Just Stop It…

We have been in Texas for two weeks. It has been crazy. I have SO much to process, and write about. For now I just want to share a brief nugget from a meeting I was in last week with a brilliant man named David Watson…

Nobody knows about David. He hasn’t written a bestseller, he doesn’t pastor a large church, his name doesn’t appear in newspapers and magazines (In the states anyway). He is wise, humble, bold, and God has used him in amazing ways. As a result of David’s training and mentor-ship there have been more than 100,000 churches planted all over the world. (God gave him a vision to plant 500,000 churches before he dies=) 6 million people have come to faith in Christ through these communities of faith, and discipleship training.

My friend Osei and I had the privilege of spending about 2.5 hours with David for lunch last week in Irving, Tx. We frantically took notes as he shared wisdom from his experiences. We asked questions, and discussed dreams and visions the entire time. I’ll never forget the way he answered a particular question I asked…I don’t even remember the question, but am realizing more and more everyday that his answer is actually the answer for MANY questions that a lot of us have been asking lately.

I’m about to share with you David’s answer, and then ask for you to think of the many questions that come to your mind that this question could be the answer to…

In response to a question from me David replied, “Aaron, stop working with, and worrying about Christians. JUST STOP IT. Focus on reaching the lost. Make disciples, and watch them multiply. Watch new churches start along the way. Don’t start churches with Christians, they bring too much baggage to the table, and you spend all your energy working through that baggage and lose sight of reaching the lost. Besides, new believers are full of passion, and excitement; they do not understand, or get distracted by all these issues that we Christians find ourselves wasting our time/energy on.”

Wow. I reflected back over the past year, and thought about how that answer could have saved me a lot of stress, pain, and heartache. Not to mention, produced a lot more fruit! (Please know that this is NOT an excuse to neglect the discipleship process that must take place with those of us who are ALREADY believers. David is simply referring to reaching the lost in a powerful way. He is a FIRM believer in the discipleship process. He is submitting that those of us with apostolic roles in the kingdom MUST start BEING apostolic by seeing new works started as disciples are made. Many of us plant churches with an original desire to “reach the lost, and spread the Gospel” but find ourselves five years in, running ourselves ragged trying to please the same group of Christians that we may not have even seen come to know the Lord; they were already Christians and joined us from somewhere else in pursuit of something that would “better meet their needs”.

What are some questions that you think this answer applies to? What are some areas of stress in your life that this statement breathes peace into?

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Feels Good To Let Go…

Whew. I am feeling overwhelmed by the crazy amounts of reading I have done in the past week revolving around Dan Kimball’s blog, and Neil Cole/Alan Hirsch and many others response to it. If you are unfamiliar with these conversations that is not a bad thing. It is basically a bunch of guys discussing…debating, etc. how to “do” church, that their way of “doing” church is better, and seemingly defending the way they do things. (Not all. Many of the guys have stayed very chill, and much of the conversation has been healthy-a few undeserved jabs here and there)

I started following the conversations that erupted in the comments sections and have finally stopped participating today. I can’t say I have much to add. Everyone seems to have their mind made up. Everyone has their strong, and solid points that prove this way or that. I feel no need give a long explanation here. I also have no energy left to try and convince any Christians why we (Me, my wife, our community, our organization-“Intentional Gatherings”)  do things the way we do. I could spend the next hour writing an elaborate response in order to try and convince other Christians….or I could go spend some time with one of the disciples in our community, or our next door neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus….It “Feels Good To Let Go”. Anyhow, this statement by Frost pretty much sums up how I feel:

“Our christology should lead to our missiology which in turn will lead to our ecclesiology. In other words, the way we understand the gospels and the character of God revealed to us in Jesus will affect our way of thinking about our mission in the world. If we get our christology right, it will lead to a right missiology. If we engage missionally in a godly fashion, issues such as how to ‘do’ church (ecclesiology) will take care of themselves.” -Michale Frost-

I’ve posted on this topic before. Christ called us to go and make disciples, not plant churches. He also did not call us to, or even suggest that we “go to church”. He sure as HELL did not intend for us to lose sight of making disciples by getting distracted debating with other believers “how to do church”. If we are making disciples then communities of faith should be naturally birthing. (Read the book “Church Planting Movements“, or any of the previous posts I’ve written about the book)

Also, I would encourage ALL of you who are actively pursuing this conversation through the blogs, and comment sections to visit Neil Cole’s blog if you haven’t already. Start at “Misguided Misgivings 1″. They are all very short. Dan and Neil get into a very healthy discussion in the comments section. Read those. They are very informative, and answer MANY of the questions brought up throughout the various posts.

“What if…?”

pondering-manThose of you reading who are my loyal Twitter, and Facebook “followers” have already been commenting on many of the “what if?” questions I have been posting over the past week. I am compiling them, and plan on posting an entire entry dedicated to the many different “what if?” questions that I come up with in the process. Please feel free to contribute your own “what if?” questions in the comments section of this post, and I will add them into the compilation. (You are also welcome to leave any thoughts about this particular “what if?” question in the form of a comment)

I felt the need to give this “what if?” question it’s own post because Twitter posts only give you 140 characters…being the detail guy that I am, I had a terribly hard time narrowing this down to 140 characters. In fact, it hurt so bad after I posted the “Tweet” that I decided I HAD to elaborate by posting this blog. Here goes…

“What if” a person’s success, worth, or value was measured by the amount of time they spend with family, friends, and other important people as opposed to how much money they make, how many people they know, the car they drive, the size of their house, how “busy” they are, etc.?

These days a person is accused of being irresponsible or lazy if they work any less than 50 hours/week, and don’t have a hefty retirement fund awaiting them. A person’s importance is weighed by the title they hold at “work”, the square footage of their house, the fanciness of their car…you get the point. Husbands and fathers begin finding their worth in these things rather than the love of their wife and kids. Somehow, in this completely screwy world we live in it is somehow a “difficult” decision for a man to wrestle with choosing between taking the higher paying job that will consume everything, or keep the less paying job so he can pour himself into his wife and kids. Oh wait, he gets the job so he can make money to be able “take care of the kids”, and send them to college, right? That seems to have worked out wonderfully in the last 50 years hasn’t it…?

So, here we are in a time in the world when the people we pledge our lives to in marriage, and the human beings that we create and bring into the world become less important to us than our status, income, retirement fund, comfort, security, and vacations. Everything in me screams out that this is wrong. Though I have VERY intentionally pursued something drastically different in my life, the world, my flesh, and those around me seem to constantly pull me into this vicious cycle of idolatrous sin. I am determined…

Side note: These things have seemingly crept into, and plagued the “church” in America. Oh, the lovely life sacrificed to “ministry”. The amazing titles, and salaries that grow with those titles. The business plans, and elaborate infrastructure. The hiring and firing. The need to perform, succeed, and maximize the “return on our investment”(ROI for you business majors. Oh, and i’m not lying: I was once told that by my “boss” while on staff at an institutional church) The husbands spending hours away from their wives and kids for the “sake of the ministry”, which somehow makes it ok. No need to keep going. Oh wait, the business models, strategies, COMPETITION for numerical growth, and fancy offices. Ok, i’m done.

So, I have made a lifelong commitment to value the TIME I spend with my wife, and children above the amount of money I make, the title/position I hold in any career, etc. I believe, and will continue to rely on the grace of Christ to model that deep relationships with REAL people are more important to me a vacation home in the mountains, TV’s in my car, or a bunch of people knowing who I am, but not KNOWING ME. I believe that I am not at all alone in this pursuit…

Won’t you join me in asking the hard, and gasped at “What if?” questions that MUST be asked…?

Student CPx Concentrate: Las Vegas

vegaspromosmallerOn January 16th students from campuses all over the country will be arriving here in Vegas for a weekend of training, affirmation, edification, and empowerment. Many of these students attended our two week CPx training in Kansas over the summer, and will be reuniting with their fellow student church planters to share stories of how God has moved on their campuses/in their neighborhoods. They will pray for one another, and be better equipped to go back home to keep on rockin’. The training will be hosted on UNLV’s campus, and those attending will be housed in UNLV’s Tonapah Hall.

This weekend has been opened up to anyone who desires to take the Gospel to their campuses, neighborhoods, apartment complexes, etc. in a simple and reproducible way. The weekend will be full of hands on practical tools for allowing Gospel seeds to take root in dark places, causing a new community of believers to birth. Students, who are not already, will be paired up with older, more experienced mentors from all over the country as a part of our new nation-wide mentoring program. Student CPx will throw a party for UNLV’s International Students as a way to bless the city/campus, as well as help launch a new International Student Ministry called “All Nations Fellowship”.

State representatives from 24/7 prayer will also be joining us on UNLV’s campus for the weekend. There will be a 24 hour prayer room set up the entire time, as well as chances to hear about ways to be involved with nation-wide prayer & student church movement initiatives.

The bulk of this training will not be spent in lecture style meetings, but there will be a handful of speakers from around the country who will be there to share some great insight with us. There will be breakout sessions on Spiritual Fathers/mentoring, Living in Community, and much more! Students will be broken up into simple churches for the weekend where they will be better equipped to lead simple church gatherings, initiate conversations with the lost, lead evangelistic Bible Studies, and make disciples through natural/everyday life experiences.

Click Here to see more information about Student CPx: Concentrate…

Click Here to register for the weekend…

Cost is $125 for the entire weekend, which includes everything except transportation to Vegas. If you are a Vegas local, and do not need lodging you can register for the entire weekend for $50!