“Permission” – Part Two…

(Part one of “Permission” can be found HERE)

In His grace, Jesus has allowed us to be a part of these incredible people’s lives. The King Street House Church family was birthed after a group of these young people went through Student CPx in Austin two summers ago, and then helped me run SCPx Austin this past summer. In the last few months I have had the pleasure of watching this house church community flourish & grow into a healthy spiritual family. There are some things about what is happening with this group of radical young people that I think are worth taking a look at. Below are some things that come to my mind when I think about these close friends. (You read in “Permission” Part 1 about the team of 7 this house church is sending out to S. Asia over Winter break to train University students there to plant house churches)

What is unique about this community?

1) It is completely lay-led (There is no paid staff) – There is something powerful about a group of people who are pursuing the Kingdom in radical ways when there is no paychecks or any kind of financial gain attached…They birthed, lead, and pursue the healthy growth of this family out of the pure love for Jesus in their hearts.

2) It was birthed by women in their early 20’s – I almost did not mention this because it seems so normal and natural to me – like, “so, what’s the big deal?” However, after thinking through it I realized how unique and POWERFUL this really is because of the negative view that MANY have towards women in “leadership” or “ministry” in the American Church. Anyone who sees what God is doing in this community would have a tough time arguing their opposing view-point about women not being able to be in positions of leadership/authority in the Kingdom of God.

3) It is healthy, producing NEW disciples, and releasing people to walk in their gifts (Men are being raised up to lead) – This has not been easy, and without much pain, mistakes, failures, etc. I’ve seen and been a part of communities with “strategies for multiplication”, and others who are complacent; both are dangerous. The strategic ones bring death to relationship for the sake of sticking to a formula, and the others never see the beautiful power of the Gospel working in the lives of new people. This community seems to walk out a decent “balance”. They are quick to recognize when things are “off” and fix it. They hear God’s voice, and have faith to obey what He says. It’s hard to be a spectator in this community.

4) They have a deep desire to see new house churches planted all over the place, and have already seen a few planted since August! I have been in many different streams of church planting all over the world in the past few years. Nowhere have I seen twenty year-old’s who have BIRTHED and are leading new churches where new believers are being Baptized as a part of the natural DNA of how they “function and grow”. Not only that, but they are sending others out in two’s to start new “spiritual families”. They don’t have it all figured out, & are not perfect, but what God has done with them in the past year puts most “church planting strategies” I’ve seen in my life to shame. God seems to be showing off through the lives of some humble/passionate young people.

5) The power of God is present. I have also been in various environments in the past few years that seem “spiritually dead”, as well as others that are freakin’ CRAZY, which seem far from the nature and character of God. AKA: very conservative & highly charismatic. This community can be placed in neither of those camps. However, the power of God through the work of His Holy Spirit displayed through the obedience of these radical followers of Jesus is not arguable. They are seeing supernatural physical, spiritual, and emotional healing take place. They are seeing the fruit of the Spirit displayed in people’s lives (Gal. 5:22-23) as well as the power of the gifts of the Spirit on a regular basis. They are not afraid.

6) They walk in a humility & refusal to pursue personal gain/attention that is like nothing I have experienced in most of my life.

I suppose I could go on and on. I want to make it clear that I am not bragging on anything other than the miraculous work of Jesus in the lives of these people. We like to call out the Christ-like qualities of Jesus we see in people as a way to edify them, and bring glory to Jesus. We are not “puffing them up”, but recognizing the redeeming work of Jesus in their lives. Obviously, I care about these people a lot. I am so proud of the Jesus I see in them, and wanted to share them with you a bit. I hope it has encouraged your Spirit.

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Permission…

The King St House Church Community is a crazy spiritual family of radical Jesus lovers in their early 20’s. This church was birthed after a group of these young people went through Student CPx in Austin two summers ago, and then helped us host SCPx here in Austin this past summer…

This community is sending an apostolic team to South Asia in December to train 40 university students to plant new house churches in their villages & surrounding towns. Our prayer, and hope is that as these young people go on this trip it will give their generation “permission” to go and do likewise – to realize they don’t need a big organization, church, mission trip, etc. to hear God’s voice and ACT in obedience. (Read the story below of how God miraculously orchestrated this opportunity)

If you are in the Austin area you won’t want to miss the S. Asia info session where the team will share about the trip, and how you/your Spiritual Family can partner with them to go. They truly have the opportunity to partner with the Holy Spirit & equip a few local people to spark a Church Planting Movement in a dominantly Buddhist Nation. The Austin Stone’s 100people network believes in this team & has allowed them to host the session at the Stone’s St. Johns Campus. Details below…

Come hear about something amazing that God is starting amongst the unreached in South Asia using people from Austin and how you can get involved.  **Story below.**

When: Tuesday Nov. 30 @ 7:30

Where: Austin Stone St. John Campus

Who Should Come? Anyone who wants to help make a difference in one of most unreached nations in the world.

What do you do about a nation where the majority of the people have never heard of Jesus?  A nation that is one of the last remaining Buddhist strongholds on earth?  A nation whose doors are closed?  What do you do when Jesus tells you to go there with less than two months notice?

Jon, Meghan, Ashwin, and Lauren said “YES” to the call last year and traveled to India to get as close as possible to the border of this unreached nation (we can’t tell you the name of the nation for security reasons). They lacked earthly understanding of how they would reach the people. But they saw the things that were unseen, the promises of God, and they envisioned a people that were far from Jesus becoming his inheritance. So they moved forward in faith.

The closer they traveled toward the border of this nation, the less likely it seemed that they would have the opportunity to minister to the people. They found themselves immersed among the Nepali people who lived there in India. The believers welcomed the team wholeheartedly, adopted their vision as their own, and began to pray for them.

Upon returning to Austin, however, it almost seemed that their vision had failed.  Nonetheless, the team continued believing in faith that the word the Holy Spirit spoke would come to pass.  Soon they found out about a pastor in Austin who was a refugee from the Buddhist nation. They went to Brother John’s house to meet him, and a door opened!  His heart was still beating for the nation he had left behind. Brother John couldn’t go back, but he could empower the team to go and take the gospel to his people.

Brother John and their contacts in India worked together to prepare a special place for a mighty move of the Holy Spirit. They reserved a Bible school in India that sits right on the border of the Buddhist nation. This January, the team will put on a training at this Bible school to equip students in church planting.  Their Indian friends traveled into the nation and recruited 35 youth to cross over the border and come to the training. They believe God wants to do something greater than they could ever imagine. They believe they will see 35 youth trained to plant underground house churches, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and equipped with a fresh measure of the glory of God. They believe God will use these young pioneers to flip a nation upside down! Let this Buddhist kingdom become the kingdom of our God and his Christ!

The team this year is Jon, Meghan, Lauren, Caryn, Courtney, Cameron, and Michael. They submit to the Holy Spirit and give themselves fully to his purpose, each of them willing and ready to use their specific gifts for building up of the brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. They have come together hand in hand, committed to Christ’s cause, praying together with joy for what God will do, and excited that they get to experience this together as a family.

Please join us on Tuesday November 30th at 7:30 PM for an info-session about this nation and how you can be involved.  Let us all join hands to take the Gospel to this unreached nation!

CLICK HERE to go to the Facebook events page to RSVP!

 

 

 

The Church Planting Fad Continues…

“…Somewhere along the way the focus shifted OFF of the disciple and ONTO the number of new churches being started…”

I know those of you reading this blog have heard me harp on the issue of making disciples vs. planting churches many times. We can all agree that if we start with “church” we do not always, or might I say, very often at all, end up with a true Disciple of Jesus Christ. However, if we start with the Disciple we will ALWAYS see CHURCH planting follow close behind….

We have seen “church planting” become quite the fad in America over the last 20 years. In the past 5 or so years we have seen the trend shift a bit…Now, it’s not just planting a church, but planting a church that plants other churches. Somewhere along the line we decided that planting a new church is good, but we’re still just ADDING churches. To see the Gospel spread rapidly we need to see Churches multiply. For that to happen we must see the new churches planting newer churches, and so on and so forth. I believe that as the CP Fad has shifted, and we’ve created a new “scorecard”, or criteria for success we have still fallen short of the principle we agree upon in the first paragraph. Unfortunately, churches that plant churches are still not the answer…

In the past few years I’ve had the joy & pleasure of watching many of these trends unfold. I’ve watched myself fall into many of the traps myself, and seen behind the scenes of what happens to guys when we fall victim to an inaccurate metric for success in the kingdom of God. The very thought of a phrase like “metric for success”, or “scorecard” brings with it the illusion that we must perform to earn God’s favor. Obviously, this goes completely against the message of the Gospel, and purpose of Christ’s death on the cross. We must be VERY careful that we:

“…do not perform to earn God’s favor, but OBEY because we are overwhelmed that we ALREADY have His favor.”

There are obvious scriptural references that lead us to believe, as followers of Christ, our lives should bare much fruit. In order to bare fruit it is wise to have goals, and ways to “measure” the fruit of those goals. However, we must constantly be open to whether or not the goals we were pursuing were the right goals in the first place. Are they producing Biblical fruit based upon what Christ has commanded us to do, or a worldly product that men have declared as “fruit”?

What I am submitting with this post is that our “pursuits/goals”, & the “measurement system” that follow are still far from what Christ had/has in mind. (Perhaps the goal in and of itself is a good one, but the order, and/or route we choose to get there is where the problem lies…?)

The problem with the “new fad”/goal/measure of success being a “church planting church” (A church that intentionally plants more churches out of it) is that it STILL does not start with the disciple. Somewhere along the way the focus shifts OFF of the disciple and ONTO the number of new churches being started. Guys, we can TALK all we want about how we’re about “fulfilling the great commission” and “starting with the disciple”. However, our actions, budgets, time, energy, conferences, books, sermons, blogs, twitter posts, etc. PROVE that we are about planting churches (NOT the goal) and NOT about making disciples (The GOAL). Again, the D will result in CP. We have, once AGAIN, bi-passed the initial/root PURPOSE of focusing on the DISCIPLE-trusting that as we MAKE DISCIPLES Christ will “build His Church”.

Let’s face it-a large church with lots of money, people, & and an influential leader can plant lots of churches…and God help us, those new churches can be started without many TRUE Disciples of Christ being raised up. When the goal/fad that sells the books and gets the attention is on church planting-we, as sinful men, will do all that we can do to be successful in that goal-even if making disciples is set on the back burner.

I have been, and am still fighting against falling into this trap on a daily basis. Let’s face it: Intentional Gatherings looks much much more successful as an organization if I tell it’s supporters that we’ve seen “40 new lay-led simple churches started in the last year”. When that becomes the goal, how we measure success, and what causes people to believe in what we do we will accidentally start frantically trying to plant more churches instead of obediently making disciples…ouch.

The point here is that the professional staff of a church, or “church planting organization” continue to be the ones planting the churches. Money is thrown around like candy at guys in the name of “church planting”. No new lay-led communities of faith are birthing from the Harvest. The entire body of Christ is not being equipped to BE the Church & live out their faith in such a way that acts as a conduit for the Gospel to spread rapidly. In fact, you might find that if you interviewed “members” of a well-known “Church Planting Church” that “Church Planting” is foreign to them, and not “on their radar” at all. It may be an important goal/pursuit of the staff/leadership, but hardly thought about by the lay members.

Not everyone is called to be a “church planter”, or “apostolic leader”. However, EVERYONE IS called to make disciples. If we KNOW that the result of disciples being made will be new communities of faith being birthed then we should be seeing thousands of new faith communities starting all over the place as the Gospel invades the lives of unbelievers.

I have seen tons of churches started in the past few years, and even started a couple myself in name of “church planting”…Did God use them for good, and His glory? Of course. Were some disciples made, and others matured in their faith? Of course. Is it good? Yes. Could it be better? Always. Should we pursue GREAT? I want to. If we know that it starts with the Disciple, and the “church plants” will follow as disciples are made then why in the hell won’t we start focusing on the Disciple, and stop focusing on the church? Again, most of us want praise, recognition, etc. You don’t receive that type of recognition/praise for doing this…

Student CPx is coming to AUSTIN!

“Join us August 10th-20th to engage the diverse communities of Austin with the Gospel through a kingdom lifestyle of encountering God in community and planting churches among the lost.”

SCPx Austin promo simpleAugust 10-20. Cost: $250 (meals & lodging included)

Click Here for more details & info. about Student CPx Austin.

Click Here to register for Student CPx Austin.

Many of you are familiar with the Student CPx (Church Planter’s Experience) training that we, in partnership with several other organizations, host in different parts of the country. You may remember the “concentrated” version of SCPx we hosted in Vegas in January 09′. (More on what happened there HERE & HERE) Or, if you go way back with “aholydiscontent” you might remember me mentioning the first ever Student CPx training in Lawrence, Kansas last summer. You may have even watched powerful Baptism videos from these training experiences.

Either way, the Lord has been moving in the past year, and ordaining relationships that will hopefully lead to Student CPx trainings all over the country many times each year. The dream is that these training experiences would be led primarily by students who have gone through a previous SCPx.

That is exactly what has happened with the upcoming Student CPx in Austin. Lauren Nanson, a UT student who has gone through SCPx, had a vision to see this type of training experience brought to Austin. Many of you in the Austin area have already been pursuing this movement, and have been training students to start campus churches; we are BLESSED to partner with you in the city, and grateful to the many of you who have committed to being a part of making this happen!

I hope you will all check out the information about Student CPx, and consider being a part of this experience. If you know anyone who might benefit from SCPx please send them our way, or to the website for info/reg. If you are closer to Kansas then we encourage you to register for the SCPx in Lawrence, Kansas, which is taking place July 19-31.

Details:

Student CPx Austin: August 10-20. Cost: $250 (meals & lodging included)

Click Here for more information.

Click Here to register.

Feel free to email Lauren Nanson: l.nanson@mail.utexas.edu OR Aaron Snow: aaron@intentionalgatherings.com for more information.

What Would You Say…?

I know that a lot of you out there are brilliant, and have learned a ton about making disciples to produce movements in the past few years. So, I thought I’d get some input from you…I’m in Austin, Tx. right now, and will be chatting with a group of college students tomorrow who are “movement minded”. They get the theory, and many of them have already begun pursuing starting “simple churches” in the area. What are 3 things you’d say to a group of young people who are sold out, and passionate for seeing a CPM in the states? (Practical Steps, how to avoid potential roadblocks, etc.)

1, 2, 3….come on, don’t be shy.

Next week I’ll be heading out to Orlando with my close friend, and mentor, Lance Ford. Lance has partnered with Alan Hirsch over the past few years to start www.shapevine.com

In Orlando we’ll be putting on the “missional track” at the annual “Exponential Conference”. This will be the second year in a row that shapevine heads up the “missional track”. During that track I will be participating on a “panel discussion” with several other guys. We will be discussing many issues, mostly revovling around CPM’s, and making disciples. There is room for 500 in the missional track, and it’s close to being sold out. This makes a 24 year old guy a bit nervous. If you could share 3 things with a room full of pastors about ANYTHING what would they be? (Let’s get creative here please…)

The Birth of a Perfect Marriage

Highlights from a week ordained by God…

At Student CPx this past week our purpose was to equip students to plant campus churches at their universities that will reproduce organically, fostering a church planting movement. Also, in my previous post I shared about the amazing things going on with I.H.O.P. (International House of Prayer – Kansas City). There are also several other prayer movements taking place in America such as 24/7 prayer (“Red Moon Rising”). There are plans to see houses of prayer on every college campus in the world. We started dreaming this week, and the Lord began opening doors to see these two elements join together in a beautiful marriage. It would appear that the apostolic, and the prophetic are joining together among college students on universities all over the country. Campus houses of prayer (The prophetic side) have popped up everywhere, as well as student churches (The apostolic side) on campuses. For years the two have pursued their calling apart from one another. It would seem as if the Lord is joining together these two very important elements that have been seemingly absent from our current form of church in America. Imagine what it will look like when the apostles, and prophets join one another on mission! Stay tuned…

The students at CPx were not only receiving classroom style teaching, but also hands on training. They were split into “Simple Churches” where they pursued, and practiced the values of living in “missional community” for two weeks. They were on a Native American College campus as missionaries. They learned about past church planting movements throughout history, and the pitfalls of evangelism through extraction. We taught them how simple things reproduce, and that church isn’t about a once a week gathering. We challenged them to pursue Biblical community, and to “go out in two’s” seeking a “person of peace” to disciple (Luke 10). We are extremely proud of these 40 students, and hopeful for what is to come. We challenged the them to seek out an international student on their campus during this next semester, lead them to Christ, disciple them, and bring them to a Student CPx follow-up training in six months. Through prayer, a prophetic word from several people, and a step of faith we decided that we would all bring our persons of peace to meet in none other than Las Vegas, Nevada. There are many details to work out, but in January 2009 Student CPx will join Intentional Gatherings in Las Vegas to reconnect, share what God is doing, train more, and be sent back out. My hope is that we will host this on UNLV’s campus, and that it would spark interest in planting Simple Churches among Christians in Vegas. If each of the 40 students, along with Intentional Gatherings in Vegas each seek out one person of peace then we will have close to 100 Christ followers (half of which will be brand new believers) meeting in Vegas in six months to train, and be sent back out all over the country! We also threw around ideas of having this past week’s batch of Student CPxer’s lead the training for the new believers while we facilitate. We would then challenge those 100 to go back, seek out one more person of peace, and regroup again. The potential of this gives me butterflies.

Last but certainly not least: Throughout the two weeks of Student CPx three Native American students developed relationships with our students, encountered Christ in them, and made a decision to follow Christ with their lives! We immediately Baptized these students in the dormitory bathtub! Erik Fish, who lives in Lawrence, now has three new disciples to start campus churches with. Praise Christ.


I am now on a plane to Colorado Springs where a similar conference called “SPARK” is being hosted by Campus Renewal Ministries. I have been asked to come in for the week to share, teach, equip, and empower students to start “missional communities” on their campuses. Sound familiar? Luckily, the Student CPx guys (Campus Church Network), and the “SPARK” guys (Campus Renewal Ministries) know each other well. I plan on sharing with the leadership of CRM about our follow-up training in Vegas. The amazing aspect of these opportunities is that none of the three church planting organizations involved (CRM, CCN, & Intentional Gatherings) have any desire to grow “their own kingdom”, but the Kingdom of God. It would seem as if God is bringing us together with like-minded desires for a true Church Planting Movement in the states. We will pursue this, and trust God to work out the details.

“Jesus, thank you for uniting Your Body, and preparing Your Bride like You promised to do in Your word. Thank You for allowing us to be a part of what You are doing. Protect us from ourselves, our pride, and selfish ambitions. May we be connected to You, and led by Your Holy Spirit that dwells in us. Amen.”