Archive for December, 2011

Change!?!, Spiritual Formation

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

That’s Happy New Year, in Hawaiian. As 2011 rapidly winds down, I do pray that each of you can look back and see numerous times where God’s hand has guided you. I’m about to preach tomorrow another sermon about Mary and Joseph, focusing on the time just before they flee to Egypt. They had their plans to marry, live near family in Nazareth, and lead a “normal” life. But their plans were turned upside down by an angel announcing the birth of Jesus, a forced trip to Bethlehem to register, and another forced trip to Egypt to save Jesus’ life.

Our plans may never be messed-up that much, but still it can be frustrating to see our plans or dreams get blocked. My prayer for the New Year is to have eyes to see God’s hand in everything that happens in 2012. That’s a simple request that will require a lot of faith to see it happen.

What’s your prayer or desire for the New Year?

Blessings to you,

P.S. I heard a sermon this past Sunday that used 1 Kings 3:5-14 as its scripture. I thought this is a very appropriate one for my thoughts above.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

7 “Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”

Special Announcements, Spiritual Formation

Merry Christmas from Veritas

Ryan Braught sent the following as a Christmas card to those following his church plant. I was so impressed by it that I want to share it with the world:

In 9 BC the following inscription was written on a stone in the area of Priene …

The providence, which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a benefactor among men, and by sending him, as it were, a savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere. The birthday of the GOD AUGUSUTS – was the beginning of the good news of glad tidings that have come to men through him.

Just a few years later, a group of shepherds received this message on one particular illuminating night …

Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly, there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace with men of good will”.

It’s impossible for me to read these two statements, and walk away without a clear sense that from it’s beginning, the announcement of the good news of the coming of God in Christ, subverted the perceived gods of the world. Caesar was in charge – it was his world – and though the wrong seemed oft so strong – he was the ruler yet. And in Caesar they had hope. Yet, the good news of Jesus proclaimed tidings of joy for all people in a way that Caesar’s never could. Today, we still proclaim Christ’s tiding in this Advent Season … the world thinks of Caesar very little.

But Caesar is not gone.

As I think about Advent I wonder “what is the challenge of Christ’s news today?” There are still plenty of things (and also perhaps people) that promise salvation. We place our hopes at their feet. Some of them speak to us through the walkways of the local Shopping Center … others call out to us from a podium in front of a White House. The work that we do (especially the work of ministry) has a sneaky way of disguising its Caesar-like identity. I know it has captured me more than once.

But, Jesus is still here too – and still challenging and subverting Caesar.

Our Advent faith is an Easter faith. It is grounded in the reality of a moment where the powers of sin, death, and evil all ganged up together and still met their match. Jesus stands over and above all Caesar’s … it is to Him we look … it is in Him we place our hope and trust..

All Hail King Jesus!!!

(Thanks to Chris Backert and the Ecclesia Network for the bulk of the above text)
Jesus is born

(Thanks to Chris Backert and the Ecclesia Network for the bulk of the above text)

Church Planting, Community, Leadership, Ministry Formation, Missional

Veritas Leadership Structure

So the last time that I wrote anything for Emergent Brethren I mentioned our Monthly Rhythm for our gatherings. I shared about our desire to live out (as individuals and as a community) the OUT, UP, IN 3 Dimensional life of a disciple of Jesus. As I began to do some more thinking about this triangle, our monthly rhythm and our core values, I also became aware that this triangle could guide how we structured the leadership of Veritas as we move forward. Below you’ll find a document that I have written to lay out what the Veritas Leadership Structure will look like taking into consideration our Core Values and our Monthly Rhythm. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, ideas, etc……

Leadership Structure of Veritas

“Role Descriptions” of Elder Team (including the Church Planter/Pastor)

Commission Elder:
Vision: To see that we at Veritas serve and bless people in real and practical ways.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on planning OUT events, activities, and gatherings. (Getting Artists for 1st Friday, Musicians for 3rd Friday, connecting with Non-Profits to serve with, etc…)
2. Plan (with Pastor Ryan) the monthly OUT Sunday (currently 1x a month)
3. Train, meet, resource, and network with the Missional Communities OUT Leaders.
4. Develop ways, ideas, and dreams of getting OUT into the world and blessing it and means of getting the word out about Veritas.
5. Meet monthly with Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Communion Elder:
Vision: To create regular opportunities of relevant worship experiences, not as consumers but participating in and creating the worship that is taking place, with people connecting worship on Sunday with their worship on Monday through Saturday.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on planning the Corporate UP Gatherings (2x a month), the sermon series planning, and what each Missional Community is “studying” during their UP Gatherings.
2. Train, meet, resource, and network with the Missional Communities UP leaders.
3. Develop in Partnership with Pastor Ryan a discipleship process for Veritas.
4. Creating, Overseeing, and working on teams that help the Corporate UP Gatherings come together. (Musical team, Children’s Ministry Team, Multimedia Team)
5. Meet monthly with Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Community Elder:
Vision: To help Veritas become a community full of love, grace, compassion, and mercy, following in Jesus’ footsteps.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on planning IN events, activities and gatherings that strength the relational community.
2. Train, meet, resource and network with the Missional Communities IN Leaders.
3. Create, Oversee and work on a Hospitality Team for our Corporate UP Gatherings.
4. Plan (with Pastor Ryan) the monthly IN Sunday (currently 1x a Month)
5. Meet monthly with the Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Collaboration Elder:
Vision: To see that Veritas honors and glories God in the areas of stewardship and strategic development.
1. Partner with Pastor Ryan on funding initiatives.
2. Develop Community Room as a consistent revenue stream
3. Serve as Treasurer to collect and deposit offering (work with supportive church book keeper). Eventually the Collaboration Elder will oversee an “in-house” financial team responsible for keeping the books, and all financial matters. Helps develop the budget in partnership and in conversation with the elder team (including the Pastor/Church Planter.
5. Meet monthly with the Pastor/Church Planter and Elder team.

Church Planter/Pastor of Veritas:
Vision: To live out, embody and help the Veritas community to live out and embody the mission and vision of being a “Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers.”
Role Description for Church Planter/Pastor

•Spends time in Theological reflection (UP)
•Spends time in Spiritual disciplines and prayer (UP)
•Spends time in reflection, and discernment regarding the church and the culture (OUT)
•Encapsulate the community with the biblical narrative (UP)
•Teaches and guides the community through encounters with Scripture, rather than information alone (UP)
•Develops opportunities to engage the context of the neighborhood, and to personally be a neighbor (OUT)
•Develops and unleashes the core leadership to the fullness of their potential (IN)
•Facilitates learning/discerning environments (IN and UP)
•Develops the ability to prioritize missional essentials for the team and able to let other things go (IN, UP, and OUT)
•Models interdependent style of leadership (IN)

•Spends time becoming a Student of scripture (UP)
•Spends time becoming a Student of culture (OUT)
•Is Relationship oriented – ability to engage in genuine and authentic conversation (OUT and IN)
•Is a Risk taker for the Kingdom, where mistakes are allowed (OUT)
•Develops a Strategic discipleship plan that calls the congregation to be ministers to others (UP)
•Engages with a Spiritual director, ministry mentor, and support team for growth and accountability (UP)
•Has Healthy self-awareness; self-learning (IN, UP)
•Develops Courage (OUT)

Elders meet at least monthly. The monthly meeting will include prayer, sharing from each Elder about what is going on in their area of responsibility (UP efforts, IN efforts, OUT efforts, and Administrative details- financial report, etc…), vision plans, dreaming together, and strategic planning for the future. Elders are responsible for the day to day, month to month work of the church. The Church Planter/Pastor is part of the Elder Team, has a vote within the Elder Team and is ultimately accountable to the Elder Team. The Elder Team is also responsible for the yearly church budget.

Community Gathering- The Elders convene a Community Gathering twice a year with the entire community to share vision for the future, reports from each Elder about progress in their areas of responsibilities, and the Collaboration Elder presents the Budget for the Community to vote on. These twice a year Community Gatherings happen in April and October (right now during the IN Sunday Gathering.)

Church Planting, Community, Leadership, Spiritual Formation

Veritas Monthly Rhythm


Over the last few months at Veritas we have been sharing the diagram that is above during our worship gathering time. We had started just with sharing stories of how we had been a blessing in the world, how we had lived out the kingdom in word and deed in the past week, and where God was leading us to live missionary lives. Then I realized we needed more than just the stories of being missional, and then I added how we were growing in our Christian journey. We shared stories of what God was teaching us through our times of individual and corporate prayer, worship, bible study, life in the world, and experiencing God in places where we didn’t expect him to be.

Not too long after starting these discussions during our worship gathering I saw this triangle in material put out by 3DM called Lifeshapes. The idea is that “we are created to be three-dimensional beings; when one dimension is missing or suppressed, the other two do not work as they should. If we do not have all three elements of the Triangle- the Up, the In, and the Out- we are out of balance and we will wobble through life.” (Taken from “Building a Discipling Culture” by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram) I realized that we were sharing stories and instances of living OUT, and UP lives, but were neglecting the IN part. So we began taking 10-15 minutes each worship gathering to hear and tell stories of our UP, IN, and OUT lives.

As I have been looking at the triangle, I have also realized that it fits our 3 Core Values very well..Safe, Spiritual Search (IN), Missional Kingdom Life (OUT), and Authentic Worship Expression (UP). I also began to wonder what it would look like if not only individuals lived out the OUT, UP, IN in their lives, but what it would look like for a community to live this out together in a corporate fashion. So for the past month to a month and a half we have been living out as a community this rhythm taken from the triangle.

So our monthly rhythm looks like this (most of the time)

1st Sunday of the month is our OUT Sunday. We take our time that Sunday to serve the community of Lancaster in some way as well as missionally engage with people. Last week we were asked by Occupy Lancaster to lead a Bible Study.

2nd and 4th Sunday of the month is our UP Sunday. We take time those two Sundays to engage in musical worship, prayer, discussion, Scriptural reflection, and dialogue. (not that we don’t “worship” during the other two Sundays of the month…since everything is worship.)

3rd Sunday of the month is our IN Sunday. We take this Sunday to focus on our community and developing the relationships within the Community. This might take the form of a Brunch, a discussion related to what is happening within the life of our community, a time to talk about the direction/future of Veritas, or some other community gathering. (Not that we don’t build community when we serve together and worship together)

Since this is really new to us, I am waiting to see how we grow, develop, and live out the mission God has called us to by using this missional rhythm of OUT, UP, and IN. I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, ideas, suggestions, and questions about our Monthly Rhythm.