Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code: Emerging Strategies (ch. 8)

Churches that are serious about reaching their communities are finding creative ways to reach out. There is an increased interest in church planting, which will be given a full chapter later. Aside from church planting there is a movement for “Multiple Venues for Mission.” It may be multiple expressions of the church – all on the same campus to reach different personality segments. It may be multiple services as well, but not so much due to great growth. Rather, it is trying to reach different segments of the surrounding community and maintain growth on a bunch of different levels. Finally, there may be multiple locations, which we’re trying to do in Seal Beach just a few miles away from our church in Cypress. There are a lot of ways and reasons for multi-sites to exist, but a definition by Elmer Towns is a good one: “…one church meeting in many locations … a multi-staffed church, meeting in multi-locations, offering multi-ministries, with a single identity, single organization, single purpose, (and) single force of leadership” (in Stetzer p. 112).

The next section discusses the growing trend of House or Koinos Churches. These are relational church settings that meet in homes and often in networks of home meetings, but these are not part of a larger Sunday gathering. These meetings, so long as they do what churches do, are a church. This growing movement among evangelicals indicates that there is some interest in missional approaches in evangelical circles.

Stetzer finally looks at some different things that are happening around the world to reach people within specific communities, including a youth church in Berlin, a house church for Japanese nurses, and a factory mission in Hong Kong.

Seems there are plenty of ways to build the church if we’re willing to re-think church in some ways.

The Breaking the Code Challenge
1. If the code is to be broken in your community, what are some new types or expressions of church that need to be considered?
2. Who are specific people living in your community that may require a new expression of church?
3. What practical steps can your church take in order to reach people groups, population segments, and/or cultural environments?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


This is a great, and incredibly challenging, sermon from Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill in Seattle. Turn it on when you get an hour free – or go to iTunes and put it on your iPod, or something. Enjoy, or at least let God work on your heart with this one…

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Battle at Kruger

I'm teaching on 1 Peter 5.1-14. Watch this and then read 1 Peter 5.8.

A great picture of why we need each other.

I didn't know if I'd ever see this again...

I haven't been reading as much lately. Working on sermons and ordination stuff. I hope to get to finishing Breaking the Missional Code soon, but for now...

The Mariners finally won.

Rough season.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm on Facebook...

... but I don't know how anything works. I just clicked on a bunch of people as friends. Then I got frustrated because I couldn't remember my password. Got it now. Not sure what else to do, but I've spend enough time on it today. I'd tell you how to find my page, but I have no idea.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Blog: Bob Koehler

One of our leaders at Cypress Church, our "Outreach Base Coach" has a blog with a good summary of certain sections of Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. Check it out:


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code: Contextualization: Making the Code Part of Your Strategy (ch. 7)

The chasm between the church and the culture is widening. What’s the solution? Being “intentionally indigenous,” which is what missionaries have been working at doing for years. Stetzer says, “What we have found is that when the pastoral leadership, core of the church, and community all line up, the potential for the church to take on an indigenous form is significant. The combination seems to provide a greenhouse for explosive growth” (p. 92).

The key to indigenization is contextualization. This is when “the eternal, universal truth of God’s Word is understood and appropriated by people through a cultural grid or framework” (p. 93). This boils down to the way we do and communicate different aspects of doing church. How the message is communicated, how worship is experienced, how evangelism happens, and how disciples are made.

The Way the Message Is Communicated
It has to start with a connection to their lives – why it should matter to them out of the gate. Most don’t care about the Bible’s authority or what it says unless it matters to their lives. Once it is connected to their lives, the communicator needs to use “redemptive analogies” (Don Richardson fans know what these are). This is using the stories of the culture and linking them to the message of the Bible in significant ways – modern day parables, Stetzer calls them. Experience is also important, particularly for emerging generations, but each community needs to figure out how to engage their culture experientially.

The Way Worship is Experienced
In this Stetzer recognizes the tension between targeting worship for believers and seekers. When they are the targets, it is hostile to the other. Stetzer promotes a third way – Seeker Sensitive. It is a “recognition that it [worship] requires other seekers and believers coming together in order for worship to be everything that God intends it to be” (p. 101). Looking at Jn. 4. 23 and 1 Cor. 14, Stetzer sees worship being for believers, but including both believers and unbelievers. Worship should not be a stumbling block for the latter. Breaking the code will live with this tension and ask questions like these:
1. Is the setting inviting and familiar?
2. Are those attending and participating familiar with the music?
3. Can those attending and participating relate to the communication style of the preacher/teacher?
4. Is the Bible being taught in a way that people can experience and grasp the message?
5. Is the language used understandable and true to biblical content?
6. Is the way in which people are invited to participate in truth clear and engaging?
7. Is the environment safe for those in process?
8. Is there enough tension created to cause people to move forward in faith?
9. Does the creativity used connect with those attending and participating?
10. Is Jesus clearly lifted up in the worship experience? Is worship God-centered?
11. Is the gospel clearly presented?
12. Are people given a clear opportunity to respond?
13. Are they invited to participate in community on a regular basis?

The Way Evangelism Takes Place
Stetzer rightly notes that evangelism/conversion is the first step on the discipleship process and should not stand alone. David Putnam (Stetzer’s co-author) was asked about their church evangelism program and, despite the great amount of adult life-change they see, they don’t have one. They focus on personal relationships. Here are his tips to breaking the code.
1. Trusting God to be at work in the lives of lost people.
2. Building relationships with all kinds of people and valuing who they are.
3. Listening and learning where God is already at work in their lives.
4. Praying that God will reveal to you and give you words to share with others on their journey.
5. Helping them connect the dots between their story and Jesus’ story.
6. Being a third testament by becoming a ‘living epistle.’

The Way We Make Disciples
As previously noted, evangelism is part of the discipleship process. There’s more to come on this later, but Stetzer gives some principles for code-breaking discipleship.
1. Discipleship begins prior to conversion. They may be attending for years before they go public with their faith.
2. Discipleship involved participation in community prior to conversion. Specifically, the unreached/unchurched need to get connected in small groups.
3. Discipleship often involves participation and experience prior to conversion. We need to celebrate each step a person makes toward the cross.
4. Discipleship often involves participation in service prior to conversion. The unchurched/unreached need to be included and affirmed in their acts of service.
5. Discipleship often involves participation in missions prior to conversion.

Stetzer adds (for our conclusion) that “it is important to note that churches that break the code are serious about conversion and make a big deal about people going public with their faith, and they recognize the importance of continuing spiritual growth” (p. 106).

Contextualizing the Church
1. Based on the definition of indigenous, what does it mean for you to be an indigenous church?
2. Evaluate how effective you are at contextualizing the gospel in the areas of communication, worship, evangelism, and discipleship.
3. What are some practical steps you can make to become more contextually relevant?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code: Values of Leaders and Churches That Break the Code (ch. 6)

Code-breaking is not about programs. It is about leadership values that “spring from the firm knowledge that following Jesus is a way of life that transforms us to be the incarnation of Christ in every culture” (p. 72).

Spiritual Formation
Stetzer identifies six areas that “intermesh with leadership effectiveness” (p. 73). They need Calling and create opportunities to break the code. Character enables leaders to influence in a healthy way when their words and actions are aligned. Competency means they figure it out on their own, though they learn from others. Comprehension means they are learners and take in everything they can on their context and their calling as well as learning from a mentor. Commitment is the greatest challenge for leaders and breaking the code requires it. Finally, Courage, which is an underestimated value, but these leaders need to be “almost rude about vision” and make the tough calls.

Code breakers make disciples and, even if they aren’t good disciplers, they put processes in place that help people move toward maturity. Maturity can look different in different contexts, but it boils down to Living Like Jesus Lived (humility and service), Loving Like Jesus Loved (a commitment lived out in behavior), and Leaving Behind What Jesus Left Behind (people who lived and loved like Him).

Reaching the Unchurched/Unreached
There has to be more than talking about evangelism and actually doing it. Actually doing it will make some in the pews uncomfortable. It often leads to dissatisfaction where people want more “meat.” Stetzer states, “Ironically, that ‘deep meat’ is often a focus on the obscure or unclear in Scripture rather than on the life-changing nature of what is clear” (p. 80). Amen.

If we’re really focused on the unchurched/unreached, we need to ask where they are, who they are, why they are unreached (what are the barriers – image, cultural, and gospel – the last is the only legitimate one), and seeing what God is doing among the unreached and join God in what He’s up to.

Much of our evangelism is a matter of having people convert to the church. Rather, we need to effectively evangelize in a way that connects them to community, a common experience, and service, but that isn’t necessarily moving into a whole new way of “church life.”

The gospel travels “best among relational lines” (p. 84). The social relationships playing into conversion is similar to the NT household conversions as well as villages being brought to Jesus.

Key quote: “We are inviting them to experience the life that takes place within the Christian community” (p. 85). I’ve read another book that talks about people belonging before they believe (ChurchNext by Eddie Gibbs). Stetzer notes, “In a missional context, individuals often begin the discipling process long before conversion” (p. 85).

People are eager to volunteer and missional churches put them to work and, through volunteerism, their lives get changed. Stetzer: “We have found that when people are involved in ministry, something happens that speeds up the process of their spiritual journey … that opens a person’s spirit up to consider deeper spiritual issues” (p. 86).

Culturally Relevant Expressions of Church
This is basic missions. People have to know “God speaks my language” (p. 86). The next chapter will deal with this.

Spiritual Warfare as Spiritual Formation
Part of breaking the code is to address the things that are opposed to the work of God in the area and face them head-on by praying for people and that God will break strongholds.

The Breaking the Code Challenge
1. Identify the values that you must have if you are going to break the code.
2. Which of these values challenge you the most?
3. How can you put these values into action?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ordination #2, Art. 10: Church Government

I’ve got the same concerns for this one, maybe even moreso, than the previous post. Any input is appreciated.

That Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church and that every local church has the right, under Christ, to decide and govern its own affairs.

When we speak of church governance, it is important to remember that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Head of the Church (Col. 1.15-20), but Scripture is clear that there are human leaders to be obeyed and honored by the church (1 Thess. 5.12; Heb. 13.17). Multiple forms of governance are found in the NT. We see episcopal governance with the authority invested in the disciples to build the church (Mt. 28.18) as well as Paul’s authority to appoint elders (Acts 14.23). A hierarchical governance seems to have developed in church history as well. Elder leadership is also found throughout the NT (11.30; 20.17). But there is also support in the NT that shows the local church has the right, under Christ, to decide and govern its own affairs. We see the authority of the local church exercised in the selection of Judas’ replacement apostle (Acts 1), the selection of the first deacon board (Acts 6), the sending of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15.2-3), as well as having a role in church discipline (Mt. 18.15-17; 1 Cor. 5).
There does not seem to be a prescriptive church government. It seems an elder led congregation, where elders are raised up from within the congregation, seems to be the best form of government. It affirms the order and authority of leadership, but recognizes the collective authority of the church under Christ.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ordination #2, Art. 9: The True Church

I haven’t been on the ball with ordination stuff like I should so I’m kind of just pounding it out right now. Any input, even if (actually, particularly if) you wonder, “What’s he talking about? Is that even a real sentence?!” would be helpful. Not sure how coherent these thoughts are, but I’m tired of looking at it and thinking about it right now. So help, please. You’re my only hope!

Here’s Article 9 with my stuff to follow.

That only those who are, thus, members of the true Church shall be eligible for
membership in the local church.

While there is a large, invisible church, there are numerous local manifestations of the universal church. Paul writes to churches in cities (1 Cor. 1.2), regions (Gal. 1.2), and even houses (Rom. 16.5). It should be the case that only members of the true Church shall be eligible for membership in the local church, we understand there will always be weeds among the wheat (Mt. 13.24-30) and we must trust that God knows who really belongs to Him (2 Tim. 2.19). One of the elements of a local church should be discipline to maintain the purity of those who proclaim themselves to be members of the church (Acts 5.1-11; 1 Cor. 5.1-5; Gal. 6.1).
Beyond church discipline, there are a handful of other elements that this local church ought to be committed to. Specifically, the church is an assembly that meets together regularly (1 Cor. 16.2; Heb. 10.25) for the purposes of worship (Eph. 5.16-19), growing toward maturity (Eph. 4.12-13), caring for one another (Acts 11.29; 2 Cor. 8.4), and making disciples of all nations (Mt. 28.19-20). The assembly of believers that constitutes a church seem to include some kind of teaching from the Scriptures (Acts 2; 1 Tim. 2) and, given the corporate nature of communion, the administration of the ordinances.