Fast Forward Mission by Alan Hirsch

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Copyright 2015 Alan Hirsch. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Shifts and Regression in the 21st Century Church

What you are about to read has taken more than 25 years to formulate in my Spirit. Unlike many “local yokels” who think they and/or their denomination have scripture and the will of God all figured out, I have learned that scripturalChurch_21st_Century understanding is an ongoing and never ending process. I am ready to give an account to the Lord for what I am about to share with you today. And I know we all will have to face Him someday for what we teach.

Words have meaning and consequences. In this changing culture every word needs to be measured and some words need to get back to their original definitions. As you read this, my faith is not in my ability to express myself with the written word but in God the Holy Spirit who is the interpreter of everything. So let’s begin.

Looking back at the church of the first century, we discover that:

THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH

  1. Christianity was a daily lifestyle.
  2. There was an understanding of only one church per city/region/world.

  3. There were many local groups or gatherings. Five-fold leadership was known and respected.

  4. Gatherings moved from house to house or wherever the disciples met.

  5. Apostles & prophets modeled the Christ-life for disciples to emulate.

  6. Elders were appointed in every local gathering in the city/region by apostles.

  7. The post-ascension Apostles were also elders in their communities.

  8. Apostles and elders heard from all and the Spirit carried out Christ’s government in His church.

  9. Elders functioned in plurality under the delegated authority of the Lord Jesus.

  10. Those who ruled (administration, oversight, stewardship) well were worthy of double honor.

  11. These were overseers (bishops) who ministered and served regionally.

  12. They received the voluntary obedience and submission of the saints as unto the Lord because of their maturity, example and testimony not because of office, position or title.

  13. Elders were under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus.

  14. Christians met together daily with no set schedule because they loved one another not once a week to get their blessing.

  15. The majority of the finances went to the poor, widows and the fatherless.

While an individual elder may have provided oversight of an individual fellowship within a city, he did so in relationship with and in cooperation to the larger body of elders in that city or region. There were no mutually independent fellowships of the larger church. The church in each city or region was constituted as one body and functioned with many expressions. When it failed to do so, correction was brought (I Corinthians 3:3-17).

I am sure I have left out something in these short 14 points but I am open for assistance and clarification.

Looking at the present-day church, we discover that:

THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CHURCH

  1. Christianity has largely become a weekly ritualistic observance.
  2. There are many denominational and independent churches (divisions) in a city or region.

  3. People call a building “the Church”. People say “they are going to church.”

  4. We have substituted the church in a city or region for local fellowships that function from two basic misconceived forms of governance:

  1. a.In one we have the idea of an autonomous (self-ruled) local church with little or no connection to the church in the city or region.
  2. b.In the other we have the idea of denominational rule, which segregates us based upon denominational understanding of things like doctrine, rules of governance, and sacraments, etc.
  1. Too often decisions for the body are made either congregationally (democratic vote), or by those “in positions of authority or power.”

  2. While most would declare these decisions are bathed in prayer, in actual practice, decisions are often made and then prayer is made for the decision to be supported by God and accepted by the governed. And all of this is often without regard to the impact on the rest of the body of Christ in the city or region.

  3. Deacons, who are scripturally called to serve tables and minister to the saints, now serve on boards and make decisions.

  4. The word “elders” (plural) has been exchanged in the modern local gathering for the word “pastor” (singular) with a totally different meaning.

  5. The word “pastor” is supposed to be a shepherding gift for all. Now it’s used as a title for the one in charge.

  6. Congregations and/or denominations now hire their pastors.

  1. a.This places the pastor in an untenable situation as the main or major leader of the local gathering. As one who is paid by the people one leads, the situation will arise requiring the leader to choose between obeying God or submitting to the people who pay one’s salary. This is inevitable.
  2. b.The pastor also faces the fact that pastoral salary is tied to the pastor’s ability to build and keep a large congregation. Here I reflect on Jesus’ words In Matthew 16:18 where He said, “I (He) will build my (His) church.”
  1. Pastors are, in many situations, much like CEO’s who, along with hired staff run the local church.

  2. Pastors often function individually and independently and are considered the “heads” of their flocks.

  3. Pastors can and often do become hirelings who sell their resume. They are often only accountable to their own choices about where and how long to serve a local church.

  4. Boards constitute the ruling government of the church on paper while most have no real day to day authority over the pastor or denominational leaders.

  5. There is more attention placed on getting the “right” doctrine than living and modeling the “Christ-life”.

  6. The majority of the finances go to pay for buildings, salaries of professional paid clergy and their staff

While there are many elders with a pastoral gift who are truly called by God as genuine under-shepherds and overseers, the contemporary religious systems and traditions minimize their effectiveness. This is particularly true when it comes to fulfilling the purpose of God to bring His government and glory to the earth realm. Today value and success are determined by numbers – how many, how much and how big. These were values unknown to New Testament believers and were never used to judge worth, honor and maturity in a leader.

Now What?

Can we go back to the way things were originally done? Well, let me ask you. Can you, as a leader, separate money, values, human measurement and power from the equation? I believe the ball is in our court and yes; the mess begins at the top. Now the next question we need to answer is, “Do weak pulpits make for weak pews?” Well, if you are a New Testament believer you don’t have a problem with that question because there were neither pews nor pulpits in the New Testament Church!

I pray you have heard what the Spirit has been saying thus far. But now I pray you can hear what I’m about to say. The church as we know it, must take a major portion of the responsibility for that which is wrong in our country and in our world. The problems we face around the globe can be directly tied to the condition of His Church! The only permanent and lasting solution we have available to us will come only when His Church becomes what she was designed to be. We – the church – are called to love God, love one another and make disciples. It’s time we quit hiding out in prayer rooms or going to another conference for deep revelation. We must move outside the four walls of buildings to affect change in the people around us and in the world.

Here are some final questions, maybe for another article or maybe they await your input.

What is the alternative and how do we relate to folks who embody or participate in or with those values we despise and that are clearly unbiblical and opposed to the kingdom? How does love prevail?

It might be that there are no steps, because the situation is terminal and unredeemable, if so, how do we exist in the tension during the season of migration in between where we are to where we need to be?

The church can physically leave the buildings and refuse to participate in the systems of men but are these things fused to our Spirit?

Oh Father, have mercy on our mess and allow your Body the privilege of cooperating again with the Holy Spirit under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jose Bosque


Copyright 2013 Jose L. Bosque http://www.JaxChristian.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact   JaxChristian1@aol.com

To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Organic Church vs. Church that is Organic

By Dr. Stephen Crosby

It’s About the Life, not the Form

There is no  spiritual significance inherent in moving a meeting out of a sanctuary into a living room. The question to be asked is not related to how we meet (form), but how we live life together in Christ (substance) and the values we embrace. Whenever love wanes, efficiently administered corporation ethics subtly and subversively displace family (kingdom) values.pic 1

The only way a family grows is by giving itself away. A family remains a family by giving away life. A family is bonded in covenantal love, but love lets children grow, and through tears of love, releases them to “increase” the family by “scattering.” In a sense, the individual family decreases, the greater family increases. A family cannot experience increase by clinging to what it has.

Children grow up, leave, most often marry, and new life  is often the result. The gene pool is diversified for the overall health and well-being of the greater family.   A family that never releases its members–a family that never allows the introduction of diverse DNA into the family–will soon cease to be a family, or become a pocket of isolated genetic defectives. A family that is obsessed about the purity of its own image, is headed for trouble. Introduction of diversity, is key to genetic health. You have to be willing to allow one’s own image to seem to be lost,  to see it again in modified reflections (family resemblance) of one’s self in new life, that you have no direct control over. Seed must be sown to reproduce. We are the seed, not our money. We are sown in death, raised in newness of life, to bear a family image and likeness.

On the other hand, a corporation sustains itself by insulating its assets from risk. It has no life to give away. Because a corporation does not have life and does not operate on love, it requires structure, order, and rules to maintain its identity. When love is absent or diminished, systems become a necessity to maintain group order and to perpetuate the group. A corporation grows/survives by protecting itself, assuring that it experiences no decrease. A corporation grows through accumulation of resources, not the scattering of them. A corporation can only experience increase by clinging to what it has, and trying to acquire more.

The kingdom of God is a family, not a corporation. If we gather in a living room with a corporate mindset, Jesus’ kingdom will have  experienced no increase. We will delude ourselves into thinking we are involved in something spiritually significant simply because of our spatial geography at the moment.

Jesus’ family grows by scattering–the giving away of resources because we are animated by the power of love, and love’s compulsion is to scatter. Love compels us to release resources: time, money, people, gifts. We gather to love, nurture, and disciple for the sole purpose of seeing the greater family increase through the scattering/release of resources, not the maintenance of our singular group, through the accumulation of resources and the aggrandizement of individual egos and reputations.

It makes no difference if we gather in a living room or a sanctuary if the values of “asset protection,” the perpetuation of pet doctrines, gift addictions, the ego need of teachers/preachers for a weekly audience, and a misdirected sense of purity are present, we will become nothing other than an isolated pocket of spiritual defectives.

A greater change has to take place than the location of our posteriors during a meeting. A deep purging and realignment of our values must take place, lest we fool ourselves by just running a “mom and pop” religious shop instead of a Fortune 500 version of the same religious machine.


Copyright 2015,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

21 Paradigms to Move Towards in Western Churches

We all realise that western churches need to mature and change, but what are some of the most important areas we need to address? The following list is a collection of biblical principles that must be addressed in order for the church pic 2western church to move forward. Some of the themes are repeated in slightly different contexts.

1. Acknowledging the calling of every believer (1 Cor 12:14)

The most dominant theme in the western church is that people no longer wish to be spectators and see the drawbacks. Many churches have dysfunctional leadership models that fail to recognise the calling of every believer.

2. Addressing issues and taking risks (Acts 6:1-7; 2 Tim 1:7; Eph 4:15)

Often leadership teams know what they need to change, but are afraid to try anything different, or upset anyone. Examples include: moving location, starting a second service, removing people from leadership, changing the service format or planting a new church.

 3. Increased understanding of pastoral and leadership roles (Acts 20:28; Eph 4:12; 1 Pet 5:2)

The senior pastor doesn’t have to be the most gifted leader and he certainly isn’t the only one with a pastoral gift in a congregation. The entire congregation are responsible for the outcomes of the church. Leaders are “facilitators” not owners or the most knowledgeable.

 4. Ministry based upon gifting rather than proving ones faithfulness (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Pet 4:10)

In traditional leadership models, the pastor receives the vision, and the congregation faithfully serves. As a result, we have thousands of Christians serving outside of their gifting. Equip people in the use of their gifts, doing what they love, and you will notice a big difference.

5. Sending capacity rather than seating capacity (Mk 3:14; 6:7; Acts 15:22; 1 Cor 4:17)

Traditional models measure the success of a congregation or a leader by how big the building is, or how many members there are. Discipleship models measure the maturity of congregations by the capacity to send. Students become teachers who train others.

6. Valuing the input of every person (Eph 4:16; 1 Cor 14:26; 1 Pet 4:10)

We are all Priests ,Sons and Kings. It is Gods church and the people are the church . It is not the pastors church so providing mechanisms to allow people input and influence is crucial in leading a church. One business in Latin America provides a monthly forum for employees to share and discuss ideas for future products. The company has a turnover of more than 100 million dollars, all generated through ideas provided by their employees in open forums.

 7. Allowing God to work supernaturally (Acts 2:43)

If we look at the parts of the world where the church is growing; healings, miracles and supernatural signs are very common. Western churches often have very predictable service structures with no expectation for the Holy Spirit to work supernaturally.

8. Daily contact instead of just weekly (Heb 3:13; Acts 2:46; 5:42)

The biggest impact of small groups is the opportunity for daily contact with other believers. In the early church, relationships were established on a daily basis. Prayer, fellowship, and eating together kept the disciples encouraged in the midst of persecution.

9. Personal transformation rather than membership (Rom 12:2; Gal 5:22-24)

Research has shown that Churches around the world are full of people that may be committed to attend a church service, but during the week their lifestyle is no different to that of their friends. There should be a clear distinction between Christians and Non-believers.

10. Complementary gifts rather than competitive agendas (1 Cor 1:12,13; 3:3-5)

Competition is based on feelings of insecurity. When Pastors acknowledge their own strengths, stop comparing themselves with others, and look for ways to complement one another, we will see amazing breakthroughs.

11. Values-based networks rather than just denominational (Acts 18:2,3,18)

For many years Christians have attended events based on common interests and values. One of the best known examples is the Sydney Hillsong Conference that attracts more than 30,000 Christians from every major Church denomination.

12. Interaction rather than monologue (Acts 17:2; 19:8)

Traditional teaching models have the expert at the front of the classroom with learners remaining silent. Coaching, mentoring, serving and discipleship models encourage interactive learning that increases retention. No question is off limits.

13. A focus on homes and not just church buildings (Acts 5:42; 20:20; Rom 16:5)

Many western churches have been slow to acknowledge the impact that small groups can have. Building community, hospitality, and loving relationships were central themes in the New Testament church.

14. Apostolic teams working alongside pastoral models (Eph 4:11,12; Acts 13:1)

Pastoral gifts were never intended to work in isolation from the other gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher. Although we have seen great progress in recent years, do we need to increase understanding of the role of the apostle and not confusing a teacher or a pastor with an Apostle?

15. Balance between organisation and divine inspiration

For greater fruitfulness in leadership meetings, community outreaches, or any gathering of believers, churches may want to embrace the spontaneous leading of the Holy Spirit while continuing to develop structure and organisation. Many churches think they must choose between the two.

16. Ministry partnerships rather than individual vision (1 Cor 12:12)

Not everyone has the ability to initiate a project, but when people with the same interests come together, everyone can use their unique gift and get involved. Empowering leaders gather together people with common interests.

17. Multiplication not just addition (2 Tim 2:2, Jn 12:24; Mt 13:23; Tit 1:5; Acts 14:23)

The fruit of an apple tree is not just more apples, but more apple trees. The New Testament Church multiplied as elders were ordained in every city, not only by the Apostle Paul, but by his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus.

18. Raising up spiritual sons (1 Tim 1:2; Tit 1:4; 1 Pet 5:13; 1 Cor 4:15-17; Gal 4:19)

Paul told the Corinthian church that they had 10000 instructors in Christ, but not many fathers. Timothy, Titus, and Marcus, were three of Paul’s sons in the faith. If you are a senior leader, do you invest time into the younger generation?

19. Magnetic disciples rather than just attracting people to programs (1 Thess 1:6-8; Col 1:9)

Churches love to attract people through various programs and events. Programs are great if they are fruitful, but we need more emphasis on discipleship that encourages people to live an authentic ‘Christian lifestyle’. Christians should be a magnetic influence in their community.

20. Prayer as a lifestyle rather than just an event (Acts 1:14; 6:4; 16:13)

Prayer networks and combined prayer rallies are all very good, but they often delegate prayer to intercessors. In the New Testament church, prayer played a much bigger part of the Christian lifestyle than we currently see in our western churches.

21. Empowering leadership rather than controlling leadership (Eph 4:11,12; 1 Pet 5:2,3)

Empowering leaders will help believers grow in maturity, equip them for service, and then celebrate as they are released into ministry roles. They send people out to bless the body of Christ, rather than just attracting and holding onto people.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Anything you would change? Let us know.

To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Peter Sewell has over 25 years of ministry experience, training church leadership teams, business and government leaders, and community groups. He is a passionate supporter of the local church and served as an associate pastor for 15 years. During this time he was involved in planting new churches, and coordinating cell groups, pastoral care, and discipleship. He has qualifications in biblical studies, business, counselling, coaching, and adult education, and is currently involved in training future leaders across Europe.

Copyright 2015 Peter Sewell http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact orchard.j.johnson@gmail.com

Planting Churches or Making Disciples? by Steve Crosby

We are delighted  that we have permission  from Steve Crosby, an author from the excellent site www.godsleader.com to post an illuminating article on apostolic discipling versus church planting.

Have you ever made a passing comment that you thought was benign, but it ended up causing a hostile reaction? I had that joy recently. I made what I thought was a mild and self-evident comment on a social media site (my first mistake!). It met with that special spiritual gift of the Christian social media world: vitriol and venom!

Planting Churches is it really scriptural?

My crime? I suggested that “church planting” is not inherently the same as making disciples. The irrational nature of some of the responses indicates to me that some strong vested interests were kicking in. Normally this level of hostility only occurs when an individual’s identity is wrapped up in “ministry,” one’s belief systems, or the individual’s access to money is threatened by the comment. Perhaps the nerve I hit . . . needed to be hit.

The phrase “church planting” is never used in the New Testament. Jesus never said: “Build/plant a church for Me.” He said to make disciples, seek the kingdom, and He will build the church. The scriptures exhort us to build up one another individually through agape and charis exchange, but never tell us to build an entity, “a local church.” Paul planted the gospel seed in souls. Others watered that seed. That seed birthed disciples. Those disciples in a given geography gathered together in that locality, and a local church was born.

There are those who think this is just semantic fussing over synonymous terms: the exercise of theologians with too much time on their hands, right up there with the number of angels that can be accommodated on a head of a pin. I disagree.

Advocating for the use of biblical terminology should not be so controversial, unless in so doing, one’s efforts for Christ are perceived as disvalued. Dead men can’t be offended.  Perhaps our efforts for Him are not as free of a personal agenda and the need for self-validation as we might wish. Those who ask potentially embarrassing and self-reflective questions requiring personal change among the consensus orthodoxy(1) of establishment religion, are normally not welcome. I understand the human dynamics of it all.

However, for the moment, let’s concede the point. Let’s say the terms are synonymous. The values andmethods embodied in one’s understanding of “church planting=disciple making” make all the difference.

My premise is that there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of “planted churches” that neither make disciples, nor seek the kingdom. Whatever may be “planted” often bears little resemblance to what Paul believed or did. What follows are some of the reasons why I believe apostolic disciple making(2) and modern church planting are not synonymous in their value systems. This is not necessarily a comprehensive list, and not listed in any priority.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Jesus’ kingdom goes forth in and through us by sharing and experiencing life together in a community.

Modern Church Planting

  • Is built around inviting people to our church and meetings. It isn’t the same as inviting them into our hearts and lives. The former costs us nothing, the latter will cost us everything.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • The churches were not Paul’s. He did not have absolute authority over them. You do not end up rejected, alone, unsupported, and in jail, if you have absolute authority over the churches you “plant.”

Modern Church Planting

  • Leaders often require inordinate, and absolute submission to themselves.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul was content to establish local elders after only three years of “training,” and to leave them without his future involvement, knowing that so doing would result in negative dynamics in the congregation. (3)

Modern Church Planting

  • Modern church planters micromanage church affairs. They would never think of leaving a local church in the charge of converts from paganism, with only three years of training, and no other oversight from “senior leaders.” Many “church planters” require years and years of “loyalty” to themselves from  individuals, and that they be mandatory tithers, before consideration as a local elder.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Birth disciples relationally.

Modern Church Planting

  • Establish churches organizationally and administratively.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Loving well and living well together in Christ, in community, and loving and serving others is the practical expression of existence.

Modern Church Planting

  • The sermon and the music/praise service in the “meetings” are the practical expression of identity and existence. How well we live together matters little. The only things that matter are: “Is the sermon revelatory/inspiring and is the worship anointed?”

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Includes the normative expression of supernatural gifts and manifestations.

Modern Church Planting

  • In some climates the supernatural element is often dispensationally deleted, or viewed as a vestigial nonessential. Our “church plants” are little more than eternal classrooms keeping people in dependent infancy upon information acquisition, or endless counseling/therapy sessions.
  • In other climates the manifestation of the supernatural is worshipped, faked, or counterfeited.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Emphasizes the increase of the name and kingdom of Jesus in a geographic community.

Modern Church Planting

  • Much modern church planting is not about Jesus’ kingdom interests in a community, but perpetuation of a private brand identity (denomination, group, association); franchising a spiritual brand, rather than increasing His kingdom.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Personal financial support is not mandated. Paul did not mandate personal financial support from churches he was in relation with. Economics flows from love, not obligation.

Modern Church Planting

  • It is frequently all about the money. Teachings about a mandatory tithe and other mandatory financial schemes abound. Money dictates decisions.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Allows the Holy Spirit to cross-pollinate His own. Paul allowed unhindered access of all the Eph. 4 ministry gifts in congregations, cross-pollination in diversity, without his express permission in advance.

Modern Church Planting

  • Local church planters have a death-grip control on congregational access, based on “protecting the flock,” when it is often about assuring an income stream for themselves.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Requires loyalty to Jesus.

Modern Church Planting

  • Leaders require loyalty to themselves personally, and to the organizational identity corporately.church pic

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul led by relationship, influence, and spiritual authority.

Modern Church Planting

  • Many modern leaders lead by position, rank, and carnal authoritarianism.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Births relational disciples within an apostolic framework of understanding

Modern Church Planting

  • Modern “church plants” are done with only a pastor-teacher framework of understanding.  The apostolic and prophetic graces are not understood, nor expressed, and often denied.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul’s ministry centered around the Person of Jesus Christ, not “his ministry.”

Modern Church Planting

  • Often centered around the senior leader, his/her personality and gift; celebrityism.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Is based on the operational reality of death and resurrection, His increase and our decrease. Paul was willing to lose his association to the local churches. They could readily disassociate from him.

Modern Church Planting

  • Pastors/leaders treat churches as if they belonged to them like a commodity: “my church,” “my congregation,” etc. Ministry is done by “gift exercise, administration, and control” rather than death and resurrection. Leaders are unwilling to lose it all, until the Holy Spirit loses it for them, often through much personal pain, and pain in those who have associated with the “leader” rather than Jesus.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul gave his life and resources for the churches, though he was loved the less for it.

Modern Church Planting

  • Members of the congregation are expected to give their lives (time, talent, and finances) to fulfill the leader’s “vision;” honor is an entitlement of spiritual position rather than merited through service.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Apostolic churches have a diverse expression of spiritual gift manifestation.

Modern Church Planting

  • Modern churches are overwhelmingly dominated by a singular individual, with a singular gift: the pastor-teacher. All other gifts are sublimated to that gift, if functioning at all beyond a sporadic and token level.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • The goal is the increase of the life of Christ in the earth, through discipleship, regardless if it results in local congregation increase; increase through scattering, release, and liberty.

Modern Church Planting

  • The goal is in the numeric and financial increase of the local congregation; increase through gathering, corral, and control.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Emphasizes transformation into the image of Jesus through discipleship

Modern Church Planting

  • Emphasizes “salvations.”(4)

So, what should we make of this? The good news is, the depth and breadth of God’s great redemptive plan is enough to sanctify and  bless any effort done in faith, for Him. He can, and will, bless any mess offered to Him in relational faith. If methodological perfections were required, we would all have no hope.

On the other hand, we should not presume upon His great grace and redemption to normalize error and continue practices which misrepresent His purposes in the earth, and which harm the people of God.

References

  1. The accepted norms of belief in practice in any group or association; present reality is “fine,” and sanctioned by God.
  2. Apostolic Disciple Making: my term for the process of making disciples with the same values and methods used by the apostles, primarily, Paul. It is not meant as a limiting term as something only apostles are qualified to do. Every believer should be “apostolic” in the disciple-making mandate.
  3. Paul was in Ephesus for about three years. He raised up elders, left them, never saw them again, knowing that “wolves” would enter the congregation and some of the very elders he was talking to would regress into self-aggrandizing ambition. See Acts 20. I once heard a well-known apostolic level “father” teach that unless someone is a “tither” who has proved his loyalty for at least twenty years, he should not be considered a candidate to be an elder.
  4. George Barna has documented that fewer than one in ten pastors believe transformation into the image of Christ has any bearing on the spiritual health of a congregation, believing instead that how many people attend, and how many programs are offered indicate spiritual health. More than four out of five pastors never mention issues of transformation in their congregations, preferring to emphasize “salvation.”

Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby http://www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.

 

We are pleased to say the Church Excellence Framework includes the concepts listed under Apostolic Disciplemaking. We are convinced getting a deeper understanding of  disciplemaking is  one of the fundamental issues in restoring our nation back to Christ.  By raising up genuine disciples who want to honour God, know God and know how to multiply their lives  then we contend our society will be a different place.

ANNOUNCEMENT

The actual framework is now on the site for download at no charge as we have private funding  https://growingpeopleframework.wordpress.com/framework/

To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

5 Ways to Connect with Millennials

Ecclesia Framework

I was excited when I read this research from the Barna Group on ways to connect with the younger generation at church, as all the points were ones we have covered in the Church Health Framework and so have evidence that people are crying out for certain things. The real growth is really only coming from young people so that is why it is crucial for churches to be looking at this.

If your church is not providing mechanisms to cover these elements, you could take responsibility and begin a dialogue with leadership, bringing it to the attention of those who do not have time to research these things. We are all responsible for building our church into the beautiful bride of christ that God wants. We believe so strongly that rebuilding the temple is critical for our nation as a first step and we have had prophetic words from Haggai confirming…

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7 Reasons Why 5 Fold Ministries Are Viewed With Suspicion

One of the things that we promote in the Church Excellence Framework is the importance of exercising every gift in the body of Christ. In the New Testament, it was common for ministers to travel and share their gift with different churches in order to encourage and build the body of Christ. Today we see a wide variety of travelling ministers including: Evangelists, Teachers, Apostles, Pastors, Prophets, Musicians, Singers, and Drama teams.

These ministers travel long distances from one meeting to the next, often sleeping in a different bed every night and living out of a suitcase. If anyone in the body of Christ deserves honour, then certainly travelling ministers would be at the top of the list.  If you have served in leadership for any length of time, it’s very likely you have experienced both blessing and Man-with-suitcase-webdisappointment from itinerant ministers. To be fair, if we evaluate everyone equally, travelling ministers create no more or less problems than anyone else. In fact they are more often a blessing, so why are they often viewed with suspicion?

As someone who has served as an associate pastor, and also ministered in churches around the world, I share a few thoughts from my experiences. I purposely address pastors, because in most traditional church structures, they are the ones who approve of visiting ministers.

Here are some of the reasons why pastors view travelling ministers with suspicion.

1. No accountability.

One of the first things that pastors want to know is whether the travelling minister has some form of accountability. Everyone needs a church they call home, and every travelling minister needs a person or group that he or she is accountable to. Pastors feel much more at ease, knowing that a travelling minister believes in the local church, values those in authority, and is not operating independently. The New Testament church gives us a great model to follow. Paul, Peter, John, and Philip the evangelist, all had close relationships with the church in Jerusalem. Throughout the book of Acts, they were sent out and regularly returned to Jerusalem (Acts 8). When travelling ministers have the support and accountability of a home church, they are much more likely to be trusted to minister in other churches.

 2. Submission to church leadership

One of the biggest concerns that pastors have is whether the travelling minister has a submissive attitude. One of the most common issues this relates to is time constraints. Some of the factors that influence a church’s time schedule are: multiple services, rented halls, public transport, children and family considerations. Visiting ministers need to be aware of these time restrictions and stay within the schedule they are given. There is no excuse for going over time. Ministers often use phases such as “I’m lead by God and not by the clock”. That may be true, but we are all to be clothed in humility with a servant attitude (1 Peter 5:5; Phil 2). When you are up on stage, you should not be asking for more time. If the pastoral team permits you to go overtime, that’s fine, but they should initiate it. Submission relates to any request that the pastor clearly informs you about prior to, or during, or even after a meeting.

3. A lack of relationship.

Pastors are often concerned that visiting ministers will say something controversial and create problems in the church. When a Pastor doesn’t know a visiting minister, he will tend to focus on what can go wrong. A cautionary attitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because Jesus taught us that a good shepherd cares for his sheep. In order to build trust, itinerant ministers need to invest time in developing authentic relationships. Books, DVD’s, newsletters and downloadable podcasts, are all great ways to share your ministry gift, but nothing can replace heart to heart sharing, in person or over the phone.

4. Unrealistic demands.

George Clooney made headlines a few years ago when he demanded a hot tub, custom beach house, and private basketball court for his use during the filming of the movie ‘Gravity’. Perhaps Clooney is worth it, and no producer would ever refuse his demands, but ministry should set a different standard. Of course dietary requirements and accommodation are important, but when an evangelist or other travelling minister starts behaving like George Clooney, there are serious problems.

Another concern that pastors have, is that the visiting minister will ‘milk’ the congregation. Visiting ministries are very passionate about what they do, and they can be guilty of placing unreasonable demands on people to give financially. Not every minister wants to manipulate people for money, quite often it’s the opposite. Some travelling ministers make it a rule to never publicly ask for financial support. It’s my opinion that the pastor should take responsibility, and decide on an appropriate gift amount, or take up a public offering on behalf of the visiting minister.

5. A lack of fruit from past ministry.

Is it worth the time, organisation, and cost? A lot of effort goes into organising a visiting minister, and pastors want to be sure that their church will benefit from their investment. Jesus said that we would be able to discern people by their fruit. That fruit will vary between ministry gifts, but if a minister continually leaves a legacy of controversy, it’s fair to say they need to be avoided. Visiting ministers should be able to confidently give the phone contacts of the last three churches they ministered in. They should be confident that they have left every church with some form of positive fruit.

6. Poor organisation and communication

When a church is organising the visit of a travelling minister, they often need to book accommodation, print advertising, hire venues, and a hundred other minor details. Pastors become frustrated when they don’t receive replies to emails, they fail to reach the person via phone, or they need to follow up conversations with a dozen reminder messages. If you are a travelling minister and lack organisational skills, or your schedule is beyond your organisational ability, please find someone with the right skills to take over the administration role for you. Churches might benefit from your ministry gift, but they might also get a headache from your disorganisation.

7. Lack of integrity in promoting self

Spamming 1000 pastors with your promotional flyer, exaggerating the reports of a previous meeting, or giving yourself a title to sound important, are all things that will destroy your credibility as a travelling minister. Self proclaimed titles such as Bishop, Prophet, need to be based upon your current role. Pastors are looking for fruit and not fruit-loops. I don’t mean to dishonour those who are using titles in a correct way, but these days anyone can buy a doctorate degree online without ever picking up a textbook.

Travelling ministers can also be guilty of name dropping (saying that they know someone famous), or have even been caught lying about preaching at a large church that everyone knows. If you are in ministry, have integrity and don’t exaggerate your qualifications, abilities or any testimonies. If people are truly encouraged by your gift, you won’t need to exaggerate.

Is there any other advice you would like to give to travelling ministers? Please let us know. Our aim is to promote the healthy use of ministry gifts so that churches are encouraged. The worse case scenario is that a church is hurt by a visiting minister and they close the door to all similar ministry gifts. The next blog article will continue this theme, and look at a different perspective, addressing some of the negative attitudes that Churches need to change in relation to travelling ministries.

 

CONTACT US TO RECEIVE THE NOTES TO THE FRAMEWORK

To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

 


Peter Sewell has over 25 years of ministry experience, training church leadership teams, business and government leaders, and community groups. He is a passionate supporter of the local church and served as an associate pastor for 15 years. During this time he was involved in planting new churches, and coordinating cell groups, pastoral care, and discipleship. He has qualifications in biblical studies, business, counselling, coaching, and adult education, and is currently involved in training future leaders across Europe.

Copyright 2015 Peter Sewell http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact orchard.j.johnson@gmail.com