Spiritual Family…

This is a phrase that is becoming more popular among evangelicals in America. It is something that we, as individuals, and as an organization have been fascinated with and explored for a couple of years now. How do we promote the DNA of healthy disciple-making/church planting movements while fostering a sense of strong spiritual family? For the first couple of years we fell to an extreme side that neglected seeing healthy “spiritual families” fostered while attempting to see new churches multiplied – this is simply not possible. We are now moving into a season where our language is changing, and taking on more of a “familial” feel & practice…

Anymore, we try to focus much more on the well-being of the individual disciple, & health of the “spiritual family” that disciple is a part of (or has birthed) than we do “how many new churches have been planted”/how “sustainable” this or that “church” is. Families are made up of both genders, and reproduce quite naturally. It has been in God’s plan from day one in the garden. We now view “churches” more like families in our own lives, and in how we equip & release lay-people to live out their faith. It is only natural for an existing family to send out it’s kids to start new families. If a new family is birthed and remains healthy it will contain a culture that empowers and releases the “family members” to birth new families. They are sent out to start new communities of faith! Of course, the relationships with the extended family are still there, and have frequent “family reunions”! The key is that the new family is no longer dependent upon their “parents” anymore. This is a good thing. This SHOULD happen. Any “spiritual family” (church) that is not birthing new “families” (churches) must examine itself to see what has grown unhealthy in their DNA.

We have learned a lot about Spiritual Family from our friends, The Orme’s, in San Diego. Brian, and his family are who we partnered with this past summer to host Student CPx in SD. They equip students at UCSD to make disciples and start new simple churches on campus. At the same time, they place a HUGE value on healthy “Spiritual Family”. Check out the below video they recently posted about how they view this type of family in San Diego…

What are you learning about “Spiritual Family” in your current context? How important do you feel it is? Is it necessary to foster this sense of family in the context of Church Planting and “movements”?

Reaching Campus Dot Com

I was recently asked to write an article for a new website launched by Campus Renewal Ministries. The purpose of the blog is to stimulate dialogue around the topics of unity, prayer, and missional communities on college campuses. Of course, I was excited at the opportunity to share what God has been doing around the country through students who are stepping out to make disciples and start new local church communities in their context. I shared a quick story, specifically about some things taking place currently here in Austin, and then a brief note about what it would look like if we started fostering “new discipleship environments” in our lives. CHECK IT OUT, and leave some input in the reaching campus comments section…

Student Church Planting Manual…

This is an incredible resource for anyone who has a desire to make disciples, and allow for new churches to birth from the harvest on their campus. It’s also great for those who have a desire to mobilize others, lead, and resource them to do so in their context. We use much of this stuff in our Student CPx Training (Of course, nothing beats the real-deal experiences from actually being a part of one of these hands on trainings) and know of others all over the world who have gotten a hold of it, applied many of the principles, and seen some incredible things happen for the kingdom.

It is a bit long, but feel free to download, save, print, copy, distribute, etc. as much as you like. Our heart is to see this information get into the hands of anyone and everyone who has a heart to see ordinary followers of Christ released to live out the teachings of the Scriptures. Enjoy!

Click Below to download, or go to the box.net widget to the right to download from there…

StudentChurchPlanterKit

When Ordinary People Lead…

This past Sunday a few UT students who went through Student CPx back in August hosted a “joint simple church gathering”. They wanted to bring the other simple churches from their relational networks together for a time of sharing what God has been doing in Austin through these various lay-led churches, as well as hear from some students who had taken trips overseas during the winter break.

What you see represented in the pictures above and the videos below is the fruit & result of the obedience of students living out the Gospel being the Church. Yes, this entire gathering was student organized & led. Most of the SC’s displayed here represent the actual local churches these students belong to. They are seeing much fruit through the individual communities as they step out in faith to obey God. The coolest part is that there were NEW BELIEVERS at this gathering who have recently made decisions to follow Christ! One of them will be Baptized by another student this Friday!

It is so important to recognize what happens when the works of scripture are lived out by ordinary people. (lay-people, students, new believers, unpaid, non-professional, etc.) The growth of the kingdom and spread of the Gospel is no longer dependent upon how much money exists, where we “meet”, who will “lead”, how “big” are the projects, etc. When a 20 year old college student realizes they have “permission” from Jesus to go make disciples, Baptize them, and watch as a new community of faith (church) is birthed it sparks something very powerful. When several students come to this realization it marks the beginning of a movement…

I captured some little bits of the evening with my phone – let us imagine together this scenario multiplied in homes & cities across our nation!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

At Intentional Gatherings we seek to equip, & release ordinary believers to live out their full potential in the kingdom of God. We do that in many ways. Whether it be a Student CPx Training, involvement in a new simple church community, or just walking through real life with someone from our team, the desire is not to build or grow a church or organization. Success in our organization is based upon spiritual transformation in the lives of individuals whom God places in our lives. Spiritual transformation is measured by those individuals ability to hear God’s voice, and be obedient to that voice (No matter what that looks like-yes, even if it means they don’t “join” our org., or one of our churches). Essentially, we want to disciple in such a way that leads to the empowerment of those disciples to go make more disciples. It’s been a long journey thus far, but we’re excited about what God has done, and will do in the days to come.

Lord, may you continue to release your children into the harvest to fulfill the Great Commission! We are available to You, and earnestly desire Your Spirit to sweep across our city and nation!

National Church…?

As has been the case with many of you, God has totally been wrecking all of the preconceived thoughts I’ve had about what His Church is, and what He desires it to be. The things we have seen happen in the past 3 years of our lives, and the life of Intentional Gatherings have been incredible. From serving the poor to community discipleship houses, and training others across the nation to make disciples & plant new churches we can only assume God has something big in store…
Through Student CPx we, along with the help of several other organizations, have seen hundreds of students trained to make disciples and plant LAY-led faith communities in their context as new believers encounter Jesus. After the students are trained we pair them up with a “seasoned practitioner” to mentor & disciple them. We have elders and leaders spread out in different regions of the country to help shepherd and pastor these apostolic missionaries…

This past weekend in St. Louis we gathered together (with those who could make it) many of these disciple makers/church planters for a time of celebration of what God has done, and edifying one another before going back out into the harvest. As the national elder team and I were chatting we realized something really neat…we have a Nationwide Church of Churches on our hands! There are hubs where traveling teams can be sent out from, and return to for rejuvenation. Not to mention the many Baptisms and hundreds of powerful stories of God moving on campuses & in neighborhoods.
Realizing what God is doing has, once again, completely shifted how I view His Church. I can’t help but think about the early Church in the New Testament, and how it must have been spread out all over the region with thousands of believers, elders, traveling apostolic leaders, BRAND new believers, and many individual church communities spread out all over the place. I’m learning that God grows & builds His church in many ways when we LET HIM. When we get our of His way & remove Him from the box we put Him in He can really amaze us. There really are ways for “growth” outside of how many people gather at a weekly service! (Imagine that! =) It brought a smile to my face, and much peace to my soul to look and see what God has built in the past couple of years – we are humbled and blessed to be a part of it…

If you look closely at the picture you’ll notice FOUR generations present. By the grace of God we have Spiritual grandparents all the way down to small children and infants who are a part of our growing national spiritual family!

We’re In St. Louis…

We are gathered in St. Louis with students from all over the country who have been through one of our Student CPx Training Experiences in the last two years. This gathering is specifically for students to minister to one another, be ministered to by elders, share stories, and be refreshed to be sent back out to make more disciples. We are feeling a real sense of family among all of the students, and are excited to continue to build with them…

One of the Arizona State University students recently led one of her friends to Christ about a month ago. She joined her student church, and came to the national gathering. She decided to get Baptized tonight with her “family” at the gathering!

We’ve had a wonderful time so far this weekend, and it’s not over yet. The students are feeling encouraged, and refreshed to go back to their campuses/lives with a new spirit and deep sense of love/affirmation from their Father in heaven.

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.

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…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Call To Evangelism on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

Freedom & Release.

During Student CPx we focus very heavily on the Great Commission, and the importance of EVERY BELIEVER realizing those last words of Jesus before he went to heaven are for them, TOO. Part of the GC teaches every believer to Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We teach that these Baptisms can be fuel for the movement of the Gospel, but it’s very important to ask a few questions about Baptism:

1) Who is DOING the Baptizing?

2) When is the Baptizing taking place after a decision is made?

3) Where is the Baptizing taking place?

We always teach that the DISCIPLER should, if possible, also BE THE BAPTIZER. It should, if possible, be done as soon as possible after someone makes a public profession of faith. We hope and pray that unbelievers would be present to watch the Baptism, & do our best to be strategic about where/when in order to make that possible. We have found that it will almost never occur in a traditional Baptismal, but a fountain, pool, stream, creek, lake, bathtub, or whatever happens to be available.

After teaching through this section at SCPx we watched as students began to realize that they had been believers for a long time, but never Baptized anyone. They weren’t upset, though. They became excited to see it begin to happen in their lives. One of the students began to weep as she shared about her Baptism experience, which occurred at a young age. She described a very impersonal, mundane Baptism by a guy she never knew. Sound familiar? We encouraged her that her Baptism was completely “legitimate”, & that the Lord was pleased with her heart. She knew that, and was not doubting her faith/salvation. She communicated that she had a desire to be Baptized in a very powerful, and celebratory way among a spiritual family whom she had grown to trust and love. Another girl spoke up and said she had a similar experience…

The students started discussing things like, “are we allowed to be Baptized twice?”, and “If we do it this time does that mean the first time didn’t count?”, etc. – (please know that this did not result in anyone doubting their salvation in Christ & eternity in heaven with Him)

I shared with the students that I would hope we would all “pray the prayer” EVERY SINGLE day, committing our lives to Christ, repenting of our sins, claiming Jesus as Lord, etc. I also posed the question: What would be wrong with “BEING BAPTIZED” every single day!? (Declaring the death of ourselves, and new life we have in Christ, that we are washed clean of our sin, etc.) Someone yelled, “we could just Baptize ourselves in the shower every day!” I am not submitting that we should or must all get Baptized everyday, or Baptize ourselves every day. I am simply saying that someone who has been Baptized at a young age in a very impersonal way should be free to declare that new life in a celebratory way to those they are walking in Spiritual Family with. I cannot think of a reason why it would be a bad thing to declare that symbolic, life transformational act on a regular basis…

We walked down to the creek that runs through the middle of UT’s campus. It was dark, and the water was about knee deep. Two girls waded through the water, and were Baptized by two other girls. It was powerful, and all four girls were deeply impacted for life. A group of UT students with head lamps on came our way wading through the creek-they were hunting water snakes in the creek for a class assignment. They said studies showed that there were an average of 1 snake every 8 meters in this creek. Snakes! Mixed with Baptisms! What incredible symbolism. The two doing the Baptizing felt the freedom to start doing this new act, which they had never done before, many more times. The two who got Baptized were released to go and do the same. It was a powerful experience for everyone involved.

IMG_4360

IMG_4384

Courtney Baptizing Jessie (on left) Sarah Baptizing Sabrina (on right)

Last Call Church Planters…

We have extended registration for Student CPx – Austin!

SCPx Austin promo simple

You don’t want to miss this powerful 10 day hands-on simple church planter’s training. You’ll get to spend time with seasoned practitioners like Neil Cole, Tony & Felicity Dale, Brian Orme, and many more! The cost for the entire 10 days is just $250. Austin locals can receive a $50+ discount for opening up their home to host one of the simple churches! Register NOW!

Neil Cole

Tony & Felicity Dale

Brian Orme

I hope to see you all there. The Student CPx family is an ever-growing family of kingdom minded campus/simple church planters who are spread out all over the country. It’s been a good family to be a part of in the past year. Look forward to new members joining the family this summer…