Friday, November 23, 2007


Bob Roberts has some good review material for end of the year evaluation of your ministry here

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Assimilation Plan

Does this have an order for depth? Do you start in one "circle" and go toward the "middle"? Should it?

1. Following Jesus - Weekly communion on Sunday morning. Hmmm... This seems weak. Make the point in each monthly sermon topic that the appropriate response is to follow Jesus and point to where he leads. This is helpful. Also the prayer side of things will always lead them to "Follow Jesus." Does this permeate everything we do? Yes, and it should. This element will be found in everything we do and won't be a separate piece except for the foundation of communion as a calling to Christ, not just to worship Him, but to make Him a part of you.

2. Studying Scripture - The word studying seems inappropriate. Bathe in Scripture. How about Meditate upon Scripture? Each month, the congregation will be given a portion of Scripture to read for the month, maybe 4 to 12 chapters. Very doable. The sermons will be based out of these sermons. Twice a month, a home gathering will spend some time fielding a discussion about the text. Questions not answerable at the first home meeting will come back to me and will be rediscussed at the second home meeting. I may give them a chapter checklist and the opportunity to turn them on (perhaps anonymously) for accountability.

3. ... I'll have to finish this later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Internally Focused Church

The problem with the Externally Focused Church is infrastructure. We have to provide some infrastructure to help undiscipled people minister to the community.

It seems like Jesus had an Internally Focused Church. His focus was on the disciples, teaching them and giving them opportunity to minister outside of the group (externally). But Jesus seemed to focus on the infrastructure (discipleship) and the external outlet (ministry to the community) was the fruit of his discipleship.

Here are the core values of the Internally Focused Church.

1. Follow Jesus -- This is more than believe in Jesus. There are ample Scriptures that say you can believe in Jesus and yet be thrown out of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is alive and moving. You can't stand in one spot and follow Jesus. Jesus demonstrated this in following His Father. He spent time determining where His Father was moving and Jesus followed Him there.

2. _____________ Scripture -- I've left a blank for the right verb. It isn't study. I believe the Bible is the Word of God, with much to give us. It is however not a "Road Map" or "Instruction Booklet." If Rand-McNally put out a map in the same form as the Bible, they wouldn't sell any maps. The Bible is the story of humanity and God's struggle to save her despite her own efforts to destroy herself. While it is a literally true story, you can't begin to understand the Bible without understanding metaphor a device for understanding. Millions of Christians have been followers without being able to read or have access to the Bible, let alone the entire Bible. Yet the Bible must have a central place. We need to know the basic concepts and classic stories of the Bible. The Bible must become useful to us and this is not done by taking verses out of context and harping that if people only read it more. It is not a simple book. It is a complex book. Ever wonder why the pages are so thin? Because if the pages were normal thickness, you would need multiple volumes. And perhaps even, that is what God had in mind, rather than the idea that we have to hold the whole thing in one hand.

3. Making Disciples -- This is what God called the church to do, and this is where I have described four aspects of making disciples -- love God, love people, serve locally, and serve globally. But in the process the disciple has to become a discipler as well.

4. Continual Prayers -- Prayer must become a key component of our gatherings and of our daily lives.

For any movement to be organic, healthy, and multiplying, it has to be internally focused. The internal focus however can't be comfort for that stunts growth as well.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

First Disciples

A key to the whole process must be the selection of the first disciples. They must consider themselves conduits. They must be "Pass it along" people, as well as Spiritually deep people.

I've had some requirements running around in my head.

1. Wanting to go deeper in their relationship with God.

2. Willing to meet with me for an hour a week. Ideally with the rest of the "First disciples," but due to horrible time restrictions on people's schedules, this may have to be one-on-one, but if twelve could be chosen (not possible at first), then you could have two or three groups. Perhaps this should be the limit of a church -- twelve functioning elders. Jesus didn't have more than twelve. So then you have to add complexity to your structure to disciple more and more people. Instead, perhaps you should daughter a church at this point, with one of your elders possibly starting the new church.

3. Willing to commit to the discipleship process, which will take them through the four aspects of discipleship, studying the classic texts, working on the monthly projects in some capacity.

4. Willing to gather others in their homes twice a month to extend the process.

5. Take an elders test that I found with the Great Commission. I took this test in one church. The Great Commission only allows men as elders, which I will allow women. And the test isn't a pass/fail. I was told if I don't show any problems on the test, I'm probably not transparent or outright lying. It shows a disciple where he/she needs to grow, and could in the process show that they shouldn't be in leadership at this time. You have to have a password to look at their resources.

6. Willing to participate in monthly projects, bringing others from their group with them.

7. Willing to participate in functions either on Sunday morning or a Quarterly gathering to be available to meet people who might like to participate in their bi-monthly home group.

This is an area I have failed. I haven't made a list of requirements and held anyone to it. I'm assuming this should be my #1 priority. It was certainly Jesus' #1 priority.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

36 classic texts

I haven't thought this completely through, but what if there were 36 classic Scriptural texts, and we used one text per month for three years, and then repeated. Each text would bring out an important element about Christianity in one of the four areas of discipleship. The way I determined the yearly calendar, I would need 4 texts per year on Connecting with God and People each (total 12 each), and 2 each for Connecting Locally and Connecting Globally (total 6 each).

The Classic Text would be the text of the month, available for people to study more deeply in their small groups and in their personal study. Sermon texts would support the theme but would vary week to week, perhaps with the classic text being the opening sermon or the closing sermon of the month.

I also want to add accompanying good books that could be read that month, remembering that it is for a congregation that probably does not have a college education. I would like a selection of books, so a person could find something that interests them each month. It would also help us put together a intentional library.

UPDATE: It's interesting how weak I am on using the Gospels here. Perhaps I should make an effort each month to do a sermon out of the Gospels. But thinking that through, this will take a fourth of my time away from digging through the texts at hand. Hmmm....
Loving God (Need 12)
1. Genesis 1-12 -- I know this seems like a lot, but it is over a month. Books - Wild at Heart, Captivating
2. Exodus 3 -- Call of Moses
3. Deuteronomy 6 -- The shema
4. Isaiah 6 -- The call of Isaiah -- forgiveness then obedience
5. Hebrews
6. Romans 1-8 -- again, this is a lot, but perhaps a better landmark than just one chapter.
7. The Cross
8. The Resurrection
9. Heaven & Hell
10. Isaiah 53 (Easter month)
11. Leviticus Opening Chapters

Loving People (Need 12)
1. Matthew 5,6, & 7 - The Sermon on the Mount
2. Ephesians 4, 5, & 6
3. Romans 12-15 -- So I'm leaving out Romans 9-11
4. Genesis - Joseph and his brothers
5. Genesis - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
6. The Trinity
7. The Final Return of Jesus
8. Acts 2
9. The Ten Commandments
10. The Great Commandment
11. Sexual Relationships - Song of Solomon

Connecting Locally (Need 6)
1. Matthew 25 -- The Sheep and the Goats
2. Nehemiah -- Rebuilding the walls
3. Acts 3 & 6 -- What I Have I Give You, The choosing of Deacons
4. The Incarnation (the virgin birth)

Connecting Globally (Need 6)
1. Jonah
2. Daniel???

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Coalescing idea

Rather than a Grouplink, every 8 weeks for the 2 to 5 people who might be looking for a small group from The Crossover, what if every month (or maybe every two months), we had a 2 hour Sunday night event that focused on the four element.

1. Connecting with God - through worship or perhaps some teaching on daily habits or spiritual disciplines.

2. Connecting with People - small group leaders are introduced and take the opportunity to pursue people who might be interested in their group. A success story might be highlighted.

3. Connecting Locally - a local community leader could come and speak about a local concern and give a clear opportunity for people to volunteer.

4. Connecting Globally - some info could be shared about our location in Haiti, or someone locally could come and share about their culture.

The purpose of this event (environment) would clearly be to move people to a specific opportunity that would deepen their relationship with God and His Kingdom.

Insight into North Point

What a blessing to have a comment from Rich Barrett. Rich appears (I have had no other contact with him except his comment post) to be the lead pastor of a church plant named Access in Jacksonville, FL. It is a "strategic partner" with Northpoint (Andy Stanley's church). They have a blog here.

It was interesting to hear more about their process. If I'm hearing right, they have three environments with three purposes.

1. Sunday morning worship service - The goal here is to connect people with God. They call this the foyer. The foyer is not for the church person. It is for your friend. It is for you to bring your friend. Part of me thinks this isn't exactly true. Surely, you get something out of the Sunday morning worship. But at least, they are clear about process. This is the primary access point for new people.

2. Small groups - These are where they would say "transformation occurs." These groups mostly meet weekly, but some seem to meet less often, and somewhere I saw where they meet 2nd and 4th Sunday nights, which is an interesting option. They do not provide childcare but will pay for childcare at a reasonable rate. (Is this per family or per group?)

3. Grouplink - This is the movement piece. It is a strictly transitional environment. Grouplink is every 8 weeks, perhaps the 1st Sunday night of every other month. Grouplink is a 2 hour event, separated into two groups - singles and marrieds (I'm assuming that a woman whose husband will not come goes to the singles, which btw is divided by gender. No swooping...looking for a date.) "Assimilators" (that seems like a horrible name due to the Borg) help you find a group by life stage or geographic area, which you attend for 8 weeks. If you like the group, stay in the group. If you don't, come back to the next Grouplink and try again.

One funny video (above) suggests there are expected to be 50 people at each Grouplink. I'm not sure if this video was specific to Northpoint or Access.

A second funny video, suggests the group becomes your support group.

They also have a Serving option, but I don't see a purposeful flow into this one. I'm sure there are advertisements for opportunities, but it looks like it lacks the flow of the other three environments. To be fair, it looks a reasonable solution. I can see a flow into our Connecting Globally easier than Connecting Locally. We could have events, for both, that include an opportunity to learn about something local or global and then sign up for the opportunity to volunteer in that area.

I'll give them this. It is simple. The areas where I question are "The foyer is not for you" and "8 married couples or 12 same sex singles". But why should these be questioned? When you put it all together, with flow, it is deeper than any program could offer.

Thanks for the comment Rich!