Friday, December 30, 2005

"Organic Church" - book notes and applications

Here are my notes from Organic Church. Really good book, making me think about a lot of things, as you will see in the post. This is one of those posts that is mostly just for me to put some of my thoughts down on paper. For those of you involved with SPACE, I would love for you to give some thought to the ideas in this post and give me some feedback.

A few background notes here. First, I'm not a church planter, nor do I aspire to be (that I know of.) However, I'm convinced that if we are to mobilize and catalyze a group of students from a local church to impact the world, the notion of church planting should be one of the top two or three 'ministry models' that they are very familiar with. (Is the idea of a 'ministry model' even Biblical?)

Since the Lausanne Congress of 1974, a widely-accepted definition of a Christian mission has been "to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement." - from Wikipedia's definition of Christian mission

Second, some of the book talks about the need for normal people (vs. clergy) to do the actual ministry work, and the necessity to give freedom in that light. While a worthwhile idea, keep in mind that in the context of students, that has to be well thought out. In other words, students don't have a lot of the logistical freedom that adults have. There are other constraints on them (parents, mobility, other responsibilities like school, etc.) that limit them. So while its a great thing for all kinds of people to be involved in ministry in an organic church, we have to be realistic about what students can and cannot do.

Thirdly, the context of SPACE is not necessarily directly focused on planting churches of prebelievers and new disciples. It is focused on getting students out there missionally. So although the book's focus is on impacting the world in reproducible church planting movements, my perspective in reading the book is slightly different.

Two purpose statements that resonate
One church network has its purpose - "To have a church within walking distance of every person living in Las Vegas"
Another purpose - "Every Christian is a church planter, every home is a church, every church building is a training center"
at this writing, planted 800 churches in 32 states and 23 nations, in only 6 years
average size is 16 people
likes the term "organic church" vs. "house church"
Conventional church has become so complicated and difficult to pull off that only a rare person who is a professional can do it every week. When church is so complicated, its function is taken out of the hands of the common Christian and placed into the hands of a few talented professionals. This results in a passive church whose members come and act more like spectators than empowered agents of God's kingdom.
Not financially encumbered, easily planted in a variety of settings, decentralized, not dependent upon trained clergy.
The early Church did not have any buildings for the first three hundred plus years.
Thom Wolf instructs church planters today to place a three hundred year building plan in their church planting strategy.
Of course, if you can wait three hundred years, then you don't need them at all.
Buildings are not wrong or immoral. But can become an artificial life support system.
Particular church in India met outside and would roll out a rug where everyone met. After one of the services the kids were all running around playing. One parent grabbed him and sternly told him, "Stop running in church!" Our problem is not in bricks and mortar, it is in our minds.


"How long will it take to reach the world through multiplication? If any one Christian alive today were to lead just one person to Christ every year and disciple that person so that he or she would, in turn, do the same the next year, it would take only about 3 years to reach the entire world for Christ! Suddenly, world transformation seems within our grasp. If every Christian alive today were to reproduce in the same way, the world would be won to Christ in the next two to four years."
"Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction. If we fail to reproduce ourselves and pass the torch of life into the hands of the next generation, Christianity will be over within just one generation."

Jesus Plan
- practice of prayer
Prayer movement called 10:2B virus - pray every day at 10:02am - based on Luke 10:2B - send out more workers into the harvest
- pockets of people
disciples sent out in pairs to various cities, spot a receptive oikos
- power of presence
moths and cockroaches - one loves the light, one detests it
Jesus also told his disciples not to import resources into the harvest but to find all the resources they needed in the harvest itself - indigenous church, not a codependent relationship
- person of peace
1-people of receptivity
2-people of relational connections
3-people of reputation
conduit of passing of the message of the Kingdom - first domino
- people of purpose
church is born out of the harvest, found among the harvest, bent on mission to continue to reach the lost
Pray - this is something that we don't do nearly enough. It includes the leaders praying, the prayer team praying, the students praying, and most of all, me praying. The 10:02 idea, who is in with me on that?

Also related:
- gather the SPACEintern, JB and maybe others specifically to pray for the SPACE expedition in Jan
- a summer team leader prayer summit in Feb - gather the summer team leaders for dessert and to pray for the summer

The Scriptures:
Mark 4
good seed and good soil
good seed - correct genetic code in the seeds - God's message is what changes people, not stuff about his message
Training of regular discipline of reading entire books of the Bible repetitively
Life Transformation Groups read thirty chapters of the Bible each week - not religious reading, but hearing God's voice
The Scriptures are alive with God's voice
Change the SPACEinterns reading for the Spring. Currently, the reading has been a lot of good stuff - Perspectives, McManus, Eldredge, etc. - but I'm really convicted from this. The good seed is reading the Scriptures, not reading about them. And - thirty chapters a week?

In fact, this not only deals with the intern, but also me personally. So I've added the One Year Bible Blog to the top of my rss reader. I've tried for the last two years to read thru the Bible, but never made it past March or so. Good seed, good seed.

Wiping the Dust and Focus:
Mark 4
good soil - four kinds of people represented
first soil - seed never penetrates the soils hard exterior, seed is wasted
second soil - shallow receives message with great joy but no depth
third soil - thorn infested, more interested in the world, life of comfort versus life of service
fourth soil - good soil - thirty, sixty, hundredfold fruit
only one out of four soils bears fruit

accommodating bad soil in our churches
When we see people come to Christ and then slip away, we assume a responsibility that is not ours. We assume that we must be doing something wrong if so many people fall away from following Christ. We then doubt our ministry efforts and search for other ways to keep people. The results are devastating to the local church.
Because we think the number of people is a sure sign of fruitfulness and success, we do everything we can to keep people. What we end up with is an audience of consumers shopping for the best 'services.'

3000, 6000, 10000 percent return!! We must invest everything in the few who will bear fruit. Life is too short and the potential yields are too great to spend our lives babysitting fruitless people.

paradigm shift in ministry - regain the lost art of wiping the dust (bad soil) off our feet. We might consider such a thing as unloving, but this is what Jesus did. Perhaps it is the most loving thing we can do.
Jesus is the good Shepherd, lays down his life for the one sheep. He would never force himself upon those who are not interested.
Bad people make good soil - there's a lot of fertilizer in their lives.

need a sharp focus on the good soil - those who can and should be invested in - 10000 percent return

NT Discipleship Pattern:
NTDP - Thom Wolf
New Testament Discipleship Pattern
1 - received personally - internalized and transform the soul of the follower
2 - repeated easily - simple application, able to be passed on
3 - reproduced strategically - universal communication
Wolf has said in conversation that any substantive truth worth passing on should be reproducible on a napkin while one sits down at a lunch appointment

Apostle Paul's pattern as an example
- incarnational
- viral
- transformational
- universal
SPACE as a ministry component must be able to reproduced and repeated easily. Maybe not so much the large scale events (logistics) but the logic and ideas behind them can be translated to smaller scales - ie a small group of students doing something based on the same ideas. It needs to be simple.

New Converts:
I am convinced that what we do with a new convert in the first 24-48 hours after he or she is born again is of utmost importance.
Christs example - to deploy new believers immediately in ministry - force them to pray, trust in God, listen to the HS, find answers, solidify commitment, suffer for Christ's sake

The converts are the workers
We have made a terrible mistake by separating the convert from the worker. They are not two, but one.
We must somehow get our students to understand this idea, that once their friends accept Christ, they must be immersed into mission right away.

six degrees of Gods kingdom
idea of oikos - one's social web of relationships
Acts 10 - Cornelius

FF in Brazil - very cool idea
Keep this in mind, especially for all summer short term team. God was at the party before you got there.

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