********************

Hey, thanks for hanging in with me on this post, even if you had to come back and visit the blog two or three times in order to get it all read. It was pretty long. But, I hope you have gotten something of a sense of what Steve Addison’s book is all about.

If you’re interested in such things I would encourage you to pick up a copy and read it for yourself.

God bless you as you commit yourself to being swept up in God’s great movement to reach the nation’s for Himself.

******************************

This post was moved over from my other blog, taethnenetwork. It was originally written and posted in November 19, 2009.