Category Archives: Simple Church

Part 2 of 10: Becoming an Apostolic Simlpe, Organic, House Church

Don just posted the part 2 of his ten part series on his site The Dreaming Revolutionary on the subject Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church

Follow the link and join in the discussion.

Advertisements

Part 1 of 10: Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church

Don just posted the first of 10 articles on his site The Dreaming Revolutionary on the subject Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church

Follow the link and join in the discussion.

Simple Church Planting IS Making Disciples

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!

God Bless,
Don

Simple Discipleship – Where to Start

[This post was first posted at my personal blog The Dreaming Revolutionary.]

Jesus said; “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (ethne).” This is our mandate known as the Great Commission. He went on to describe how that is done; “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Is that what we have done? If we have done discipleship at all, what do we do, and where do we start?

I have reviewed discipleship materials over the years, some good and some miss the mark altogether. What is usually missing is the part of making disciples that Jesus describes as “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Most discipleship is focused on what the believer needs to do. It becomes a list of tasks that the believer must do in order to be a growing disciple. As the believer progresses, he is then given a list of skills to learn to be an effective servant in the church, many times referred to as ministry skills. This leads to several problems that hinder growth and a healthy relationship with their heavenly Father.

When you disciple an individual focusing mainly on the development ministry skills, that disciple certainly knows what to do in service to the Lord. That is not where we should start; it is insufficient and builds the wrong foundation in the life of the disciple of Jesus. Instead, when you disciple an individual by using the daily life lesson the Lord brings to them in life, that disciple knows how to have a relationship with God and live life as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. This is where you should start and build from there.

The problem with skill based discipleship is that the Church is filled with people whose value is determined by what they do rather than who they are. Their identity is determined by a position in ministry rather than their position in Christ. Therefore you have a highly skilled church that has very little interaction with God and are susceptible to moral failure, chronic disappointment, and an inflated ego that serves self (“my ministry”) rather than others. The idea of a life based on the gospel of the Kingdom is considered to idealistic and unattainable.

The solution is to make disciples through relationships rather than academics; using their life experiences, tragedies, and victories of life. Life itself would serve as the lessons and the curriculum would be provided by searching the scriptures and determining what the Lord says regarding what is happening from day to day. By teaching the disciple to relate their situations to the Word of God and in the context of the gospel of the Kingdom, the disciple’s relationship to the Lord grows deeper and they are able to withstand life in this fallen world in victory and be an example of a disciple of Jesus.

Merely teaching skills such as how to pray, read the bible, conduct a bible study, and even to the level of skills required in most local church positions robs the disciple of the foundation needed to maintain a real relationship with the Lord. It causes whatever relationship that is developed with Jesus to be based on being a servant of God rather than a friend and child of God.

Training and preparing disciples in ministry skills is important and should not be neglected, but it should never be considered the goal of discipleship. Discipleship’s goal is to transform our lives so that we are like Jesus, imitators of Him, obedient to Him. This must be in the area of how we live, our character and how we respond to life and apply the truth of His Word to those situations. Therefore we must be able to hear the voice of our Lord.

Another mistake is creating a dependency on curriculum and other materials to make disciples or to be a disciple. There are thousands of workbooks, manuals, study guides that have been developed for the purpose of discipleship. Though the content of many of these books are sound and worth reading they can never replace the opportunity to fellowship with the Lord firsthand and go to his word and hear him speak to you and teach you his ways. When we depend on curriculum, the believer becomes dependent on external sources for guidance and teaching rather than developing the hearing ear that knows the voice of his shepherd. This is imperative to the new disciple and cannot be put off to a future time.

In discussing discipleship with leaders in the context of simple church, I am usually asked; “What curriculum do you use?” When I state that we do not use any curriculum except the Bible and the life of the believer I usually get that glazed over look of puzzlement. I usually remind them that the new believers in the book of Acts had no Navigators booklets, no Master Life, no Kay Arthur, and no Bill Bright; but they still made disciples! Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for all of these resources. All we need is a kitchen table, or couch or a local eating establishment and we are ready to grow together as we discuss our lives together and draw from the truths in God’s Word.

So what do we do? Start with the basics. What someone gives their life to the Lord – believe it! What I mean is, believe that the Lord is now over their life and what happens is the Lord’s. He IS governing their life and that life IS their schooling. By using the curriculum of their life and the resource that gives life – the Word of God, they have a foundation that can withstand whatever comes their way. Not only that, I doesn’t cost a cent! You don’t need to buy books, furnish a classroom, build and education wing or hire a professional Bible teacher. It is that simple.

Now let’s get started! Go and make disciples!

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!

A Three Stranded Cord

Yesterday I met with a few guys that I meet with regularly to stir up vision, maintain some accountability, and simply dream together. When we get together we usually talk about how we can serve our Lord faithfully and help the body of Christ here in our region of Hampton Roads Virginia become focused on the unreached, make disciples and be more missional in house/simple churches. Our conversation yesterday focused on the combination of three major aspects of what the Lord is speaking to his Church around the world.

They are:

  • Having a simple, organic church life.
  • Focusing on unreached people groups in mission – being pioneers in mission.
  • The 24/7 prayer movement – becoming a people of prayer seeing the house churches equipped to become houses of prayer.

What we discovered as we talked about this these three aspects of the revolution within the church is that we need to be sure that we steer away from the institutional traps and hierarchal bondage, hype and turning the work of the Kingdom into a business plan, self-serving ambition and wanting to “plant our flag”. It seems that these three threads of the Lord’s leading could become a “three-stranded cord” that will facilitate the making of disciples as never before. What do you think?

Another observation from yesterday and our regular meeting every week is that we need to meet together with a few good brothers or sisters in Christ and allow the” iron to sharpen iron” in order to keep us in check. It is so easy to fall back into the patterns of the old carnal life as well as the religious life of Christendom. We need each other to be sure our steps are “ordered by the Lord and that he would delight in our ways.”(Psalm 37:23) So, here is another three stranded cord, a “band of brothers” or as Neil Cole calls them “Life Transformation Groups.” The Word says that a three stranded cord is not quickly broken! (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

If you do not have a few fellow servants of the Lord to hang out with and be honest with your struggles and your ambitions, your ability to walk in integrity will be hindered. As the Lord leads you to make disciples of all nations – be sure that you are being discipled as well. You are never so mature that you don’t need someone provoke you to do the will of the Lord.

Being Friends With Refugees

One of the Strategic Church Network (our regional simple church network focused on missions in Hampton Roads Virginia) house churches has begun to make friends with several refugee families from Myanmar (Burma). These families just arrived in the USA a few months ago. This is such a strange country for them, and this house church is sharing the love of Jesus with these families. Teaching them English, helping them find jobs, assisting with the medical needs and showing them how to live here in the USA.

But more than that, these followers of Jesus have become best friends and even family to these Muslim refugees. (See there blog at Servinghrrefugees) Doing far more than could ever be done through an institution or program. They go and spend time in the homes of these refugees, eating, laughing, and just being friends with them.

The amazing thing about this is that there are thousands of refugees in cities and communities here in the USA, but they have very little contact with the Body of Christ. In fact, most churches only want to work with Christian refugees! Did you know that in 2008 that over 60,000 refugees came to our Nation for asylum. Most of these refugees come from areas of the world where it is very difficult to send followers of Jesus to love and serve them. The Lord is bringing these least reached peoples to our cities so that those who follow Christ and his teachings will reach out to them and show his love to the strangers in our land.

Do you have refugees in your community? If so, this is a great opportunity to reach the nations without ever leaving home! Now go and be a friend to those who are without a country! If you need some help, let me know!