Las Vegas iPhoto Library…

After looking back through my iPhoto library I couldn’t help but throw together a little slide show of pics from our two year journey in Las Vegas. To those of you who came to our going away party this past Friday, thanks!

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What Are We Aiming For…?

“We must stop being so worried about the “sustainability” of churches, and focus on the quality of the disciple due to their time in that community…”

A few days ago I mentioned I was going to continue with what I felt was one of the most important lessons we learned during our time in Las Vegas. To get caught up, Click Here to read the previous post…the following is among many of the things we have learned in the past two years, but something I have been thinking a lot about lately. It will shape & mold how we do things from here on out, and have a tremendous impact on how we will pursue “things” once we arrive in Austin…

Overall, I have determined that Christ is TRULY concerned with the individual Disciples who make up His body (the Church). He is concerned with the growth of those “parts”, knowing that if they are healthy then the body as a whole will be healthy. Many of us fall into the trap of caring/worrying/pursuing more about the “sustainability” of the new “church” or “community” that the health of the individual disciple can be overlooked. The fact is if the disciple is not healthy the church is not healthy. The truth is while most simple/organic churches will not (in many cases SHOULD NOT) be in existence for more than a couple of years, the quality of the disciple will live on forever no matter where they are geographically. (This has been our experience thus far)

As many of you know, at Intentional Gatherings we do like to see new faith communities birthed as a result of discipleship. However, we must constantly fight, and remind ourselves that these new faith communities are a means to an end; they are not an end in themselves. The hope is that they would produce and foster healthy, mature, and reproducible disciples. As disciples are reproduced the Body of Christ (Church) grows and is made more pure for His return. This is a beautiful thing.

I know what some of you are SCREAMING right now: “Aaron, are you saying you aren’t concerned with the actual church that is made up of those individual disciples, and are you saying Christ is not concerned with each individual church!?” I am saying that I feel Christ is extremely concerned with each individual disciple, and their obedience to whatever particular community of faith they are a part of for that time in their lives. We must remember that while there are individuals inside of different communities of faith there are also communities of faith that make up THE CHURCH. We must start with the health of the disciple. From there we will ALWAYS get a healthy community of faith (Healthy does not always mean it will “live” forever=), and thus a healthy body as a whole. If we skip the disciple and try to have a “proper” or “sustainable” faith community then we “chop the legs” out from under the Body as a Whole.

I’d rather have a church of 10-15 made up of extremely healthy kingdom-minded Jesus followers that lasts for 2-3 years than one of ANY number that lasts for decades. You see, I know that wherever those 10-15 go throughout the  rest of their lives they will continue to be that disciple, or potentially start a new church of their own.

“We must stop being so worried about the “sustainability” of churches, and focus on the quality of the disciple due to their time in that community.”

May we all begin, and continue to focus on the disciple more than we do the “entity” (whether big, small, mega, or house) in which we call, “church”. As we pursue individuals gaining a deeper understanding of the Gospel, and fall more in love with their Savior, Jesus, may HE do the rest…”build HIS Church”.

“Goodbye Las Vegas, Hello Austin”

Most of you already know that we will be moving to Austin, Tx. in the next few weeks to extend the work of Intentional Gatherings in a new city. Leaving Las Vegas will be such a bittersweet experience for us – just as it was when we left Ft. Worth two years ago. We left our physical & spiritual families behind shortly after getting married to move across the country. It was quite the adventure. While God has wired, and called us to go to new cities every couple of years to start new communities of faith & see new disciples made it is still difficult to leave behind the close relationships that are built in each city. We are sad to part ways with so many close friends, but extremely excited to step out in obedience by “starting over” in a new city…

Many people look at us cross-eyed when we explain how God has called us to move to new places to start new works every few years. It is not the norm for Christians in America to pack up and leave behind friends and family regularly & voluntarily. We appreciate all of you who have loved and supported us throughout the difficult transitions. We could not do this without you. It is taxing to build Spiritual family for two years, and then leave that family to go start a new one. We just have to trust that Christ is building His Church & doing His thing, simply desiring our obedience. It is encouraging to know that we will have Spiritual Family spread out all over the country down the road…

To our spiritual family within the “university crest church” community: we love you guys so much. God has taught us a lot through doing life with you guys over the past two years. I pray that each of you have been sharpened & discipled to a deeper love and understanding of the kingdom, and your role in it. May each of you go on to make more disciples in Jesus’ name wherever life takes you. Do know that just because we are moving does not mean we are exiting each others lives.

To our spiritual family within the “hudgin’s, robbin’s, & snow’s church” community: I have never experienced anything quite like what we have walked through over the past 6 months with you guys…it was like “organic/simple church” on speed. We all sensed God pushing us to pursue Him & one another. We knew we only had 6 months to do it. There was no time to waste. God did some miraculous things in the past half a year as we walked in obedience together. He worked sin out of our lives, healed brokenness in our marriages, taught us patience & grace, and most importantly that pursuing Biblical community with other believers is and is supposed to be “simple” – not easy – but simple. While I wish we had pursued this much earlier on in our two years of knowing you guys I feel the timing of everything has been perfect, and God ordained; He knew what He was doing. My prayer for each of you is that you will pursue the types of relationships we have experienced with one another over the past 6 months for the rest of your lives, wherever you go. I know we will.

(From left: The Hudgin’s, The Snow’s, The Robbin’s)

I will continue in a couple of days with what I feel is one of the most important lessons we’ve learned as an organization during our time in Las Vegas…

Two Of Our Best Friends – Part 2

Jeremiah & Keri Duckett are two of our best friends in the world. They were a part of the original I.G. crew in Ft. Worth when the first church was started, and we have done quite a bit of life with these two…Back in January we hosted Student CPx: Concentrate in Las Vegas. Jeremiah & Keri led us in some powerful times of worship. I encourage you to take some time, worship, and reflect on the person of Jesus. Enjoy…

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Erik Fish: Traveling Teams

Erik shares his passion to release teams of traveling apostolic workers to campuses across America. Their purpose is to make disciples and plant student churches. Student CPx: Concentrate – Las Vegas 2009

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Two Of Our Best Friends – Part 1

Jeremiah & Keri Duckett are two of our best friends in the world. They were a part of the original I.G. crew in Ft. Worth when the first church was started, and we have done quite a bit of life with these two. Among just a couple of those things are becoming best friends, falling in love, and marrying our spouses. We grew deeply with them in the context of Biblical Community, and were on mission together with our lives. Back in January we hosted Student CPx: Concentrate in Las Vegas. We had some of the I.G. Ft. Worth crew come out to join us. Jeremiah & Keri led us in some powerful times of worship. I encourage you to take some time, get out your journal, Bible, reflect, & watch this video. Enjoy…

(We love you Duckett’s!)

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Neil Cole: Mentoring & Leadership…

Neil Cole shares with us about mentoring and Organic Leadership at Student CPx: Concentrate is Las Vegas in 2009. Neil has been a true Spiritual Father to this movement of lay/student church planters…Enjoy.

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The Call To Evangelism – Erik Fish

Erik Fish brought a fresh word on Evangelism to the everyone at Student CPx: Concentrate in Las Vegas in 2009. Enjoy…

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Closing Thoughts & My Mosque Trip…

{Sorry it’s taken me so long to pick back up with this last part of the “Removing Ignorance” posts regarding Muslims. I hope they have been enlightening thus far, and I hope this post is equally as challenging…it challenged me as I wrote…}

Do we as Christians avoid those of other faiths because we are afraid of them? Are we too insecure in our own faith to engage in dialogue with them? It seems that we are afraid that we might find out we are wrong or something. So, we simply choose to stay away from people who are different from us; they “threaten us”, right? I know that many people reading this feel uncomfortable at the mere thought of sitting at a table with a Muslim, listening to what they think/believe about Allah.

Do we not believe that the Gospel is also for Muslims? Can Christ’s blood cover over their sins as well? (If we’re “measuring” things here you’d probably find they have “less sin” than we do…chew on that) Is grace for “them”? If so, then how are we living our lives in such a way to prove that? How many Muslim friends, or friends of another faith do you have? Be they Mormon, Hindu, Muslim, etc. The truth is that most of us are uncomfortable being around those who are different from us. Whether it be moms who choose not to be around other moms who “mother” differently, or guys who are into sports not wanting to be around “nerds” who enjoy building computers, we all seem to migrate towards those who are just like us.

As Christians in America we have chosen our primary method of “reaching the lost” being a weekly church service that we can invite these “other people” to. Guys, when was the last time you know of a Muslim visiting your church? I don’t care what kind of church it is; you can probably not recall such a time. How will the Great Commission be fulfilled, and the nations reached if we expect the nations to come into our churches when it is obvious they will not do so?

Again, I think it’s time we each got out of our bubbles, and made friends with some people who are different from us…

Before my trip to DC a few weeks ago I visited a Mosque here in Vegas, and met some friendly Muslim men from Morocco. It was an interesting experience. They were THRILLED that I was there inquiring about Islam. They even gave me an evangelistic track about Islam. Seriously! It was as if I was the first non-Muslim to ever step foot on their property. They were excited, and desired for me to know about their faith in Allah through the Prophet Muhammad. (It was just as shocking for ME to go the THEIR “church” as it would be for THEM to come to MY “church”) They invited me, and my family back for one of the prayer times later that week. We haven’t gone yet, but probably will very soon.

Mosque

So much of the experience reminded me of how we do things as Christians…the Mosque was a HUGE and beautifully crafted peace of architecture. People gather to this “sacred” place to worship and pray. (Muslims do seem to get a little better use out of their buildings than us Christians, though. They use it several times/day every day of the week) I was greeted by Muslim men who handed me tracks, and shared how “happy” Islam would make me. I was invited back to a service later in the week. They both seemed uncomfortable sharing what exactly it was that would “make me happy”, & decided it would be easier to hand me the literature & invite me to a service instead. I could go on and on…

Guys, think about it. How often have you visited a mosque, temple, synagogue, etc. if ever? Then what in the name of Jesus makes us think people of other faiths will visit our churches? We must take the Gospel to the world.

I encourage you all to make it a priority to pursue a relationship with someone who is very different from you. You will probably be uncomfortable, but will learn a lot. Watch as the Gospel of Jesus infiltrates that relationship (as you allow it to). You may get to see a life transformed…