Friday, June 27, 2008
A missional church is a collection of missional believers acting in concert together in fulfillment of the missio dei.1
A missional church is one where people are exploring and rediscovering what it means to be Jesus' sent people as their identity and vocation.
A missional church is individuals willing and ready to be Christ's people in their own situation and place.
A missional church knows that they must be a cross-cultural missionary (contextual) people and adopt a missionary stance in relation to their community.
A missional church will be engaged with the culture (in the world) without being absorbed by the culture (not of the world). They will become intentionally indigenous.
A missional church understands that God is already present in the culture where it finds itself. Therefore, a missional church doesn't view its purpose as bringing God into the culture or taking individuals out of the culture to a sacred space.
A missional church is about more than just being contextual, it is also about the nature of the church and how it relates to God.
A missional church is about being -- being conformed to the image of God.
A missional church will seek to plant all types of missional communities.
A missional church is evangelistic and faithfully proclaims the gospel through word and deed. Words alone are not sufficient; how the gospel is embodied in our community and service is as important as what we say.
A missional church understands the power of the gospel and does not lose confidence in it.
A missional church will align all their activities around the missio dei -- the mission of God.
A missional church seeks to put the good of their neighbor over their own.
A missional church will give integrity, morality, good character and conduct, compassion, love and a resurrection life filled with hope preeminence to give credence to their reasoned verbal witness.
A missional church practices hospitality by welcoming the stranger into the midst of the community.
A missional church will see themselves as a community or family on a mission together. There are no "Lone Ranger" Christians in a missional church.
A missional church will see themselves as representatives of Jesus and will do nothing to dishonor his name.
A missional church will be totally reliant on God in all it does. It will move beyond superficial faith to a life of supernatural living.
A missional church will be desperately dependent on prayer.
A missional church gathered will be for the purpose of worship, encouragement, supplemental teaching, training, and to seek God's presence and to be realigned with God's missionary purpose.
A missional church is orthodox in its view of the gospel and scripture, but culturally relevant in its methods and practice so that it can engage the world view of the hearers.
A missional church will feed deeply on the scriptures throughout the week.
A missional church will be a community where all members are involved in learning "the way of Jesus." Spiritual development is an expectation.
A missional church will help people discover and develop their spiritual gifts and will rely on gifted people for ministry instead of talented people.
A missional church is a healing community where people carry each other's burdens and help restore gently.
A missional church will requires that its leaders be missiologists.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
this is a version 1.1 of a dialogue that is beginning on all levels of 5 stones leadership.
this dialogue is in its infancy so many changes will come to this draft document.
Version 1.1 [beta]
Why does 5 stones have "members"?
5 stones is a church, and the Bible uses the metaphor of a body [an organism] to describe the church: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12). It's a beautiful illustration of how we're each created to serve different functions, we need everyone to function in order to be a healthy body, and all of us as separate parts find purpose and unity under Jesus, "the head of the body, the church" (Col. 1:18). Members are the church (Eph. 2:19-22). Jesus in his upper room discorce mentioned at length several times the importance of unity for the disciples. As such what he taught, and later Paul and the other disciples, forms the unifying principles of the church that Jesus promised to build. Thus, membership [the biblical values therein] is the means to achieve that unity.
Disclaimer: Church membership is a non-biblical concept, that is the word ‘member’ is not in the New Testament. Membership thus exists for legal reasons and provides an opportunity to describe the normative expectations of a Christian disciple within the church organism [relationships] and the organizational [doctrine] architecture of biblical and theological values.
What's the difference between a member and somebody who just goes to 5 stones every week?
At 5 stones, we make a distinction between "members" and "guests." If you're not a member, then you're technically a guest that remains to a certain extent separated from our church family, and separated from the maturity, protection, accountability, and care that comes with being an active part of the church.
Members participate as the church: sacrificing time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submitting to the authority God has established to lead our congregation. Non-members tend not to contribute as much. This is acceptable for those who really are guests, such as non-Christians and visitors, but Christians who consume rather than commit to a local church do a disservice to Jesus' body (the church) and themselves.
Why should I become a member?
5 stones church is a family, adopted by God (Gal. 4:6-7; Eph. 1:5). We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve together. If you're already a Christian, if you're already in some form of 5 stones community, if you're already giving of your finances and your time, then you’re already fulfilling some functions of a member. Without making an official commitment, however, we cannot provide the same level of pastoral care and community support, in part because we may not know who you are, and in part because the Bible requires that we take care of our family first (Eph. 2:19 cf. Gal. 6:10).
If you're not a Christian, don't worry about membership until you've been reconciled to God though Jesus. If you are a Christian who has spent a lot of time at 5 stones, however, search your heart and identify your hesitation. There may be valid reasons to abstain from 5 stones membership. But we're rebels by our cursed nature; if you bristle at the very idea of becoming a member, ask yourself why–and don't hesitate to speak with a church leader.
What are the benefits of being a member?
Scripture calls us a body, a family, a household–being a Christian is not a solo effort. Jesus works through the church (Eph. 2:10), the church is Jesus' body (1 Cor. 12:27), and apart from Jesus, you can do nothing (John 15).
This isn't Blockbuster, it isn't a country club, and it isn't 24-Hour Fitness. Again, members are the church. "In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ...So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph. 1:4-5; 2:19).
You don't join for the perks–although members do enjoy greater access to leadership, and certain volunteer and leadership opportunities are only available to members. The benefit is that we get to worship Jesus together, serve in His kingdom, and be children of God! We enjoy the guidance that his Word provides, and, when sin comes between us, we enjoy the reconciliation Jesus' blood provides.
To be honest membership adds responsibilities and has very few benefits. Membership is in many ways a rite of passage for discipleship, and discipleship means being willing to “deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus.”
The Membership Process:
How to Join the 5 stones Family:
The church of 5 stones is a family, adopted by God (Gal. 4:6-7; Eph. 1:5). From him we receive the privilege to worship Jesus together, serve in his kingdom, and be his children. We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve together.
Guests are always welcome within our household. For those interested in transitioning from guest to family member, the membership process is your opportunity to learn more about us, and our opportunity to get to know you.
The leadership of 5 stones is called to love, equip and care for its members well (Eph. 4:11-12; Gal. 6:10). In turn, we rely on our members to accomplish our collective work as the church (Eph. 2:10). As an organism / organization, we operate with minimal staff, budget, and programming because we trust the Holy Spirit to move through the transformed hearts of our members, mobilizing the collective body of Christ in humble ways to love the city, love our family, and glorify God on his terms.
The call is demanding (Mark 8:34-35). The opposition is great (1 Peter 5:8). But Jesus goes with us (Matt. 28:20). And the Vision is Epic (Matt 26)
One year committment
One vision: The vision of Christ for our church and community. A vision bigger than what can be see with our eyes…is the vision God is building in our imagination…the vision that He will build through us.
Motto: God loves you and we are here to prove it
Mission: To love God by leading others to become fully devoted followers of Jesus
What we are envisioning for each of us:
A disciples call and commitment:
a. I will love God with all of my being
2. The great commandment
a. I will love others
3. The great commission
a. I will love those who don’t yet know Jesus
Narrative: What kind of disciples are we making at 5 stones Church? Effective meeting leaders? Savvy budget planners? Maybe even diligent Bible studiers? If our ministry worked exactly as it should, what would the lives of our people look like?
Kind of a sobering question, isn't it? Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples:
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20)
In essence, when everything Jesus had done on earth "worked," he left behind disciple-making disciples.
As we move into an accelerated season, it is more critical than ever that we keep our focus on Jesus' command to make disciples. Otherwise we will find ourselves developing systems and programs to manage crowds, when at our very core we desire to be a people transformed by Jesus calling our city to worship Jesus.
1. Jesus must be at the center. He is the core catalyst of everything we do! Disciple means "learner" or "follower." A disciple gets his identity not by the learning or the following but by who they are learning from or following. Our identity is a transformed identity in Jesus Christ.
2. The description must be biblical. We worked at trying to group the many commands and instructions of scripture into holistic expressions rather than a checklist of do's and don'ts.
3. The Holy Spirit must be power behind we all do. This is not about generating moral, emotional, or cultural momentum; it is about being empowered by God 24/7 to accomplish his will.
4. The description must be relational. The disciple's life needs to be grounded in relationships rather than in impersonal behaviors or simply performance goals.
5. As our gospel identity we acknowledge our "nothingness" without Christ—and our wholeness and uniqueness in Christ. We do this through prayer, confessing our sins, repentance, and listening to God through his Word, the Bible.
6. With regard to worship, we need to face the idols in our lives—things that challenge our very acceptance of Jesus as God—and realize that when we exalt God as his worshippers, we have positioned ourselves in the most dignifying of positions as humanly possible. We do this through accepting God's love, obeying him, and choosing his will above our own.
7. In gospel community we must realize the balance between gifted serving and loving connection, in which some have the freedom to share their brokenness and others accept their responsibilities as the body of Christ. We do this through taking the time to meet with each other, risking our hearts with one another, and living lives of humble honesty.
8. And finally, in gospel mission we realize that we serve a "sent" and "sending" God, who invites us to join him on mission, living out the gospel and bringing a redemptive presence to our culture. We do this by caring for non-Christians in practical ways and speaking the truth of the gospel in love.
In describing a disciple's life, we cannot emphasize enough the order of multiplication. This truly happens best when "like reproduces like," meaning churches reproduce churches, community groups reproduce community groups, and disciples reproduce disciples. Jesus did not leave behind a disciple-making program; he left behind disciple-making disciples.
The roots of creating that fruit:
1. Minister in a local church
a. The entire NT is in a context of community
2. Minister with my:
a. Talents / Gifts
c. Tithe / Sacrificial giving
3. Minister as a servant [core attitudes]
a. “it’s not about you”
b. Scripture is final authority [2 Tim 3: 16-17]
c. I will maintain a close relationship with the Lord Jesus through regular Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, and practice of spiritual disciplines. My relationship will be evident through my participation in weekly worship services, communion, Mars Hill community, service, and a life that glorifies Jesus (Ps. 105:1-2; Ps. 119:97; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25; 2 Peter 1:3).
d. I will steward the resources God has given me, including my time, talents, and treasure (Prov. 3:9-10; Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:22-26; Eph. 4:1-16; 5:15-18). This includes regular financial giving, service, and participation in community that is sacrificial, cheerful, and voluntary (Rom. 12:1-8; 2 Cor. 8-9; 12:7-31; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
e. I covenant to submit to discipline by God through his Holy Spirit, to follow biblical procedures for church discipline in my relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, to submit to righteous discipline when approached biblically by brothers and sisters in Christ, and to submit to discipline by church leadership if the need should ever arise (Ps. 141:5; Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8; Gal. 6:1-5, 8; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 1:9; 3:10-11; Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 2:5-7, 14-25).
f. I agree, by God's grace, to walk in holiness as an act of worship to Jesus Christ, who has saved me from my sin that I could live a new life (2 Cor. 5:17); I will practice complete chastity before marriage and complete fidelity in heterosexual marriage by abstaining from practices such as cohabitation, pornography, and fornication (Job 31:1; Prov. 5; Rom. 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:9-7:16; Heb. 13:4); I will refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, and other sinful behavior as the Bible, my pastors, and my conscience dictate (1 Cor. 8:7; Gal. 5:19-21). Should I sin in such a manner, I agree to confess my sins to Christian brothers or sisters and seek help to put my sin to death (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; 1 John 1:6-10).
4. Minister as a friend
a. Top 10 list
A disciples rites of passage / cathechisms
a. Profession of faith [public]
b. Dunk or sprinkle [?]
c. Possible perspective: Since Jesus commands that all of his disciples be baptized, baptism is a requirement for all 5 stones members (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 1 Peter 3:21). If you've already been baptized since you became a Christian, you don't need to get re-baptized. 5 stones performs believer baptisms only, which means we don't baptize infants. If a prospective member was baptized as a baby and does not want to be re-baptized due to reasons of conscience, that is acceptable as long as this decision remains personal and does not become a divisive issue within the church.
3. Membership [?]
4. Calling [?] office?
A disciples identity:
1. Identity in Christ
2. Identity in calling
3. Identity in church
a. Spiritual gifts
b. Vow of stability [1 year]
i. When people sense a call they
1. Are launched out by the church
2. They don’t leave or abandon the body [IE: they don’t go AWOL]
4. Identity in the community
What is "the Mission"?
Mission and vision. Missional. Are you on mission?
Our mission begins and ends with Jesus because "in him all things hold together" and, as Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (Col. 1:17). What's more, "all things were created through him and for him...And he is the head of the body, the church" (Col. 1:16, 18). Everything is his, especially the church.
The mission emanates from the person and work of Jesus Christ and his great commission (Matt. 28:18-20). He is the principal substance-the substance-critical to a more complete understanding of all secondary elements of our mission:
The city of God intersects the city of humanity
Christians ultimately belong to Jesus and his kingdom (Phil. 3:20). Within the earthly cities we inhabit, we are to represent a distinct community that lives differently than the culture at large (Matt. 20:25-28; John 17:15-16; Phil. 2:14-15). At the same time, we continue to live as a part of the city around us in order to exhibit humble love and effect gospel-grounded change from within (Jer. 29:7; Matt. 5:14).
What does "knowing culture" mean?
As Jesus, God entered human history and culture to demonstrate his love for us and teach us in ways we could better understand. As Christians, we are to do the same-live within the context of a culture and use its language, artifacts, and rituals to communicate the gospel. The Apostle Paul demonstrates this approach in Acts 17, using the art and idols of ancient Athens as tools for explaining Jesus to the philosophers of his day.
How should we "love people"?
The gospel of Jesus (Mark 1:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:1-11) carries profound implications for this temporal life (Phil. 4:4-7, 11-13), and represents all that matters in eternity (Luke 16:19-31; 1 Cor. 15:50-56; 2 Cor. 4:18). We love people by preaching the truth of this good news so that some might be saved (1 Cor. 9:22; Eph. 4:15). Through the empowering grace of this truth, we can also love people by participating in community, respecting each other as image-bearers of God, and caring for one another's physical needs. Apart from Jesus-love himself (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:7-8)-all efforts to love are spoiled by selfish motives, broken hearts, or strained relationships. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19), and we love by his example (John 15:13).
Lives transformed: The metric of defining our impact
Being a Christian does not translate into comfort, wealth, and happiness in this life. In fact, when it comes to present circumstances, the Bible often admonishes us to expect the opposite (John 16:33). Gospel transformation starts on the inside with our heart and permeates throughout our lives, purifying relationships, desires, motives, as we are reconciled to finally live at peace with our Creator (Ez. 36:26-27; 2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 1:21-22). Only the Holy Spirit can bring about this profound transformation-an act of new creation-but it is a tremendous joy to watch him perform his saving work.
This work of God is why we live and what we live to see. From the elders, pastors, to the ushers, to the people holding the goblets during communion, to the rockers on stage, to the techies building our website-Jesus is the mission. We live for him.
Obligation of 5 stones leadership to its members
1. We covenant that your elders, deacons and staff will meet the criteria assigned to them in the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17-22; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
2. We covenant to seek God's will for our church community to the best of our ability as we study the Scriptures and follow the Spirit (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5).
3. We covenant to care for you and seek your growth as a disciple of Christ, in part by equipping you for service (Eph. 4:11-13) and praying for you regularly, particularly when you are sick (James 5:14).
4. We covenant to provide teaching and counsel from the whole of Scripture (Acts 20:27-28; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
5. We covenant to be on guard against false teachers (Acts 20:28-31).
6. We covenant to exercise church discipline when necessary (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1).
7. We covenant to set an example and join you in fulfilling the duties of church members (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Tim. 4:12).
Thursday, June 5, 2008
"On the Barbarian Way"
by Erwin Raphael McManus
I had never been attracted to religion, although there was always a longing within me to connect to God. There were moments where I could have been defined as an agnostic or an atheist, but overall, I have always been a mystic. I have always believed in a spiritual reality. From my earliest memories, I was on a conscious and concerted search for God. But frankly, religion, though I was open to it in my youth, would have been the last place I would have thought you could find God. Churches and cathedrals seemed more like prisons where people were held hostage and God was held for ransom. Behind the piety of stained glass and pews were the bars and chains of guilt and shame.
Maybe that's why few movies affected me as much as The Shawshank Redemption . I'm not a big fan of prison movies, and this one is pretty hard to watch, but Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman pull off what I think is Stephen King's best story. The story revolves around Andy Dufresne, who was wrongly convicted of his wife's murder. He is the one genuinely innocent person in the vile prison known as Shawshank. He teams up with a convict named Red, the only prisoner who actually claims to be guilty. Nothing seems to stop Andy from both rising above the inhumanity of prison life and eventually finding a way to escape.
The tagline of Shawshank is, "Fear can hold you prisoner; hope can set you free." The most important point, though, is that the warden was a Bible thumping Christian. You know, a God-fearing man. I can't read Stephen King's mind, but whether intentional or incidental, he speaks for a lot of people who feel Christianity is a prison that holds us captive through fear and condemnation. And if that wasn't bad enough, the powerbrokers who wield their self-righteous judgments over us are violent, corrupt hypocrites who are simply using religion to advance their own greed and hatred. But if you don't give up, if you don't lose hope, you might be able to break free from them.
The Shawshank Redemption is a harsh reminder that Christianity as a religion has often been a part of the problem and not the solution. Way too many things have been done in the name of Christ that Jesus has had no part in. And while you and I may bear no personal responsibility for the Crusades, we are entirely responsible for the genuineness of our own faith and how that faith is lived out in community through the local Church. When what was intended to be a community of faith, hope and love becomes an institution known more for self-righteousness, judgmentalism and hypocrisy, we become our own version of a religious civilization. We become essentially civilized religionists and lose our primal spirituality. When we allow our faith to become domesticated, we become a part of the problem.
Saturday Night Live didn't make up the Church Lady-the Church did. Dana Carvey just borrowed her from us.
Somehow we've allowed ourselves to become a poor imitation of the real thing. Ironically, what I am finding all over this planet are followers of Jesus Christ who no longer want to be identified with Christians-or at least followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of Christianity.
They, too, want to break free from the prison that bears the name of Christ and uses the Bible to hold people captive. They are finding the courage to break free of the expectations that come with being civilized and rediscovering the purity and beauty of authentic faith.
This is an important thing to know about a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. You can civilize them for a while, but in the end, God will unleash the untamed faith within them. One difference between lions and tigers I'm told is that lions are more easily domesticated than tigers. The reason is that lions hunt only for the purpose of eating. Hunting, for them, is motivated by hunger. Tigers are different. Tigers hunt for the sheer thrill of the chase. When your pleasure is the hunting and not just the eating, it is much more difficult to be domesticated. All you have to do is keep a lion fed, and you will most likely be safe. A tiger is always ready to involve you in a game of tag. You're it.
At the most primal level, this is supposed to be the difference between Christianity and all other world religions. Other religions hunt for the purpose of survival. They are desperately trying to appease God. All their efforts and energy are motivated by fear, guilt and the unsatisfied hunger of their soul. Genuine followers of Jesus Christ are more like tigers. The thrill is in the hunt. We have met God. We have tasted deeply of Him. We are not trapped in an endless effort to earn God's love and secure our place in the afterlife. We have found freedom in Jesus Christ, and in Him we are fully alive. Our faith is not motivated by a desperate effort to satisfy God, but the unspeakable pleasure of knowing Him. You can train a tiger, but you can't tame him. God never intended to tame us, but to unleash an untamed faith.
Like a savage coming from the wilderness, we engage this new civilization known as Christianity. We all face the temptation of choosing to become domesticated. A raw faith is always undomesticated, barbaric and primal.
The best parallels I can think of to describe our potential domestication and need to rediscover our primal faith are found in mythology. Romulus and Remus we are told were raised by wolves and later became the founders of Rome; Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli was lost in the jungle and also raised by wolves, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan was lost in the wild and raised by apes.
All of them were raised in the wild and found themselves barbarians in the midst of civilization. Even when they learned how to survive and even thrive among the civilized, it was never possible to fully domesticate them. There was always something raw and untamed about who they were. They were fully human, but their primal nature had been awakened, and it could never be put to sleep. Though they dressed like gentlemen, there was always the look of the wild in their eyes. Even when they found their places among the civilized, there was always a sense that they belonged to the wild, and to live anywhere else was to be out of place.
There are some things, once born in you, that are impossible to reverse.
It's not that they have control over you; it's that they always shape who you are. Superficial changes can be easily discarded. External changes, however powerful, can eventually be broken. These legends each allude to a primal change, an unleashing of something deep within the human soul waiting to be awakened.. In some ways, these stories hold a hope that somewhere deep within us lies divine potential to become more than we are when we simply conform. Is it possible that only God can awaken a humanity greater than what we have created together? It is a hope that if somehow we unlock our souls and unleash our faith, we could become what we were genuinely created to be. Each story points to a longing that resides in all of us to find the barbarian way out of civilization, which is where I found myself shortly after choosing to follow Jesus. In the end, we have to decide whether we're going to be the wardens keeping people in cages or the tigers who refuse to be caged. In other words, we must choose the barbarian way out of civilization.