Thursday, May 26, 2011

Coming to Charlotte: The Story-Formed Life

Over 30+ years of church life, I've seen a variety of discipleship programs.  Unfortunately most were more geared toward creating "church" disciples rather than effective followers of Jesus.   But in the past year I came across one approach that caught my eye and heart.   It is called "The Story-Formed Life".  A friend in Cleveland brought it to my attention.  

What immediately struck me was its comprehensive, big picture approach.   I also like the fact that the goal is not simply to accumulate information but to meditate on critical aspects of God's story and to do so in community.  This provides the opportunity for believers of various backgrounds to begin walking together "on the same page".   This is not about sterile doctrinal conformity but foundational kingdom truth and values that set the stage for authentic community discipleship.


Lord willing, some out of town friends will hang out in Charlotte to guide  the 11 week series sometime in 2011.  Depending on the level of interest we may have 2 groups going through the series here in the Charlotte area.   Until then we will post a series of videos and blogs to help you understand what Story-Formed is and how it works.  

If you do believe the Lord wants you involved and are willing to make this 11 week commitment to go through "Story-Formed", send an email to the address below with your name and the number of family members who will join you. This will help us confirm the level of interest and determine potential location(s)

hungryforrevival@gmail.com


Meanwhile here's a preview video from Jeremy Pryor answering the question: "What Is Story-Formed?"


video






Wednesday, May 25, 2011

*SAVE THE DATE*: OneBody Gathering June 4th!

We are very excited about our next citywide gathering here in Charlotte.   This time around we are working with the people of Charlotte 24/7 Prayer Room. 

After 3 monthly events in 2 other venues, Lisa Koons asked for the opportunity to host the event at 24/7 in June.  But that was only the beginning.  She and her team have revamped the website and helped us to make improvements in other social media to get the word out.  Consider this your invitation to join us on June 4th.  Now you can see the handiwork of the 24/7 team on the new web site:

www.onebodycharlotte.com

You can learn more about Charlotte 24/7 here:

http://www.charlotte24-7.com/



Monday, May 23, 2011

What Part of "Avoid Such People" Don't You Understand?

This is a prophetic question I sensed the Lord stirring in my heart in recent days. All around I encounter people who communicate a deep hunger for God, but they seem stuck in legacy church situations that range somewhere between challenging and toxic. Yet because of a false sense of loyalty or maybe just religious routine they march to lifeless "houses of worship" week after week and blow their time, treasure and virtue. Why? I believe the Lord would ask the same question.

II Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.


How many sermons have you heard on this section of scripture? But the bigger question is how well have those sermons developed the directive in v.5?

I hope we agree our Father doesn't want us to withdraw from people who don't know Jesus. Jesus hung out with sinners. Having established that, we have to ask ourselves: "where is the danger of people having an appearance (or form) of godliness most pronounced"? I would contend it is in the institutional church system.

So how is an appearance of godliness and a denial of its power manifest these days?

-in churches that believe the supernatural gifts of the Spirit are not for today


This is the worst form of religious reductionism. If Jesus is not the same yesterday today and forever, and continuing the work through us that He started on earth, shut the whole thing down. It is just another useless religious philosophy.

-in churches that PROFESS to believe God can work supernaturally, but there is no spiritual posture of faith to see Him work.


(See above) What is a profession without possession? In Hebrews 11 we learn that without faith it is impossible to please Him. This is not about outburst of faith here and there. It is sustained faith from God working through us to accomplish his purpose on earth as it is in heaven.

-in churches that deny Jesus' true Headship of the Body. They perpetuate the lie that Jesus administers that headship through leaders alone, rather than a vital connection to every member of the body.

When Paul referenced false religion in Colossians 2, he identifies people who don't "hold fast to the Head from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God." Jesus cannot lead a church through one person or a few. He Heads His church through a direct relational connection to every person. And as we are nourished by Him and knit together through joints and ligaments, we grow with a growth that is from God.

-in churches where Christianity is reduced to a sin management program rather than a community of empowered believers with "rivers of living water flowing out of them"

We learn in Hebrews 10, one blessing of the New Covenant is no more consciousness of sin. No, I'm not advocating sinless perfection. I am saying that there's no evidence in the New Testament that we should live in an eternal state of sin consciousness and connection to Adam. If church leaders are making you as a new creation more aware of your connection to Adam than to Jesus, you need to run for your life.


-in churches where empowerment of the body is not a priority


Read Ephesians 4. The goal of 5-fold ministry is not for leaders to showcase their gifts, but to equip you to walk in yours. If that's not happening, we're simply warehousing a crowd of religious people week after week.

-in churches where the myth of a pastor/laity divide is perpetuated on purpose or by default in failing to produce a "priesthood of believers"


If you are a leader, how much do you depend on the body to minister to you other than providing you with a paycheck? Do you open up your life or must you maintain a "safe" distance from them so they don't know who you really are? Jesus lived with his disciples day in/day out. How else would he disciple them? Discipleship is life on life transfer, not simply dispensing theology from behind a pulpit. If they can't see you close up, you're simply putting on a show on Sunday mornings.


-in churches where people are merely informed instead of equipped for every good work


In Acts 1:1, Luke describes how in his gospel he described what Jesus began to "do and teach". Today we have way too much teaching and very little doing.

Some listeners probably bristle hearing Rush Limbaugh in his usual tongue-in-cheek style say "I was made to do what I do and you were made to listen". How different is that from what happens in most churches on Sunday morning. We have the eternal classroom perpetuated all over the nation. The result is an anemic body. Do we really believe there is something spiritual about making people listen to us bloviate week after week?

If the above describes your circumstance, don't walk away... run! Scripture teaches that a little leaven works through the whole batch of dough. This seed of powerless religion is deadly. It will choke the life out of the most zealous of saints.

The responsibility for form without fire lies at the door of church leaders who should know better. While I extend grace as we all should for ignorance, this is an area where leaders should know better. Remember Jesus challening Nicodemus for failing to understand the new birth? “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (John 3:10) This is why we are warned in James 3:1 that not many of us should be teachers because we will be more harshly judged.

Lest I fall into legalistic error, I also recognize there are some people our Father calls to go "into the system" as a form of outreach. If you are one of those people the Lord has clearly spoken to, more power to you! I do not envy you in the least. But lacking a specific word to entrust ourselves to a lukewarm (or worse) church, I believe we walk in gross presumption no matter our intent. We ignore and disobey the directive in II Timothy 3:5 to our own peril. God forbid that we should linger just as Lot's family did in Sodom.



Monday, May 16, 2011

Spotlight: Unifour, NC



We enjoyed a wonderful weekend in areas of the Catawba Valley. Unifour covers 4 counties in North Carolina. Hickory in Catawba County is the largest city.

Providentially, David Fredrickson and Steve Crosby scheduled separate events in the region. Steve and I connected with friends associated with New Beginnings Church in Hildebran, NC, and met others who are on a similar journey.

On Saturday one couple hosted a cookout and fellowship at their home in Valdese (Burke County). My wife and I continue to marvel how we can meet people for the first time and enjoy such rich connections because of our union with Jesus Christ. This includes deep spiritual discussion, but also a lot of laughter… simply enjoying one another’s company. There was no question in our minds that we were among “kindred spirits”.

On Sunday morning, Steve and I tag-teamed a message on New Covenant Grace. Some of the highlights from Steve’s portion:

All too often in our church circles we communicate to people: “come and agree” instead of “taste and see”. If we are in Christ, people should able to “take a bite out of us and find the goodness of God”

Light in us must become life in us before it becomes light through us to become life for someone else. Very often we try to “push light” on people before God works that truth in us. Obviously this does not serve those around us.

Too many of us have a concept of grace rather than a life of grace

One of Steve’s great examples is the process of making coffee. He likens coffee grounds to biblical truth. If those grounds are not processed through heat and water, they will not be fit to serve to others. Similarly, unless that truth of God is processed through us, in the midst of brokenness and trials all we will offer people is very unpalatable “coffee grounds”.

He also spoke of the “grace meter”, our temptation to “measure” the reality of grace in other people’s lives. Steve posed the question, “why is someone else hypocritical while I’m simply misunderstood?

We appreciate the invitation of Paul David Kurts, the pastor who leads New Beginnings. He is a rare leader who has overcome a strong legalistic background and now swims in grace, and helps to lead others to freedom in Christ.

Like everywhere else around the world, the Lord is connecting members of his family in the Unifour region for his glory.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spotlight: David Fredrickson coming to Charlotte Metro Area




Early in my journey in the Organic Church community, I enjoyed meeting and having time to fellowship with David Fredrickson at the Global Communion conference in 2009. One of the first of many books I read after that conference was Fredrickson's "When the Church leaves the Building." I also later watched his excellent video series "Church Outside the Walls".

Now nearly 2 years into this journey, I'm excited about reconnecting with David this week. By coincidence (ha!) he and Steve Crosby will minister in Hickory next weekend in two seperate venues. But before then we will have the opportunity to fellowship here in Charlotte. 

If you are interested in joining us for a gathering in Charlotte on Wednesday, or for Steve or David's appearances in Hickory next weekend (May 14-15,2011), send a message to this email address indicating your name and the number of people with you. Space could be limited, especially on Wednesday.

hungryforrevival@gmail.com


In the meantime, enjoy David Fredrickson's hilarious "Lessons in Christianity" clip, illustrating how ridiculously religious we can be sometimes:


video



Saturday, May 7, 2011

More Than a Handshake

Our third monthly Citywide Celebration was a wonderful night of intimacy before the Lord and fellowship with each other.



We shared a time of worship, learned more about the Church Jesus is building, prayed for each other, shared testimonies, and learned the difference between living an incarnational life in Christ and living according to Christian “principles.”


One of my favorite testimonies came from Paul Wright, who led the time of worship tonight. He shared about his interaction on the street in downtown Charlotte with people leaving an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Paul told how he took time out to pray for a couple of people to see them overcome their addiction. He stated his conviction that if the world is to see Jesus in us, we have to offer people “more than a handshake”.


Steve Crosby led us to connect with another person to pray for the neighborhood and community where that person lives. He closed with an edifying and in Steve’s usual style, amusing message on living in the Spirit, instead of simply following “biblical principles.”

We look forward to our next time together in June. Charlotte 24/7 has invited us to meet at their facility in the heart of downtown Charlotte. Mark your calendar for June 4th at 6pm. More details coming soon.

www.onebodycharlotte.com




Tuesday, May 3, 2011

OneBody Charlotte: Whys and Wherefores: ONE CHURCH – MANY CONGREGATIONS

In advance of Saturday's OneBody Citywide Celebration, here's a very well written item on "One City One Church", or the "City-Church", by Derek Prince, excerpted and adapted from Prince's teaching, "The Ethics of Ministry":

When we think about a big city we would say there are many different churches in that city. But I
don't think that is how God sees it. I believe God sees only one church. After all, the book of Revelation tells us Jesus is going to marry the Church - His Bride - and I do not believe Jesus is a bigamist. He's only going to marry one church. So we can think about many different churches, but God sees only one church. When Paul wrote his epistles, he didn't write to the Baptist Church in Corinth, or to the Church of the Open Bible in Rome, or to the Evangelical Church in Ephesus.


He always wrote to the Church in the city. We are a long way from the reality of that today, but I
don't believe God has ever changed His mind.


Therefore, I believe it is important that the leaders of congregations within a city or region know how
to relate to one another. It's very easy to become self-centred - to think about "my church" or "our
church" and to focus on that alone. But that is not a scriptural attitude. I believe we as leaders should
see one another as co-elders in the same church.


"We as leaders should see one another as co-elders in the same church."


"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit,
if any affection and mercy, fulfil my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one
accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of
mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:1-4)


Here, in his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul describes our attitude if we are to keep unity in the
Body of Christ. He uses several different words, but there is one word that covers it all: humility.
That's the key to unity. Proverbs 13:10 says, "Only by pride cometh contention." (KJV) So it's logical
that the opposite of pride - humility - would be the solution to contention.


The Bible teaches that while God may be forced to humble us, or we transgress and end up humiliated,
He prefers that we humble ourselves. It is not something God desires to do for us. It's something
we should do for ourselves.


Paul also said to let nothing be done through selfish ambition. In my opinion, selfish ambition is the
greatest single problem in the Church.


"Selfish ambition is the greatest single problem in the Church."


I've seen over the years many Christian ministers who are very insecure because their security depends
on personal success. I have a different view of life altogether. For me, success is to please my
Father. And security is knowing I am loved by my Father. I believe that's what the Gospel is intended
to produce. Christianity is primarily about right relationships, not only right doctrine.


If every church leader and pastor in a city had as their primary motive to please the Father, there
would be no rivalry. There would be no competition. I believe that is the way God wants us to live. I
believe it's the answer for the question of Christian unity and ethics. If we get right with our Father,
all other relationships will fall into place.


"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be
done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I
am there in the midst of them." (Mt. 18:19-20).


In the Greek, "agree" is a musical word. It gives us the word "symphony". It speaks about harmony.
And Jesus says, "If two of you can harmonize on earth about anything that they ask, it will be done
for them." I'm not a musician, but I do know that to be almost in harmony is very painful. I've seen
many Christian relationships and church leaders that are almost in harmony.
I think our broken relationships and lack of harmony cause God to stop up His ears in heaven.

“A Statement concerning the City-Church from Derek Prince”
ONE CHURCH – MANY CONGREGATIONS

Excerpted and adapted from Derek Prince's teaching, "The Ethics of Ministry".

Join us for the OneBody Citywide Celebration, Saturday May 7th at 6pm, on the campus of 2XSalt/Salt Mine Ministry.   For more information on OneBody Charlotte, the event and process, go to:

www.onebodycharlotte.com




Monday, May 2, 2011

OneBody Charlotte: The Whys and Wherefores

In advance of our next citywide gathering on Saturday May 7th, we will share some vital kingdom values to explain what we’re doing and why.
Our ministry team is very eager to resist the temptation to “reinvent the wheel”.  So we avoid that by sharing values already articulated very well by brothers and sisters we are tracking with in Australia.  Our friend David Orton compiled “A Statement Concerning the City-Church” back in 2005.  You can read the entire document here:



For this blog, we’re pulling out Article IV:

Geographical Basis of Unity
We affirm that there is only one church in any given city. The only apostolical ground for the division of the church is the city. The civil jurisdictions and boundaries of cities (including sub-cities comprising larger metropolitan cities) are the exclusive ground for the differentiation of the one church that is in Christ.
We affirm that all those who have the Spirit of Christ comprise the church of that city.
We deny that God ever intended any distinction of the church other than by city boundaries. Scripture does not sanction or model any extra-local configuration of the church whether regional, national, or international. Neither does it sanction any division of the church according to a particular theology, experience, leader, race, class, age, or gender
.

Our participation in these gatherings, and the relational connections that follow, build into the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer.  We hope you will join us Saturday May 7th at 6pm on the campus of 2XSalt/Salt Mine Christian Ministry.  You can learn more about the events and the process at this link: