Category Archives: community

What Should a Christian Gathering Look Like? What is the Church- Continued

I’m still exploring what it is to be the church.  At this time, I am not attending a formal gathering.  I’m really not comfortable with that, but that is the direction the Lord has led me.  I still give.  I certainly consider myself part of the church.

It’s not that I don’t gather with believers.  I do.  I do not nor never have believed in “lone ranger” Christianity.  Currently I meet with other believers a couple of times a week for periods of extended worship, prayer, and listening to God.

It’s not a formal gathering.  There is no preacher.  There is no formal teaching.  People do step out in a number of ways according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Is this the church?  I believe it is.

Now there will be many that will challenge this because we don’t do an hour-long teaching when we gather.  Frankly in the case of those I am gathering with,  we are all mature Christians who spend a great deal of time studying and reading the scriptures ourselves.

Even though it’s not a one stop shop, I do consider this a gathering of “the church.”  I’m still getting comfortable with this idea because I’ve always been a part of the “one stop shop” type of gatherings before.

The interesting thing is that even though we have no “formal” teachings, our informal discussions about what the Lord is showing us in scriptures is far more lively and for me life changing than what I get from “sermons.”

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Filed under community, Relationship, The Believer, The Church

The Refuge – a Church doing Cool Stuff

Saturday night I visited the Refuge, a simple church that my friend Bill Benninghoff is part of.  The group started off with a meal, went to announcements then did something that really surprised me.  Instead of worship and teaching, they had a member share his story, his giftings, and his struggles.  Then the whole group ministered to him.  There were words of knowledge, some prophetic words.  There was a prophetic song, and scriptures shared and the Brother was encouraged and built up.

Kevin, one of the leaders explained that they believed they should really get to know one another.  So for the moment, each week one or two people are sharing their lives with the group.  I think this is an extraordinary idea.    Kevin explained that they are still struggling to navigate away from traditional ways of doing church into a more organic or simple model.

What I really appreciate is taht this group is really trying to get to know one another and love one another.  I am convinced that this can only result in a stronger community of faith.

The Refuge is also being very missional.  One lady, Anita, has been ministering to a family in the apartment complex, with others coming along side to help.   Two other gentlement are ministering to the homeless.  Some are ministering at a local nursing home and others are helping people by cutting lawns.  They are serving people in ways that will allow them to connect with the people they are serving.  Hopefully, it will open up the opportunity for people to share the gospel.

I was really encouraged to see this group of Christ followers dedicated to following Jesus and reaching out to people.

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Filed under community, Disciple making, Love Your Neighbor, Missional, Relationship

Christians Reaching Out to Help the Elderly in Lancaster Texas.

Join us in Lancaster

Join us in Lancaster

Saturday, May 30,  Christians from the Dallas-Fort Worth area will show up in Lancaster Texas to help the elderly with their yard work.

I talk alot about missional living.  I believe that every Christian is supposed to live in a missional context whether it is on the job,  in the neigborhood or in the store.

Most people however,  aren’t engaged.  This is a a great opportunity for those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to get involved in reaching out to help others in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is the first outreach scheduled in Lancaster.  Another one is scheduled for June, which will be an outreach to help the poor with food, clothing and toys for children.

A follow up outreach is planned for sometime in October as well.

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Filed under community, Love Your Neighbor, Missional, The Church

Our Commission is to Make Disciples – Not to Plant Churches

“Make Disciples.”   That was what Jesus essentially told his Disciples to do.  In Matthew 28,  Jesus last command to his followers was  “19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”  So there it is.  Jesus did not tell his followers to go plant churches.   He told them to go “make disciples.” 

In many ways we are putting the cart before the horse.  There is not one new testament command to plant churches.  But Jesus himself gave the command to make disciples.  I bring this up because I had heard many years ago that the most effective means of reaching the lost was planting new churches.  Indeed, it may be true, but do those new churches actually make disciples or do they make converts?  There is a difference and it is a critical difference.  We count as converts those who pray a prayer and “accept Jesus into their hearts.”  Disciples are ones who actually become followers of Jesus Christ.  If we follow Christs Command to make disciples,  often new churches will form out of that.  The church forms out of the harvest of disciples. 

I started one church and have been involved lately in working to start another church.  We have had to force ourselves to re-oritent back towards making disiciples because we got so caught up in the whole “church planting” idea.  So we’ve scaled back on the “church gathering” side and have put more effort into the discipleship side of the process. 

I know there are lots of people who believe that getting someone into “church”  the Sunday morning thing with the preacher is key to discipleship.  I will argue that has very little to do with discipleship.  Jesus did preach,  but more importantly he demonstrated the Kingdom of God by living it out among those that he was making disciples.  A Sunday morning preacher can’t do.  At best the Sunday morning message supplements a vibrant discipleship learning relationship, but cannot replace it. 

Teaching as Jesus said here is by his example.  He did preach or teach through the word, but he lived it out in front of them.  He brought validity to the message he preached by the life he lived.  New beleivers need those kinds of connections and relationships.  They don’t have to be perfect, as a matter of fact they won’t be perfect.  Peter wasn’t perfect,  John wasn’t perfect,  and much to the disappointment of many,  Paul wasn’t perfect.  Jesus was and only he was.  But if you are a Christ follower you shoud be learning from others more mature in Christ than you and you should be pouring out what you have learned into other disciples less mature in Christ than yourself.

Another point I would make,  the  ‘church” as in the institution we call the church does a lousy job making disciples and I am convinced that real discipleship costs something.  I believe it costs the time and the effort to develop real relationships with people.  It’s possible it can happen without those relationships, but not likely.   In our western context the message of the church is “we’ll help you be a good christian,  just follow the rules we tell you, come to Sunday morning service,  listen to the message, and join a small group and everything will be fine.”   I’ve seen far too many who follow that path that are still biblically illiterate years on.  In addition, they aren’t putting the Word of God in practice in their own lives and even more devestating is that they didn’t learn to hear God themselves.”

We must begin to spend the time and effort to really disciple young believers and not-yet believers so that they can truly have Christ formed in them.   I am convinced if we are faithful in this,  we will have followers of Christ who will be fruitful and true laborers in the harvest.  And if we do our jobs right,  new church expressions will flow out of this process.

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Filed under community, Disciple making, Disciplines, Missional, The Church

Missional Small Groups bring Mission and Community to Church

In the video (see link above) from the Leadership Network program, THE SHOW, Pastor Matt Carter of the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin Texas discusses their failure at developing community through small groups…and what they did about it.  He discusses how they had very little mission and very little community when their groups were focused on fellowship (eating) and bible study.  But after a lot of sou searching,  they changed the focus to being missional, and things began to change

Key point: When we focused on community, we got neither community or mission. When we focused on mission we got both community and mission.

Austin Stone Community Church

The Show

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Filed under community, Missional, The Church, Uncategorized