community Tag

11-28-09 After reading a lot lately about social networks and online church communities,  I’ve been thinking about the term “friend” lately. With all the talk today about Twitter, Facebook and on line church. I think we must really look at the real definition of not only biblical community and relationships, but the very word "friend" and what that means. Today  social, personal relationships are measured in 140 characters, contained and maintained in 140 characters or less.

I hear people say I have 500 or more “friends” on Facebook, I’ve have 3,000 friends who follow me on Twitter, I text with 100 friends a day at school. Really, you thinks those are friends, that you have a real relationship with them. I beg to differ with anyone on those statements.

A resent survey I read showed people admitted that in the last year they spent 33% less time in actual live conversations with people ether via phone or in person. We are a society that is becoming more and more impersonal, and disconcerted from people in real intimate forms of communication. 1994 through 2004 Friends was the number one TV show. Everyone wanted what they had, there own posse of friends to hang out with like that. Today not so much true it seams these days.

Here is a sort list of the difference between a real, true friend and virtual friends:

Virtual Friends vs. True Friends

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Say “hello everyone”

TRUE FRIENDS:
Give you a hug and a kiss.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Know you have parents.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Know your parents.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Never share a meal with you.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Help make dinner and will spend hours there, talking, laughing, playing cards and just being together.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS: 
Know about your favorite places.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Have been to your favorite places with you.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Have never seen you cry.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Cry with you.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Have never heard your laugh.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Recognize your laugh across a crowded room.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Know a few things about you.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Could write a book about who you are on the inside, what makes you tick.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Will leave you behind if that’s what the crowd is doing.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Will track down those who left you and kick their asses.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Will never knock on your door.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Walk right in and make themselves at home

VIRTUAL FRIENDS: 
Do not visit you in the hospital when you’re sick.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Show up at the hospital and spend the night with you in the hospital, and cut your grass and clean your house and cook for you when you come home.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Have you on their friends list.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Have been to where you live, work and play.

VIRTUAL FRIENDS:
Are for a while.

TRUE FRIENDS:
Are for life.

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.

There is a church that I have been listening to their podcasts for a few weeks now called City of Grace in Mesa AZ. And I have been enjoying their recent teaching series, the pastor has been doing a very a good teaching with some great insight as to how to live out the word of God as related to the series. But for the last two weeks he has talked about a new project of the church, they are seeking to buy a house next to the church that is occupied by a dental office. This house apparently blocks the church building from being seen well from the main road. And for some reason this house is seen as an obstacle to the churches growth, they seam to believe if the house was not there they would be seen better by passers by and therefore the church would grow in number of members. The price tag to buy the house, $800,000, so they have spent the last two weeks hitting up their people with a campaign to raise the needed $800,000 to by this house plus the cost to tear it down.

Wow! I cannot express how disappointed I am in them doing this, with so many people starving to death not just else where the world but in their own city, so many in need of medical service that they can not afford to get, orphans, widows, single moms in need, children that have only one set of cloths to their name. I can not understand that they would want spend that much money on something as trivial as a house that block the view of their building from the road. As if that will really bring people to the church just because they can see the church building better from the road.

They are calling it a miracle offering to raise the needed money, I say it would be no miracle by God nor would it bring glory to God to raise money for that purpose, but to raise that much money to do something like pay the overdue rents of some struggling single mothers, pay some widows light bills that are about to be shut off. Or build a childcare center to provide free childcare for struggling single moms. Use the money to feed and clothed ten thousand children in the city. Pay the for medical needs for someone who can not afford it, like children in a poor family. That would be a miracle to those people, that would bring glory to God! And I guarantee you that more people would see the church and come to it after doing things like those I just listed than they would if that church spends nearly a million dollars to remove that house they claim keeps people from seeing them and coming to the church. I bet that people would flock to the church, to come to hear bout the God that cares about those in need and a church that cares more about people than buildings.

Jesus said said “lift Me up and I will draw men unto me“, that is the way to grow a church,  doing what Jesus said to do to build the church, Going and proclaiming the gospel will grow a church, not moving a house.

And I do read God saying “ Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house.” The purpose of the tithe and offerings to God was that nobody would be without food, that the needy would be taken care of and when you match this with what Jesus says in Mat 25:31-46 you see very clear what God expects His people to do with their resources, and buy a building to tear down is not it.

I say it is not that house that is blocking the peoples view of the church, from coming to the church but rather it is the church that is blocking the peoples view of Jesus.

I would encourage them to look at what Pastor Francis Chan did with his church Cornerstone Community Church, you can read my blog on him and what he did here>>>.

Or about pastor Jared Wilson after hearing the story of Cornerstone followed suit with his church Element in Nashville, read my blog about him here>>>

I pray that Pastor Terry at City of Grace church will follow Pator Chan and Wilson and do the right thing and not buy that house and use the money to give to God and His glory the way He said to.

A church planter should answer this question of themselves, why they go to church, the reason as a Christian. The answer as to why will determine what they invasion the church they plant is to be like for the members, what they will experience at the church gathering.

Why I go to church, I gather with other follower of Christ in order to:

Worship: Engage in worship, real passionate worship and praise of God, this includes words and actions. Worship that is a heartfelt intimate expression of love, devotion and passion for God with the body of Christ. To be in the company of like minded others who have come to worship God with passionate hearts, a body that when it worship’s it expects to encounter God, to enter into God’s presents, and to be changed as a result of the encounter, and will except nothing less. Worship that includes the freedom to rise my hands, my arms, dancing, shouts of joy, lay prostate, stand, sit how ever my spirit desires to express my love to God. I go for worship that is lead by a true worshiper of God who’s sole and only goal is to enter into the presents of God and love on Him.  Someone who is there to express to God their love for Him, they sing songs straight from their heart, write new songs on the spot, cry out praises from a heart that passionately loves God, not memorized words. And they are about leading everyone to do the same thing. (The best worship gatherings I have ever been part of, some there where no bands some there was, but the best ones where the ones that had a passionate lover of God who took, lead the rest of us to the very presents of God and allowed us to sing, shout out our love and praises to God). I seek no less than a hour in worship of God. (Psa 22:2, 35:18, 40:3, 29:2, 95:6, 9:2, 21:13, 149:3, 150:4)

Prayer: Like worship in prayer I expect to encounter God, and to be changed as well as the whole church to be changed as a result of the encounter. One of the characteristics the Lord specifically says will mark His church – His house – is prayer. “My house will be called a house of prayer for all Nations.” Therefore this is a must for it to be a church according to Jesus. The heart of a church gathering is to talk with God, seeking His presents, and direction for the church, and His people. I seek a church that prays without ceasing, as part of worship, fellowship, communion, everything. (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13, Eph 6:18, Php 4:6, Col 4:2, James 5:14-16 Jud 1:20)

Communion: Braking of the bread and partaking of the cup. When Christ said do this in remembrance of Me, He was talking about the Passover meal, the keeping of the Passover celebration meal in light of the life and death of Christ as a ongoing practice of the body of Christ. To share a meal as the body together recalling the life, death and resurrection of Christ, partaking of it whenever we gather in community in remembrance and celebration of the gospel during a meal. Therefore I desire to have a meal at the gathering of the body that includes the braking of bread with reference to the life of Christ and taking of the wine of the New Testament, all while recalling and retelling of the Gospel, what Christ has done for us and who we are in Christ. (Mat 26:26-30, Luke 22:19-20, Acts 2:42)

To Exercise myspiritual gifts: For the good of the body, and to be the recipient of the gifts of others that the body may be made compete, fully functional. Paul says when you come together as the church let each one bring something and contribute to make church happen. Paul says one of the main purpose of the church, coming together is for each person to exercise their spiritual gifts that the body/church might be complete. My primary responsibility in the body of Christ is to exercise my spiritual gifts. ( I Cor 14:26)

For Edification: That I might give encouragement, to exhort others and edify the body and might be encouraged by the others in the body. That we might mutually build up, love one another in the faith. (Acts 13:15, Heb 10:24,25, I Thess. 5:11 & 14, 2:11)

Teaching of the word: To hear verse-by-verse teaching of the word in a gospel/Christ centered way. Teaching that equips for the work of the Lord, that tells us how are we going to live together in submission to the Word.  I go not only to hear the word taught from the pulpit, but to hear a word – teaching from others in the body, as well as to share a teaching the spirit has giving me to share. (Heb 4:14, Rom 10:17, II Tim 4:2, Acts 2:42)

To Give: To help meet the needs of others. To give to God the way He said to, as Jesus instructed us to in Matt 25:31-46, buy fulfilling the needs of other, taking care of the orphan, widows, poor, and any in the body that has need face to face. (Gal. 5:13, I Tim. 6:17, 18, I Cor. 12:25, Phil. 2:4, Acts 2:42-47 )

Fellowship: To be part of a community gathered around a common Lord, common faith, and common baptism, to be in the company of like-minded followers of Christ that we might engage in the things of God and the Kingdom of God. That I might fulfill all the one another’s of the bible that God calls His people to do. To engage in true heart to heart fellowship with others, celebrate with others our God and Lord Jesus. Fellowship doesn’t mean meetings it means the shared life of the community. (Acts 2:42-47, Gal 5:13, 6:2, Ehp 4:2, 4:32, 5:21, Col 3:16, I Thes 4:14, 5:11, Heb 3:13)

I go because Church is not optional; it is essential, this is why Paul said, “do not forsake the gathering together of the saints”. Fellowship, service, love, and mission with the family of God is critical to a fruit-bearing faith and life. Just as salvation also is a community project, we rely on others to persevere in our faith, to spur us on, encourage us, admonish us, teach us, disciple us, pray for us, love us, and to exhort us. But this only can happen in real biblical church, and that is one that allows me all of the above elements. And all of this said in the context that, “church is not one activity in our lives. Church isn’t a meeting you attend or a building you enter. It’s our identity, our community, our family a way of life. It’s the context for the totality of the Christian life.”

I do not go to church; to simply Go to church, I gather with others to Be the Church. Not to be entertained by great performers, see a video show or short drama. I do not go to church to be reduced to being an attendee an observer.

We must think of everyday activities of our life through the lenses of Gospel, Community, and Mission. Seek to live in such a way to apply these three elements to every aspect of our lives.

The gospel must be and is most effectively proven by it being lived out in everyday life, its effects on us lived out. Community life cannot be simply restricted to a Sunday morning service and/or a mid-week gathering. It must extend radically beyond these events to accomplish all the “one another passages” and what we see in passages like Acts 2:42-48, just as it is true that evangelism (mission) cannot be accomplished through programs nor by only a hand full of “professional evangelist”. Our missionary methods must expand into the ordinary everyday activities of our lives if we are to follow the scriptural models we read of, and Jesus’ life example. We must purposely form our everyday lives around the gospel and Christ. We’ve must move away from the program-based way of “doing” the Christian life, and doing church, move to a more ordinary, real and organic everyday way of life.

Begin by looking at all your daily ordinary activities through a tri-fold lens of community, mission, and gospel, things like going out to dinner, grocery shopping, going to the mall, taking the kids to the park. You want to seek out how you can take these activities and infuse each of these three elements.

Lets take going out to dinner, to add the community element you invite a Christian friend, someone from your church gathering. The gospel element can be added in a natural but intentional way as you converse throughout dinner, by partaking in the breaking of bread and the cup of the new covenant. Community is achieved by the very nature of coming together and have a meal together, you intentional engage in the one another’s of Christian fellowship. The mission element is accomplished by your intent of being there with a mission purpose, to reach, take the gospel to the world around you. By engaging your servers and possible those around you with the gospel.

Lets change up the situation a little: To add the mission element to your dinning out would be to invite a non-Christian friend, neighbor or co-worker to join you and your Christian friends. The community element is added in by both having community with the Christian as well as the non-Christian friends, but also the non-Christian getting to experience first hand real Christian community happening before them between you and your Christian friends. Allowing them to see a glimpse of the Kingdom life lived out by you. The gospel element can be added in again in a natural way as you converse throughout dinner. By you and the believers partaking in the breaking of bread and taking the cup, and explaining what is happening and why, and how this effects you life and who you are. And by them hearing how God and the gospel effects and directs your daily lives. And of course the mission element is also accomplished by the fact you are proclaiming the gospel through natural conversation and community with the intent to expand the kingdom by making disciples. And you still add in the active mission element of reaching out the your servers and others around you.

See how easily this way of living where we think of everyday activities through the lenses of Gospel, Community, and Mission, can be applied to basically every activity of everyday life, everything we do. Perhaps the element of community cannot be always applied to every situation but the gospel and mission can be applied to every thing we do in life.

Continuing my discussion of Why do you want to plant a church?

The right Why as I see church planting would be you are all about community, mission – reaching the lost with the gospel and you see church as where mission and community intersect. Therefore you are passionate to seed the world with Christ-following communities that can confidently and are capably of transforming the cultures they live in and beyond. To see the community you live in impacted with the Gospel on a one-on-one personal way.

That you are you hungry for the true biblical community life, to see a church that looks like 1Cor 14:26 and Acts 2:42-48. Hungry to see lives transformed by the gospel both inside and out of your plant.

That you are passionate about the great commission, is it your life mission statement. The deepest desire of your heart is the same as Paul in what he said in I Col 1:28, it is your co-mission statement, that you desire that Jesus be proclaimed, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that you may present everyone mature in Christ.

And the Key, you burn with desire to join God in the harvest, to proclaim the gospel to the LOST and disciple them in Christ. To see them usurered into the family, Kingdom of God, to warn everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that you may present everyone mature in Christ.

And that is not accomplished from a distant, from a pulpit looking at hundreds or thousands of nameless faces, in a huge building with its own Starbuck’s, not accomplished by discipleship and evangelism being a set of programs, or by connecting with the people though a staff of 25. You heart is like Jesus’ that you must connect face to face daily with each person, it is personal with you, you want to life with each one.

It is accomplished when you decide that Growth and multiplication is NOT  measured by the need to add on to or get a bigger building or even to get one. But by Growth being measured in the spiritual maturity, the growth of the people into the image of Jesus, buy the Lord adding to it in newly saved followers of Jesus, and in sending out people who go and start their own church.

Read part one here

Why

Why

I have come to see that in church planting the First thing one must do is answer Why do you want to plant a church? And the Second is to define church. Because your definition of church and why you want to plant one is foundational to what you do, A.K.A. plant. They both combined will define what it looks like and how it functions and its purpose for existence. I have come to understand how these two issues are so critical, they will set in motion the chain of events that determine what is created, the answers will mold and shape what you do.

First, The Why? So Why do you want to plant a church?

First off one must understand Church Planting is about Jesus, about having a passion for the community life and reaching the lost. I have met so many “church planters” that the only place that they want to plant a church is in the rich parts of a metro area, I would say 99% of all new plants in the last five years have occurred in the rich areas of my cities metro area, and I believe that really reviles the planters heart and motives.

Like one young planter I challenged to plant in the poor or even the blue collar areas instead of the rich (high income) area he was targeting, he replied “there is no money in starting a church there” the truth came out as to the why he wanted to plant a church. It was all about money, he was approaching it more as an entrepreneur stating up for a for-profit business. Approaching it like starting a career to provide for him, in monetary ways, to fund his big material dreams of what a church is all about, and his personal desired income.

(I have an idea how about if we say that for the next few years we only plant churches in the inner city and blue collar areas of our cities.)

If you see church planting as a income providing career, something better to do than try and get a career in corporate America, to a be your own boss instead of working for and answering to someone else, you have a very wrong motive.

You must ask yourself, what is my motive. Why do I want to plant a church?

If your vision is a church of 10,000 with a Starbuck’s in it, see a mega complex starched and a nice six figure income with book deals in your future, you are doing it for yourself, only for self gain. You not only have the wrong Why you want to plant, but also the wrong definition, an un-biblical definition of church and motive.

I will continue this in my next blog read here.