Archive for the 'Missional' Category

Church Planting, Community, Missional

Church Worship Canceled to Watch Football

What do you think about a new church canceling it’s second worship service ever in order to watch an NFL game? Would you cheer if your church did this? Or, would you wonder about the spirituality of the pastor and leadership to make such a decision?

I’m not making this up, but a new church plant in Seattle is going to watch a Seahawks game on TV instead of holding their worship service.

Would you like to learn why? Check-out their reasons at:

In case you’re very curious, here’s one of the reasons they are doing this: “We’re not salesmen, we’re gardeners. Our job is to cultivate the field God has set us in. Something’s already growing. We see it. Our job is to encourage and develop that growth in people who are seeking a heartfelt relationship with Jesus and each other.”

The leader of this church plant, Jim Henderson, has done more than one evangelism training event with Church of the Brethren. Does he have an idea worth considering?


Books / Readings, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Worship

Common Prayer

This past Spring, I attended the Church of the Brethren (CoB) church planter’s gathering at Bethany Theological Seminary. It was my first CoB event in almost 3 years. It was good to reconnect with some of the relationships I cultivated during my tenure with the Church of the Brethren General Board.

One of my big take-away’s from the conference was buying the book, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro (Zondervan Press, 2010). I have been mostly using it for my daily devotions since then. Each day has a liturgy that is like a mini Sunday worship service. For someone who enjoys the contemporary praise and worship format, I find it surprising that I enjoy this book so much!

Today, I read a prayer from the book that really touches my heart. May it bless your’s, as well.
Lord God, help us to live out your gospel in the world. We pray for those who do not know your love, tha they would be wooed by your goodness and seduced by your beauty. Form us into a family that runs deeper than biology or nationality or ethnicity, a family that is born again in you. May we be creators of holy mischief and agitators of comfort. . . people who do not accept the world as it is but insist on its becoming what you want it to be. Let us groan as in the pains of childbirth for your kingdome to come on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to be midwives of that kingdom. Amen. (p. 409)

Blessings to you!

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Missional

Viral Christianity?

Today, Ryan Braught (church planter in Lancaster, PA) posted a review of the book, Viral Jesus: Recovering the Contagious Power of the Gospel. Ryan writes, “The premise of this book is to recover the viral movement nature of the church. Rohde puts it this way, “In the early centuries Christianity was an explosive, viral movement that spread by word of mouth.” He then continues, “But today, the gospel is no longer spreading like wildfire throughout the western world. Slowly, Christianity has morphed into something much different…a stable institutionalized religion that no longer grips us with the excitement and spirituality of the early years.”

Ryan continues: “Rhode lays out 5 key aspects of a viral Jesus movement.
1. Apostolic teams found organic churches and networks that follow Jesus in every gathering. Yet every component, from individual Christians to networks, is easily reproducible and simple in design; simple but not simplistic.
2. Viral Jesus movements are focused on the kingdom, not on the church per se. This is because they are focused on the King and his commands.
3. Viral Jesus movements are founded with the fivefold ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11.
4. Viral movements, by their nature, are supernaturally powerful because they are under the authority and power of Jesus.
5. Finally, viral Jesus movements are led by Jesus alone. He is the one who provides stability and control.

From what Ryan writes, it sounds like this book is written under some of the same premises as The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch and Leonard Sweet. In this book, Hirsch writes that when we recover our spiritual DNA and focus on Jesus, the gospel spreads quickly.

Is it possible for Christianity to spread like a virus in the U.S. today? What might this look like in your community? Have you seen or experienced anything like this?

One of the key quotes for Ryan in the book is, “I believe that Jesus gives ministry success to a person or team because they are obedient, not because they have great technique.”.

If you would like to read more of Ryan’s review of Viral Jesus, click here.



EneME — A blogpost by Eric Bierker

Pastor Ryan Braught posted a link to this blogpost from Eric Beirker who participates in Veritas Church. I love it! I found it very inspirational and got permission to share it here. In the beginning of the post, he tells the missional focus of the church during worship. Next, Eric tells a story of how it played-out in his life. Here’s a short teaser:

“So much of a church service can be pew passivity, this (Veritas’ missional) approach definitely encourages activity. And if not activity, really awkward silence. Really awkward silence…a shaming silence. I departed yesterday vowing to put my faith into practice more intentionally and no sooner had I thought more about “how?” a dude came out and asked for money.

I declined giving him cash but struck up a conversation with the man. I offered to buy him a cup of Lancaster’s finest coffee at Square One and he accepted the offer. No sooner had we started walking there, he went on good versus bad people verbal jag. . .”

To read the whole story, go to EneMe|bierkergaard.

Books / Readings, Church Planting, Community, Ministry Formation, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Third Places, Young Adults

When Sacrilege is a good thing

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from Mike Morrell, who runs the Speak Easy blog program that I am a part of. This e-mail was letting me know that Speak Easy had a book that I could review. The book? Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus by Hugh Halter. As soon as I read the e-mail I went right to the form and filled it out hoping that I wasn’t too late. I hit submit, held my breath, and waited for the confirmation that I indeed got a copy to review for Speak Easy. Seconds later I received that confirmation that i was hoping for, a chance to read the newest book by Hugh.

You see Hugh and his normal writing and ministry partner Matt Smay have influenced me in profound ways in their books The Tangible Kingdom and AND:The Gathered and Scattered Church. And Veritas has used their Tangible Kingdom Primer in developing missional communities (and plan to do so again in the coming year). So I was excited to see what Hugh had to say about following Jesus. And of course the title Sacrilege, which normally is seen as a bad thing in Christian circles, grabbed my attention right away.

The first thing that Halter does in the book’s first chapter is to define what he means by the word sacrilege. He says, “To commit sacrilege is to de-sacredize what is deemed to be sacred….In the Christian sense, to commit sacrilege means to disregard, disrespect, or be irreverent toward those things that have traditionally been considered holy, venerated, or dedicated as sacred. It’s tipping holy cows” At first reading how can sacrilege be a good thing, according to Halter. Just about the time when you are wondering if Halter is trying to just be controversial or provocative, we says this, which sums up what the book is all about, “In actuality, as I’ll show, de-sacredizing what should be de-sacredized is not only good, it begins to move us toward the undercurrent of the real person and Good News of Jesus. Sacrilege is about removing religion from our faith. It’s about securing the integrity of what is most important. It’s about chipping away at people’s false assumptions about who Jesus is and what following him is all about.”

As an Anabaptist I was totally on board where Halter went to show his readers the sacrilegious nature of Jesus, right to the Sermon on the Mount, and more specifically the beatitudes. Halter takes the remainder of the book unpacking the beatitudes and how they flip everything upside down and how following Jesus and living out the beatitudes will fulfill what Jesus wants of his disciples (or apprentices as Halter wants to call those who live for Jesus). Halter says that Jesus, “wanted people to become like him; sacrilegious, incarnational people who lived a contagiously countercultural, kingdom-centered life. (I believe Jesus wanted that when he walked the face of this earth and he also wants that now as well.)

I appreciated the book and what Halter was seeking to do, unpacking Jesus from the religious confines that He has been wrapped up in for 2,000 years and to truly see Jesus as “the ultimate sacrilegious leader.” I resonated with his use of the beatitudes to show the sacrilegious nature of Jesus and how if we follow Jesus, by living out the beatitudes, we’ll be committing sacrilege as well and becoming sacrilegious apprentices.

Here are some quotes from the book that I found helpful or that resonated with me:

“Jesus and the early faith communities lived an intentionally countercultural life without any sense of consumer-oriented fluff- and people still chose to take the leap!” (This is my desire for not only Veritas but for my life as well)

“Biblical apprenticeship is about three things: 1. Becoming just like Jesus. 2. Doing what Jesus did, and 3. doing the above with the types of people Jesus liked spending time with.”

“Jesus messed with people’s paradigms.”

“Jesus utterly jacked up everything people thought about religion and God. And he’s still at it.”

“Jesus loved the Scriptures as they witnessed to him, but his biggest fights were with those who knew the most Scripture.”

“Jesus really doesn’t care how much we know if our knowledge amounts to no change in our lifestyle.”

“Jesus, however, is trying to take people from a small box of religion to the place where they can open up their lives to a huge new world called the kingdom.”

“Although Westernized Christianity pulls us away from risk, confrontation, and getting gritty with real issues, Christ is going to lead us into places that will capture our emotions and reorient our entire perspective about life and why we live it.”

“Being a Christian is about being like Jesus, and sometimes that means taking risks to reach out.”

“Jesus came to expand your life, not keep it the same. His life is fuller than the American Dream, but it’s not as safe.”

“The wall of assumptions will only come down as entire communities band together in unity to live like Christ before the world. This may mean turning from idols of materialism, individualism, consumerism, and religion.”

I’m sure I could go on with various thoughts and quotes that stuck out to me and resonated with me and our journey in planting Veritas as a missional community. But I thought I’d end this blog with a final thought from Hugh that is a deep hope and longing of mine for our community. Hugh says, “Jesus never called people to follow him by themselves. He knew that life in the Kingdom was and still is only available for those committed to community with other apprentices.”

I’m thankful for Mike Morrell and Speak Easy for the opportunity to read and review Sacrilege. Hopefully reading this book can help and remind me to flip some tables and follow the subversive, countercultural, and sacrilegious leader Jesus of Nazareth.

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