Missional Church

blood_body_christ

The gathering of Christ followers, what we call church, at its core it’s about the body and the blood of Jesus Christ, we are to gather because of Jesus,  because of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Without the blood and body of Christ we are nothing, we are doomed in our sins.

Center stage at any gathering of the Church should be the Lords table, communion, not some speaker be it the pastor of who ever. I seek to be part of a gathering where everyone coming in understands that it’s about blood and body of Jesus, communion, the Lords table, is all about Jesus, who He is and what He did.

This is what we have in common, the body and blood of Jesus Christ and we should always want this to always to be central to our gathering.

In Luke 22:19 Jesus said taking the bread and braking it, “Do this in remembrance of Me”, and we read in Act’s 2:42they devoted themselves……to the breaking of bread ……”.  I want to remember the body and blood of Jesus every time I gather with followers of Jesus, this is at the core why we come together. They got it, they understood what coming together was all about, Jesus’ blood and body.

Just as the disciples did, we get to partake of that too, devote ourselves to it two thousand years later we get to be doing the exact same thing the disciples did with Jesus, like the first church that we read about in Act’s did. And when we do, were connected to the body that was built upon the prophets and the apostles, with Jesus being the cornerstone and we get to join into this, that’s what were here for, so that must take center stage.

The early church did not just take communion, we read in Acts 2:42 they where devoted to it,  the actual Greek word is more really “they continuously devoted themselves”. That is, “They kept on devoting themselves” every time they gathered, every day even we read.

I want to be devoted, keep on devoting myself to it. It want to set myself apart for the purpose of communion. It was not just something tact onto a service once and a while.

Communion leads me to think how I am totally pure because of what Jesus did on the cross, He paid it all. My sin was dark, it was like blood re,d like crimson, and Jesus washed it white as snow. It’s just a joy to take that bread and remembering Jesus taking it and saying this is My body broken for you, this cup, my blood is poured out for you. I want to remember that daily, and celebrate with the body every time we meet up.

Starting with the blood and body of Jesus where can I go from there but into worshiping God the Father who sent His Son to die on a cross for me. To worship from the deepest part of my heart, worship songs of praise from the burning love in my heart. I don’t need a band to lead me, tell me what to sing, it will flow out of my heart. I will sing a new song to the Lord in my own words of love from my heart.

If I really believed my salvation, what Jesus did for me, remember His body and blood, wouldn’t I worship in an amazing way, wouldn’t I just be screaming my lungs out? Yes, and I do.

I want to gather with people who’s attitude is this is ware I want to be, I’m here because of Jesus, I want to be with the true followers of Jesus, I want to break bread, and remember what He did on that cross for me. I want to get together worship Him and tell Him how great He is. Sing with the people of God, pray with the people of God. Hear from the word of God. That is what I can be devoted to like I read in Act’s 2:42, And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. That’s the church I can be part of.

I don’t want be with people who are coming because of the speaker, the band, or the children’s program, we are to come together because God sent His Son. God said church is supposed to be about Jesus and I want this to always to be at the center. The body and blood of Christ, I don’t want to cover up the cross.

So when we walk in it’s not because so and so is leading, or because of that guy, or that band, but I come because of the body and blood of Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, I just want to celebrate His body being broken for me, his blood being shed for me. And I want to be with others of the same mindset.

I don’t just want to give lip service to the cross and blood of Jesus, to communion. I do not want to casually acknowledge it, casually talk about it, or once and a while, or do it once a month. I want to think about it, passionately talk about it, and be devoted to it. I want to do it in remembrance of what Jesus did for me, every time I gather with the body, every day. Jesus, I just want to remember Him, I want to proclaim Him, the cross, His body, His blood, and gather with others who are doing the same thing. I want to celebrate Jesus’ blood and body with others that are burn to celebrate it also.

This is the first thing I am looking for in a church gathering, a body of believers to be with, this is not optional, communion is to be center stage, every gathering, not the pastor, a band or anything else. And I don’t mean once and a while, on special occasions, or once a month even, I mean, every time we gather.

Part 1-  Church God’s Way

Part 3Church A Loving Family

I’m thinking I can’t afford to even consider another year of sitting in a “church service” and hearing someone preaching a sermon, or worse a sermonette, sing a few songs, saying amen, shake hands on my way out, and saying that’s church, my duty complete, and even worse think God’s happy with that.

When you look at scripture it wasn’t just show up for a service, sing a couple of songs, hear a message and walkaway, maybe be convicted or rejoice or whatever. On my way out shake hands, smile and ask “How are you? How’s work?” Respond I’m fine, works good, see you next week, and say church done for the week. No where do we ever see Jesus model that, describe it that way. Peter or Paul describe it that way. See it done that in in scripture or in the first 100 years of the church, no where. Read the book of Act’s, you will see a different church.

Jesus didn’t command us to get a bunch of people room to set around listen to one man talk one a week for an hour, that’s not what He asked for, not what He says the church will be known for.

God has been speaking to me, taking me deeper and deeper into His word and Himself the last 5 years, the last year especially He has been working in me in life changing everything. He has been speaking to me especially about church, what it is, and it’s purpose is according to him.

He has been speaking to me through His word, His Spirit through followers of Christ he has connected me with like Francis Chan and JD Greear and a few others.

I’m saying lets go back to Scripture and ask what did He say. Because Jesus did Not ask for a bunch of people just to come sing a couple of songs, to come sit and listen to a man give a sermon. God’s never wanted His church to be a one hour, one day a week event you attend like a Las Vegas show, something that’s put on for you. Something that is You centered, all about You and Your likes and dislikes.

I pick up the bible and read what Jesus said the church is to be, what its purpose is, read how God started the church, look at what the church did when it gathered in the beginning. And I say what God want’s is what I want. And I am not one of those who reads the word of God, then like Eve listen to Satin say to me, did God really mean what He said? Did he really mean what He said? After all the bible is descriptive not prescriptive for you today.

One thing I know for sure, when I stand before God, He is not gong to say to me “you fool” you actually believed my word, took it literally, you actually believed I would do what I said, you actually where obedient to what I said, you did church my way. You loved Me and Jesus so much you believed my words “you fool”. Not hardly.

On the other hand those who say the book of Act’s is descriptive not prescriptive, fables, symbolic, figurative or what ever excuse to not believe what it says, not to obey it, want to do it their way. Well let’s just say I don’t want to hear what they will hear the day they appear before God.

What does God say church is suppose to be? I say let’s go to the word and see what did Jesus die for. What did he say the church was supposed to be and just do it, no more excuses.

Imagine if you were on an island and never been to a church and just read the bible, over and over and over and over. And then you get rescued somehow and you come to America. And you went to visit one of those things you’ve been reading about, this gathering of believers. And then you walk into a building called a church going okay, I have been reading the bible. And I want to experiences what I’ve read about, with this group of people here. You walked in and look around, would you find what you would’ve expected? Would you find what Jesus describe, said He wanted? Find what you read about in Act’s? No, you would not.

I’m talking about the real thing, a gathering of the church done the way God said, designed it, what I read about in the bible. I don’t know about you but I want the real thing, the church I see in Acts, the one Jesus died for. I’m talking about doing what God asked His people to do, being what the church is to be, its reason for being according to Him, His word. What God said it’s to looks like when true followers of Jesus gather together. That’s what I am after, what God has been showing me in His word and speaking loudly to me about, that He wants.

Part 2 – Church – Christ Centered

Part 3 – Church A Loving Family

Ed Stetzer just posted a great article on his blog “Apostolic Harvest” Church Planting– Your Input Requested” I would recommend everyone read and join in his conservation with your ideas. I quote his open line which describes one church model his post was about.

“Many different biblical methods are effective for planting a church, and God does not bless only one way. However, in this post, I want to raise one specific model for discussion: what I call the “apostolic harvest church planter,” as laid out in my book Planting Missional Churches (B&H Academic, 2006). This is also considered in my new co-authored book (with Warren Bird), Viral Churches (Jossey-Bass, 2010).”

apostolic

His above image shows his model, I like and endorse his model but would like to suggest slight change to the model that I like even better, that is not just one who plants and leaves, raising up only one to stay behind and lead with only the original planter being sent but multitudes being raised up and sent. And you never stop sending. We need to get away from the one man show model in how we do church, and the paid professional only model. Church is everyone’s job, everyone plays a part according to their gifting and there seldom is just one of each gift. We need to be constantly raising up and sending out, not one, but many. Every pastor should be making disciples just like Jesus modeled, and Paul did. Jesus did 12 at a time, He was about reproducing Himself, and sending out to do the same thing, every pastor should be reproducing himself, passing on to others continually and sending out continually.

I truly think it would be great to have the attitude that everyone who comes in the door is being prepared to go out as a church planter or missionary. That is the right attitude, not to crate and building full of pew warming groupies of the pastor who set and let the pros put on “church” for them.

The original planter, the “apostolic planter” as Ed calls him, leaves the first church and move on when he feels the Lord says to. He is in the business of training not only his replacement but others to do the same thing as him. Some may leave and plant and stay in the same place for years or become an “apostolic planter” also. Each according to their calling of the Lord.

Just think if a church just sent out just 20% of its men to plant, a church of 3,000 would send out 600 planters a year. And Then each of those planters plants do the same thing. Do you see how fast the number increase exponentially.

I doctored up Ed’s image a little to show what I would like to see.

church multiply

Be sure and visit Ed Stetzer blog and read his post and give your imput, and get his books as well.

041210I listen to a reading of a sermon preached by C H Spurgeon from April 27, 1856, over a 150 years ago called ‘Gospel Missions’, in today church lingo it could have been called ‘Gospel Centered Church’ or ‘Missional Church’. It could have, it should be given in the church today. Here we have a sermon on what is at the heart of being a missional church given 150 years ago.

Amazingly Spurgeon hits the key points about what the church is lacking today.


Things he says is missing in the church:

First, We have not apostolic men.
Second, They do not set about their work in an apostolic style.
Third, We do not have apostolic churches.
Fourth, We have not the apostolic influence of the Holy Spirit in the measure that the first church had.

“We have few Apostolic men in these times, preachers of God’s truth.”

“We have not men with Apostolic zeal like Paul, His zeal was so earnest, and so burning. Whether he did eat, or drink, or whatsoever he did, he did all for the glory of his God; he never wasted an hour.”

He went on to say:

“We lack men filled with the Holy Spirit of fire, we have not men with apostolic zeal. Men like Paul who preached the word everywhere, who say “Wow unto me if I preach not the gospel.” You had a convection when you saw him, that he was a man who felt he had a work to do. And must do it and could not contain himself unless he did do it.”

“Oh! if you could have seen Paul preach you would not have gone away as you do today with half a convection that we (pastors) do not mean what we say. I seldom hear a solitary sermon that comes up to the mark in earnest deep passionate longing for the souls of men.”

I gave a big AMEN to all that, and I really loved this:

“Oh had you seen an apostolic church, what a different thing it would have appeared to one of our churches. As different as light and dark. Where is our prayerfulness? Oh, if we prayed as deeply and as earnestly as they did we would have as much success. They broke bread from house to house, they ate their meat with singleness of heart giving glory to God. There was not a member of the church who was half hearted. They gave their heart solely to God.”

Just a few quotes from the sermon, all pastors, all Christians should hear this sermon, it will fire you up if their is even a smoldering amber of the Holy Spirit in you.

Download the sermon here (mp3 22.4 mb).

When can you tell a church is effective with the gospel, being missional? When its full of repented prostitutes, drug dealers,  adulters and other repented sinners.

When the captives are being set free from oppression, depression, substance abuse, pornography, human trafficking, and the other things of this world.

After all that is what the gospel is all about.

Just a simple thought for the day.

girls cheering on

I attended some of my nieces softball games the past two weekend, loved watching those girls play (10 to 12 years olds) , they are so amazing, the sills and abilities they posses at such a young age.

One of the things that caught my attention was that when they make an errors, mess up, strike out, drop a ball their teammates still say good job, you’ll get it next time and high five them, the coaches yell out good try, way to try, sake it off. As well as all of us in the stands, cheered for them just as if they hit a home run even when it was a pop fly out, shout out good hit! Not one of those girls is allowed to feel like they failed, no matter how badly they messed up.

That made me think of the verse Heb 12:1  "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," And how we have our own cheering section in heaven, but we should have one here to. When we mess up, make mistake, the body of Christ should be like my nieces teammates there to high five us, say good try, you’ll get it next time when we strikeout. But I do not see that happening very much at all in the church today, and that saddens me.

We the church, the body of Christ must, need to learn from girls softball, learn to be a team that supports each other no matter what, how bad we mess up. I saw how much it effected those girls, their spirits, them emotionally, made them what to do better next time. It keep them in the game with high spirits no matter the score, because they new they were winners no matter what the scoreboard said, glad to be on the team and in the game with them, and so should every member of the body of Christ.

Preach the Gospel, To All the World.

Jesus told His followers in Mark 16:15 “And He said to them, Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to all the creation.” despite Satan’s influence on people in the church who introduced the doctrine in the 90’s of Not sharing the gospel with others. That people by simply by being around you through osmoses will become followers of Christ. Even thou all references to witness or witnessing in the book of Acts are public, verbal proclamation of the gospel outright. Jesus never taught or instructed His disciples to anything other than out right proclaim the gospel. There is never the concept in Scripture that witness can be private or simply lived out, but rather something to be proclaimed, shouted from the house tops.

Romans 10:14 tells us “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching?” It is the job of every follower of Christ, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to all of the world. With words, with the actual gospel of Jesus. Do not listen to others, people who tell you not to share Christ, not to proclaim the gospel, just live a “good” life and others will get saved with out a word spoken. (Note, in order for your life to be an actual witness as they say, to reveal Jesus and the gospel, you must be living a life of obedience to Christ, and imitating His life. Which means you must be verbal sharing, proclaiming the Gospel, just as Jesus did and said to do. It’s a catch 22.)

In Luke 15:10 Jesus says ““…I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” how can anyone who is a follower of Christ not want to be part of that. Be part of an act that brings so much joy to all of heaven. This is what the Gospel is all about, why Jesus came and walked among us, what He sent His followers to do, Preach the gospel, so Go and proclaim the gospel to the world!

Chose this day to live, be like Philip in Act 8: 26-40. We read in Act 8:35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Chose this day to live like him, to Go out into the world with that intent, to share on purpose. Only you can chose to live like that, be like him.

Part 5

neon-bibleI have been asked a couple of times the last few days what book I think is the best book on church planting. Well after having helped plant 3 and working on number 4 the book I believe to be not only the best, but the definitive book on church planting, the only book that should be used as a guide is the book of Acts.

Everything one needs to know about Church planning you will find, learn in the book of Acts. The other book, resources are just efforts by the flesh to make happen what is Jesus’, the Holy Spirit job to do, build the church.

hole in our gospelThe Hole In Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision published by Thomas Nelson, is a compelling call to Christ-followers to know and understand the whole gospel, and our obligation to take it to the world. This book is amazing; it is one of best books I have read in a long time. In this book we learn of Richard’s personal story, his rise to not only CEO of World Vision but God’s working in him to know and embrace the whole Gospel. We learn of Richard’s ventures into the world, the world of poverty and need. As he states “Poverty, disease, and squalor had eyes and faces that stared back, I had to see and smell and touch the pain of the poor. We learn “The mission of God is now our mission, and the whole gospel is the good news”. That the Kingdom which Christ spoke of was one in which the poor, sick, grieving, cripples, slaves, widows, orphans, lepers and aliens – the lest of these, were to be lifted up.

This subject is one of my passions, world hunger and ending it, so this was preaching to the Choir for me, but helped fuel my passion for the need and for the church to get, know, embrace the whole gospel and do something with it. This book should be a must read for every Christian, in the pew of every church. A required reading for every pastor. Stearns tells a powerful and compelling story of how God transformed him from one who like most Christians believes the American dream is the gospel, Christianity lived out. To one who was changed by the whole gospel, humbled and broken, giving it all up for Christ and to take the gospel to the world.

What does it look like to live out the gospel, the would gospel. This is what it looks like in this story shared by Richared Stearns in his new book The Hole in our Gospel.

Richared met a pastor of a house church of 83 people while in Cambodia and he asked him his story, how did he come to Christ, and his story is summed up was.

His encounter with Christ began with Christians with World Vision who came to serve the poor, nursing the sick, educating the children and helping increase the food fro the hungry. So compelling was this service that it provoked questions in the mind of the curious man: Why are you here? Why are you helping us? The answer to these questions was the gospel, the good news. And they took me to a pastor who told me all about Jesus. He opened his bible and told me all about Jesus, explained salvation in Christ. And I committed my life to Jesus that day.

When asked, now what about the 83 people who worship with at your house church, how did they come to follow Jesus.

“I was so excited to learn about Jesus, that I had to share this good new with everyone I knew.

Wow there it is, the gospel in action, the great commission fulfilled.

A group of Christians taking the whole gospel va the great commission into the world. They saw Jesus was hungry so they gave Him food; that He was thirsty so they gave Him drink; that He was a stranger so they took Him in; that He was naked so they clothed Him; that He was sick so they visited Him.

Then giving an answer as to why they where doing it, Jesus. And as a result one person comes to faith in Christ, then he immediately goes and shares the gospel with other in the shadow of what the others where doing for them, they also come to faith and then he starts making disciples and a church is born and he is their pastor. That’s the gospel in action.

So let it be said of each Christians life, like Jesus said as you have seen, read, go and do like wise.