A STRATEGIC PLAN EXPLORED – Part Three

[This six part article on a strategic plan is in no way exhaustive and set in stone but is merely theoretical. Join with me in this discussion! We ask: with the Lord’s direction can an already established congregation be lead into a more simple and organic church life? I will share this strategic plan in six parts over the next few days. If you would like to see the whole article, go to my website at Strategic Church Network.]

                                                          

THE PROBLEM

One of the major weaknesses in the local church in America today is that it has taken on a business model more than that of family. Neil Cole has said; “When you imagine the amount of resources, energy and time invested in a service held only one day a week, it is remarkable. With all the importance placed on this event, you would expect there to be a lot of scriptural directives to make sure people get it right. But if you search all of the New Testament looking for the commands or injunctions having to do with this important weekly event, you will find them sadly missing. Instead you will find verses, chapters, and entire books that speak to how we are to live together as a spiritual family”[1]

In the many churches today, results are measured by the size of meetings and income rather than the number of those who are being obedient to Jesus. Jesus said to make disciples of all nations by teaching them to obey what he taught. We have reduced that command to gathering members so that they conform to the traditions of men and pay for the “vision of the house.”  The senior pastor has usurped the role of head of the church from Jesus and the congregation now looks to the senior pastor as their source for inspiration, spiritual food, comfort, guidance, and he is responsible for the ministry of the church. The five fold ministry may be recognized as valid and welcomed, but never to the degree that the congregation becomes equipped to do the work of the ministry. Ministry is still relegated to the clergy class, office holders and pastoral staff. Unfortunately those gifted in one of the five fold gifts have been elevated to “super star” status. The supernatural ministry of the presence of Jesus has been limited to spiritual manifestations, but never allowing him to actually be the head of the church in all activities.

This business model has caused the local church to be viewed as competitive with other portions of the Body of Christ. This drives the local church to become bigger and more entertaining, thus consumer driven. The pastor is expected to perform via his sermon along with his worship team and other attractions during the service. Finances, talent, time and energy is devoted to making the worship service everything the consumer congregation expects it to be. Unfortunately this leads to a church that has little time for making disciples, developing relationships in the community and simply being family together. Grant it, discipleship may happen amongst the leadership team, but the congregation is merely spectators. If discipleship does become a priority it is attempted through preaching or institutional classes and seminars which focus on academics rather than obedience to Christ. This causes discipleship to be diminished to an intellectual understanding of doctrine and church practice rather than relationship with Jesus and being able to hear him and obey.

The work of the Church in the world today has become complicated and systematic rather than simple and organic. Therefore the goal would be to lead an existing congregation from its present condition to that of an organic, simple church focused on mission rather than events where disciples are being made and hopefully citizens within the surrounding communities are being transformed by the gospel in every area of their life.[2] Those who call this congregation their local church would be equipped to do the work of the ministry of Jesus not just within the confines of the local church events, but also in the world where they live. In fact greater emphasis would be given to the latter. The church would then be a true expression of God’s Kingdom bringing the gospel to where they live, work and play.

Here are some facts and trends to consider:

What is happening in the USA?[3]

  • 65 million attend church, 25% of population
  • Only 4 to 5 million have a great commission focus.
  • In 1995 – 375,000 churches.
  • In 2000 – 324,000 churches.
  • In 2002 – 300,000 churches.
  • There is a 50% divorce rate in the church.
  • Eight out of ten pastors want to leave the ministry.
  • The number of men involved in church is declining.
  • Many children leave the church in their teen years.

Neil Cole states: “Churches lose 2,765,000 people each year, between 3500 and 4000 churches close their doors each year for the last time; while only 1100-1500 churches are started. Not a single county in all America has a greater percentage of churched people today than a decade ago.”[4]

George Barna has discovered that:

  • 4 out of 10 born again Christian do not attend church totaling 10 million.
  • 15-20 million do not attend a traditional organized church.
  • Majority of those making a decision for Christ in an evangelical church were no longer found attending church after eight weeks of making their decision.
  • Over the next 20 years the number of Christians seeking spiritual fulfillment in traditional churches will decline.
  • In 2007, 70% of Americans relied on traditional church expressions, by 2025 this number will decline to 30-35%
  • There will be alternative expressions of spirituality (house & market place churches) will rise from the current 5% to between 30-35%.

In light of these statistics, the church is certainly in need of a change, a reformation, a return to a more organic, simple model revealed to us in scripture.

In the next part of this post we will discuss the philosophy of ministry and the guiding principles that will help a local church transition from traditional to organic and simple.

God Bless,

Don


[1] Cole, Neil, Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens, Jossey-Bass, 2005 pg 40

[2] Neil Cole states, “Church attendance, however, is not the barometer of how Christianity is doing. Ultimately, transformation is the product of the Gospel. It is not enough to fill our churches; we must transform our world. Society and culture should change if the church has been truly effective.” Cole, Neil, Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens, Jossey-Bass, 2005. Introduction

[3] Source: Dawn Ministries, 2007

[4] Cole, Neil, Cultivating a Life for God, ChurchSmart Resources, 1999, pg 11

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A STRATEGIC PLAN EXPLORED – Part Two

[This six part article on a strategic plan is in no way exhaustive and set in stone but is merely theoretical. Join with me in this discussion! We ask: with the Lord’s direction can an already established congregation be lead into a more simple and organic church life? I will share this strategic plan in six parts over the next few days.]

FOUNDATIONS AND DEFINITIONS

Below are several points that will help to define and give foundation to this strategic plan. These of course are not exhaustive and there are many more points that can be discussed and many reading this would want to add those points. Feel free to do so by replying to this post.

  • Church: The presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet (1).  It consists of a specific DNA: Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships and Apostolic Mission.(2)
  • Simple Church: It is being the Church wherever we live in relationship with Christ, his body and the world he has called us to reach. This is done without being dependent on facilities, professional clergy, elaborate services or structured meetings, but dependent on knowing what the Father is doing and obeying Him. Typically when simple churches gather they follow the pattern for the church meeting described in 1 Corinthians 14:26. The life of a simple church is a 24/7 experience and extends well beyond weekly gatherings.(3)
  • Organic Church: A term first coined by T. Austin Sparks. It is a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. (4)  The church is best described in scripture as a family, a vine, a seed, a field or a body. The church is a living system which reproduces more rapidly and simply than an institution or manmade structure.
  • Church Growth: In the traditional model, growth is inward, focused primarily on gathering. In simple, organic churches the growth is outward focusing on scattering. (See Genesis 11:1-9 & Acts) Therefore the emphasis is on multiplication and simple models which multiply easily and quickly and is not based upon attending a worship service alone.
  • Making Disciples: This is the main task of the follower of Jesus. Making disciples should be the priority of the church so that each one is able to hear the Lord’s voice and become obedient to Him. A disciple is then able to “feed” themselves and not be dependent on an institution or an individual such as a member of the clergy to feed them. Maturity is the goal rather than dependence on an individual or a service. There is a tangible, real relationship with Jesus who is there source of spiritual food and direction. This is done in the context of the church as believers grow together and learn from each other rather than from one human source.
  • Leadership – Jesus corrected his disciples and told them that they were not to lord over others as the gentiles do. He strongly stated that this practice should not be among them. (Matt 10:25-28) Therefore all leadership will be that of a servant, equipper and willing to put others first. Leadership will not be defined as he who holds an office over others, but those who serve to undergird others. Thomas Wynn a friend of mine has described leadership: Leadership is like a skeleton, it supports, gives definition and strength, but if it is seen the body is either sick or dead (5).  For more information watch the video “Upside Down Leadership” at http://vimeo.com/16525058 .
  • Incarnational – Incarnational means you live among those whom God has led you to reach. Your lifestyle, while holy and reflecting Christ, is like those you are called to reach. This causes the gospel to penetrate areas, locations, peoples, cultures that would normally never attend church services.
  • Missional – Missional means to be outward in our movement rather than trying to attract people in – we go to where they are.
  • Gathering and Scattering – This is a blend of church life which incorporates a gathering model (slightly attractional) in order to scatter thus still being missional, simple and organic (6).

A few key scriptures (emphasis bold, underlined):

These are certainly not exhaustive regarding the strategic plan, but touch on a few critical areas.

•    Matt. 16:18 –“…I (Jesus) will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
•    1 Cor. 14:26 – What shall we say brothers:  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
•    1 Pet. 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
•    Mark 4:26-29 – 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.”

Biblical Issues Regarding a Simple, Organic Church:

1.    The simple, organic church holds fast to Jesus Christ as its only Chief Shepherd [Senior Pastor] (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:10,19).
2.    The simple, organic church recognizes the Bible as the sufficient and authoritative guide for its beliefs and activities (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  The Scriptures in their fullness have no need for modification or supplementation by outside philosophies, fields of study, or other influences (cf. Col. 2:8; 1 Jn. 2:27). The authority in any teaching, gathering or activity of the church is the Word of God rather than a denominational statement of faith or a leaders interpretation and traditions.
3.    The simple, organic church depends upon the Holy Spirit’s supervision and empowerment in all areas of ministry. (1 Cor. 3:8; 12:1-11; 1 Pet. 4:10; cf. Eph 3:7, 4:7; 1 Cor. 12:1-11).
4.    The simple, organic church strives to maintain truth and unity, not sacrificing one for the other (Eph. 4:1-16; 1 Tim. 3:15). It is non-divisive both in name and character (Jn. 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13).
5.    The simple, organic church acknowledges the priesthood of the believer, each having direct access to God through Christ, and with responsibility and authority to minister to one another. (1 Pet. 2:5,9; Gal. 5:13; 1 Thess. 5:11; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14; Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24; James 5:16)
6.    The simple, organic church accepts all believers in Christ as members, one of another (Rom. 12:5; cf. Gal. 2:9). In keeping with its non-divisive character, it does not seek to establish a separate, local church membership in the traditional sense.
7.    Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teaching gifts are functions, not offices or positions. For example, the simple, organic church is pastored by those gifted to function as pastor rather than a position held by one professional clergy. (Acts 20:17, 27; Eph 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:14).

The next part of this article will discuss the problem that prompts us to seek for change in the way we see the church and her function.

Don

Footnotes:

(1) http://www.cmaresources.org/organic-church-definition

(2) Cole, Neil and Helfer, Phil, Church Transfusion, Changing Your Church Organically From the Inside Out, Josey-Bass 2012 pg. 18

(3) http://hrscn.org/About_Us.html

(4) http://frankviola.org/2010/01/11/what-is-an-organic-church-a-plea-for-clarity/

(5) Thomas Wynn: Leadership in the Kingdom, http://vimeo.com/19847639

(6) Halter, Hugh and Smay, Matt, AND – The Gathered and the Scattered Church. Zondervan 2010

A STRATEGIC PLAN EXPLORED (Part One)

Introduction:

[Several months ago I was asked to put together a strategic plan for a church to become more organic and simple. The following article is what I submitted with a few editorial changes.]

The following strategic plan is in no way exhaustive and set in stone. It is still in the theoretical stage, and will certainly need to be tweaked as the opportunity to apply this plan is pursued. The idea of merging the concepts of organic, simple church to a traditional attractional model church is revolutionary. Although some have accomplished this with success (1), it is still experimental and risky. With the Lord’s direction can an already established congregation be lead into a more simple and organic church life? I will share this strategic plan in six parts over the next few days.

A personal note:

Several months ago my wife and I were observing the fact that some of the things we were doing were changing and not producing the results we were expecting. We felt like we were adrift and needed to hear from the Lord regarding what we should do or what needed to change. So we took a few days off and went away to seek the Lord. We found a beautiful cabin the mountains of southwestern Virginia and determined to find our way as we listened to the Lord. To make it brief, what we discovered was that because of my ideal view of what the church should be, I had become stingy with the calling and gifts that the Lord had freely given me. I was given these gifts to minister and equip the Body of Christ, but because of my dreams for Church as God sees it, I was withholding what Jesus had given to me.

The solution is not yet clear other than I need to stop being exclusive and be willing to serve the Church regardless of how she functions. Therefore I committed myself to the Lord to serve his bride no matter what she looked like. That brought be to a place to consider what a more blended church would look like and the process to bring her to a more organic, simple expression which gave me the opportunity to write up this strategic plan. By “coincidence” after this time of seeking the Lord, I had received Neil Cole’s newest book (with Phil Helfer); “Church Transfusion – Changing Your Church Organically From the Inside Out” which greatly influenced some of my conclusions and observations. I recommend this book greatly.

I hope that this strategic plan will get you thinking about this process as well. Our next section will be discussing some foundational issues and definition regarding simple, organic church.

Don

Footnotes:

(1) Cole, Neil, Church Transfusion – Changing Your Church Organically From the Inside Out, Jossey-Bass, 2012

Many who are involved in simple, organic, house church soon come to the conclusion that there is tremendous value in networking together. (I will be referring to this as “simple church” for the remainder of this article, but certainly include those who prefer to describe themselves as organic or house.)  How this networking is administrated is usually the sticky part. We don’t want to establish some hierarchy, a “good-ole-boys (and gals)” network, and head down the path of “death by institution.” But we do want to link together with our family in Christ to accomplish those things that may be too difficult for one simple church to do.

If you are involved in a simple church you know that there are many things that you can freely do now that was impossible to do in the more traditional or institutional church expression. But there are a few things that cannot be done in a small gathering by itself. That is one of the reasons why it is important to network. Some of these reasons would be; sharing the five-fold (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher) giftings in a region, building relationships from church to church for encouragement, training events, celebration events, fellowship and holiday events, and assisting one another through tough times and situations. I am sure there are others.

One of the greatest values of networking is the ability to pool resources, both financially and with members of the body to accomplish mission both locally and internationally. Now it is my conviction that mission is at the core of the church’s cause. Therefore it should not be such a strange thing to consider being missional, or doing missions or simply obeying Christ’s command to “go and make disciples of all . . .”. The question is, how do we apply what we believe? Isn’t that where we usually have the most difficulty!

The networking of simple churches will lead to an increase of sending, and supporting mission teams. How do we do this? What will it look like? How do we guard from forming something that will lead us away from the main thing? How do we balance our intentional goals and dreams with the leading of the Lord as we obey him by doing only what we see him doing? These are not easy questions. They cannot be answered in a vacuum. As we seek the Lord together and dialogue regarding what we have heard and perceive we can come to some consensus and serve our Lord together in varying degrees of relationships. For clarification, when I speak of networking, I am merely referring to connecting together relationally to the point where we are willing to share resources, and ideas in order to accomplish the Lord’s will.

Therefore, I have an idea or a proposal that may help us accomplish this networking among simple churches. What if we had a “roundtable” face to face get together? Why do we need to do this?

Several reasons:

  1. To strengthen our relationships for the purpose of doing mission together.
  2. Learn about what we are doing in mission.
  3. Discover how we can improve what we are doing in mission via our networking and partnering relationships..
  4. Discover what is acceptable in regards to raising funds and mobilizing individuals for missions projects and sending teams.
  5. Establish some clear guidelines regarding how we can effectively fund the missions effort via simple churches and networks.
  6. Spend some quality time listening to what the Lord is saying (via prayer) to us regarding what we should be doing together.
  7. And I am sure there are other reasons.

This would basically be an informal roundtable/retreat setting, possibly over 2 days at most. Of course there will be some costs involved regarding lodging and facility, but I think we can secure a reasonable location. No dates are being considered yet. We have discussed this on the simple church and missions networking site: House2Harvest Network, and there has been nothing but a positive response to this idea. It would be great if you could share your ideas, concerns and such as we begin to make plans to have this gathering.

Please remember that there is no desire to gather a large number of people, but the right people. It will not be a preaching or presentation time, but dialogue, discussion and sharing what we are hearing from the Lord.

What do you think? Let’s share our thoughts together here are go to the House2Harvest site and reply in the forum section. You will have to join the network in order to interact with others on this topic and many more. Logistically we will not be able to cater to everyone’s geographic, calendar and economic preferences, but by the end of December we hope to have a time secured as well as a location.

So I put a shout out to any of you, if you have or know of a retreat center that is available at a very low cost that would not be difficult for folks to get to from throughout the USA please let me know. Also, if you would like to attend and there are some dates in 2012 that would be impossible for you to participate, let me know those dates as well. We will try to choose a date that fits the best. Reply to me personally if you would like at dondavis@house2harvest.org

Hope to hear from you soon!

Don Davis

When Jeannie (my wife) and I came to the Lord in 1974 our decision was made with the confession, “if we are going to do this Christian thing, we are going to do it according to the Bible and not religion.” This has been true for most of my life, although there have been times that I preferred to go the way of the crowd. This confession has caused me to be a troublemaker, a rebel, a revolutionary, a dreamer and many times lonely. So I am going to share a few of those scriptures with you. Certainly we are to be led by all of God’s word, but here are a few that stand out.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not sharing these because I have mastered them and I have accomplished perfection, by no means. I must continually remind myself and correct myself. Many times I have found myself going “off the path”. Unfortunately I do not always listen. My point in sharing these is to hopefully challenge you as well as I am challenged.

Here are a few of those verses (from The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids):

1 Samuel 15:22-23 But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination (KJV says witchcraft), and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

My goal is to ask the question before I do anything: “Do I do this because of obedience to the Lord or is it due to some religious or traditional obligation.” If don’t obey, then what I do has the potential of becoming a tool of Satan and is driven by the power of darkness no matter how “spiritual” or “Christian” it may seem. Any deviation from obedience is fertile ground for the enemy to deceive, manipulate and even blaspheme God’s intentions. Lord, help us obey your word!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – . “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come

I (and if you are in Christ – you) are no longer bound by the past. That means past sins, past nature, past generational curses, past anything. Therefore I remind myself that the power of Christ to bring victory in these areas has been accomplished and any religious practice, counseling technique, doctrine or spiritual experience that teaches otherwise is suspect of being from a source other than God.

Matthew 16:17-18“Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hadeswill not overcome it.”

The only one who has the authority to build the church of Jesus Christ is Jesus. There is no “my, your, or our” church. It is his church. There is his church in many locations, and there are people who are part of his church who gather together in the name of another entity, organization, institution, or incorporation, but it is not Jesus’ church, but contains members of his church. The rock upon which Christ’s church is built is a revelation that comes from the Father and not from man’s attempt to educate, propagate or dictate! That revelation is simple and comes from the Father. (I’m not going to tell you what that is – ask the Father J )

Matthew 18:20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

When we gather in Jesus’ name (and no other) he will be with us. Why? Jesus is talking about the administration of his authority, his kingdom, his will, doing his business and even getting answers to prayer. Why is it that we relegate the actual presence of our Lord to another person when we gather? If Jesus is truly with us when we gather in his name, then let him lead! If we ignore his presence and lead in his stead, what does that say about our obedience to him, or should I say rebellion against him. We have already stated where that leads! This is why the world does not believe us when we say he is with us in our gatherings; we don’t act like it. It also reveals that there is a sickness in the body of Christ, it does not have a real, experiential connection with the head of the church – Jesus. We focus on figureheads and not the real head. Can you imagine a wife only paying attention to the self-appointed representative of her husband and not him when the husband is right there with her?! Absurd? Yes! Then why do we do it to our Lord Jesus? The activity of the church gathered then becomes a parody of the real thing, and it is not funny.

Ephesians 4:14-16 –“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

So much here, but my main point in this portion is that Christ is the head. We grow up “into Him.” The mature are those who acknowledge Jesus as the head, walks in love and does their part. It has nothing to do with submitting to a person who is functioning in place of Jesus, nor does it include aspiring to be in a position like that. But it does include living a life that acknowledges Christ has the head. If there is another head there is chaos, immaturity and lead captive by “the teaching and the cunning craftiness of men.” Unfortunately we have taught that one form of maturity is to lead as the head (senior pastor) a congregation. That is the far from the truth.

1 Corinthians 14:26What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”

When I come together with other believers in any context, my goal is that we fulfill this verse. It is the only verse in the New Testament that gives us an idea of what we should do when we gather. They key here is that everyone has a chance to share, and all of these are done. But as we know, most of them time these are put off in place of a performance and spectator format. Those on the platform do and the others watch and receive. The only giving that is expected from the audience is a monetary offering or volunteering for things such as nursery of parking lot duty. But the problem is that we cannot do this if our meetings are too large. Everyone cannot participate. That is why organizations have been deceived to believe that the bigger the meeting, the better. Church growth is being measured by the number of attendees to a meeting and not the number of disciples obeying Christ. Some congregations have tried to solve this with small groups. But if they do not consider these small groups an expression of church, and do not allow Christ to be head of these small gatherings then they are falling short of what God desires.

Matthew 28:18-20 – “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Why are we here? Why don’t we just get translated into heaven when we get saved? Jesus has called us to go and make disciples of all nations. These nations are not political nations, but all ethnic/people groups. I am compelled to examine the ministry I do and if it is not making disciples, if it is not teaching others to obey Jesus, if folks are not getting baptized then I must be doing my own thing no matter how religious or “Christian” it may seem. Note that he did not say go and plant, start, or establish churches. That’s what Jesus does. I constantly fight the battle of losing my first love of telling others about Jesus. But it is more than just getting a “decision for Christ.” Discipleship means we walk together, following Christ together and help one another along the way know what Jesus is saying.

Matthew 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Much of my live has been devoted to missions. That is because this verse challenged me when I was a young pastor who had planted a church and served as its pastor for nine years. I soon resigned and moved my family to Southeast Asia to encourage others to reach those who have not yet heard the gospel of the Kingdom. Over 6000 ethnic/people groups are still in darkness and have no one telling them about Jesus and the gospel of the Kingdom. This dilemma that faces the church today is what drives me go, serve, compel others to go to these people groups and preach the gospel of the kingdom to them – as a testimony (a life).

John 5:19 – Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

This has been my greatest challenge of all. It goes against my ambition, my initiative, my “get r done” attitude, my pragmatism, and yes, my flesh. My desire is to see what the father is doing and only do that. But what happens is, there is an increased amount of time that you may do nothing until you learn to see what the father is doing. There are scores of individuals with good intentions who want to tell me what the father is doing, but my responsibility is to learn it from the father first hand. I don’t want to follow retail truth, I want wholesale truth. Not milk, but meat. This is where I am now learning to follow only what the father is doing. I wish I had started with this one!

There are a few more versus and I am sure there will be more as I grow. But for now I will leave these with you to ponder.

Blessings!

Don

[For the sake of full disclosure, I have a selfish motive regarding this subject, I am involved in missions work traveling to Asia from time to time. My wife and I plan to do this in a greater capacity as soon as possible, therefore we are seeking more funding than we presently receive.]

Now with that out of the way, I want to share with you some of my observations regarding missions, money and simple church. (When I speak of simple church, that also includes organic and house churches in varying degrees) ].

One of the factors that convinced us to be more simple in our way of being the Church is that we do not have to raise funds to pay for buildings, big shots, programs, staff or parking lots. What a freedom to be relieved of these burdens. Of course most of our local mission to make disciples takes very little money at all; the cost of a cup of coffee, a meal, or just doing life together. The funds that are now available to us are certainly greater than before and we can be a blessing and help those who are normally forgotten, and left out of typical “church budgets.” Our income that is available in our simple churches and networks can do great things with just a handful of folks who give sacrificially, cheerfully and generously. (see the article: “Assessing The State Of Simple Churches In The USA Regarding Releasing Resources Toward Finishing The Great Commission” by Steve Lyzenga for a thorough look at this subject). So what do we do with our money now? We certainly have needs that arise within our simple church or network that needs attention. I am making the assumption that you are already making sure that no one in your simple church lacks and that you are following the pattern we see in Acts when a need arises. Mission also includes taking the gospel to all nations (people groups), and some of these groups still have no access to the gospel. How do we fund these efforts to reach the nations?

Here are a few questions to ask yourselves as you seek the Lord’s leading in these areas:

In your simple/organic church how are you doing missions?

  • What about those who are connected with folks in the church who have not yet become believers but have material needs, how are you meeting those needs?
  • Are you seeking the Lord regarding how you can now use the funds you have to minister to those in the “household of faith” so that none among you lack?
  • What about the unreached, or out of reach nations? There are over 6000 nations (ethnic or people groups) who are out of reach and have no opportunity to hear about the gospel of the Kingdom. (For more information and statistics about unreached people groups go to: http://www.joshuaproject.net )
  • Since we no longer have up to 90% of our budgets going to serve ourselves, are we supporting apostolic servants of the Lord who have been called to these unreached groups?
  • Are we sending financial support to those who are training others who live near these people groups to reach them?
  • Are we funding apostolic leaders and teams to go into an area to make disciples of a few new believers in an unreached area that will train them to be disciple makers seeing churches planted among their own people?
  • Who is better equipped to go and make a handful of disciples in an unreached area and prepare these disciples to go and make disciples seeing churches planted? I believe it is those who are now function as part of a simple, organic church are prepared for this hour to reach the most difficult nations (people groups) around us. Are you seeking the Lord as to how He would have you do this?
  • Is your network ready to prepare a team to go to these unreached areas and send them with the proper funding, prayer and training?
  • Are you part of a regional network that can link together in order to accomplish more than one single simple church could? If not, are you willing to be a part of one and if there is not one to be the catalyst to start one?
  • If you are already sending teams to the unreached nations and/or serving the needy in your community, are you willing to share your story with others?

I challenge all who are involved in simple, organic churches and networks to seek the Lord regarding what you should be doing regarding taking the gospel of the Kingdom to the unreached nations as well as to those in need around you. Remember, Jesus said: “This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations (people groups), and then the end will come.” Matt 24:14. Let’s remember that the purpose of the church is not for our needs, what we can get out it, but to reach out and serve the lost and fallen world around us. We exist for others, not for ourselves.

I would love to hear about what you are doing or plan to do as well as how you are processing some of these questions so that we can learn from your experience. One way you can do this is to go to www.house2harvest.com and then click on the “Relationship Room” link and sign up to be a part of a network of folks who are simple church folks interested in doing mission and tell your story. Or you could just send me an email and tell me your story (dondavis@house2harvest.org ) I have a feeling that more is going on than we know.

….oh, and by the way, regarding my selfish motives – if you want to partner with my wife and I or want to know more about what we are doing let me know and I would love to share with you what we are doing and what our needs are. Send me an email at dondavis@house2harvest.org or you can comment here.

What role does prayer have in making disciples? What role does prayer have in living out our relationships in our church community? Recently I was reading in Colossians 1:9-11 and had one of those “ah-ha” moments.

Paul says in verse 9: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Paul asks God to fill them with the knowledge of his will, and this knowledge of his will comes through spiritual wisdom and understanding.

He then says in verse 10-12; “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

From that knowledge of His will not only brings wisdom and understanding, but Paul is also praying for them to receive this knowledge of God’s will so that they will live a life worthy of the Lord. It is amazing that our prayers for each other can have the authority to help one another grow in the knowledge of the Lord, but also to live according to God’s will. Prayer like this for one another causes them to be fruitful, have endurance and patience and even joy!

When we have the awesome opportunity to make a disciple consider how effective your prayers for that disciple can be. When you pray for them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and that they would have the Lord’s wisdom and understanding. This will even help the disciple to live a life that please the Lord and bears fruit. Isn’t that what discipleship is all about? To help the believer hear the Lord, obey him, be fruitful and grow in the knowledge of the Lord. Prayer is an effective tool in making disciples.

What about those you fellowship with on a regular basis? Do you pray for them? Consider this; what if you began to ask the Lord of fill them with the knowledge of His will, thus gaining wisdom and understanding. Not only that, but they would live a life worthy of the Lord and bear fruit. What a tremendous example Paul gives us here in Colossians! There is more power and authority in our prayers for one another than we know.

In simple, organic, house churches, discipleship is not a program or a curriculum. Discipleship is accomplished through relationships. What better way to live out our relationship with one another than to pray for one another as Paul has prayed for those in Colosse.

Now, let’s put what we have learned from Paul to practice.