From Information to Incarnation by Tim Hawks

Mar 20

As part of a training with several churches in Austin, website Tim Hawks, the lead pastor at Hill Country Bible Church shared about moving from an informational model to an incarnational model.

Informational Model

The spiritual leader teaches the Bible to the church so the church tries to teach the Bible to the world. As a result, the church comes across as hypocritical and judgmental.

In this model, the Bible can become a barrier to connecting with people.

Incarnational Model

The spiritual leader studies the Scriptures and lives it out so that he or she can pass it along relationally. The message comes across as “if it wasn’t for Jesus, I would still be stuck.” The world sees the church as imperfect people trying to live a new life following the Scriptures.

The Scriptures are supposed to be living within us. This was God’s approach through Jesus.

If we needed to see Jesus in order to know and follow God, it makes sense that others would need to see Jesus in us.

 

 

A Conversation with Jeff Vanderstelt

Mar 05

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“‘Missional community’ has been used to describe a community on mission, a community that does service projects, and a community on mission together where ‘mission’ means reaching and discipling others. Jeff and Soma seeks to be the the third description.

The gatherings can be a powerful tool in reaching people and discipling people, but the Sunday gatherings should be informed by the missional communities. Otherwise those on the ground are always to try to catch up with those in the air.

Soma treated each small group as a potential core group for a church plant (even if they never become a church plant). At the beginning, rather than promoting their Sunday gatherings, they emphasized inviting friends to your home and parties but not to the Sunday services and didn’t send out flyers. Soma grew to the place where 500 held the DNA of being on mission before they started inviting others to their Sunday gatherings as part of their efforts to reach and serve the city. The missional community came first.

Discipleship means increasingly bringing all of our lives under the rule and life of Jesus Christ.

Our goal is to invite people into my life rather than inviting them to an event. Events are an excuse for building relationships.

Jesus sent out the 72 in part so they would come back wanting to be trained knowing they needed help; whereas before, they may not have felt they needed it. We need to do the same with our people.

Too often in the U.S. individuals reach individuals, but we need communities inviting people into a new community.

Missional Community for Soma measurements include:

  • Is your missional community baptizing the people they reached? (This takes place in the missional community and at the gatherings).
  • Is each person in your missional community taking a step towards growth? What is that step and how did they do?
  • Is each missional community raising up another team to be sent out next year?

Soma Communities measurements include:

  • How many people did we send away?
  • How much money did we send to other churches?
  • How many people are being raised up to lead our missional communities? (These are like their own local churches).
  • How much money did we spend on equipping? (We want people to see the staff as equippers of the ministry not doers of the ministry).
  • How many people came on Sundays? This is important so we can be more hospitable.

Here are notes from a micro-conference I attended with Jeff leading here a few weeks ago: Missional Leadership with Jeff Vanderstelt.

 

 

Churches – Protection From or For the World?

Jul 05

We enjoyed visiting several castles on our trip to the U.K.. Our favorite castle was in Wales. Llanstefan Castle was built around 1100 by the Normans. Now it sits empty. After hiking about a half mile in the rain to get to it, search we had a great time exploring the ancient ruins.

Castles have a unique function in history. Castles were meant to be a protection FOR the surrounding villages from the enemies coming from afar. When the enemies would march or sail towards the castle, the neighboring villagers filled up the castle where the local lord or monarch lived. The castle was supposed to be a refuge for others in the area.

Castles were not meant to be a protection FROM the surrounding villages.

Too often our churches have a castle mentality. We try to protect ourselves from the world rather than to become a place of refuge for the world. The people around us are not our enemy. They are the reason we are here! The Enemy is the enemy not the people he has confused and enslaved.

Is your church a shelter FROM the world our a shelter FOR the world?

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“Encounter: Provoking Spiritual Growth”

Apr 18

Encounter: Provoking Spiritual Growth | March 20. 2011 from Gateway Church on Vimeo.

At Gateway Church in Austin we concluded a series called “Encounter: Learning from How Jesus Did Relationships.” Here are some of my thoughts:

“Jesus provoked spiritual growth in others. Somehow, sales even the most close-minded people seemed to become interested around Jesus. John 3:1-15

1. Look for those who are seeking help. Nicodemus was a religious leader, viagra sale a scholar, a teacher, part of the elite, a Pharisee. He was a part of the group most responsible for harassing and persecuting Jesus, but he came with a question for Jesus– not a trick question but a sincere one. Coming to ask a question demonstrated a spiritual openness. We need to look for those who are seeking help.

2. Seek to understand the people with whom you interact. As you read through the life of Jesus in the Scriptures, it becomes apparent that Jesus used different styles with different people. He seemed to challenge those who needed to be challenged and offered grace to those needing grace. Jesus pushes against the arrogance of Nicodemus and his wrong thinking. Nicodemus was part of the group that required a new convert to Judaism to be ritually cleansed on the outside before they could join with them. In essence, Jesus says: “you don’t know as much as you think you know, and what you think you know isn’t correct. You need to be cleaned and washed from the inside out – a task which you cannot do, but I can.” Jesus understood what was keeping Nicodemus from a new life and he addressed him on this issue head on. It is important to notice that Jesus only used the phrase “born again” this one time. He knew this line of conversation is what would work with Nicodemus. He had other images, stories, parables, and ideas to help others based on where they were coming from, who they were, and what they needed.

3. Listen for the message behind the message. Rather than trying to convince Nicodemus that He was both fully God and fully man through a debate, a heated discussion, or even a polite dialogue, Jesus made a statement that took Nicodemus off guard and goes to the heart. We miss this in the way Jesus interacts with others. We fail to follow His example and we jump into the debates, heated discussions, and polite dialogues rather than move the conversation towards the heart of the person. Rather than talk about the source of power for these miracles, Jesus wanted to find out how Nicodemus would respond to all that he had already seen. To understand others better, we need to listen. We need to ask questions. We need to pursue them in an effort to understand what they truly need. Jesus knew that Nicodemus had a greater need than what he had expressed. He needed a new life. As a result, he moved the conversation from knowledge to grace, from the head to the heart, from the physical to the spiritual. Jesus moved the conversation to a deeper place than Nicodemus may have expected but certainly where he needed the conversation to be.

4. Give others a next step to move forward. Jesus saw a spiritual seeker beneath the exterior of a scholar and teacher and Pharisee so he pushed even further. He pointed out his area of resistance. “I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still people do not accept our testimony.” (John 3:11) In other words, I am telling you from experience, you can trust God.” You and I may not have all of the answers, but if you have already began your relationship with Jesus and you have seen Him change your life – you are ready to share that with others. No one can argue with our experience, especially if they see the changes in us themselves. Have you noticed how we seem to quickly point people towards the movies we enjoy like “The Adjustment Bureau” or the restaurants we eat at like Third Base or the cafes we love like Irie Bean on South Lamar? We seem to have no problems pointing people towards places, but when it comes to the most significant parts of our lives we remain silent. Whether you’ve trusted Jesus for years or may be ready to trust Him for the first time, are you willing to follow Him and help bring life to others around you?”

You can watch or listen to these messages here.

“Opening the Door for Others” by Eric Bryant

Sep 20

This past summer at some of the Mosaic gatherings I’ve had a chance to share about one of my heroes as part of the “Heroes and Villains” series. I chose Cornelius from Acts 10.  Here are some thoughts on Cornelius:

1. Cornelius was a generous person who was God-fearing and tried to do all the right things, ambulance but that isn’t God’s goal for us.  He wants something more – a genuine and intimate relationship. God called Cornelius into a deeper relationship by sending an angel.

2.  Cornelius acted quickly on what he knew God wanted him to do.  Maturity isn’t based on the accumulation of knowledge but on the speed it takes us to obey.

3. Cornelius lived an integrated life. He invited his family and friends to be part of his spiritual journey rather than keeping this private.  As a result, Cornelius opened the door for an entire new people group to follow Jesus!

4. God loves others more than we do. So much so, that he sent a vision to Peter so that he would be willing to spend time with people he felt were unclean and unworthy. Eventually, Paul realized Gentiles could also connect to God personally.  Peter came to this conclusion after seeing the same miracle happen among the Gentiles that took place at Pentecost – the Gentiles began to speak in languages they did not know.

5.  The goal of the angel, the vision, and the speaking in tongues it to point people to the Miracle Maker.  Too often we want the miracles (sometimes the ones we’ve experienced in the past) without pursuing the One who creates the miraculous moments.

To watch or listen, search for “Cornelius” or my name at www.mosaic.org/podcast in the audio and videocast sections.

Who are some of your favorite heroes and villains in the Scriptures and why?

“I Quit the Church and Found My Neighbors” by John Carnes

Sep 08

John lives in Fairmont, troche WV with his wife, Joanne and daughter, Sarah.  His church, renovate, is celebrating it’s first year anniversary in September.

He writes:

“I guess I should clarify that statement.  I quit a church, not the church.  But all the same, I found my neighbors and a whole lot more when I did.

My wife and I had served for over eleven years as children and assistant pastors in a nondenominational church.  But as the years went by the demands and control of the overseers of our fellowship increased exponentially.  They had adopted the same attitudes which plague many leaders and  many churches in the United States.  Believing they were to be like the mega-churches and mega-ministries, they pressured our ministry to be the best, grow the fastest and demand the most from our congregants.

In the midst of this pressure in our church, our pastoral team began to make countermeasures to teach our people a balanced rhythm of life, family and faith.  But soon, those over us rejected our efforts in favor of more works and demanded more time, all wrapped up in the guise of “ministry” and “spiritual development.”

The congregation felt the pressure to be at this activity, this prayer meeting, that class. It was at the height of this, we quit.  It had became no longer spiritually or emotionally healthy for my wife, myself and my young daughter.  Years of “doing” church, running ministries and constantly having to be at church almost every evening had weighed such a toll on us. We walked away.

Not a popular thing to do, let me tell you.

For the next few weeks, both of us not working and broken by the responses of those we’d ministered to and with for so many years, we began to sit on our porch each evening, numbly watching our neighbors come and go. We knew these neighbors, at least by name, but we hadn’t ever had the time to get to know them more than the appropriate ‘hello’ and ‘how about this weather?’

Years of doing Christian ministry had kept us from being Christian neighbors.  But now, we began to meet them.

Over the next few months, as I found a new job and we attended a new church that we had no responsibilities for, we began to look forward to spending time with these new friends- friends who had been living beside us all along.  One married couple invited us to have a picnic with them in their front yard. Another couple asked my wife, who was now unemployed, to be their babysitter when they adopted their first child. (Soon she would get other offers, and now I have nicknamed her “the neighborhood nanny.”)  Another family gave to us financially when they found out that we were without an income, having left both of our jobs at the church.

Now these neighbors are becoming dear friends as our lives and homes are being melded together.  The love of God is being shared as we lay down the false boundaries of titles and ministries and learned the first step of the Christian life all over again…friendship to our neighbors.

It’s been three and a half years and we are in the process of planting our own church now.  But the lessons of the last few years are not being lost.

Never will we demand so much of the people of our church that they cannot befriend those around them.  Paul asked the question:  “How shall people know unless they are told?”  I ask you, “How will they be told, if those who do know are too busy in the church trying to keep the program going, that they can’t spend time outside the church with those who don’t know?”

May our churches and ministries remember as they plan their activities, classes, and such that we will never reach the world from sitting inside our four walls, but by enabling those who do frequent our churches to perform the gospel right where they live, work and play.  Let us be mature and release believers to live the message of freedom, love and grace.”