Sunday, June 29, 2008

Looking for the Kingdom

Jim Peterson and Mike Shamy in their excellent book The Insider, state:

God is at work, creating....He is creating a people, an eternal people! He is gathering them out of every nation and from every generation - to present them to his Son as "a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." What an astonishing metaphor for an even more astonishing work! ... If that is what God is doing, if in these days he is creating such a people, should we not expect to see signs of this activity all around us every day? ... We need to train our eyes to see the kingdom of God.

I couldn't agree more! I have spent a lot of my recent years training churches and church planters how to analyze (exegete) their culture. We need to know the community and the people we're trying to reach. But we must also learn to look for evidence of God's kingdom in our midst.

I believe that Jesus wants us to be instruments of His kingdom. He taught us to pray "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I believe that He specifically wants us to look for evidence of His kingdom as well as be channels of His kingdom. As we pray and do the works that Jesus did we will become channels, and the end result will be that there is an increasing evidence of His kingdom on earth.

How will we know? The answer is "His will is being done," in the lives of individuals and in the community. Are you a part of His creative activity? He is redeeming individuals and transforming communities. Let's be looking for the kingdom. It is manifest now in part, and we are His channels. But one day, He will return and it will be evident in full!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Agents of the Kingdom

Acts 1:3 tells us how Jesus prepared His disciples to start the very first church. It says that he schooled them for 40 days on the Kingdom of God. That's right. Jesus knew that if His disciples could capture His heart and vision for the Kingdom, once empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

It has been my growing conviction that Western churches, for the most part, have not been having the kind of transformational impact on society that they could (and should) have. I believe that this is due (in large part) to our lack of understanding about the Kingdom of God.

As believers and as churches we are agents of the Kingdom. To be "missional" is to understand and act on our Kingdom calling. It would be good for everyone of us to spend 40 days really "schooling" ourselves on the Kingdom of God. Sources I would recommend to help us gain fresh insight into the Scriptures are Ladd, Bright, Tolstoy, Glasser, and Willard.

Over the past few years our teams have interviewed many non-churched people in cities where we have been supporting church planting. What we have found is that the non-churched population (for the most part) do not see the church adding any value to society. They often view the church as a "taker" rather than a "giver" to the city. For the most part we are not viewed as "salt" and "light." Rather we are a non-factor or worse, a nuisance.

I want to encourage every new church to see themselves as agents of the Kingdom, bringing blessing and hope to the city! (Jeremiah 29)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Are We Making Disciples?

I love working with church planters and seeing new missional initiatives started! However, I continue to be concerned about the quality of disciples we are making.

Barna has been challenging us for years to address this. The most recent Reveal research has challenged the assumption that participation in church programs result in spiritual maturity. Our standard methods for making disciples do not seem to produce the results we want - nothing near what Jesus calls us to! My fear is that our new churches often replicate the same methods.

Our mission is to make disciples. But what does a disciple look like in Western culture (our context)? Jesus calls us to radical obedience. He really does intend for us to live the way he lived. He said "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father." (Jn 14:12)

I hope that every church planting leader will give serious thought to this! You have the opportunity to do something new and different. You have the opportunity to create a system that will produce missional disciples. Think it through carefully and measure your results. Be ruthless about this! If you need help, get a coach. Don't take this lightly - this IS our mission!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Global Warming Myth

A few years ago when the Global Warming scare was just picking up steam I read an article by a professor at Texas A&M University that directly challenged this idea. I was stunned when I read the article because I had already "drank the koolaid" and begun to believe all the media hype about global warming. After that I began to examine this a little more carefully.

Having been a pilot now for 35 years I am accustomed to talking personally with flight briefers and meterologists - sometimes several times a week. Every meterologist I've approached the subject with has questioned the reality of global warming. Recently I have discovered that there are many highly accomplished and recognized meterologists who serously question global warming. Most recently I've discovered that even meterologist John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel, is adamantly challenging this current thinking.

Why is this conversation important to church planters? Because most of the church planters I talk to have also "drank the koolaid." Recently I read two different books related to the subject of discipleship that were propogating the scare! Politicians speak of global warming as if it is a foregone conclusion. Many pastors are doing the same. (There is even a bill in congress this week calling for a "Global Warming Tax.")

Please don't misunderstand me and start throwing stones - I believe very strongly that we are called to be stewards of creation and that we will answer to God for how we steward planet earth. I would just like to encourage everyone to THINK, and to not just buy the media hype and the PC wave. Our stewardship responsibility requires it!

A good resource to give you a more balanced perspective is Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor by Dr. Roy Spencer. Dr. Spencer serves as the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) flying on NASA's Aqua satellite. He is also the co-developer of the original satellite method for precise monitoring of global temperatures from Earth-orbiting satellites.

However, please know that he is just one of many scientists who are calling for a more honest debate on this subject. As Christian leaders, let's be informed and thoughtful about this subject! Let's lead our society in honest, critical, right thinking.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

COACHING: A Valuable Resource!

If you read my blog much you probably know that I place a high value on having a coach! Everybody needs a coach! If you don't have a coach there is a good chance you are not growing personally!

A good coach recognizes that the internal obstacles are often more daunting than the external ones! Coaching is about unlocking a person's potential to maximize their own performance. A coach will help you grow in self awareness. He will also help you chart a course for change, growth, and confidence! A coach will empower you to make choices that will significantly improve your game. Contact us or contact someone else, but get a coach!