Part 6 of 10: Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church

Be sure to check out the continuing blog – Part 6 of 10: Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church: http://wp.me/pc3Ln-3g

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Part 3 of 10: Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church

Don has just posted part three of a ten part series on house churches doing frontier missions. You can read these articles at his blog: The Dreaming Revolutionary

Join in with the discussion!

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.

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!

Simple Church Adopts an Unreached People Group

[This is a great report from Norm who is a part of House2Harvest Network]

The S. people are refugees forced to live in the desert for the last thirty eight years.  In July and August the roads, where they do exist, get hot enough to melt-down the tires on a car!  Water and food is shipped in by the United Nations.  Most of the men go off either to fight to regain their home land or find work in Spain.  There are about ten national believers in Jesus among the more than 167,000 who live in the camps.

In January 2008 I met a businessman who took a bold leap of faith.  He asked me how much it would cost to prepare and send a worker to an unengaged unreached people group who were oral learners.  I quickly responded with a conservative figure of $30,000 a year.  He responded by saying, “I want to cover expenses to send a team for two years.”  This gave us the capital to begin looking for a people and a team to send them to.  The Lord led us to the S. people.

At the end of the Labor Day 2008 House2House congress I ran into a couple who attended a few of the missions tracks.  While we were talking the Lord knit our hearts and I was able to give them some counsel regarding the call they were feeling.  I never mentioned the S. people.  A few months later Wayne* called me back asking that I mentor them because they have had a burden to work among the S. people.  Wow!

Wayne and Elizabeth* are simple church people in Texas and help lead a network of churches.  They are both around thirty years old.  They traveled among the S. people but now wanted to live with them.  In their network was another couple who soon joined them in their vision.  In November Wayne and Tom* traveled to the refugee camps where the S. people live, to begin the process of relocating their young families.

Since then we have had a few singles share the vision with the thought of joining the two couples.  The vision is simple…  teach English (much desired) in the schools already set up…  develop loving relationships as they learn about the people…  craft Bible stories into the local language with the help of a national…  enable the people to tell these stories to one another as is normal in an oral tradition culture…  develop inductive questions for each story which the people would discuss…  form the people into groups to worship the Lord and build each other up in the faith…  PRAY.  We have an expectation that the work the Lord is sending us to do can be completed after two years.

To help this vision we have developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which enables us to all be on the same page. (I am a firm believer in putting things in writing).  Mentorship is underway and the team will soon be going through various training, including Elijah Company missions training (www.elijahcompany.org).  We are also helping by drilling wells and constructing an agricultural system which could be used to grow food in the desert.

There are risks involved in everything and there is a risk involved in this also.  But when I take into account that big agencies are seeing returns of 50-60% of the people they send, I am thinking there is something wrong.  On the other hand, there are strengths in the sending of people from an organic relational church.

Firstly, those going have been discipled and know how to disciple in the crucible of close relationships.  They know how to do ‘church’ as in magnifying the Head, the Lord Jesus, in the midst of each other.

Secondly, they know how to enter the homes of simple people who may never have the opportunity to attend seminary or have a church building.  Their clusters will be in huts and tents experiencing the anointing of the Holy Spirit as each member does his work.

Thirdly, the resources that normally go to pay salaries, do programs and maintain buildings will now be directly available to reach the unreached people.

Fourthly, they will not be easily forgotten by their sending fellowship because each will have heard the Holy Spirit speak saying, “set apart for me…  for the work I have.” (Acts 13:1-2).  Ownership of the team by the church will be great because they are close family.

For the S. people the story has just begun!  We expect the team to be in the camps within the year.  I am in the process of selecting twelve more unengaged unreached people groups and securing the resources to send teams to them.

The adoption of the S. people by the simple church network illustrates the possibility of replicating the same with others of the 639 unreached people groups.  The House2Harvest network has resources for training and mentorship in culture, strategy, prayer, personal preparation, business and more.  It is composed of people who have been on the field and are now called by God to be part of the sending process for others.

If you would like to know more about the 639 unreached people groups and how your simple church can be involved in sending or going, contact us at the House2Harvest Network or contact me personally as well as Steve or Don.

For the Lord of the harvest,

Norman J. P.

*Names have been changed for security reasons.