Dec
18

Selling Furs at a PETA Convention

written by JD

No one attempts to sell real furs at a PETA convention.

Members of Greenpeace do not encourage one another to support more off-shore drilling and insecticides.

Members of the NRA do not make motions to stop all guns sales in the U.S.

Common sense says these things do not occur. They don’t square with the purposes of those organizations.

If common sense is used by the peoples of this world, then why do followers of Jesus often fail to use the God-given wisdom they have received?

I heard an advertisement on a Christian radio station the other day. The spot was for a new church in our community. The pastors’ invitation was clear: y’all come be a part of our launch service. Translation: We are looking for Christians!

Is this a wise stewardship of the money and energy entrusted to us?

If biblical church planting is evangelism that results in new churches (Acts 13-14), then I fail to see the wisdom behind such a method. Contrary to much evangelical thought in the U.S., church planting is not about the shuffling of sheep around in the Kingdom, the swapping of the saints, the creation of another flavor of church in the Baskin Robbins of Christianity.

If we read the Bible, then we should understand this is the common sense conclusion. It is not a mystery. It is not locked away in some code.

However. . .

If church planting is about starting with and gathering long-term Kingdom citizens, including taking them from other churches, then maybe such a radio spot is the common sense thing to do.

And maybe it is wise to sell genuine mink coats at the next PETA gathering. Maybe the marketing department at the Fur Factory Shop needs to spend their energy and resources there?

How about some wisdom? Such is the way of the Kingdom steward.

Dec
16

International Migrants Day

written by JD

December 18 is International Migrants Day. It is estimated that the international migrant population consists of 232 million people. This number is equivalent to the population of the fifth largest country in the world. The nations are on the move in our highly globalized world. Did you know:

  • The United States is the largest receiving country for international migrants.
  • Given the size of the peoples on the move, the 20th century was labeled the Age of Migration.
  • In 2012, $500 trillion traveled across the world as remittances.
  • 1200 unreached people groups live in western countries
  • 540 unreached people groups live in the United States and Canada
  • The Divine Maestro orchestrates the movement of the nations that they may find Him (Acts 17:26-27).

As December 18 approaches, take time to understand international migration.

Get a copy of my book Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission–and share a copy with a friend.

Get a copy of Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang’s book Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, and Truth in the Immigration Debate–and share a copy with a friend.

Download a copy of the booklet Scattered to Gather: Embracing the Global Trend of Diaspora.

Download a copy of the ebook Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places: An Untold Story of Lostness in America.

Watch the 30 min. discussion I did with Terry Sharp and Steve Allen during the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention.

Check out the numerous posts on this site addressing migration.

Pray for the peoples on the move. Get a copy of Ethnic Embrace USA to assist with specific prayers.

Get to know the strangers next door to you.  Until the strangers next door are strangers no more!

Dec
12

Pressure Points Giveaway

written by JD

If you did not win a copy of Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church during my last giveaway, here is another chance. Lord willing, on Monday, December 15, two copies of the audiobook will be given away.

To be eligible for this week’s giveaway, fill out the form below (even if you did for the previous drawing). If you are receiving this post via email, you may need to click on the link and visit the blog to submit the form (Do not reply to this email.).  One entry per person, please. Entries will be closed at 11:59 this Sunday night (December 14). Two winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on Monday, December 15

By entering, you acknowledge and accept the terms of the giveaway.

On a related note, if you do not receive posts from my blog in your inbox, please subscribe today (see upper right toolbar).  Also, please consider sharing this blog with others in your social network–I would truly be honored by your recommendation.

Dec
10

The Danger of “Prove It!”

written by JD

Two phrases are commonplace that hinder the mission. One is often assigned to church members; the other one seems to attach itself to church leaders. In theory, they appear to be different.  In reality, both are the same.

This member says, “We’ve never done it that way before.”

That leader states, “We’ll do it that way if you can prove that it works.”

Both are tragic statements. They reflect a deeper state of unwillingness to move in new directions–sometimes even if the Spirit is leading.

Both are about playing it safe. Yes, there is a place for wisdom and discernment–such is the way of Kingdom stewards.  However, the Church is to exist in a state of the expectation of change. Ongoing assessment and adjustment are necessary for reaching the four billion.

While leaders get frustrated at being told the church has never operated that way before (and she is not going to start something different now), those same leaders are sometimes guilty of the same offense–with different words.

Prove it to me. Then we’ll do it.”  The truth is new ideas cannot be proven until they are tried. An innovative idea cannot be tested until someone does it. Asking for proof before something is attempted is foolish–and bad leadership.

As I’ve mentioned before, we want other people’s stories to provide us with the courage to move. However, we are children of the King (1 John 3:1). His Spirit is within us (1 Cor 3:16). He has saved us for His mission (Acts 1:8). What more do we need?

The four billion need us to write our own stories. We don’t have time to prove everything first.

As leaders, we know the bad in “We’ve never done it that way before.” Do we recognize it when we say, “We’ll move if that is something you can prove.”?

Dec
7

Being a Light to the Nations

written by JD

Last month, I had the great privilege to preach to the brothers and sisters who identify themselves as First Baptist Church of Powell, Tennessee. Each year, they host World Missions Celebration; it was an honor to preach on Friday evening. I am so thankful for these men and women and how they are intentionally and sacrificially praying, giving, and going to the nations–across the street in Knoxville, Tennessee, and across the world. It was a blessing meet several of their members. I greatly appreciated the hospitality and new friendships with Phil Jones and Tim McGhee.

My message was titled, “Being a Light to the Nations.” The text was Psalm 67:

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!
(Psalm 67 ESV)

In this post, I want to share this message with you. It is at SermonAudio, or you may listen/download at the embedded player below. God has blessed us–may we be a blessing by making Him known among the peoples of the world.

Dec
4

Pressure Points Giveaway

written by JD

Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church was released last year.  I have been thankful for the response to this book. I wrote it to draw attention to some of the big issues of our day and how we should respond as we journey on mission.

Throughout the month of December, I plan to give away four copies of the audiobook of Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the ChurchTwo of the four copies will be given away in the next few days.

To enter this week’s giveaway, fill out the form below. If you are receiving this post via email, you may need to click on the link and visit the blog to submit the form (Do not reply to this email.).  One entry per person, please. Entries will be closed at 11:59 this Sunday night (December 7). Two winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on Monday, December 8.

Stay tuned on Twitter or here at the blog for information on when I will be giving away the other two copies after December 8.

By entering, you acknowledge and accept the terms of the giveaway.

On a related note, if you do not receive posts from my blog in your inbox, please subscribe today (see upper right toolbar).  Also, please consider sharing this blog with others in your social network–I would truly be honored by your recommendation.

 

 

Dec
3

New Church Planting Podcast

written by JD

Patrick ForeStart Strong Podcast, with Launch Creative, just kicked off a unique and creative church planting podcast. I was honored to be part of the initial episode. Patrick asked some good questions. We talked about the difference between apostolic and pastoral church planting, reaching unreached people groups in the United States, some important matters to consider if you are going to plant and pastor, and the mullet I no longer have.

Check out the podcast at the Launch Creative site HERE.

You may subscribe to the Start Strong Podcast at iTunes.

Share this new resource with others in your social network.

Dec
1

Navigating Change

written by JD

My last post in this two-part series addressed the stewardship of innovation.  I noted if Jesus is building His Church (Matt 16:18) and His Church is filled with a dynamic Spirit (Acts 1:8), then the Church should expect change.  The need to be wise Kingdom stewards and make adjustments accordingly is the proper response to change.

Today, I want to direct your attention to a few first century examples that brought change and how the Church responded.  This list is far from exhaustive.

Change should be expected when:

A need arises (Acts 6:1-7).

The food distribution need became a challenge. Note the response:

  • The Church responded with discernment: “Is this a significant need?”  Answer: Yes.
  • The Church responded with assessment: “Are we (i.e., the Apostles) neglecting something?” Answer: Yes.
  • The Church responded with something new: “Let’s get some men in place to serve.”

The Church saw the challenge and built on what had been established to venture into something new for Kingdom expansion (Acts 6:7).  Prayer and preaching were not discarded.  Food distribution was not discarded.

Change should be expected when:

Unreached peoples remain unreached (Acts 8; 10; 11; 13-14; 16).

The Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles needed the gospel. Such need brought numerous challenges. Note some of these and the responses:

  • The Church responded with preaching in light of persecution (Acts 8:4-5; 11:19-21): “We are uncomfortable. Our stability has been removed, but we refuse to turn inward, hunker down, and fail to make disciples.”
  • The Church responded with sensitivity and obedience to the Spirit (Acts 8:26-27; 10:9-48; 13:1-3): “We’ve never done it that way before, but Lord, if you are leading, then we are following.”
  • The Church responded with strategy and flexibility (16:6-15): “It is in the planning and intentional forward movement that the Spirit will lead us to where we need to go (even if it was not in our original strategy).”

They saw the challenge and moved forward in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Change should be expected when:

The church reaches people who are different from themselves (Acts 15:1-35).

It is one thing for the half-blooded Samaritans to receive the same Holy Spirit as the Jews, but wait-a-minute…the Gentiles too?! Note the response of the first Council:

  • The Church responded to concerns by hearing from Church leadership (Acts 15:6, 13): “If the Spirit has appointed such leaders, then let’s hear from them.”
  • The Church responded by hearing what the Spirit had accomplished (Acts 15:8-9, 12): “Is what we hear about the work of the Spirit contrary to what we know about the Spirit and His work?”
  • The Church responded by looking to the Word (Acts 15:15-18): “What does the Word say about this challenging situation in which we find ourselves?”

Again, they saw the challenge and built on top of what had been established to venture into something new for Kingdom expansion.

 

Take some time to re-read Acts and note where change occurred. How did the Church respond? How should you and your church think about change? How should your church respond to Jesus building His Church and the leadership of the Spirit?

 

(image credit: Microsoft Office)

Nov
23

Discounted Books

written by JD

My two-part series is being interrupted with this post.  However, I think you will like it.

Need some reading for your holiday travels? Christmas gifts? Building your library? With this being Black Friday Deals Week, two of my books are being offered at great discounts.  The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members and Roland Allen: Pioneer of Spontaneous Expansion are available for the next seven days at the following prices:

Barnabas-Factors-New-Cover

 

 

 

The Barnabas Factors for Kindle: $0.99

The Barnabas Factors, hard copy at 70% off.  Must order HERE using discount code: ERGU264D

 

 

 

Roland Allen Front Cover

 

 

 

Roland Allen for Kindle: $0.99

Roland Allen, hard copy at 70% off. Must order HERE using discount code: J48ZZ7EU

 

These two books have never been offered at these prices. Purchase several for your team. Point others to this post for these deals.

This sale ends Sunday, November 30.

Nov
18

Stewardship of Innovation

written by JD

The Church has always been called to a stewardship of innovation. While this terminology has not existed across 2000 years, the expectation has always been present.  We may rarely speak using such language (something I hope changes in our time), but the biblical model for innovation is ever before us.

Innovation of this type is not the equivalent of that which occurs with a technology company or fast food corporation.  The Church is not in the business of secret discoveries and shipping new products to market before someone else. Rather, the stewardship of innovation involves following the Spirit into a world filled with multiple pressures as we carry out the Great Commission–while constantly making necessary changes.

And there is the issue–change.

Most local churches, denominations, agencies, and institutions do not like change and are not structured for change.  We evangelicals are the utmost conservatives when it comes to our organization and structure.  We are often slow to change; and once we do, we set such organization and structure in concrete.  While stability is necessary for mission, such actions may reveal just how resistant we are to any future change and the Spirit who leads us to change.

If. . .

Jesus is building His Church, then we should expect change (Matt 16:13-19).

  • Remember, He is intimately involved with His Church (Matt 16:18, 19; Acts 9:4)

If. . .

we are filled with a dynamic Spirit, then we should expect change (Acts 1:8).

  • Remember, He is intimately involved with His Church (Acts 1:5; Eph 5:18)

Therefore. . .

the stewardship of innovation means we must anticipate and make wise adjustments as we labor for the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches. Sometimes such adjustments are small; sometimes such adjustments are massive.

The call to follow Jesus is a call to remove from our vocabularies the phrase “We’ve never done it that way before.”  Innovation often takes us in new directions while building on the labors of those who have gone before. A reading of Acts makes this matter very clear.

Throughout the book of Acts, the Church often had to innovate for mission as the Spirit led into new frontiers.  As Kingdom citizens, we are often required to change our general ways of thinking and functioning for the health of the Church and gospel advancement.  Structures, institutions, organizations, and traditions are to remain nimble and held loosely. It is when the church resists Spirit-led change and the need to innovate in light of global circumstances that she soon finds herself impotent and in poor health.

Expect Change

Embrace the Old

Engage the New

 

In my next post, I plan to draw out some specific examples of the stewardship of innovation from the first century Church.

 

(image credit: Microsoft Office)

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