Archive for the ‘Missional’ category

Cultivating Gospel Mission :: PLNTD + New England Conference

May 29, 2012

PLNTD announced today its second regional conference of the year – Cultivating Gospel Mission, scheduled to take place on September 20-22, 2012 in Portland, Maine. Main session speakers will be Scotty Smith and Caesar Kalinowski, with breakout sessions with Jared Wilson. This week only, you can register for 50% off regular ticket price for just $29 (discount ends Friday night). If you live in the New England or Canada area, be sure to check this training event out.

Here’s a blurb from the conference website:

We live in a day where it is commonplace to hear the words “gospel-centered” and “missionally-driven”. The danger, however, is to use those phrases in ways that diminish their meaning to that of a cliché. At the 2012 New England Training Event, PLNTD partners with the Gospel Alliance to focus on why those phrases are grounded in God and His purposes for the church.

Every church planter and pastor should lead their people to live gospel-centered lives on mission as those who have been sent by God. What does that kind of life look like? How does articulate this kind of vision to people in their community? These are the kinds of questions we hope to address as we gather together on September 20-22.

This training event is open to anyone who would like to be instructed and encouraged to cultivate gospel mission, including pastors, church planters, aspiring ministry leaders, leadership teams, and the like.

Unlike the typical conference format, the goal of this training event is interaction, integration and application of teaching and instruction. Our desire is that you leave equipped with practical instruction, edified through meaningful fellowship, and encouraged by Christ-centered passion for greater kingdom advance.

Join us as we press into the call to be oriented around the mission of church and saturated in the message of the gospel!

Restless Love

March 7, 2012

There’s a lot of talk about being missional these days. There’s not a lot of visual aids, at least not like this one. I found it incredibly moving. May God raise up many men and women like Sara in our generation to take the gospel in the heart of brokenness and ruin and see the transforming power of King Jesus.

[vimeo 17998361]

Gary Rohrmayer on Engaging in More Spiritual Conversations

January 31, 2012

Gary Rohrmayer has written a helpful little book (76 pages) called Spiritual Conversations: Creating and Sustaining Them without Being a Jerk. In it, he provides a lot of practical helps to engaging unbelievers and overcoming evangelistic entropy.  Below are five ideas for increasing spiritual conversations with people in your life (from chapter 7):

1.  Make It a Priority

It is important for mission ally minded followers of Jesus to think strategically about their conversations throughout the week. If you don’t plan it or make room for it, the likelihood is that it is not going to get done. . . . If leaders are going to be serious about connecting with people, they need to uncover at least 5 new contacts a day, equaling about 35 a week, which will lead to 3 “sit-downs” for a meaningful conversation.

2.  Pray for Opportunities

Include in your praying . . .
* that God draws them to Himself (John 6:44)
* that they seek to know God (Acts 17:27)
* that they believe the Scriptures (1 Thessalonians 1:4-7)
* that Satan is bound from blinding them to the truth (Matthew 13:19)
* that the Holy Spirit works in them (John 16:8-13)
* that God sends someone to lead them to Christ (Matthew 9:37-38)
* that they believe in Christ as Savior (John 5:24)
* that they turn from sin (Acts 17:30-31; Acts 3:19)
* that they confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10)
* that they yield all to follow Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15)
* that they take root and grow in Christ (Colossians 2:6-7

3.  Get Out and Into Your Community

Look at your calendar and see what fills your week. I encourage spiritual leaders to think about tithing their time to community service and interaction (about six hours a week). . . . Networking is more about join in than it is about just hanging out in coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants.

4.  Establish Routines and Cultivate Relationships

Beyond the tithe of your time in your community I encourage leaders to establish routines and patterns so that you build a relational presence with business owners and servers. Think strategically about all your interactions and pray that you can be a redemptive influence within that social network. A couple of telltale signs of this are, “Do people know your name?” or “Do you know people’s names?”

5. Be Available to Those Around You

As pastors and leaders we need to be spiritually sensitive to those Divine opportunities where God can use us in His redemptive plan. . . . There are times when we need to push beyond weariness and busyness and allow God to interrupt our agendas and schedules.

Questions to consider:

* How many contacts does it take for you to get a meaningful sit-down with a person?
* When is the last time you asked God to open new doors of opportunity for you?
* If you were to tithe to community service and interaction what would your work week look like?
* What relational commitments are you making in your community?
* What places do you frequent in your community?
* How do you overcome spiritual insensitivity created by your weariness and busyness?

 

Roots Reading Initiative (New from PLNTD)

October 24, 2011

I’m excited to share with you a new project from PLNTD called the Roots Reading Initiative. Over the past several months, we have been working on the creation of a whole new approach to leadership and networking in church planting through what we are calling the PLNTD ecosystem. We endeavor to create an environment through which church planters and churches flourish in the Great Commission.

The first new project, the Roots Reading Initiative, focuses on providing church planters targeted self-feeding opportunities through an informal structure and accountability. The goal of this initiative is for church planters to “deepen their roots” in their understanding of God, the church, gospel, mission, and the world. In doing so, we believe the RRI will be an effective way of keeping church planters “grounded” and growing as leaders, missionaries, and churchmen.

RRI will consist of bi-monthly installments of thematically-driven self-feeding. By embarking on this challenge with other church leaders, RRI will offer encouragement and accountability that we so often need to press on in growing ourselves in the midst of the daily grind. Each bi-monthly installment will have two books to read–one book for each month, along with discussion questions provided by those in the network.

The first installment of the RRI begins November 1, and the theme is “the mission of the church”.  Here’s the details for the first installment:

RRI Vol. 1 | Nov-Dec 2011 |
The Mission of the Church

November: The Mission of the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
Nov 6-12             [pages 1-66]
Nov 13-19           [pages 67-140]
Nov 20-26          [pages 141-222]
Nov 27-Dec 3    [pages 223-66]

December: Everyday Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester
Dec 4-10            [pages 1-40]
Dec 11-17           [pages 41-96]
Dec 18-24          [pages 97-152]
Dec 25-31          [pages 153-88]

For those who would like to help us get the word out on Twitter, the hashtag is #RRI.

More information will be made available in the Training Community of PLNTD, including when the discussions will take place and additional artwork that you can download for your own use.

» To get in on the Roots Reading Initiative (and the discussions and book study guides), you will need to join PLNTD on Cobblestone.  You can do here.  I hope this new resource will be helpful for church planters, pastors, and other ministry leaders seeking to grow in their leadership and stewardship of their calling.

Interview with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert on the Mission of the Church

October 4, 2011

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing about a new reading initiative out of the PLNTD Network for planters and pastors alike.  Our first reading project will be reading two new and important contributions to the subject of the mission of the church.  The first one is the sequel to Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester called Everyday Church: Mission by Being Good Neighbours.  The second one is by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert entitled, What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission.

IX Marks recently sat down with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert to discuss their new book, and their interview is broken down in two parts (links are downloadable MP3s).

Part 1 – discussion on the mission of the church, social justice, and the gospel

Part 2 – exegetical considerations on the mission, the poor, and the kingdom of God

///////////////////////////////////

For additional resources, consider:

* Rethinking Missional: Reconciling the Mission of God and the Mission of the Church by Kevin DeYoung


 

 

Communities of Light, Part 2 (Practical Implications)

September 28, 2011

In yesterday’s post, I provided some biblical-theological reflection on the theme of “light” in Scripture.  These biblical truths and gospel realities are foundational to our identity as God’s people and instructional to our mission in the world.  In particular, I would like to argue that communities of light are (1) counter-cultural, (2) confessional, and (3) compassionate.

Counter-Cultural

The most obvious implication of being a light-embodying community is the qualitative distinctiveness we are called to bear in a world characterized by darkness. We a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:14).  God delivered us out of the domain of darkness that we might put the character of God on display in a world that cannot bear to see the light.  As God’s representatives, we are commissioned to reflect God’s holiness and righteousness in a world characterized by ungodliness and unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).  As God’s representatives, we are commissioned to hold fast the world of truth as lights in the midst of a “crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:14-16).

As a counter-cultural community, followers of Jesus have a responsibility not only to avoid fellowship with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14), but they must expose their unfruitful works as well (Eph. 5:11).  The temptation with this responsibility is to excuse the unnecessary offensiveness of irresponsible and often times foolish behavior of immature Christians. The knee-jerk reaction to wrong-headed approaches to be a counter-cultural community of light tends to downplay the significance of being light.  This is rather unfortunate because the illustration of darkness and light could not be more stark in contrasting terms, and the responsibility of believers to be a distinct counter-cutural community more clear in its calling. Time and again, we are commanded to cast off the works of darkness and walk in the light (Luke 11:33-36; John 12:35-36; Rom. 13:12-14; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:3-14; 1 Thess. 5:4-8; 1 John 1:5-7).  If we are going to be the people of God, we must faithfully live out our identity as children of light and fulfill our mission of declaring the excellencies of God who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9).

Before I go on to the next practical implication, we must be careful to avoid one major assumption.  The basis of us being counter-cultural is not being moral in our behavior or conservative in our values.  What makes us counter-cultural is Jesus.  He is the light of the world.  We have entered His kingdom and submitted to His reign and rule.  He is the one who has made a new humanity and sets the grounds on which we live, and move and have our being.  To the extent that we embrace the gospel and its implications in all of life and unreservedly submit to His rightful and universal claim as Lord is the degree to which we can legitimately consider ourselves a counter-cultural community of light.

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2011 GCM Collective National Conference Audio

September 22, 2011


I’ve attended quite a few conferences the past ten years.  Some of them engender hype; others bring in large crowds due to the evangelical celebrity culture.  But then on a rare occasion, there will come a conference that surprises you in unexpecting ways.  It is not that I had low expectations but that the conference accomplished far more than what is typical for conference these days.

Last week, I attended the 2011 GCM Collective National Conference, and I came away with far more than inspirational thoughts or trendy methodology.  I walked away with a greater love for Jesus and His church.  Everything, I mean everything, was focused on the gospel.  I loved it.  I was convicted by it.  I was tremendously helped by it.  In fact, I can say with a certain level of clarity that there is few, if any, conferences that were as personally edifying and ministerially beneficial to me as this one.  Having said that, I encourage you to download the audio of the main sessions (the breakout sessions are currently being edited and will be available soon).

Thank you, GCM Collective, for a superb conference and a very affordable price.  I took home with me a mother load of gospel nourishment and application of what it means to be gospel communities on mission.

Main Session Audio

GCM Collective Vision
What Is the Gospel
:: Jeff Vanderstelt
Gospel-Centered Discipleship :: Jonathan Dodson
Generous Church :: Steve Timmis
Stealth Church :: Steve Timmis
A Movement of Multiplication :: Jeff Vanderstelt

Breakout Session Audio

/// Coming Soon ///

GCM National Conference

September 14, 2011

Today through Friday, I will be in Huntsville, AL for the GCM Collective National Conference.  If you are unfamiliar with the GCM Collective, I encourage you to check out their website and join their online community. Their vision is simple, and I love it:

A gospel community is a group of believers that lives out the mission of God together as family, in a specific area to a particular people group, by declaring and demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms. Regular people, living ordinary lives, with great gospel intentionality. The GCM Collective is a community that allows people to exchange ideas, resources and encouragement around topics that relate to creating gospel communities on mission.

The guys behind the GCM Collective (Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Jeff Vanderstelt, Drew Goodmanson, Caesar Kalinowski, David Fairchild, and Jonathan Dodson) have all challenged and helped me in tremendous ways in recent years, probably more than any other group outside my fellow elders.  These brothers are gospel-driven practitioners who are leading churches to embrace a missional ecclesiology that is both healthy and fruitful.

If you would like to check out the conference schedule, click here.  If you are attending the conference, hit me up.  I’d love to connect.  I will also likely be posting updates via Twitter for those interested in following.

Meaningful Meals – Excerpts from Tim Chester

August 24, 2011

While on vacation last month, I read through Tim Chester’s bookA Meal with Jesus.  I found it to be incredibly provocative and insightful regarding the life and mission of Jesus.  I was challenged in a number of ways and continue to revisit the exegetical and practical work Chester delivered in this little book.  Though I plan to write a review in the near future, I thought I’d highlight some quotes where Chester talks about the message behind meals.  I admit that I have never considered meals being this meaningful, and perhaps Chester belabors them in excess at points.  But Chester’s arguments are worth considering.  Though these quotes are not provided with context, I encourage you to make them “food” for thought (pardon the pun).

————————–

“Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance. ‘Few acts are more expressive of companionship than the shared meal. . . . Someone with whom we share food is likely to be our friend, or well on the way to becoming one’” (9-10).

“Our life at the table, no matter how mundane, is sacramental—a means through which we encounter the mystery of God” (10).

“So the meals of Jesus represent something bigger. They represent a new world, a new kingdom, a new outlook. But they give that new reality substance. Jesus’ meals are not just symbols; they’re also application. They’re not just pictures; they’re the real thing in miniature” (14).

“Meals should be an integral and significant part of our shared life. They represent the meaning of mission, but they more than represent it: the embody and enact our mission. Community and mission are more than meals, but it’s hard to conceive of them without meals” (14-15).

“The meals of Jesus are a window into his message of grace and the way it defines his community and his mission” (15).

“The meals of Jesus picture that day (when the first shall be last and the last shall be first), as he welcomes the marginal and confronts the self-righteous and self-reliant” (27).

“In Luke’s Gospel Jesus got himself killed because of the way he ate” (30).

“Meals slow things down. Some of us don’t like that. We like to get things done. But meals force you to be people oriented instead of task oriented. Sharing a meal is not the only way to build relationships, but it is number one on the list” (47).

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Sow the Seed!

August 22, 2011

Last Thursday, I took my boys in the bike trailer to our local public library to read books together.  The library is one of those “third places” I’m realizing that can be a good way to meet people in my community.  Like neighborhood parks, the library provides opportunity for my kids to meet other kids, and for me to meet other young parents.  My hope has been to meet such families to share the gospel with them and invite them into our gospel community.

As I was reading to my boys, another boy showed up who seemed interested in the book, so I pulled up a chair and invited him.  His parents came afterward and started a conversation.  Within a few minutes of talking with the father of this child (Riley), he quickly realized where I was going.  How did he know this?  Because that was exactly where he was going, too!  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how rare it is to live in a city where 95% of the population are unchurched to have someone engage me with the gospel.

But then I thought about it in an even bigger picture.  How many people in my lifetime have ever engaged me in a conversation for the purpose of sharing the gospel of Jesus with me?  In my 32 years, I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened.  I mentioned this on Twitter and immediately had replies from people who said they have NEVER had someone engage them in conversation to share the gospel.

Curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to informally poll my Google+ friends and ask them the same question.  30 people responded, and here are the results:

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Christopher Wright on Confronting Idols and Making Disciples

July 20, 2011

Christopher J.H. Wright is the author of two significant recent works related to mission, namely The Mission of God and The Mission of God’s People.  Last November, he sat down with Bill Kinnon and crew to discuss his plenary address from Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa.  In the excerpt below, Wright explains how confronting idols is crucial to the mission and how making disciples is ground zero. Check it out.

[vimeo 16753429]

The Mission of the Church

July 18, 2011

One of the most significant topics and sustaining conversations in my generation is the mission of the church.  Fifteen years ago, “missional” wasn’t in most evangelical’s vocabulary, even less so in their practice.  But in recent years, there has been so much talk about mission from all corners of evangelicalism that there is a struggle for consensus for what the mission of the church actually is.  Some missional practitioners have recently sensed this need and have come out with a Missional Manifesto.

Exactly what constitutes the mission of the church and how individual Christians life a mission-oriented life seems simple enough, but it has been (and will continue to be) a topic of many books and conferences. At the last Gospel Coalition Conference, Moody Publishers sponsored a session on that very topic, with Matt Chandler facilitating the discussion.  Panelists included Kevin DeYoung, Trevin Wax, and Jonathan Leeman, all of whom are well-respected, careful theologians among the younger generation of Reformed evangelicals.

I encourage you to watch the video below.  I also encourage you to check out DeYoung’s forthcoming book co-written with Greg Gilbert on this very topic.

Evangelize as Your Edify, Edify as You Evangelize

July 14, 2011

One of the biggest tensions regarding philosophy of gathered services is the issue of breadth and depth, or who should be the priority and focus of the ministry.  Obviously, everything we do should be first and foremost with a focus and passion for the honor and glory of God.   But the question we are usually asking is this: “Should our gathered services be evangelistic, focusing on unbelievers, or edifying, focusing on believers?”

Yesterday, Tim Keller answered the question by referencing Martyn Lloyd’Jones by saying “both.”  Keller concludes:

The lesson I eventually learned from him was—don’t preach to your congregation for spiritual growth thinking everyone there is a Christian—and don’t preach the gospel evangelistically thinking that Christians cannot grow from it. In other words—evangelize as you edify, and edify as you evangelize.

I agree with MLJ and Keller completely.

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Jeff Vanderstelt on Gospel Fluency, Missional Communities, and Hospitality in America

July 1, 2011

Several months ago, NewFrontiers interviewed Jeff Vanderstelt leading up to their conference, and below are three parts of the interview, focusing on gospel fluency, meaning of missional, and hospitality. These are some critical issues for the church today, and Jeff is one of the best at addressing them.  Check out these short videos:

Gospel Fluency

[vimeo 21662255]

Meaning of Missional/Missional Communities

[vimeo 21660618]

Hospitality and the Church in America

[vimeo 21661880]