More LEGIT Student-led stuff…

What: UCLA Greenhouse Story 1 – Student Edition
When: November 20-22
Where: UCLA in Kinsey Room 1220B
Cost: $35

REGISTER AT: http://cmaresources.org/greenhouse/ucla

FREE Housing for out-of-towners: If you need some, contact Myles Hamby: myleshamby@gmail.com

From Myles Hamby, UCLA Passion Church Student who attended Student CPx: Concentrate in Las Vegas in Jan. 09′:

“Greenhouse Conferences have been happening all around the world for the last 10 years and have been challenging Christians to ask the QUESTIONS: What is a church, anyway? How can we do church is a way that more effectively reaches the lost and fosters better community amongst family? It challenges people’s traditional paradigms about what church is.

The conference also equips believers with practical, biblical techniques for planting organic churches and reaching the lost. The key to these techniques is their reproducibility. These principles can be used in ANY cultural context in ANY place in the world.

My heart was to see a “Greenhouse Conference – Student Edition” at UCLA. Neil Cole’s teachings have changed my life and fundamentally changed the way I reach out to people. I’ve seen these principles be VERY effective in his life and in my life too. So I wanted to host a Greenhouse at UCLA to equip Christians at UCLA and other college campuses with these practical evangelism techniques and to get them thinking differently about the way we do church.”

If you live in the SoCal region you don’t want to miss this incredible opportunity.

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“Out Of Business”…!?

A couple of days ago I posted a blog about our experience at “Poetry Reading Night”. If you haven’t read it you might want to do so before continuing with this post.

A dear friend of mine and Morgan’s, Jackie, posted the below comment in response to the above (linked) post. Before you read it: Jackie spent a summer with our Intentional Gatherings Ft. Worth crew a couple years ago, and then went back to Austin to start doing some rad stuff. She ended up on staff at The Austin Stone, where the Lord provided her with an incredible opportunity to bring some of what she learned about living in community ON MISSION to the church. She has a heart for true church planting movements, and from what I know of The Stone, they do as well. It may shock you that a staff member of an institutional mega-church would post a comment like this. I can assure you that The Stone knows her heart, and most likely shares the same heart…

Posted by Jackie:

“Man brother, your heart is so encouraging to me, and always seems to speak about what I’ve been wrestling with. Crazy.

This is my question I’m going through…if the institutional church/mega church/whatever is really there for the Kingdom, shouldn’t it’s goal be to put itself out of business? I.E., shouldn’t churches seek to keep the doors swinging so that believers come in, only to be released out into the harvest, where essentially they spend their time and therefore DON’T have time for church as a service and programming. I realize this is a dangerous question, but I just can’t get it out of my head.”

Jackie’s a thinker, and she’s passionate. She GETS movements, and making disciples. Maybe you guys can wrestle through this question with her. What are your thoughts?

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.

“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.

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.

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.