I recently had the opportunity to guest lecture at Regent University during their Church Planting Methods and Models class. I put together a PowerPoint of my lecture and thought I might share it with you here.

I posted it up on YouTube, so I have broken up into four parts ten minutes each.

Enjoy:

Simple Church Planting – Part One:

Simple Church Planting – Part Two:

Simple Church Planting – Part Three:

Simple Church Planting – Part Four:

Hope these are a blessing to you!

In Hampton Roads, Virginia we have been seeing the Lord establish a network of Simple Churches. We recently updated the website and extended an invitation for others to join. Here is what was communicated:

New Addition to the HRSCN Website

One of the greatest needs within the body of Christ is communication, community and fellowship. In other words the genuine practice of koinonia. That is why we have added a tool to the HRSCN website for you and those you know involved in simple/organic/house church life. We have added a relational network page to the website (Ning) to help us bridge that gap. In no way does this fulfill real koinonia – but it’s a start. Take a few minutes and see how we can link together in order to bring the gospel of the Kingdom to our region in a greater measure!

Why does Hampton Roads Network need a Relational Site?

  1. Not to establish a hierarchy – BUT to create a venue to see relationships established that will cultivate genuine Christian community in our region.
  2. Not to promote any personalities or organizations – BUT to see what our Lord Jesus is doing in our midst as we encourage one another and watch HIM build his Church.
  3. To provide a safe place where we can dialogue, network, partner and provoke one another to good works.
  4. To get to know one another and see who else is on this journey of simple church.

This addition to the website will allow for us to connect in the same way that many of you do on Facebook, but focusing strictly on the region of Hampton Roads and simple church life and mission.

Take a few moments and visit the website at http://www.hrscn.org and check out the Network Relationship page (at http://hamptonroadssimplechurchnetwork.ning.com ).

Here is how this site can be a blessing:

  • Forums – This part of the site is provided to allow us to dialogue around specific issues. It is not for carnal debate, but Christ like discussion. Be sure to honor one another.
  • Events – You can list any events here that pertain to the needs of the network.
  • Groups – This is a tool for specific groups within the network to chat, discuss issues in a forum, make comments etc. This would be a great place to post what is happening in your group. It is also a tool to focus on specific areas of interests that is wider than the scope of a discussion forum.
  • Map – See where the simple church meeting places are in Hampton Roads.
  • Blog – Write a blog to the network and post it here for all to read.
  • Videos and Photos – post what would be of interest to the network.

When you go to the site, you can explore what’s there, but if you want to participate you will need to sign up.


A Reminder of Who Hampton Roads Simple Church Network is:

  • Hampton Roads Simple Church Network is a network of simple, organic, house churches in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia.
  • There is nothing to join, there are no dues to pay, and there is no personality to submit to but Christ. It is a simple voluntary relationship with one another expressed from congregation to congregation.
  • We are inclusive of all followers of Jesus Christ, who proclaim Him as their God, their King, and their Lord. Our only written creed is the Bible.
  • We are diverse from many different denominational and historical backgrounds.
  • We have no centralized governing body, but recognize the relationship we all have with one another being submitted to one another under Christ.
  • We welcome the gifts the Lord has given the church to equip her to do the works of the ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers) but do not see them as positions within a hierarchy but servants functioning in their gifting.
  • We have no clergy/laity divide, but honor the priesthood of every believer and their personal responsibility to grow in Christ.
  • We stay connected through our voluntary relationships with one another and serve, love and minister to one another based upon those relationships.
  • We desire to cooperate with other expressions of church in our region without being exclusive or judgmental, but expressing our love for one another in unity and truth.
  • We desire to serve our community in unity in order to bring about transformation, renewal and demonstrate the kingdom of God.


Hope to see you on the network!

What are you doing in your region to facilitate koinonia in the Body of Christ?

God Bless,

Don

One of the things I am hoping to accomplish this year is the ability to communicate what I am passionate about without causing division. It seems that when I start talking to folks about the revolution at hand I get several possible responses; eyes glaze over with the possible concern that I am from another planet, hearty agreement that is really an appeasement, tearful acknowledgement of the struggle at hand dreaming about how things could really be, an aha moment that cause them to join the cause and finally the angry response that considers you to be a heretic at best, or lost your salvation at worst.

The revolution I am referring to (if you have read any of my previous blogs you would know) is the work of Jesus in the midst of His people today that has nothing to do with a Sunday (or any day for that matter) meeting. But it is in regards to what He is doing through His Body all the time as we function as His church serving in His Kingdom in the midst of our lives. Now certainly this will effect what happens when we do gather whether it is in mega-churches, neighborhood churches or house churches, and there is much to be said about the avoidance of temple based worship. The form is not really the issue, the issue is the heart. It is Christ’s body being at work in our communities as so aptly described in the book “The Tangible Kingdom.” I think that is where I get into trouble. When I begin to talk about a revolutionary change within the Church, I seem to be critical of those sacred cows that we all have held dear one time or another in our life as Christians. So if your livelihood, identity and purpose is tied up in conducting a weekly meeting, I guess this talk of an organic, simple church revolution can be threatening.

This revolution falls into many facets of expression and categories. Fortunately there are a plethora of books being written to define what God is doing from “The Tangible Kingdom” by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay,  to Revolution by George Barna, to Reimagining Church by Frank Viola – not to mention Pagan Christianity by Viola & Barna, Organic Church by Neil Cole or The Forgotten Ways by Allen Hirsch.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg! All these books and others are a must read for those who are wanting to be challenged to join the ranks of these revolutionaries. But what do we do with what we have read?

Therein is my struggle. I can become critical, or I can become constructive, or I can just crawl into a hole with a few other discontents and wait it out. The best thing I can do is love the Bride of Christ regardless of her condition, recognize who she is in this sectarian context we live in, and be a prophetic example. Help me Lord!

Hopefully those who hear me will not think I am judging their motives. How in the world will I know their motives anyway! In fact, I would say that most of those who are in some capacity of leadership in the Church that are serving the old institutional sectarian system are doing so with very honorable motives and wanting to give the Lord all they have and all they can be. Plus, those in the congregations are there because that is all they know so to be discontent or a “change agent” would be seen as rebellious. It’s a tough spot.

So maybe you can join me this year to not strut around as if our understanding and practical application of truth is superior to others, but serve those who are under the guidance of the same Holy Spirit, but just not where I am. You know, I don’t like it when my motives are judged wrongly – let’s be careful not to do the same. There are many of those in Christ whose love for the Lord is unquestionable though they serve in a system that is far from what God intended. Let’s find out how we can serve one another graciously and with gentleness as we search daily for the will of the Lord and follow His will with all our might.

OK, the election is over, we can turn away from FOX and CNN and get on with life. Our part to play in making history in the context of government and politics is now yesterday’s news. So what do we do now? Here a just a few exhortations:

  • Let’s get about the Father’s business! The victory that matters is when someone hears the message that there is a new king in the land, he deserves our allegiance and devotion, therefore turn from all other allegiances and turn to this King – Jesus, the King of kings and become a subject of His kingdom, the Kingdom of God!
  • Let’s go about your day making the announcement that although nation’s leaders come and go, there is a king who remains eternal who is not only just and true, but he is God your creator.
  • Let’s lay aside the distractions of this temporal nation and world system and focus on what is unseen and eternal.
  • Let’s take a close hard look at what Jesus really did and is doing, and refuse to buy into religion or personal kingdom building or ministry kingdom building.
  • We need to become abhorrent towards ministries built upon a personality, the spiritual superstar, and only acknowledge those built on the foundation of the chief cornerstone, Jesus.
  • We also need to support the coup that is refusing to support carnal headships, and ecclesiastical systems that at best make Jesus a figurehead, and at worst ignore his place as head of the Church altogether.
  • We also need to have such a real relationship with Jesus, who is real and alive; and that it is not strange to think that he can lead us by his Spirit and direct the affairs of our lives and our churches firsthand without the help of a mediating office.
  • Let’s get about the Father’s business and take the gospel of His Kingdom to those 6000+ nations (people groups) that have never heard of him, nor have the opportunity to hear.

This are just a few things to start us down the road of the new reformation that brings God’s people back to a relationship with God and one another and destroys the old ideas of religion and man’s organizations.

Viva la revolution!

If you build a house and it looks like a corn field – what is it? It’s a corn field! When we discuss church structure, we have what we build it to be. I have been discussing the error of replacing the headship of the church with a man rather than keeping Christ as the head and setting up a system that creates a class system within the body of Christ (laity and clergy) rather than allowing for each believer to develop/mature under the leading and lordship of Christ in community. I have talked about the error and weakness of misunderstanding what is an overseer, misunderstanding of leadership, the misunderstanding of anointing, and ignoring the priesthood of all believers and the departure from making disciples of Christ.

In this post I will be discussing the development of a separate entity other than the Church of Jesus Christ. The practice of establishing a clergy class leads the members to submit to another Christ. This could be a leader, a system, an organization or something other than Jesus. These churches are Christ’s in name only. They may have many valid believers in their ranks, but as an organization they serve another because they have pledged their allegiance to another (who is a member of the clergy) rather than to Christ. This can even happen in organizations who minimize the clergy system. If they establish a class of leadership such as their governing structure prescribes it is not far from the governmental structure of Roman Catholicism. The senior leader (pastor, overseer, apostle, director, CEO, president, superintendent etc.) is being the pope, the other leaders his ranks of bishops and clergy, and the members serve the church and the edict of the leadership rather than Christ. It wasn’t until almost the third century of the church that leaders became and official ruling class and this quickly led the Church into the Dark Ages in which we are still attempting to escape. There was always leadership, but never as an office. This practice was a reaction to the desire of Constantine to initiate the same system he saw in pagan religions. This was a system of priests, temples and sacrifice attempting to make Christianity acceptable to the masses as well as conducive to his system of control or leadership. He wanted to endorse this new religion, but in order for it to work under Rome’s rule it had to take on the characteristics of Rome and her pagan practices.

Conclusion to Church Structure

Let me conclude this series by saying that the comments I have made are not a judgment of individual’s relationship with Christ, but the practices in which I have described. I have participated on one level or another in all of the erroneous practices I have discussed in this series. While I was functioning this way I never thought I was in error. In fact I assumed I was doing things the right way. Could it be that we are many times blinded by the traditions of men and the status quo and never able to break out of the mold in which we were raised up in? I ask that you take a long look at your structure, systems, government and leadership development practices, discipleship tools and church membership training and analyze it to determine if Christ has been removed from the process; or are we even willing to go deeper and see if he has been removed from the head as our King, our Lord and our God.

I have this hobby of sorts, and that is surfing the web and looking at local church web sites. This morning while I was being distracted from doing something constructive I ran across a church’s web site and I began to realize that things are not as they seem. What do you call someone who says one thing but does another?

What I am talking about is that every pastor/church leader I know argues the fact that church is not the building, the facility, the property, but it is the people. So true! But, when you go to any church website that has a page or section describing their history, what do we usually read about? We read about their building projects! We read about the buildings they used, where they were and what improvements they have made to those properties. But there are no stories about the church (I’m talking about people). Their history gives us no insight into the lives of the saints in that congregation. This holds true as to whether the church is an older historical church, or they have come into existence in the past twenty years. It’s all the same. Their history is all about their “campus,” their architecture or their series of building programs! According to their history, the church is their facility, there is no mention of Jesus or the people.

Are we confused? Does the church truly see itself as people and not a building? That’s what we are taught to say because it is theologically correct. But ask them about the history of their congregation and see if you hear any stories about those who have met together, laughed together, served together during their long or short history, and see if my research is accurate. If I continually say I believe something, but turn around and do and record something differently – where is my credibility? Maybe that is just another reason why organized religion or organized Christianity has lost so much of its credibility in a world that Jesus loves.

If you were going to write the history of your church – would it be about Jesus and his people, or would you do what others have done and write a narrative about the buildings you have met in?

[I posted this recently on my facebook page and thought I would go ahead and share it here.]

These are certainly days of transition for me. Money is low, so I am beginning to do some job hunting. During this time I began to realize that I am a person that is driven by personal vision and calling. In fact it is that very principle that keeps me from taking a “job” to do ministry. Though I am not squeamish about making a legitimate income, I still need to have enough income to buy my peanut butter and other earthly habits. But I still have this gnawing within me that wants to do ministry based upon the leading of the Lord and an actual call. Some have asked; “Don why don’t you just take a pastorate somewhere,” or they suggest “Don, what you need to do is (fill in the blank).” I appreciate all the advice and concern I can get – don’t get me wrong – but my principles have become my enemy! Why can’t I go sell widgets or something? Or why can’t I go and do meetings in churches and turn on the prophetic gift and prophecy bringing home healthy offerings? Why can’t go and sell my talents to the highest bidder?

Unfortunately what I am called to do is provoke one another to do good works by taking the gospel to where it has never been preached. And folks, that is not very popular! What pastor wants to invite me to come to their church in order to convince the congregation to rearrange their priorities, give their income to strategic missions, and take their eyes off themselves (and their local church’s budget) and look unto the fields that are white unto harvest and shift their allegiance to scattering seed and making disciples somewhere “out there.” They may lose some church members to the mission field! They would ask; “How in the world will our churches be able to pay their mortgages and salaries if we invite someone like Don to come and provoke our congregation to go and be scattered all around the world? We need to control that kind of thing!” Consider the problem God had with Babel! The leaders of the then known world decided to build a facility that would not only make a name for themselves, but to keep the people from being scattered all over the earth! (see Genesis 11:1-4)

Another problem is that I am also called to provoke one another to do church more simply. You know, that’s not very popular either. If we make it too simple, then what’s going to happen to all the professionals? They may ask; “If we structure our churches so that the average guy (or gal) does the ministry, then why do we need all these staff members and paid clergy? And if they are doing ministry outside of the church facility and scattering and sowing seed and making disciples in their homes and out in the marketplace, then how can we justify our building programs? How can we control them? How can we control the growth of the church?” Can we engineer the growth and expansion of God’s Kingdom? We merely need to go and scatter the seed where it has never been scattered!

This reminds me of a parable that Jesus taught regarding His Kingdom; 6 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.(Mark 4:26-29).

Think about that! The farmer scatters the seed but no matter what he does the seed sprouts and grows and he has no clue as to how it happened! In fact Jesus says that it grew all by itself! Then all the farmer has to do is reap the harvest. It really is that simple. But how much of our efforts are spent and engineering the growth time. It’s really that simple!

But that brings me back to my dilemma – if it’s that simple, then what do you need me for? So, back to the drawing board looking for a job that does not violate my principles! Unless you want me to help you scatter some seed!