Thursday, August 26, 2004

Acts 29 Conference

I just attended an Acts 29 Church Planters Conference. Wow. It was amazing. I am really impressed with the leadership of the Acts 29 Network. They are all at least 10 years younger than I am, have a burning desire to serve the Lord through planting new churches in order to reach the unchurched, and don't mind sharing their victories and defeats they have had along the way. I am very inspired.

I felt the call to plant a church about 10 years ago, and have been praying daily about it for the last 6 years or so and feel more clear about it today than ever. Praise God for a group who will mentor new church planters and has thier priorities in the right place.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Playing Well With Others

My wife and I have been hooked the last two weeks on the Fox show Trading Spouses. What a great commentary of how we live out our lives. Last night they finished the swap of Moms. It has been the story of Tammy Nakamura (a well to do white wife with all the pleasures of life) and Mela Biggins (a black wife of more modest possessions). They swapped places, and families, for 5 days. Each family received $50,000 for the experience. The catch is that the Mom who had been living with the family for only 5 days is the one who determined how the money would be spent. I was struck by how the two Moms handled themselves during the swap.

Mela was gracious and happy to be with the Nakamura family. She immediately bonded with the children, Dr Nakamura, and his mother Nana (who also filled the role as the family maid). I sensed that the Nakamura children genuinely liked Mela and that she was sincere in her actions toward the family. Mela became a very close to Nana and left her the $50,000. Mela wasn't a talker, she was a doer. She could talk if needed, but preferred to show her love through her actions.

Tammy, on the other hand, made herself look like a fool. She was constantly talking about how much she was bringing to the Biggins family, kept telling the children that they were overweight and needed to eat healthier, expected everyone else to serve her while she slept in in the morning, and wouldn't allow the children to listen to rap music because, "it gives me a headache." She did a good job divvying up the $50,000, but came across as pushy, selfish, insincere, and a real pain in the neck. The Biggins family obviously didn't like Tammy. At one point Mela's husband says about Tammy, "she acts like she wants to save our family, but I don't think our family needs saving."

I think the show provides a lesson to each of us who call on the name of Christ. How many Christians do you know who have gone out to save the world with the attitude of Tammy? They talk a great talk, but coat the gospel in their own cultural biases, and end up tainting the good news. They not only want to save the world, but want the world to be a clone of themselves. I think we would be much more effective if we took the path of Mela. Be a doer, not a talker. Be willing to let others have their own way if possible. Basically we need to learn to play well with others! We're living in an age where being a "missional" Christian is increasingly important. We shouldn't be trying to make clones of ourselves, but of Christ.

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30 NASB)

UFO Sightings in Nebraska

Things have gotten crazy lately in Nebraska and it has led to this article. Link.

Seriously though, only 10 Days, 3 Hours, and 55 Minutes, and 39 Seconds left to the start of the University of Nebraska opening football game against Western Illinois. With the Cornhuskers change to a West Coast offense it should be an interesting year. Probably more exciting than the last few years.

You can check out all the good information on Huskerpedia. Link.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Scott Williams has a super post on compassion. How do we understand how to help others without first being there ourselves? Link. Thanks Scott for another discussion provoking post.

Kerry's Battle Continues

Nick at Patriot Paradox has some interesting posts regarding the John Kerry/Swift Boat Pilots/George Bush battle going on. Particularly this one. Link. And this one. Link. I think this whole issue has the potential of blowing up in Kerry's face. The harder he pushes the worse it gets. He seems to be digging a deeper hole for himself each day. Why the media looks at the Swift Boat Pilots as accomplishing anything different than Kerry's I don't understand. Doesn't look like unbiased journalism to me.

Man, will I be happy when this election is over and we can get back to living again!

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Blogdom of God

Thanks go out to Rob for his post on the Blogdom of God. It looks pretty interesting to see so many Christians blogging. I think I'll spend some time there this week and see what they have to say.

Date to Save Website (Evangelistic Dating)

Thanks go out to Andrew Careaga for pointing us to the Date to Save website. I don't recommend missionary dating for anyone, and I have a hard time believing this isn't someone's joke. On the lighter side, I like Tamara's list of 10 Tips for Effective Missionary Dating, but only because it is funny. I think anyone who uses these tips would have trouble being an effective, credible witness. What if your date's desire is to see how many Christians he/she can lure out of their relationship with the Lord. Life is hard enough for young adults without having to heap spiritual warfare on the most intimate parts of their lives. Tamara's website should come with a disclaimer that reads: Please don't try this at home, it is better left to professionals!

Friday, August 20, 2004

Blogging Across America

Here's a link to an article I saw on Yahoo about using a Blog or a Photoblog to share your vacation experiences. Link. I did this earlier this summer and it worked great. The article though concentrates a lot on the photoblog without going to deep into the uses of the traditional blog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Excerpts from Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World- Part 3

Here's another excerpt from Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World. On page 266 Stetzer states what I believe is the obvious, but overlooked reason for worship. He says:

The church and its worship are not intended solely for believers, but the true purpose of the church is as broad as the purposes of God. It is the 'missio Dei'- the mission of God. It includes all that God includes...The 'missio Dei' includes worship but evangelism, ministry, encouragement, and pastoral care as well.

Some church attendees are being drawn to Christ and are "called" but have not yet committed to Christ. The Bible refers to the church as the "ekklesia"- those "called out ones" who have made a commitment to follow Christ. When the called are brought together, the planter must present God's message in such a way that it challenges believers and also encourages unbelievers toward commitment.

I think that so many times we see worship and evangelism as two separate things. Worship targets the believers and evangelism targets the unbelievers. But, worship is what links us together. Believers doing what God created us to do, worship, is the greatest source of evangelism for unbelievers. Lets stop separating worship and evangelism and interweave them together in our quest to walk with the Lord.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Excerpts from Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World- Part 2

Ed Stetzer, in his book Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World, makes the following comment regarding evangelism on page 193:

There are two conversions- one temporal and one eternal. The first conversion is the conversion to community. With few exceptions, people come to Christ after they have journeyed with other Christians- examining them and considering their claims. They can come into community at any point....

The journey is not intended to be the same for each people group, worldview, or culture... For each culture, the misperceptions and reasons for rejection are different. The only thing that remains constant is the journey.

I think Stetzer says a lot about the new generations. In the modern world we could persuade unbelievers that Christ is the only way to the Father through empirical evidence. Today it takes our witness, and not just through constantly telling unbelievers about Christ, but leading them to knowledge of Christ through the witness of our lives. Before they understand that God's love is unfailing, they must see the sincerety of it in our lives. We must assure them that God's love means to us exactly what we say it means to us.

Monday, August 16, 2004

I Could Have Predicted This!

Germany is upset that the US will probably be pulling many of our troups out of Europe. Yahoo news documents this in this link. Link. Are the Germans completely out of touch with reality that they didn't see this coming? With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the threat changed and frankly I'm not sure why this hasn't happened sooner. I'm not sure how we have justified keeping our troups spread all throughout Europe for the last 10 years. Our relationship with much of Europe (England, Spain, and Italy excepted) has been strained since the start of the Iraq invasion. I don't know if the strain excelerated the announcement of a troop withdrawl, but with the US being snubbed by Germany and France in the War on Terrorism what could they have been expecting? I know from being in the military in Europe that Germany, France, and Spain have put enormous obstacles to our forces stationed there. They are good wartime allies, but not great peacetime friends. I welcome us bringing our troops home. Our military has been hollowed out, our troops are tired of long deployments and the strain of living abroad, and our budget just can't continue to absorb the cost of keeping so many troops overseas.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Excerpts from Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World

I'm reading a new book called Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World, by Ed Stetzer. I grew up in a Swedish Baptist Church in the Baptist General Conference and have attended a Southern Baptist Church for the last 10 years. As a boomer I grew up in the modern church, but never quite felt at home with the concepts of modernity. I believe that men and women called of God can help to make today's church more relavent to the culture we live in. I believe, along with Stetzer, that the best way to do this is through a new church plant focusing on today's new generations. At the urging of one of my mentors I picked up Ed Stetzer's book Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World. What a great book. It is written by a Southern Bapitist Conference North American Mission Board member, Ed Stetzer. He runs the Nehemiah Project that encourages new seminary grads to be new church planters. Reading this book has changed my view of what the Southern Baptists are doing in the church planting arena. They are heavily pushing new church plants that are culturally relavant, missional, and relational. It is very refreshing. I am only on page 26 but it is awesome so far. Here is a couple of my favorite quotes:

Church planting is done properly when leaders make a decision to engage an unchurched world in radical fashion......Today North America needs to be treated as a mission field in the same way that we in the West have approached much of the rest of the world for the past several centuries. (p13)

A missional church is willing and eager to engage the culture with the truths of the gospel. Today, we desperately need persons, churches, and denominations to apply the lens of missiology to the North Ameircan context, not just to international fields. Christendom is dead and missionaries are needed. (p14)

I never thought I would hear a SBC NAMB board member say Christendom is dead! I think we have an admission that we need to change our ways.

Paul did four things in his effort to be culturally relavant:
  • He understood the Athenian position on reality.
  • He understood an underlying spiritual interest.
  • He looked for positive points within their worldview.
  • He encouragedd them to find true fulfillment in Christ. (p. 21)

Culturally appropriate evangelism answers the actual questions being asked by a given culture, rather than those questions the church believes the culture should ask. (p. 21)

And my favoriet quote from Stetzer so far:

Indigenous churches look different from culture to culture. Thus, one would expect that a biblically faithful indigenous church would look different in Senegal from an indigenous church in Singapore. One must also expect an indigenous church in Seattle to look different from one in Sellersburg, Indiana. Indigenous churches look different from location to location. Further, they look different from generation to generation. Faithful indigenous churches take their teaching from the unchanging biblical text and apply it to the ever-changing cultural milieu. (p.25)

So far I am impressed with the understanding Stetzer shows of church planting in postmodern times. I will post some quotes here as I work my way through the book. It looks very promising.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Gospel of John DVD

I spent last night previewing the DVD The Gospel of John. It looks like a great discussion facilitator. I didn't see the movie when it was in the theaters, and I am a little amazed that it didn't get much publicity when it was out. It is a wonderful DVD. I know The Passion of the Christ grabbed most of the religious attention last March and April, but I didn't hear anything about The Gospel of John.

I previewed the first 8 chapters of the DVD and found the video stimulating. I plan on using it to begin a discussion oreinted Bible study at The Gate as we study the Gospel of John for the first half of the school year. It looks like it will be a good tool to use for facilitating small groups to really dig deeper into the gospel.

I'll be previewing the rest of the DVD over the next couple of evenings. I'm excited to see how the rest of it looks.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Cyber Missions Training

Andrew Careaga has a post today that links to a 12 week cybermissions course being offered by Asia Internet Bible Institute (AIBI) that looks very promising. I'm going to look deeper into this and check it out. The curriculum looks great and the concept seems solid. I've read Andrew's books e-ministry and hooked on the net and found them excellent resources and full of good ideas.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Josh Jones at Kingdom Treasures

We went to Kingdom Treasures to hear our good friend Josh Jones play at their weekend concert series in the Solid Rock Cafe. Josh was one of the founding members of the McKendree College Baptist Collegiate Ministry (Also known as The Gate). He did an hour and fifteen minutes of worship music and was inspiring. He only opened his eyes twice during the hour and fifteen and seemed somewhat surprised to see so many people in the crowd. You could sense he was having his own quiet time with the Lord and we were there with him. Josh is one of the most telented people I know and has been blessed with a servant's heart. It was great!

Kingdom Treasures has a good weekend concert series, but I am a little alarmed at the lack of stock in their bookstore. They have been in and out of business a couple of times over the last couple of years and from their lack of stock I can only imagine they are on their way out again. They absorbed a couple of the Christian Bookstores on our side of town and claim to be the largest Christian bookstore in the St Louis area, but seem to have trouble keeping their head above water. I hope they make a go of it.