This month: 184 - Grace and truth
Exploring the Heart of Restoration

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Archives for 110 – God At Work

MRN-logo“This day will go down as one of the most significant days in this history of this church. This is the first time I can recall that we have ever had all the elders, ministers, and missions members together in the same room talking about the mission of God.” So said one of the elders from one of a larger churches of Christ in Tennessee a few years ago after going through a Renewing Your Mission’s Vision workshop. As they learned, the church is a single piece of cloth and clarifying our mission has implication not only for what we fund globally, but how we think about who we are and what we are called to do locally.

Another elder in another city said “I had no idea what all was involved in sending a missionary family to another country” at the end of a church equipping process. Their congregation was preparing to send one family on a team to serve as underground disciple-makers in a communist country. They knew this team would need more than money. They would need support of many kinds to work in the conditions they would face. As they learned what it meant to be more than funders and true partners in mission, they also learned many useful skills for working in their own city and how to support their local ministers. When the process began, the prospective missionaries were suspicious about trusting their supporting elders. When it was over, the missionaries said, “We can trust these people with anything.”

A missionary family had to be evacuated from a war zone and the couple’s marriage was about to come apart after the strain they had endured. The stress surfaced a series of issues they had previously swept under the rug. The husband and wife could not even travel together because of the strain. They were landing in DFW on different days and were going to be met by a couple of representatives from their supporting church. But those good men felt overwhelmed to deal with the issues that were landing in their lap. So, they called us and we sent a pair of professionals with years of experience to do the initial debrief and provide counsel to both the couple and the supporting church. Today that couple’s marriage has been salvaged and they are on a good path as their family continues to deal with the inevitable stress of re-entry.

A ministry with a drilling rig was set up to provide a water well per week in an area of Africa where water changes everything. Wherever they put a well, they also ended up with a church and a healthier community. But, how could they find the funding they needed? We knew of another ministry that had found a successful way to raise money for holistic water drilling ministry, but they couldn’t drill wells fast enough to keep up with their donations. Their donors were getting restless because of the backlog. We introduce the two and a beautiful marriage took place and pent up ministry resources blossomed into active mission.

We get all kinds of calls. The questions are diverse

“I think God may be calling me to be a missionary but how do I know? What do I do if he is?”

“We have some missionaries coming home after a couple of decades and we don’t know what they need or what is next for us. Can you help us end this ministry well and discern the right vision for what is next?”

“We aren’t sure the mission we are supporting is really doing what it should be. How do we evaluate it fairly?”

Those are just the questions that come from American churches. As global churches continues to grow much stronger and faster than the American church, we get regular requests for help from our international brothers and sisters to know how to partner well with Americans who tend to underestimate them and at times insult unknowingly. Americans often come across as cold and controlling despite having good, generous hearts.

Missions Resource Network was created to help autonomous congregations work well together and serve a mission that is bigger than any one church can do well alone. We don’t tell any church what to do. We are not the experts with all the answers. But, we do come along side churches and other missions ministries to provide the perspective they often need. We recommend resources, ask good questions, connect people of common interest, and facilitate wiser methods and better partnerships.

Forming in 1998 to help churches do missions better, MRN was established to do four things that were not being addressed adequately within our fellowship:

  1. Equip churches to be excellent sending and supporting congregations for global transformation.
  2. Train front-line workers who will advance the mission, help them form as teams, and get on the field.
  3. Provide missionary care resources for churches and missionaries before they are sent, as they serve, and when they return so that those who go are healthy, stay healthy, and come back healthy.
  4. Build networks and partnerships between congregations and ministries for greater strategic impact and less duplication.

We have trained missionary teams for every populated continent and work collaboratively with indigenously led churches around the world as well. In order to help churches, we have a staff of experienced missionaries and global church leaders. We have trained therapists with extensive global experience. We have directors of missions in Europe, Africa, and Asia who have lived on those continents for years and have trained and coached missionaries through the full life-cycle of their work. We have experienced church leaders who have worked international and domestically who can help churches understand the times, global trends, and the proper role for the American church today in a rapidly shifting global context.

The reality is that God’s mission is too big for us to do alone and too important not to do well. What God is doing in the Congo, Croatia, or Cambodia have great significance for what he wants to do on our continent as well. We can no longer assume that we know how to do church in America and just export our product to the rest of the world. Rather, we need to humble ourselves and learn from the global church and find our place with the universal church. American churches are filled with good people and many gifts and resources that the global church needs. But, the global church also has resources and gifts to share with us. Yet, without someone who is deeply connected to a global network, most churches will not be able to hear those voices or learn those lessons.

MRN is designed to stand in that gap. We are like a point guard in basketball. We don’t count our success by points scored but by assists given. We make it possible for others to work as a team by distributing the ball to the right players. We don’t call plays. That is the job of our coach Jesus. But, we do try to get the resources people need in their hands at the right time so they can succeed.

We are here to help churches. How can we help you?

If you would like to contact MRN for assistance with your congregation, mission work, or any other mission-related concerns you can contact them at this link – Contact MRN.

Pepperdine CampusPepperdine University recently launched two programs designed to support emerging church leaders and to discover and train future preachers. A third initiative will feature a landmark study that examines spiritual leadership in our churches.

Youth Leadership Initiative
Seeing a great need to reach and encourage young people from the churches of Christ to prepare themselves for college, their careers, and their future service to the Church, Pepperdine University recently launched the Youth Leadership Initiative.

Jeff Walling, a nationally known public speaker and youth leader, will return to Southern California to serve as the founding director of this initiative. Walling will develop programs that will encourage young Christian men and women to discover and develop their leadership skills in order to strengthen their faith, succeed in their careers, and advance the mission of the Kingdom of God.

The Next Gen Preacher Search is one of the first programs being developed to identify and encourage emerging leaders in our churches. Though most programs will be aimed at much younger teens, this first program is open to high school juniors and seniors and college age students.

Applicants will be invited to submit a five-minute video sermon through YouTube.  These videos will be reviewed and ranked by a panel of preachers for content and presentation effectiveness.  To generate interest in the program, the students will also receive points on the “view count” of their lessons.  Forty semi-finalists will be selected and announced in November of 2014.  They will be provided with a mentor minister in their region who will help and encourage them for four months.

In early 2015 the semi-finalists will be invited to participate in a two-day regional training event in their area with Jeff Walling and other preaching coaches from the region.  At the conclusion of the training event they will present their messages again. Four finalists will be offered another session of personal training and will receive teaching resources including software, books as well as a yearlong mentoring relationship with an active leading preacher.  Each finalist will be given an opportunity to speak at various events such as the North American Christian Convention, The Tulsa Workshop, Lipscomb University’s Summer Celebration, The Pepperdine Bible Lectures and the Winterfest Youth Conferences.

For more information, email jeff.walling@pepperdine.edu

Communitas
Leading a community of faith is personally rewarding, but it is never easy. Resources are slim and supportive networks are few. Ministers are leaving their pulpits in record numbers. Many are leaving ministry for other careers. Pepperdine is offering a program to encourage and equip young ministers at the beginning of their careers.

Through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Pepperdine is offering a special program, tuition free, for early career ministers who desire to lead their congregations toward becoming significant agents for positive change in their communities.

Communitas, Pepperdine’s pastoral leadership program, is forming a cohort of fifteen ministers currently serving in churches in the greater Los Angeles area. Specifically, the program is seeking ministers in their first five-to-ten years of ministry who have demonstrated high potential for significant leadership.

This cohort will participate in a series of 2-day retreat-seminars, over a two-year period. Meeting quarterly at the Graziadio Executive Center on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus, participants will be brought into conversation with business, political and community leaders and with Pepperdine faculty who have particular expertise related to pressing social and economic issues in the Los Angeles community. Each session will also provide experiences for worship, fellowship, and spiritual renewal.

For more information, visit: http://community.pepperdine.edu/cfl/communitas/default.htm

Barna Spiritual Leadership Study
Pepperdine recently announced that it will partner with Ventura, CA – based Barna Group—widely considered the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. The project will assess the current climate and future outlook for spiritual leadership, especially among ministers and pastors in the Protestant churches as well as churches of Christ.

Research during year one of this two-year study will focus on understanding the needs, challenges, and well being of today’s church leaders. Year two will build on those findings by studying leadership outside of the clergy and examining the role of seminaries in shaping effective leaders inside and outside of full-time vocational ministry.

“Few jobs are more difficult than being a pastor or minister, and yet effective spiritual leadership—whether from the pulpit or the pews—has never been more crucial,” said David Kinnaman, Barna Group’s president and principal owner. “We’re so pleased to partner with Pepperdine on major new research that will surface important trends and cutting-edge information for anyone seeking to be a better leader in today’s complex culture.”

Barna will work with University leaders and faculty to shape the survey and will present early findings during the 2015 Pepperdine Bible Lectures.

About Pepperdine
Pepperdine is a Christian university that is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. The University, affiliated with churches of Christ, is known for its national ranking, academic rigor, spiritual life, athletic programs, international campuses, and the beautiful views of its Malibu campus.

MuscleAndShovelThis book was copyrighted in 2011 and has been a popular read among members of the Churches of Christ in the last several months. Those who read it are encouraged to purchase at least ten copies and pass it on to their neighbors. Recently it was passed out at the Church of Christ where I attend and preach. Having read it I am motivated to provide this review.

There are many of us in the Church of Christ who were members of denominations or who were just in the world and were taught exactly what this book teaches. I can tell you from experience, this teaching will create a legalist. I am a “recovering” legalist. I was a Methodist, then a Baptist, and now a member of the Church of Christ, not because I was dishonest and suddenly I became honest. I believe Michael Shank is honest and is simply presenting this part of his journey as he has experienced it.

The title page (3) says it is “A raw, gritty, true story about finding the Truth in a world drowning in religious confusion.” Notice “Truth” is capitalized. Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6), as well as “the Way, and the Life.” No one can get to the Father, except through Him (John 6:44). Scripture tells us that Jesus is “our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Any teaching that displaces Jesus and substitutes something or someone in His place for salvation is “false doctrine.” This was the battle with the Gnostics of the 1st century, and it was the error of the Pharisees who participated in the death of Jesus.

Muscle and a Shovel places the emphasis for salvation on the sinner and the sinner’s obligation to God. I admit I have been there and done that (I tell my story of redemption in a little book entitled, Heaven’s Star) however scripture places the emphasis on Jesus Christ and the provision of salvation through him (Romans 5:6-10). We are saved by his life! Salvation is about what God, through Christ, has done for us, not about what we do for God.

But, the teaching of this book leads one to put their trust in themselves rather than Jesus Christ. Human pride. Self-dependence. Self-sufficiency. It is all about a person lining up with the right steps. In the past, going through these steps, has been illustrated with a ladder that one must climb one step at a time until the top is reached. That is provided you don’t miss a step! And the right words have to be spoken on that 5th step, “for the remission of sins” or your baptism is not valid. And then there is the right practice that must follow also or you are damned, even if you followed the right steps initially.

Following are five things contained in this book, that I believe to be questionable, and my response to each one:

  1. Strict objectivity is taught, so any idea that a person might feel (subjective) in his heart the movement of God is denied. (p. 103)

Certainly the word of God is important and should be read, studied and applied. In John 5:39 Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” They thought though it was what they knew that brought salvation. Jesus was saying it is who you know (the Son of God) that brings salvation. Paul expressed this same thought in Romans 7:24 when he discovered how lost he was under the law saying, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Notice, he did not say “what” will rescue me, but WHO will rescue me.

There are many examples in Scripture that emphasize the human heart (emotions). These are subjective acts of God upon people. Those on Pentecost who discovered they had crucified and slain the Lord of Glory responded, “…when they heard this they were cut to the heart.”(Acts 2:37) Paul and company were in the city of Philippi and went down by the river to pray and met Lydia and scripture says, “…The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” (Acts 16:14b) Romans 10:9-11 states: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Confessing with your mouth is objective; believing in your heart is subjective. Paul further writes in verse 11: As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Trust is subjective.

Then, there is the objective work of God. Things God has done that are historical. We can observe but we cannot change historical events. Probably everyone reading this is familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus was/is the objective sacrifice of God for our sins. Early in the ministry of Jesus John the Baptist recognized Jesus’ mission. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Only Jesus can take away our sin. Paul declared in Romans 4:24, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Other scriptures are clear that Jesus is our Savior. In John 10:9 Jesus is presented as the only gate through which a person can pass to be saved. Later in John 10:14 Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd saying, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Paul understood Jesus to be the single source of salvation for the human race. In Acts 4:12 he declared to the Sanhedrin Council, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

So there are objective, historical facts in Scripture, but there are also truths and experiences expressed that are subjective.

  1. You cannot have a personal relationship with Jesus. (p. 108)

The Bible does teach a “personal relationship” with Jesus. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit promise to make their home with me under certain conditions: John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Just a few verses later Jesus said, “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you…” (John 14:28) In John 15 Jesus taught that he is the vine and Christians are the branches saying, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (vs 4) That’s personal. Paul declared a personal relationship with Jesus in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Jesus said to his disciples, as he was preparing them for his death, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). The Counselor is the infinite Holy Spirit of God. While on earth Jesus (God in the flesh) was confined by space and only had a personal relationship with the twelve Apostles and a few others. The Holy Spirit is not confined by space and can now be in a personal relationship with all Christians!

  1. As an individual, both pre-salvation and post-salvation, you are dependent on the word only. (The idea of word only and no activity of the Holy Spirit; you can’t be led by the Holy Spirit outside of reading the Bible). (p. 174) The gift of the Holy Spirit is eternal life, not the Holy Spirit himself. (p. 302, 304)

There is a great emphasis on word only, even excluding the “gift of the Holy Spirit” himself at baptism, making this gift eternal life. Answering the question of those who had participated in crucifying Christ, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself. Acts 5:32 is clear, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Also Romans 8:9-10, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Also in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

The word of God is important and should be studied and applied (Proverbs 2; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17), however, the Bible teaches that every Christian is born of “water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) possesses the Holy Spirit of God. It is recorded in Ephesians 6:17, Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, not the Holy Spirit himself. The Holy Spirit is equated with God in Acts 5 (Vs 3 and 4): “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4     Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” When you lie to the Holy Spirit you have lied to God.

  1. The only acceptable baptism is when one knows it is for the remission of sins. Even one who is baptized as an act of surrender to the Son of God, their baptism is not considered valid unless that person knows that it is for the remission of sins. (p.273)

Is a person’s baptism invalid if they do not know that they receive the remission of sins when they are baptized? This is a contention of this book even though several blessings that come with baptism are listed in addition to remission of sins. For instance on page 341 of Muscle and a Shovel is a list of some of the blessings that come with baptism (Colossians 2:11-12):

  • Is a circumcision made without hands (by God Himself)
  • Is a putting away of the body of sins of the flesh
  • Buried with Christ
  • Is the place where you rise with Christ through the faith of the operation of God
  • Is an operation performed by God
  • Is where you are quickened together with Christ
  • Is the place where, through being quickened, you are forgiven of all trespasses (sins, offences against God, etc.).

I would add that the Bible teaches that baptism

  • Is the “answer of a good conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 3:21)
  • Is where we are united with Christ in his death (Romans 6:3-4).
  • Is where we are buried with Him (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12)
  • A sincere believer (one who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God) receives the Holy Spirit as a companion. (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Why single out “remission of sins,” and make that the one thing a person needs to understand in order to be saved. It is enough for a believer to surrender their life to Christ and then God will give all of His blessings as a gift (Ephesians 1:3), which is salvation.

  1. “Real unity is a group of people who believe, think and practice the same things under the banner of Christ using the Bible as their only guide.” (p. 192, 193)

Really? Do all Christians have to believe, think and practice alike to have unity? It is this idea that has created over 60 divisions among Churches of Christ. On page 71 of Muscle and a Shovel, at the top of the page, Michael writes:

“Peter said in Matthew 16:16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” showing me with his index finger again. “Mr. Mike, Christ’s church was going to be built upon the confession of faith that Peter made regarding Jesus Christ. It was the public confession that Jesus Christ is the living Son of God and that is the same confession that would later kill Christ. The confession that Jesus is the Christ is the Petra, or rock on which Christ’s church would be built.”

The way to have unity is to “believe with all of your heart” that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16); that Jesus is the ONLY Way, Truth and Life for us (John 14:6). This is one thing we can agree on, even though there are a thousand things we can disagree on.   Only you know if you are a faithful follower of Christ. Only you know if Christ is dwelling in your heart. Only you know if you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Paul did not believe Christians all had to practice the same thing. He said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” Paul was a Pharisee in the Jewish religion but lived most of the time as a Gentile. Jewish Christians held on to some practices that Paul urged the Gentiles to refrain from, such as circumcision (Galatians 5:4).

There are some things that are beyond our observation or understanding. For instance, Jesus described the experience of the new birth a mystery saying, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Here is what God says in Luke 17: 20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” When we attempt to identify the Church of Christ as the kingdom of God we are attempting something Jesus said was impossible. We prove we are God’s people by the spiritual fruit we produce.

The kingdom of God is bigger than the Church of Christ as we know it, but it is not bigger than the church of Christ as God knows it.

In October 2003 I attended the World Missions Workshop at Lipscomb University in Nashville. God had been stirring in my heart about church and mission and I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted from me. I remember descending to the basement floor beneath the Collins Auditorium. I entered a musty classroom where light was shining through the windows along the ceiling. I sat in one of those little wooden school desks that had a desktop along my right arm attached to the seat. I remember thinking that I was too big to fit into one of those little desks.

There I listened to a man talk about his journey as a missions professor. A couple years earlier he had taken a six month sabbatical to travel around the states, interview people and research the status of missions in Churches of Christ in the U.S. At the end of that time, he was struck by the fact that many churches in our tribe had lost their missionary impulse; they had become in-grown and self-absorbed; they had forgotten their calling into the world for the sake of the world.

This professor began to dream about what it would look like for churches to recapture their missionary impulse. He talked about the movement from theology to practice, wherein God’s nature and will are determinative for its mission rather than merely what methods are most effective at getting people to attend church services. He described that some churches are like hierarchical triangles with elders and ministers at the top, performing ministry and conducting services for passive spectators and consumers.

He wondered, “What if we tipped this triangle over so that it became a wedge? Rather than existing for itself, a church would exist for the benefit of the surrounding culture and world. Rather than leaders at the top and the front, the leaders would come alongside, making disciples and equipping them for the mission. These churches would hold out the gospel for unbelievers in their neighborhoods. What if we started a whole bunch of these kinds of churches? Can you imagine what would happen? We would once again become a missionary fellowship!”

I thought to myself: I have to do that. That’s what I have to give my life to do.

It was one of those moments where God calls and sends – the moment when God says “Hey you…come with me…let’s go on mission together.”

The professor had an email sign up list for those interested in talking more about church planting and I went and signed up.

Part of what was so compelling to me was that this professor had experienced his own God moment. And he couldn’t help but to do something about it. It was no longer sufficient for him to stay in the academy and teach about missions. God was propelling him out again into the mission field of North America to equip church planters for the mission. God said to him: “Hey you…come with me…let’s go on mission together.”

The professor in that classroom that day was Gailyn Van Rheenen. Gailyn and his wife Becky left their post at ACU two months later, moved to DFW and started Mission Alive.

Over the past ten years, God has worked through Mission Alive to call and send many leaders on mission in North America. Dozens of church planters and church leaders have joined the ranks with their own God moments – when God said to each of them, “Hey you…come with me…let’s go on mission together.” My wife Julie and I ended up joining this movement when we partnered with Mission Alive to start Storyline Christian Community in Dallas, Texas six years ago.

Along the way Mission Alive’s partnering churches started asking, Can we get in on this mission? What would it look like for us to adopt the same theology and practices as they church planters we are supporting? These questions led Mission Alive to begin equipping leaders of existing churches right alongside of church planters to help them pursue renewal within their congregations.

The best part is that Mission Alive is just one part of a larger movement of mission in our tribe – several other groups, like our friends with Kairos Church Planting, have emerged out of the same impulses and God moments. The missionary Spirit is stirring people up for the mission all over the place!

Granted, along the way there have been steep learning curves, struggles, set backs, casualties and failure. But God has been with us, and out of the dust God is giving life to a movement of discipleship and mission.

Mission Alive plays the role of an equipper in this movement. The core content of our equipping, which we call Mission Training, revolves around four major topics: 1) Cultivating Personal Discipleship: movements start at the level of individual apprenticeship to Jesus; 2) Planting Missional Communities: disciples live together as extended families on mission in neighborhoods and relational networks; 3) Equipping Disciple-Making Leaders: leaders in the kingdom develop relational systems for making disciples who make disciples; 4) Launching Kingdom Movements: missionary churches partner together for the sake of church planting and renewal in a geographic area or people group.

Fuel the Fire

The dream we’re pursuing in Mission Alive is no less than a movement of God’s Spirit: a movement of people who are passionate about being disciples of Jesus and living on mission; where churches partner together to start new churches in every region across North America; in which people live their lives among the broken and lost of our continent and hold out the good news of God in Jesus Christ; where people participate here-and-now in God’s in-breaking kingdom, anticipating the restoration of all things.

It’s a movement of people who simply hear the call of God and have the courage to go where he sends them – people who respond to those moments when God says, “Hey you…come with me…let’s go on mission together.”

What is God saying to you?

Charles Kiser is a church planter with Storyline Christian Community in Dallas, Texas, and the Director of Training for Mission Alive. He blogs at www.inthestoryline.com. You can contact him at charles[at]missionalive[dot]org.

iStock_000016927255Small This month’s issue of Wineskins is going to kick off a new trend here at the site. As the last post stated, we are going to be highlighting areas where we see God at work among His people. We are going to highlight ministries, missions, universities, individuals and congregations that are partnering with God to do some amazing work. In the process we hope to make you aware of some amazing ministries going on out there and shine a light on the good they are doing in the world and for the kingdom. Our prayer is that through this God will be glorified and that there will be a greater awareness given to some really great ministries out there that you or someone you know may be in need of contacting. This effort will go far beyond this issue of Wineskins and will be happening more and more in future issues as we try to identify places where God is at work, some expected and some place we might never have guessed he would be involved. We ask that you pray for these ministries as we highlight them and that we all might be encouraged by hearing “God stories” in the days, weeks and months to come. I have been greatly encouraged by the conversations I have had with various ministers and ministries regarding this focus and I am sure you will be encouraged as well!

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Let us humble ourselves and submit to God’s hands…his unrelenting, perfect and patient hands. Let us spend more time celebrating the shaping and transforming work of God when it is evident among us and even when it isn’t.

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