“Hi-Jacked” Part 1

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few weeks about how we, as Americans, have taken things that were never meant to be about US…and made them about…US. Interesting, right? The first two that come to mind are things you have most likely been thinking about lately as well: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many other holidays. I suppose it is our human nature, our flesh screaming out, and perverting beautiful things at every opportunity. We fight to choke out our flesh, and feed the Holy Spirit of God that lives inside of us. It’s the classic wrestle that Paul talks about in Romans 7. I plan on diving into some other examples of the things we have hi-jacked in the near future. For now we will start with Thanksgiving…

I find it funny/interesting that I cannot tell you the historical background behind Thanksgiving, where it came from, and why we celebrate it. I could probably piece bits of things together from elementary school, along with some “B.S.ing” skills, and come up with a pretty good explanation. There are enough “good” things that come to mind when we think about Thanksgiving to dismiss the thought of ever needing to ask tough questions like “why?” & “what’s the reason?” This is the same reason we do not question much of ANYTHING that we do anymore. It’s all we have ever known. Our family has always done it. It’s “good”. No need to question it…but what if our human nature over time has taken something and slowly twisted it into something far from what it was intended to be…something that tragically has become more about US than it was ever intended to be…in fact, something that was NEVER supposed to be about US at all, but now has been hi-jacked, and made completely about…US? On the surface it’s still good…but if we dig deep could it be beneficial for us to strip some of these things down, and get back to the roots? There is a scary parallel that crosses my mind when thinking about some of the things we do just because that’s how we’ve always known them to be done…never even stopping to ask ourselves why, but continuing in the same old ritualistic traditions…  : )

Anyhow, I think Thanksgiving has to do with the pilgrims and Indians…and Columbus, or something, right? All I know is that every year family members get together to eat ALL DAY LONG. Some people use this day as one out of the two opportunities they will take to serve someone else throughout the year. (Soup kitchen, etc., and there is sometimes a hidden motive, or agenda behind this “act of service” to begin with-an entirely separate post) Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting together with family to enjoy quality time, and great food. However, may I propose that we start breaking the mold by re-thinking the purpose for why we do what we do instead of just going along with everything because it is the only thing we have ever known? Maybe we can start taking the opportunity to get back to the heart of things…Maybe we can do more on Thanksgiving than go around the circle at the table and share one thing we’re thankful for without allowing it to cause us to actually DO anything outside of ourselves…

Will Morgan and I eat all day long tomorrow, and spend time with people we care about? Of course. I am not suggesting that anyone should stop doing that, or that it is wrong. In fact, we’ll probably go around the table and say what we’re thankful for as well. No problem with that either. I suppose I am simply suggesting we take it to the next level, and continue taking it to the next level until it becomes more about others than us lest we look back and be accused of hi-jacking some of the most beautiful things on earth…

The purpose of this post has little to do with holidays, but holidays are a good example of how we hi-jack things that were never meant to be about US in the first place, and make them about US. There are millions of examples of how we do this all throughout the day in our lives. We serve ourselves, bless ourselves, and do very little that has anything to do with anyone other than ourselves.

“Each of you should look not only at our own interests, but the interests of others. You should have an attitude as that of Christ Jesus.” Phil 2:4

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28

Last night our simple church had the amazing opportunity of blessing a single mom who lives in our neighborhood. Our I.G. Community came together and prepared a Thanksgiving feast for her and her two kids. Ava, Kayla, and Coren do not have any family in the city. Last night they came over; we all had a great time cooking, and pillow-fighting with the kids. We sent them home with everything they will need to enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal. Tomorrow we will swing by to drop off a HOT Turkey, a card with some personal messages, and a gift card for her to buy presents for the kids for Christmas. It’s amazing how God can use a group of broke twenty-somethings to live out the Gospel in their own neighborhood.

img_0098Kayla, Morgan, and Candace in the kitchen…

img_0099Joseph, Ava, and Chaz chattin’ it up…

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Coren crashed out after pillow-fighting!

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“There’s a Sheep in my Bathtub”

sheepI’m in the middle of a great book right now…check it out…

“There’s a Sheep in my Bathtub” – Birth of a Mongolian Church Planting Movement – by Brian Hogan

I met Brian about a year and a half ago in Dallas, Tx. He took my wife and I to lunch, and insisted I read the book, “The Shack”. So, he bought the book for me right there on the spot! He told me about this book he was writing about his time in Mongolia as a missionary with his family. I shrugged it off, and we exchanged emails. I bought his book a few weeks ago after he posted a Facebook comment about a discounted price. =) A week later he had a layover in Vegas, and we spent a few hours together. This man is brilliant. I’m halfway through the book, and it is incredible. Not only is it full of amazing stories of life overseas, but it fleshes out basic “Church Planting Movement” principles. Brian takes all of the things I just read about in David Garrison’s book, and shares how they naturally played out in Mongolia as they pursued equipping believers to make disciples. Brian was discipled by George Patterson, who wrote a foreword for this book. Read it. You can click on the book title above to go directly to amazon.com to read reviews, or buy it if you’d like. If you do, let me know what you think.

“Snow” in July…?

It would appear that Morgan and I are…PREGNANT! Woohoo! Yes, Aaron Snow is going to be a DADDY. Those of you who know me well know that this is something that i’ve wanted since I was about….mmmm….12. That’s NOT weird.                  Is it?

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On October 20th, 2008 we celebrated our 1 year anniversary. On that day we took a pregnancy test to see if we would be parents.

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I’ve never been more excited. Morgan is healthy, but has felt a little crappy over the past few weeks with nausea. She’s already seen our mid-wife at the Birth Center, and we went today for our first ultrasound.

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We heard our baby’s heartbeat, and found out our due date; July 2nd, 2009! There will be Snow in July!

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The top picture is a picture of the heartbeat. The bright white lines are the beats. The picture below that is my little Snowball. Ladies and Gentleman: Let it Snow.

Parents: Leave us a little note of encouragement/advice in the comments.

Friends: Tell us how crazy we are, and how much you’re gonna be praying for us, and our little baby!

Ya Ya and it don’t stop…

“Ten Commandments for Church Planting Movements” (pg. 257)

1. Immerse Your Community in Prayer

2. Saturate Your Community with the Gospel

3. Cling to God’s Word

4. Fight Against Foreign Dependency

5. Eliminate All Non-Reproducible Elements

6. Live the Vision that You Wish to Fulfill

7. Build Reproduction into Every Believer & Church

8. Train All Believers to Evangelize, Disciple & Plant Churches

9. Model, Assist, Watch, and Leave

10. Discover What God is Doing and Join Him

These are ten things that Garrison and his team came up with after looking back over the CPM’s they have studied. While these ten don’t include everything they’ve learned, they do encompass the most important parts.

Frequently Asked Questions: (pg. 261-262)

“What is the role of volunteers in CPM’s?”

The very name volunteer connotes someone who is not a professional, and in our highly professional society, this sometimes carries a negative image. But in the economy of Church Planting Movements amateurism is anything but negative. We must remember that the word “amateur” literally means “one who does it out of love,” as opposed to one who does it for pay. Let’s look at some of the reasons volunteers are so valuable to CPM’s:

1. Volunteers are so important because they model self-sacrificing love for, and obedience to, the Great Commission. They are not only UNPAID, they actually pay for the privelege of serving God…

2. Volunteers come from the real world. They are secretaries, farmers, teachers, builders, doctors, lawyers, and numerous other professions-secular professions that exist in the societies of lost people groups all over the world.

3. Volunteers are God’s people, and as God’s people they possess the same vibrant Holy Spirit that enlivened the apostle Paul. When they connect with new believers they transfer an awareness that it is the Holy Spirit who makes one a useful servant of Christ, not one’s profession or educational training.

Aaron here now:

While many have read this book since it has come out, they have dismissed it as being helpful to overseas missionaries, but not relevant to the church in America. I STRONGLY disagree, and believe all of the principles I have read about in this book to be completely universal. They can be transferred to our particular culture and context. I truly believe that the day we start to take books like this one seriously in America that we just might have the privilege of experiencing a CPM on American soil…God willing.

“Underground Church” Newsletter…

A UNLV journalism student put together this newletter about “Intentional Gatherings” and the “Vegas Valley Missional Community Network“. Hopefully it will begin to circulate throughout Las Vegas and begin to connect the other simple/home/organic churches or “missional communities” in the Valley. The student’s purpose is to connect like-minded individuals in the city to know about one another, and eventually partner to be on mission together to spread the Gospel in the Las Vegas! Praise Christ!

For more information on “Intentional Gatherings” or the “Vegas Valley Missional Community Network” send an email to iglasvegas@gmail.com OR contact any of the individuals listed on the newsletter.

More Greatness From “CPM’s”

So I have some issues that I have been meaning to blog about, but keep coming across this amazing stuff in the book, “Church Planting Movements” that is so much much better than anything I have to say. Check it out, and let me know your thoughts…

On Church Leadership:

“Satan knows that if he can distort God’s teachings on the church and on church leadership, he can stop the flow of new believers into the Kingdom of God. The Bible has clear guidelines for defining church and it’s leadership. When we try to improve on these we don’t create a better church we create a church that is less than what God intended. Church Planting Movements are often derailed by well intentioned, yet inflated, definitions for a church or overwhelming requirements for church leadership.”

“In the New Testament Christ identified the church with Himself…Paul took this lesson to heart, often referring to the church as the body of Christ while identifying church members as members of His body.”

“In many older mission fields, church planters labor under the weight of years of tradition-built definitions of church and church leadership. This happens when well meaning Christians come to believe that they are not a church until they have been constituted by a national denomination, or have reached a certain congregation size, employed a seminary-trained pastor, secured church property, or constructed a building. All of these requirements exceed and encumber the biblical ideal.”

“When it came to church leadership, Jesus set the example by choosing disciples from all walks of life. He spent three years walking with them, and this became their license to lead.” p242

On Reaching The Lost:

“Conventional wisdom holds that one should always work through the local church to reach neighboring people groups. Though logical and intuitively appropriate, this approach is often not born out in reality. In too many instances the local church is the major stumbling block that is preventing the unreached from coming to Christ. Despite this fact, some missionaries have spent their entire career trying to turn the local church in the direciton of the lost. Others tied themselves so closely to the local church that they ended up sharing the church’s unsavory characteristics.”

“The best way to bring about change in a fallen expression of Christianity is by unleashing vibrant, living Christianity. Once authentic Christianity demonstrates Christlike virtues and begins drawing new converts into the fold, true Christians in the nominal churches will be attracted to the movement like moths to a flame. We have seen many instances of comatose Christianity awakened by the outbreak of a Church Planting Movement.” p246-247

On Empowering Local Believers:

“When we inject foreign elements into the church that the local believers cannot reproduce for themselves we alienate a Church Planting Movement.”

Garrison goes on to describe a story of Christian leaders in Latin America who came across a beautiful church building that had been built three decades earlier by American volunteers. The local members took great pride in the building, but had never attempted to plant any new churches, because they could not reproduce the only thing they knew. They believed that real church had to have such things, and so the moevement died before it started.

What are some things that we do in the church in America that might hinder new believers from excersizing their faith in such a way that causes new works to be birthed due to their feelings of not being able to reproduce the only thing they know about church and the Christian faith? Thoughts?

Thank You “Church Planting Movements”…

Church Planting MovementsAs you may know I have been slowly reading through a wonderful book by David Garrison called, “Church Planting Movements“. This book is brilliant, and prophetic. I came across something this morning that encouraged me, and gave me much hope for the future…

“Converts are put on a pew while they demonstrate their conversion through years of faithful church attendance.  If the convert grows disinterested over time, the faithful conclude that his conversion was not genuine, when, in fact, he may have simply grown bored. This patter has led to a staggering attrition rate for evangelical churches around the world. The passion and zeal of the new convert is slowly absorbed into the church pews until an anemic, nominal Christian finally drifts away. Lost people are finding the message of the gospel powerful both in its appeal and its ability to change their lives, but they find life on the pews to be less satisfying.

In recent years, evangelical churches have improved discipleship training in an effort to conserve new converts. Some of these efforts have proven effective, but often they concentrate on indoctrination that results in better-educated Christians, but not necessarily better-assimilated Christians.

In Church Planting Movements prospective converts often begin serving Christ even before they become His follower. A Southeast Asia missionary began meeting regularly with a group of Vietnamese physicians. Though the physicians were not yet Christian, they met weekly for prayer, Bible Study, and sharing a vision of what they perceived to be God’s desire for them and their people.”

Garrison, David. “Church Planting Movements”. 2004. Wigtake resources. Pg. 230.