What Does Mike Frost Have to Say?

mike-frostMike Frost is a writer, speaker and generally cool guy you would want to have a beer with.  He talks about something called Missional Church.  If you are part of certain church circles you feel like everyone is talking about Missional Church and you either hate it or love it.  If you aren’t then you have no idea what it is. Mike was in Vancouver last week and so a bunch of pastors and church leaders got together to listen to him. Here’s what he said.

He gave a very clear definition of Mission Church.  he drew a diagram like this.

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Pretty cool eh?  W = Worship  D = Discipleship  C = Community and M = Mission  The diagram represents the functions of a church.  If you do these things then you are a church.

Missional Church, according to Mike Frost, is a church in which all these functions are shaped and catalyzed by Mission.

This is different than most churches, where Mike says all these functions are shaped and catalyzed by Worship. What does he mean?

Imagine you go to a typical church every Sunday.  You feel part of the community. What is it that makes you part of the community?  It’s the fact that you show up for worship on Sunday morning.  If you stopped showing up people would think something was wrong and (hopefully) call you.  If you continued not showing up soon you would not be part of the community.  Simple. So community is shaped and catalyzed by Worship.

This is the same for discipleship and mission.  Discipleship is the process of bringing people closer to God and deepening their faith.  A typical church does this through the Sunday morning worship service.  People come, pray, sing and listen to a sermon.  The idea is that this will help them grow in faith.   Many churches have small groups and bible studies, but these are often secondary.  We put far more energy into Sunday morning.  If you had to quit bible study or Sunday morning which would you quit first?

And how do we do Mission?  We send money to foreign missionaries, run church programs and sometimes talk to our friends. We collect the money to send during our worship services.  The programs that we run and even talking to friends about Jesus are often intended to bring people into church on Sunday.  Imagine your Vacation Bible School or youth outreach program went exactly the way you would want it to. What would that look like?  People would become Christians and then they would come to church on Sunday morning.  If a friend is interested in Jesus we invite them to church. So mission is shaped by worship.

Mike suggests that instead of Worship, Mission should be the shaping and catalyzing force in the church.  Mission should be the goal that everything else is structured around.

Can you see what a dramatic change Mike and all these Missional Church guys are really pushing for.  A church where the members no longer see attending Sunday morning worship as the center? To make this kind of change would feel like your church, as an organization, was dying and starting all over.  How many churches will realistically be able to do this?  Is it even right?

by Isaac Whiting

If you have heard anything about the Missional Church, or even if you just go to church please comment and tell me what you think.

Church Experiments: The Awakening Part 2

alarm clock…this is part two in a series.  Click here for part 1.

Staff Awakening

December, 2008. There were seven adults and six children involved.  All seven committed to the practices in Part 1 and the kids participated in limited ways.  Each person also gave up something they enjoy for the entire 29 days.

During this time we became like a family. Particularly important were the daily phone calls and the shared meals. Conflicts arose after a couple of weeks between people who had never been in conflict before. This was good. In every case it led to deeper relationship. Almost every member of the group commented on personal problems they usually had that were not present during the Awakening. The experience was a mountaintop and spiritual high point.

At the end most of the group was excited to continue in some way. We decided to have meals together once a month and to call each other occasionally. We all agreed to this, but it never happened. Our relationships went back from being like family to friends and co-workers. Once the required discipline and commitment was taken away, all the shared practices and the community that was formed by them evaporated.

Youth Awakening

February, 2009. Seven youth and five leaders committed to do the awakening.

As with the staff the experience created a sense of unity, purpose and seeking after God together. It took longer for this to happen, but by the third week and especially after the retreat everyone in the group felt a real sense of belonging.

This Awakening was much more work for the leaders than the first had been. By the end almost everyone was excited and positive about the experience, including parents. However, before it began there was resistance both from parents and youth over the idea. This was overcome through prayer, listening and explanation.

During the awakening there were amazing changes in many of the youth. Some who had discipline problems and trouble paying attention became helpful and engaged. Some who were shy became excited and involved. Some who prayed only when I made them began to pray on their own. Some read more Bible than required. The three who were baptized were very excited.

Overall, it was a difficult but hugely rewarding experience. I felt as if I had entered the battle instead of sitting on the sidelines. The fight was hard, but things happened. The changes that occurred in this one month were greater than the changes I had seen in three years prior.

Final Thoughts

Our hope was that the Awakening would create a core membership of the youth group that would be united, seek God together and that this core would then draw in others. Over time it succeeded. This group became the core around which a whole new youth group was formed. The new group is larger and much more focused on Christ. Amazingly, Jesus’ strategy of starting with a deep, committed core of people actually works.

However, the Awakening did not work for everyone. Some people who were very committed during the experience could not maintain their commitment to Christ without that community and slowly drifted away.

Sermon Review: How Jesus Brings Your Job Back To Life – Ryan Cochran

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This is a review of a sermon by Pastor Ryan Cochran preached last Sunday, April 15th, 2013. Vancouver BC.
I haven’t ever reviewed a sermon like this, especially one at my own church. This one struck me as especially important.

Main Point:  Your Job is meaningless, but the resurrection of Jesus gives it meaning.

 
Flow of the Sermon: 
  • Ecclesiastes says everything is meaningless, including work. That’s right. When we try to build our identity or put our hope in our jobs we will always be disappointed. If our purpose is just our work then life is meaningless.
  • Our jobs are ONLY good if they are for the purpose of following, loving and worshiping God.
  • We should do four things
    • DIE to the idea that our jobs can be who we are and what we live for.
    • BE OPEN TO GOD at work by viewing our jobs as a gift from Him and praying for our work.
    • HAVE JOY in our work because it is for God.
    • SEE IT AS MISSION.  The work itself is part of God’s work. There is no separation between church and God and the rest of life.  It is all one.
 
Good Stuff:
The ways we worship God in church are just an image of the ways we should be worshiping him in everyday life.  In communion we eat and give thanks. We give our money. We pray for people. We study the Bible.  We are supposed to be doing these daily in our lives. Church is training for worship in the rest of life.

Conclusion:  You should believe that God has given you your job and sent you to that place.  This faith will bring your job back to life.

What Will I DO in Response?
  • think about this sermon again by editing my notes on it (which you are now reading)
  • Remember the image of Sunday worship service as training for everyday life.  Try to implement all the ways we worship on Sunday into my life outside Sunday morning.
by Isaac Whiting
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How To Be a Tech Hero

Research

I hesitate to post this.  Everyone who reads it will find out that I don’t really know much about computers at all.  I just know where to go to find the answer fast.

Hey, do you know how to download a youtube video?  How do you copy a dvd?  How do I get this weird video file to play?  Do you know how to edit a pdf?  How can I cleanup my computer and make it faster?

It doesn’t even matter what the question is.  Here’s the answer.

1) Ask this question.  Would a special computer program be able to solve my problem?  And does this program probably exist?

About 80% of the time the answer is yes and Yes!

2) Go to techsupportalert.com  or google gizmo freeware

This site is not very good for browsing, but it is absolutely incredible for finding a free program you can download immediately that does exactly what you want.  Use the search box or look at their categories.

Let’s say someone asks you to convert a .wmv video to .mp4 and you have no idea what that means.  Just pretend like you do. Go to techsupportalert and search for convert video. Look for an article that starts with the word Best, as in ‘Best Free Audio-Video Conversion Program’.  This page will give you a detailed description of four or five great programs that will do what you want for free. Drop down to their quick selection guide and pick the one they recommend the most. Download it.

Make sure you at least glance at the instructions.  These programs are always safe, but sometimes install other annoying programs you don’t need.  They will give you tips on how to avoid that.

In a few minutes you will have a new program, convert your friend’s video and you will be a Tech Hero!!  A Genius!  How do you know so much about computers?!

This simple strategy will work for tons of computer challenges. Use it to make friends. It can be especially useful when someone you have been on bad terms with is in a bind.

Be careful who you tell the secret to. Some people will love you if you do it for them, but won’t believe you if you tell them how.

by isaac whiting

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Church Experiments: The Awakening Part 1

 alarm clock

The following are my reflections on a specific attempt in 2008-9 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Vancouver BC  to generate true Christian community through a one month experience of seeking God together called ‘Awakening‘.

Youth Ministry Before

I started at Ebenezer in June 2005. The youth ministry was a Wednesday night meeting, Sunday morning bible studies with virtually no attendance, and a once a year vacation bible school for teenagers in the summer.  Anyone who wanted to could come to these events. In this sense they were exactly like our Sunday morning church services. Whoever walked in was the meeting for that night. A particular group of teenagers would come for a while. Then new people would show up, and old people leave and the group would change. Over the course of three years this happened several times.

This ministry as I did it was also based on my performance. Because there were always new people and those who were attending would only be there for a short time there were discipline problems and virtually no interest in the real purpose of the group, the mission of Jesus. My response was to consistently present ‘powerful’ messages that shocked and held the attention of the group. Sometimes this had a positive effect. Several youth became more serious about their faith and a few ‘decided’ to follow Christ for the first time. I also spent a considerable amount of time one-on-one with several young men in the group.

Man this is Terrible!

In the fall of 2008 my frustration with this kind of ministry peaked. It was hard to face discipline problems and lack of interest every week. What kept me going was the hope that the message would get through to some. However, I began to realize that even those who wanted to go deeper with God had no opportunity to do so. One-on-one ministry seemed to me the only really fruitful thing I was doing. I did not, however, see any way to change the Wednesday night meetings.

Our Children’s Pastor Chris Hensel began to push me about the way Wednesday nights were and to consider changes. He asked me what youth ministry would look like if I could make it any way I wanted. Conversations I had with him and our Senior Pastor Ryan Cochran resulted in the following idea.

Awakening?

The youth group should be a committed community seeking God. It should not be open to just anyone at any time. The youth group was disbanded and reformed. Membership required completing a one month experience called Awakening. During this month participants would be required to call each other every day, complete set scripture readings every day, pray at set times twice per day, meet together twice per week to prepare, eat meals, read scripture and pray, complete a two week media fast, go on a one day spiritual retreat together, follow a common menu for all meals for one week and be baptized.

These practices were designed to mimic living together under common spiritual discipline without being physically present with each other more than twice per week. We tried this idea first with church staff families in preparation for use with the youth group.

To Be Continued…

Book Review: Company of the Committed – Elton Trueblood

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This is an amazing book published in 1961 that predicted what has happen to the church. Trueblood calls for things that many Christians and churches today are just waking up to.

Summary:  The Church is a company of soldiers, metaphorically speaking, who live with Jesus and go forward on his mission in the world. The Church is loving communities established not for themselves, but in order to help and bless everyone else.

Good Stuff:  

Preaching may not in some instances be helpful to those who listen, but it is almost always helpful to those who speak.

“I just let my life speak.”  What one of among us is so good that he can let his life speak and leave it at that?

Sometimes the best witness if that of the church as a whole.

The vital idea is that the pastor is the helper of the ordinary lay members in the performance of their daily ministry in the midst of secular life.

The concept of a churchgoer is inept. Christians may indeed come in but they do so only that they may go out.

In many churches the entire church operation points to a climax on Sunday morning.

The church building [should be like] a drill hall for the Christian task force

Great discipline in regard to style as well as content must be learned if we really seek to reach contemporary minds.

We ask what Presbyterians believe but we seldom ask how Presbyterians love.

In all periods of great vitality the church has been deeply concerned for the welfare of those who are not adherents at all.

If God, as we believe, is truly revealed in the life of Christ the most important thing to Him is the creation of centers of loving fellowship which in turn infect the world.

Complaints:  ??  None really. I love this book.

Also, this book is available for FREE online!

Christians – Stop Using Words that No One Else Knows!

can't hear you smallMy Beloved Brethren dwelling in fellowship through the righteousness and loving-kindness of our glorious and only begotten Lord, I declare to you this day the dire need for our confession and repentance from the sins of the tongue. For the sake of our evangelical outreach, witness and testimony, that we might see salvation, redemption and assurance of new birth in the holy spirit come to unreached sinners we must turn away from speaking in foreign tongues without an interpretation.

Translation: Christians – STOP USING WORDS NO ONE ELSE KNOWS!

Seriously, just stop it right now.

Imagine that you were not part of our weird church culture  The words we use on Sunday or in a prayer meeting would make no sense to you. It would be a foreign language. 

Here’s why you should stop using special christian words.

1)  Special Christian words block the way to God

Jesus was constantly angry at the priests because they were keeping people from coming close to God. They required people to eat certain food, dress a certain way and use certain words to worship God.  This made regular people think they could never be close to God. We are doing the same thing!

2) There is nothing special about this language, we are just used to it

Some might object that many of these words are necessary because they have special christian meaning. Wrong. When properly understood many of these words do have a specific meaning that is hard to match exactly in other language, but that doesn’t matter.   

The earliest followers of Jesus knew concepts about God that were easier to express exactly in Hebrew or Aramaic, their native language and the language Jesus spoke with them.   Greek didn’t have the right words.  But they didn’t hesitate to translate the message immediately into simple, everyday Greek. The Greeks would never understand the message in the old language.  New words had to be used.

3) It Messes Up the Way WE Think About God

Using these words creates a division in our brains between what we do for God or at church and our ‘regular’ life.   It makes church and God stuff feel different than the rest of our life. The bible recognizes no such division. When we pray with a bunch of fancy words our prayers easily lose the deep and personal connection that is supposed to be there between us and God.

Often we don’t even understand what we are saying. Take your pick of special christian words we use all the time and ask around at your church to see how many people can tell you what it means. The answer is very few.  I am talking about words we use literally every time we meet like majesty, gospel, holy and hallelujah. I estimate that over half the regular members at our church cannot explain what these words mean. If that is true then what the heck are they doing in worship, prayer or when the bible is being read?!  Not much. They are left out. Only the core, born and bred, older, native English speakers are able to really understand these words. The core worships while the rest sit on the sidelines.

by Isaac Whiting

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