Category Archives: Serving Widows & Orphans

Converging Towards a Tipping Point

There is a convergence happening beyond our imagination. This convergence goes beyond academic or theoretical discussions, but to the point of actually doing the work of the kingdom of God. Those who are part of House2Harvest Network are an interesting group of people. These are folks from from all over the world with various interests and experiences. But one common thread has brought these simple/house church people together, that is taking the gospel to peoples of the world that have never been reached. This is exciting! In the last few weeks we have seen several great discussions started which are still continuing. Now let’s consider what comes next: actually connecting with one another to accomplish missional endeavors.

House2Harvest Network has been online since early November, 2008. We then updated the networking tool of the site to include the “Ning” site in early February, 2009. There are presently 76 members of the network, with about 20 who still have not made the transition from the old networking website system. We can make a tremendous difference towards the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14; to take the gospel of the Kingdom to every people group in the world. There are more than 6,000 of these groups that are still waiting to be reached. The task is not too great, but it will take your partnering and networking with folks on this network and beyond to bring it to pass.

God has brought about the convergence of a family that is simple church, and missions minded to love His creation in areas of the world that still do not know him. This convergence is approaching a tipping point that will cause several of you to establish partnerships with one another so that synergy will arise and the gospel will reach into the most difficult areas of the world. This will be done as you connect with one another to accomplish ministry ventures, businesses for mission, community development and just simple missionary work.

One example of this is aquaponics. Several of us have been researching this tool to see how we can serve the poor, develop business models for those in needy areas, as well as business models in urban areas where we live. What is aquaponics? It is basically the merging of aquaculture and hydroponics. For more information about aquaponics, go to the “Aquaponics Group” on the House2Harvest Networking site. Here you can enter into a discussion on doing aquaponics and partnering together. If you Google aquaponics, you will get all kinds of information.

Imagine several members of the network catching the vision and then partner together to:

  • Take it to poor villages around the world.
  • Set it up in orphanages for food source and income.
  • Bring it to areas where simple church folks can use as a business model for income.

At present, those researching aquaponics are in the “dreaming” stage. They are now ready do secure some funding, get some training, and build some prototypes.

If you have firsthand experience regarding aquaponics, be sure to go to the House2Harvest site and join the Aquaponics group and share your experience with others. Who knows, we may even see house churches from around the world partnering together providing fresh fish and vegetables to their neighbors and those in need.

This is just one example of how this network can converge on a project, a ministry, a task, a strategy to reach the nations. The tipping point is at hand!

Simple Churches Doing Missions

As we begin to dialogue regarding simple churches doing missions, I would like to share a few things to lay a foundation for our discussions in the future. Recently at the 2008 National House Church Conference we held three sessions of the Missions Track. In our first session we discussed some foundation issues. Here is a summary of those sessions:

Session One: Why are Simple Churches suited for pioneer missions amongst the unreached and why is this the time?

We start with the assumption that simple churches as best suited for pioneer, frontier missions (the unreached) therefore now is the time to do it!

First, let me lay some foundation:

  • House/Simple/Organic Church: It is not about the gathering but our understanding of being the Church: relational, organic, and simple.
  • Unreached/Least Reached People Groups: A people group within which there is no viable indigenous church movement with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches. To reach them is pioneer/frontier missions.
    • The world’s 6.3 billion people are made up of 11,259 people groups. 55% of them are unreached! (source: IMB) Note the chart below representing numbers of people groups, not individual populations. In regards to population less than 1/3 of the world’s population is unreached.

  • 10% Committed Christians
  • 20% Nominal Christians
  • 15% Non-Christians within reach of Christians
  • Unreached peoples – Out of reach
  • o   How many unreached people groups exist? There are 11,259 people groups in the world today. 4,729 are reached. 6530 of these people groups are unreached. (Source: IMB). These unreached groups have no viable, self reproducing indigenous church able to reach their own population.

    o   Where do these unreached peoples live? 97% of all unreached peoples live in what is referred to as the 10/40 window. 82% of the poorest of the poor live in this region,

    • Where do we (the Church) use our resources? Christians give $15 Billion a year to missions. How is that $15 billion distributed? (Source: David Barrett & Todd Johnson. 2000)

    • Where do we send Missionaries? According to Mission Frontiers Magazine (June, 2000) we see that most missionaries are going to the Christian world.

    Cross-cultural Missionaries per Million in major blocks:

    • Strategic Missions: Strategic missions is when the Church is following the biblical mandate that is summarized in these two verses:

    Matthew 24:14

    “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnic groups), and then the end will come.”

    James 1:27

    “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . .”

    • Closure: Closure is finishing the task. What will happen?
      • All nations will hear to the point that the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to the entire world as a testimony in all nations (ethne) and then the end will come.
      • The Bride makes herself ready. This is referring to the prophetic promise in Revelation 7:9-10 where we discover that great multitude consisting of all nations (ethne), tribes (phule), people (laos), and languages (glossa) standing before the throne in front of the Lamb.
    • What makes simple church the best tool in God’s hand to finish the task? In our recent discussion in Dallas at the National House Church Conference Missions track we came up with the following reasons during a brainstorming session:
      • Less baggage – not bound to traditional, denominational, institutional models
      • Able to move and respond faster.
      • Understands Simple Church life – since the churches planted in unreached areas are simple house churches who better to plant these churches than those who are already doing it?
      • More Appealing to Post-Modern and post-church cultures.
      • No Denominational administration – free of sterile policies and procedure, but organic.
      • Apostolic (DNA) – Workers sent with a message.
      • Makes Disciples rather than plants churches – When we make disciples, church happens.
      • Financial Ability and Flexibility
      • Realistic Accountability - relational not policy driven
      • No Overhead
      • Kingdom focused – not organization focused. Not “planting any flags” for a denomination or Missions organization. Plus the message is focused on the gospel of the Kingdom, and not a theological grid.
      • No Bottlenecks – Able to be more spontaneous and able to respond to God’s provenience.
      • Relational like other cultures
      • Reproducible - church is simple, and able to be done by anyone regardless of the amount of education. No seminary experts, big budgets, real estate deals needed.
      • Economical - less money is needed.
      • Open to Creative ideas
      • Team driven
      • No Clergy
      • Indigenous believers are empowered and released in their callings and giftings
    • We can Speed the Coming of the Lord! In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we read:

    “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. . .”

    As the Lord fulfills Matthew 24:14 with us in partnership with Him, we speed the coming of the Lord!

    This session ended with a testimony and discussion regarding doing missions locally and reaching unreached Muslim populations in the United States.

    Session Two and Three: How Simple Churches can do Missions.

    This session was mostly interactive starting with a brainstorming session talking about:

    1.       What do simple churches need to do in order to reach the unreached nations?

    2.       How do we accomplish these things?

    Here is a chart illustrating the results of this brainstorming session (each item does not necessarily correspond directly to the opposite item in the column):

    What We Need to Do: How we can Accomplish these things:
    • Cast Vision and maintain awareness.
    • Identify the people group to reach
    • Go/Send to make Disciples of all ethnic groups
    • Do research
    • Understand Cultures & cross-cultural communications
    • Mobilize our house churches
    • Pray for the unreached
    • Be led by the Spirit
    • Stay Informed
    • Do missions here cross culturally
    • Take short-term trips
    • Pray
    • Develop our simple churches into missional communities.
    • Hear God – Only do what we see the Father doing.
    • Network together with other simple churches
    • Get training – take “Perspectives” and the like.
    • Gather resources
    • Read missions books
    • Develop funding plans, collect $ and send to the need.
    • Develop Business as Mission opportunities
    • Train missionaries, or facilitate their training
    • Learn the Language
    • Develop Partnerships
    • Model simple church being missional
    • Prepare for Church Planting Movements at home.
    • Do research on the field via short term trips.
    • Learn and adopt successful strategies
    • Live simple lifestyles
    • Talk and get to know simple church missionaries

    We then heard several testimonies first from a missionary couple planning to go to Asia and their challenges in regards to securing a support network in a simple church network setting. We also heard more about a network of simple churches regarding how they were reaching the Muslim community in their city.

    The discussion carried over to the next day as we discussed the following process and how simple churches can develop into a missions movement reaching the unreached.

    Steps Towards A Mature Missions Movement in the Apostolic Simple/House Church Network

    Mobilization Stage

    Phase I. Training

    Phase I. Training
    1.       Provide training and learning experiences. Contact House2Harvest Network for more information.
    2. Begin to develop Strategic Components of an Acts 1:8 Church in your simple church and/or network. a. Prayer
    b. The Lord raises up a champion for the cause of reaching the unreached and fulfilling the desire to be an Acts 1:8 church.
    c.  Clear written strategic guidelines
    d.  Adopt a Least/Unreached People Group
    e.  Giving Plan, Funding Plan
    f.  Short-Term Trips
    g.  Events focused on serving the nations.
    h. Begin Servants to the Nations Preparation
    3. Develop Local Cross-Cultural Ministry/Outreach.
    4. House Church network sponsors further training, coaching and consulting in understanding missions. This can be provided by ministries such as House2Harvest Network.
    5. Key Leaders attend World Christian Perspectives Course offered through the U.S. Center for World Missions
    6. Constant reading of missions books and articles.
    7. Finish the development of the Strategic Components of an Acts 1:8 Church (see #2)
    8. Identify Servants to the nations in your House Church Network.

    Phase II: Planning

    Develop a plan to reach the UPG
    1. Identify other churches and networks that are targeting your adopted UPG.
    2. Develop a preliminary budget – measure your potential financial resources.
    3. Partner with other churches and organizations in the USA a. Conduct or attend a UPG consultation
    b. Coordinate prayer efforts and information
    c. Assess organizational capacity of partnering churches
    d. Determine level in which churches can partner
    e. Formalize partnerships and networks
    4. Identify National Churches that are potential partners
    5. Partner with key leaders in national churches
    6. Conduct a short-term research trip in a region where the UPG lives.
    7. Write out your plan to reach the UPG based on your research etc.

    Deployment Stage

    Phase III:Team & Partnership
    Phase III: Team, Partnership and Networking
    1. Develop a support mechanism for cross-cultural servants to the nations.
    2. Identify servants to the nations and missions organizations already targeting the UPG.
    3. Train Your Servants to the nations.
    4. Develop potential Apostolic teams (if this is part of your plan.)
    5. Identify strategic locations and partners working among the UPG.
    6. Get to know the Apostolic/CP teams you are going to support, partner and network with.
    7. Revise your missions policy statement if needed.
    8. Begin to develop your cross-cultural disciple making strategy.
    9. Evaluate the readiness of the apostolic team and/or servant to the nations you are sending
    10. Conduct a Pre-Field Orientation and then place the teams among the UPG

    Engagement Stage

    Phase IV: Making Disciples

    Phase IV: Making Disciples
    1. Apostolic Team finishes pre-field Orientation.
    2. Apostolic Team does (and/or finishes) Language and Culture Study
    3. Disciple Making Movement Strategy Formation a. Training
    b. Development of a plan
    4. Strategy Implementation begun a. Resources Mobilized
    b. Team is implementing strategy
    5. Initial converts discipled
    6. Disciple Making Movement oriented church(es) planted a. First church planted
    b. Second generation of churches launched.
    7. Churches reproducing spontaneously (3rd and 4th generations)
    8. Saturation church planting underway
    9. Celebration! UPG Reached – Other UPG’s Targeted by churches planted.

    Missions Movement is Underway!

    (You can download this chart here:steps-towards-a-mature-missions-movement-in-the-apostolic-house-church-network1

    This brings us to where we are now in this process, and your involvement in the dialogue. This blog site is designed to facilitate the networking of simple churches to accomplish their desire to be the church where people live, taking the gospel to the nations in your neighborhood, your nation, and to other cultures.

    The “TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION” listed to the right at the top of the House2Harvest Mission Weblog is where you can go to discuss specific topics and learn, network and discover from one another so that we can reach the nations together!

    I am looking forward to hearing what the Lord is saying through you.

    A Plan – (in process)

    Over the past few months Steve Lyzenga and myself have been brainstorming regarding what House2Harvest Network will look like. This blog is adding to that discussion, and of course the round table discussion after the close of the 2008 House Church Conference in Dallas, TX will provide further discussion and hopefully implementation.

    Here is what we have written up so far:

    House2Harvest Network

    Ideas / Notes / Concepts

    Edited 7/10/08

    [The following description is a work in progress. It is here that we have merely written some of our ideas, dreams and brainstorming results. House2Harvest Network will begin to take shape during the “roundtable” discussion held after the close of the 2008 National House Church Conference in Dallas, TX on August 31, 2008. Here is what we have come up with so far.]

    House2Harvest Network – an equipping/serving ministry – a prophetic voice to the Body of Christ regarding facilitating the end time harvest.

    House2Harvest will serve the thousands of simple (house, emerging, post-modern churches and the like) churches by helping them become a part of a major mission movement focusing primarily on reaching the unreached, the marginalized, the poor, and the development of strategic missions both locally and internationally.

    We desire to help Simple/house churches and networks do the following:

    a. Be mobilized to the least reached ethnic groups (nations), the marginalized, and the poor sending apostolic teams to make disciples among them.

    b. Provide training to those who are called to minister cross culturally.

    c. Develop a plan to send teams to the least reached, the marginalized and the poor.

    d. Establish their own sending council or missions organization (via their regional house church network) so that they can effectively and strategically send apostolic workers to the frontiers (i.e. Strategic Church Network – http://www.strategicchurchnetwork.org).

    House2Harvest will provide training, consultation and resources to facilitate mobilization, deployment and engagement to the unreached as well as wisely engaging in ministry to widows and orphans and the poorest of the poor.

    Focus:

    • Acts 1:8. In areas where foundations have never been laid (the unreached) as well as targeting the marginalized poor (such as refugees, widows and orphans). This will be done via sending apostolic teams and partnering with already sent apostolic teams.

    Values & Ideas (in no particular order):

    • Never separate training from doing. Our philosophy of training needs to be “doing” based rather than just knowledge based. When we do trainings, it must involve real ministry and missions.

    Examples:

    Short term trip

    House churches set up exclusively for training servants to the nations and to reach specific communities, neighborhoods and social groups.

    Partnering with viable models that can be used as training points.

    Connect what they have learned with a ministry activity or project that allows them to put it into practice in the real world – not contrived exercises.

    • Emphasize the role of the apostolic over the traditional professional missionary.
    • Maintain the network via actual relationships rather than organizational and institutional tools and methods. This network will not only be focused in the USA but in other nations as well.
    • Encourage sending teams rather than individuals. This would also include partnering with already sent teams.
    • We are NOT to be an information monopoly – but work “flat” (starfish principles). Share what we have openly and not for the profit of an organization.
    • Income will come from training, consulting and coaching activities as well as hosting trips. Funding will also be secured from partners and grants.
    • Use different terms to communicate values:

    o Instead of Missions – use “Serve the nations”

    o Instead of missionary – use “servant to the nations”

    o Instead of church planting – use “making disciples”

    • Be willing to develop in areas where models do not exists as well as use of existing models.
    • Hold Conferences – round table style consultations in order to facilitate networking and sharing of ideas, resources, and strategies.
    • Provide Resources, web based, etc.
    • Provide consulting and coaching.
    • Assist in the Process of (this will be an integrated process – not linear):

    o Preparing

    o Planning

    o Partnering

    o Placing

    o Planting

    To Do:

    • Develop a network to connect, to send, to train/do. This will begin at the Roundtable discussion in Dallas (August 31)
    • Find out what House/Simple Church networks we can work with and develop a data base of resource people and networks. (part of Steve’s research)
    • Find out what projects need to be developed.
    • Develop Website and find a talented web designer willing to serve as webhost.

    More thoughts:

    • Mobilizing simple churches to:

    a. The unreached – the least reached ethnic groups (Matthew 24:14).

    b. Strategic mercy ministries such as orphans and widows and the poorest of the poor. Providing counsel to assist the SC to connect with ministries of integrity.

    • Serving house church networks and ministries for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. Thus, keeping a Kingdom of God focus, and not an organizational, network, or ministry focus.
    • Work towards helping ministries/networks become mission, church planting, disciple making movements. This begins at home and will then spread to the areas of the world where Jesus in unknown and the gospel of the Kingdom is not yet preached.
    • The goal will be to stay flat (i.e. starfish, open sourced). Be viral – produce viral tools.
    • Potential Projects:

    a. Develop a prayer network that is missions focused.

    b. Maintain a list of networking partners (both individuals and missions organizations) who willing to serve to see the least reached nations reached through Simple Church networks.

    c. Maintain a list of what people are actually doing who are willing to serve as points for training and learning.

    d. Bridge Centers (Forward Operating Bases) in the region of major affinity blocks. (see description below)

    e. Develop and maintain a Web Site – Open sourced / equipping and resources. This will also serve as a communication hub taking all security precautions in mind.

    f. Training team of cross cultural, apostolic workers that will itinerate to simple church networks to assist them in the cause.

    g. Training Houses (M-Pact Houses – Missions Houses – see description below)

    BRIDGE CENTERS – FORWARD OPERATING BASES

    • Serve as a bridge/connector between the field and local churches/ministries/missions orgs.
    • Providing:

    o Resources

    o Research

    o Renewals for field workers

    o Training

    o Exposure opportunities for supporters and potential teams

    o Providing a forum and venue for a team of strategic coordinators for a specific affinity block and/or its sub groups.

    o Strategic forums for field workers and partners.

    • Local – in a non-threatening location
    • Key Component – Serve
    • Network with local practitioners in the affinity block and their organizations.
    • Network with local businesses and humanitarian/educational organizations to provide opportunities for service.
    • Host Short-Term teams, consultations, seminars, language studies, cultural studies, training initiatives.
    • Relational Connections will make it work.
    • Must be international.
    • Possible locations. Locations will be in strategic location throughout the 10/40 window. The list is not to be publicized for security reasons. There is already a working model in South East Asia.
    • Systems to be developed/administrated:

    o Short-Term Teams – Hosting

    o Guest House

    o Member Care for servants to the nations such as retreats and counseling.

    o Language School – UPG languages and trade languages of the region.

    o Consultation and partnering events.

    o Local Relationships with legacy/institutional/traditional churches, humanitarian organizations, schools and businesses.

    o Library and resources for servants to the nations and study groups.

    o Strategic Studies (i.e. IIS) and programs.

    o Pre-field Orientation School

    o Staging base for teams, research and community transformation ministries.

    M-PACT Houses

    A Mission House Concept: A place to grow, be equipped and change the world!

    M=Mission, Pact=A Covenant, A Promise until a certain goal is achieved. – Root Latin Pax = peace. Sounds like impact!

    A. Gather together approximately six believers who want to live out a biblical discipleship model as a team in order to:

    1. Grow in Christ
    2. Experience simple/organic church
    3. Make disciples in their neighborhood seeing the Lord build his Church.
    4. Serve as the team leaders for short-term missions trips through House2Harvest.
    5. Prepare for the mission field in the areas of the world that are unreached.

    B. Obtain house in needy urban areas to house the teams. These houses will need to be large enough to accommodate 6 singles. We will need a separate house for men, women and couples. The team members will need to be adults who are capable of living on their own.

    • The House will be run by the team. It is the intention that each team member will be treated as an adult and will be expected to make adult decisions together.

    o They will write up a covenant agreement among themselves establishing:

    · House Rules

    · Financial Responsibilities

    · Discipleship goals

    · Vision and Ministry goals for the neighborhood

    · Methods of accountability.

    · Training plan for cross cultural ministry

    • The team will meet together regularly as the church (all the “mission houses” in the neighborhood – men, women and couples).
    • The team will be responsible to make disciples throughout the neighborhood using the “Church Planting Movement” strategy and variations thereof seeing churches planted in various homes.
    • The team may also be a part of the core leadership team for the House2Harvest short term mission trips in the USA and around the world.
    • Each team member will hold down at least a part time job or attend college/university. This will be so that:

    o The team members develop real-life skills and not be insulated from the integration of life and ministry.

    o The team members will not be isolated from real life experience; their training experience will not be an “extraction” experience so that they will not produce disciples themselves via extraction.

    o This will provide the financial needs for the house as well as their personal needs.

    • Each team member will be responsible to raise the funds needed for mission trips. This may be done from the house churches which they have planted and other relationships they have developed through the Body of Christ.
    • The team will have a one year commitment to be part of the house. At the end of one year the can choose to remain as part of the team or leave. The other team members will also have voice as to whether a team member remains on the team.

    C. The coaching team will be responsible to:

    • Provide guidelines through each of the above activities and processes.
    • Provide training and coaching in the area of doing house church, reaching their neighbors, and cross cultural ministry.
    • Meet regularly with the team members for fellowship, encouragement and mentoring/coaching times.
    • Provide leadership and intervention when needed.

    D. The House Churches

    • The team will make disciples thus planting as many house churches as possible.
    • Each team member will facilitate a house church until the attendees of that house church are prepared to grow and multiply without his/her assistance.
    • The goal is that when the Mission House team leaves the area, the gospel continues to be spread throughout that neighborhood/community through the active ministry of each house church that was planted.
    • The house churches planted will follow the basic philosophy of house church and will not be under any denomination or hierarchal entity preserving the priesthood of every believer and allowing the house church to be autonomous.

    E. What do we need to begin?

    • Houses to be used to the glory of God in strategic communities.
    • Team candidates that are willing to follow the plan.
    • Funding for set up costs and missional outreach.

    M-PACT – “The adventure is out there!” M-PACT –“Whose life is it anyway?”

    Well what do you think – let’s talk about it!