Wednesday, August 26, 2015

War Room...the movie

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against...the powers of this dark world...."  (Ephesians 6:12)

My wife and I just witnessed an advance showing of the movie, WAR ROOM.  We give it, "Two thumbs up, 8 more fingers and a side of 10 toes!"  The flick hits national screens this Friday, August 28th.  I highly recommend YOU see it as well!  But, just like following Jesus, don't witness the movie alone.  Instead, use this great tool to invite (even pay for) others to join you.  You have my word, the movie will inspire and challenge you in a manner that few movies are able.  After that, I invite you to consider developing small ministry group(s) to not only discuss the movie's impact, but to pray together in how its story-line can develop a renewed prayer-life-power for your church and your city!  

In case you men are wondering if this is some feel-good marshmallow-movie, I'm telling you it is anything but soft.  It hits the heart hard...penetrates the enemy of apathy...and blows it up!  I believe this flick will empower you with the scriptural-weapons you need to win life's daily battles over your family. WAR ROOM equips men, women and children to receive the truth of Jesus as warrior king, calling us to join him in the Holy Spirit of conquering the darkness that seeks to consume our families, work places and cities.  In Christ, we always win on the battlefield of life--- so watch the movie and experience how!

WAR ROOM is another family-friendly, Christian film written, produced, and directed by the Kendrick Brothers, Alex and Stephen.  They are the creators of such films as, Facing the Giants, FireProof and Courageous.  All previous Kendrick movies have been used by churches around the nation to ignite new ministries.  For example, while I was pastoring my Minnesota church plant, we used FireProof to jump start a marriage ministry, then a couple years later used Courageous to inspire our men's ministry to emulate the movie and develop courageous-covenants.  I now invite you to watch and experience WAR ROOM, in theaters today, and let the Holy Spirit direct you, and your church, in making a prayer-packed impact!

Check out a trailer preview here:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Morning vs. the Boat

Dave Jacobs, a church planter from southern California, recalls a time when he first started his church:  "Some of my leaders had chosen to go boating instead of coming to church (Sunday morning worship time) and I was upset.  I said to my wife, 'Don't they realize I'm trying to do something here?  How am I going to grow this church if my leaders aren't as committed as I am?"

His wife responded with the wisdom of the Lord: "Dave, this church is your life.  Your whole focus is on it.  Nobody cares about this church like you do.  No one will be as committed as you are.  They've got church and then they've got their lives out of the church.  You don't.  For you, it's all church.  You better understand this and get over it or you're going to push your leaders away, be unhappy all the time--- and make me unhappy!"

Church planters: I can relate to Dave response, and to his dear wife's retort as well--- mostly because once-upon-a-time, that was me!  Starting a church from scratch is hard enough, but when others aren't appearing to "appreciate" the difficulty of the mission, it hurts.

What might YOU do in such a situation?  Bellyache about it?  Yell at people?  Guilt them?  Go ahead and try all that if you wish, but I'll tell you right now--- it will only make matters worse for the momentum of your church start.

So here's what I believe can be one remedy for such dis-ease: start a church where its DNA is all about training, equipping and encouraging people to be daily disciples in the marketplace (practicing Ephesians 4:11-13).  This way, your folks are never only "in or "out" of the church (facility).  Instead, they are being the Body of Christ everywhere they go--- including boating!

Here's an example: let's say the above true story was the only time the new church leaders could go boating together with another couple from the neighborhood who are not Christian.  If trained well by the planter, the leaders see this outing as a grand opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with the unchurched couple.  The leaders see it as "an act of worship."  So, not only have they been trained by the planter to minister to each other on the boat, but they are boldly sharing ministry over the new couple as well!

This way your boating members become boating missionaries of your message.  They are living out worship as "fishers of men."

The same can be true for your countless families that follow their kids to weekend softball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, basketball, chess, checkers and hopscotch tournaments.  Instead of letting their absence drive you nuts, you focus on intentionally building-up your church body to BE JESUS to those other parents who are also at the weekend games, but are not familiar with the hope only Christ offers.  The same practice of faith can be implemented by your church youth towards their friends!  So planters: equip your members to pray over other people in the daily marketplace--- and be ready at all times to share the hope they have in Christ Jesus!

Perhaps, over time, these newly connecting, faith-sparking relationships will lead more people to showing up for the Sunday morning gathering--- to hear YOUR great messages!  Bottom line for this blog entry: please don't think I'm not advocating for Sunday morning worship time--- indeed it's crucial to faith development.  I'd prefer that no one ever missed!  If believers, however, are going to reach unbelievers, then we planters need to focus on equipping our people to be marketplace ministers on Monday, and not just pew sitters on Sunday.  It's a both/and outlook of faith.

This way, Dave's earlier laments (see paragraph one) are cancelled in the power of Jesus:
-Your people WILL SEE what you're doing--- and will be thankful.

-Your church WILL GROW in numbers and influence because others are serving with you.

-Your leaders WILL BE more committed because they are personally participating in the new church's mission.

                       For past blogs on church planting, see 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Planting Workshop at the Annual Gathering


Featuring 3, 1-hour breakout sessions during the 2015 LCMC Annual Gathering, October 4-7, in Frisco, TX (Dallas).  Each breakout leads to the next, so be sure to sign-up when you register for the gathering (see for registration information), or simply drop-in as you are led.

Who Should Attend?
Anyone who is sensing a Holy Spirit nudge to at least investigate and discern the possibility of planting a new ministry of any sort.  Teams are encouraged to attend!

Two Reasons NOT to Plant...
1). It's perceived as the cool thing to do.
2). It's perceived as the easy thing to do, or a quick fix to problems.

Two Reasons TO PLANT...
1). You're so compelled by the Spirit, that it feels like high treason against God not to plant!
2). No other existing ministry is doing what YOU are suppose to do in your domain to reach the lost!

Workshop Topics:
How to missionally reach a city...
How to hear from God for vision, values and strategies...
How to prep for a launch and sustain momentum...
How to fund-raise and develop discipleship...
How to lead in a Holy Spirit, biblically-inspired manner...

Led by the Rev. Dan Clites, LCMC's Coordinator for New Ministry Development.  
Questions?  Contact Dan at:  

ALSO!  Church Planter's Reunion during the Sunday night dessert gathering, 8:30 pm.  Interested in planting?  Come to meet and talk with our current planters, their spouses and leaders!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Quest for Missional: Kingdom Life, part-5-of-5

This is the last of a 5-part blog series on The Quest for Missional--- written to inspire individuals and church bodies to access the power of God at work within them, through the faith life-style of Luke 10:1-9 and Prayer Evangelism.  This is not about implanting another program, but igniting a daily life-style of being missional.  

I have sadly found too many churches that believe and act as if their particular church's mission is to create really good in-house programing--- mostly for the sole benefit of it's own members.  Biblically, the opposite is true: the mission of God has a church for the sake of the outside!  Programs inside a church facility aren't necessarily a bad thing--- but inside programming must create disciples of Jesus for the sake of blessing the outside of the church facility!  Otherwise, the congregants are no longer a church body of a missional God, but an institution that only serves religious goods and services.  After all, God's first love isn't the church, it's the world (so says John 3:16).  But, so the whole world may know His love, God created the church (John 3:17)!

When we pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done," we are asking the Lord of the harvest to include us in what He is doing to bring His kingdom life into our cities.  Our prayer is that kingdom life come through the living Body of Christ--- as God's Church sent into the daily marketplace!

That's why Step-4 of Luke 10:1-9, and Prayer Evangelism, ends with verse 9 as Jesus empowers us to share with others, "The Kingdom of God has drawn near to you."

Before moving forward, though, let's take a second to work backwards in this blog series...
After we pray peace and blessing (Step-1) over spheres of the enemies control (verse 5), God breaks the darkness with His light.  This is God's power through our obedience as we participate in God's kingdom heart to change the spiritual atmosphere of an area.  When that occurs, the cultural climate is being transformed, allowing you to practice with a home field advantage of Step-2, making meaningful and lasting relationships with those around you (verse 7).  From that kind of trust development, comes Step-3 and a doorway to healing (verse 9).

Now...go ahead in the permission and power of Jesus to connect heaven's provision with earth's poverty, praying for people's felt needs (verse 9)!  Let them hear first-hand how you trust God's provision.  Let them receive first-hand how God wants to give them healing: physical, emotional, relational, motivational, material and spiritual healing.  Then, expect God's kingdom to come and His will to be done...somehow, someway.

According to Jesus' evangelistic blueprint of Luke 10:1-9, outsiders will be way more open to knowing the hope you have when they smell freshly baked bread on your life (you're smelling so good because you've been following the one who calls himself the bread of life!).  Be ready, then, to share the hope you have in Jesus.  Tell folks your story of God's grace in your life!  Indeed, the kingdom of God is near and life as God intends it to be is for all who believe and receive what God gives!

Friends: I have personally seen and experienced the power of practicing Prayer Evangelism in my personal life, and in the life of the church I planted.  This is why I advocate for Luke 10's  implementation everywhere I go!  It takes churches away from becoming stagnate, spiritual institutions, and turns them into transformational movements that change cities and beyond.  I've seen first-hand how a city can be totally against an evangelical church, but then be turned completely around when the church decides to follow Jesus' patterns of fighting against the principalities of darkness with Prayer Evangelism.   I pastored that church!  The flesh only creates possible temporary victories....but living in kingdom life ushers-in God's permanent victory in Christ.

With all the divisiveness our nation is experiencing these days as we head into our 239th birthday, can you imagine what practicing Prayer Evangelism might do to bring real healing and hope?

Our Quest for Missional is to be faithful disciples of Jesus.  It's what it means to be a missional church that follows a missional God.  Missional means SENT.  God sends Jesus into us, and Jesus sends us out!  No longer do we have to expect outsiders to press their faces against our windows (from blog-1)...instead, the church has already left the building, and gone to them.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Quest to be Missional: Heal the Sick, part 4-of-5

The following is part-4 of a 5-part blog series on The Quest to be Missional.  I'm sure it would be quite helpful if you were to take a moment and read blogs 1-3 before taking-on blog-4 and Step-3 of Prayer Evangelism.  The Outsider/Insider jargon comes from blog-1. 

The word missio is Latin for "mission".  It means sent or sending.  The phrase Missio Deo means "Missional God."  According to the Bible, we have a Missional God who sends himself into the world so that we can participate in His kingdom work.  One key way for believers to share this hope with those who do not know such good news, is to practice the game-plan Jesus lays-out in Luke 10:1-9.  After all, God sent Jesus...and Jesus sends us (see John 17:18).

Starting in blog-2 of The Quest to be Missional, I've been expressing the daily-practice steps to what can be called, Prayer Evangelism.  It is a biblical life-style for Church Insiders to live the faith on the Outside, so that Outsiders can know and experience the life-changing love Inside the Father!

Step-1 from Luke 10:1-9:  Speak Peace, verse 5.
Step-2 from Luke 10:1-9:  Remain in that house...make connections and relationships, verse 7.
Step-3 from Luke 10:1-9:  Heal the sick who are there, verse 9.

You see, once you've been praying peace over a sphere of influence, the peace of Jesus (in power) breaks the curse of darkness and bleeds forth the hope of light.  This is an act of faith working in the spiritual realm.  It's spiritual climate change!  It leads to a home field advantage for you as the Holy Spirit now guides you in making trusting relationships with others--- within your neighborhood, work, school, etc.  Once Outsiders realize being a Christian isn't about condemning or judging them OUT, the Outsiders are way more interested in hearing about Jesus IN your life.  Often times they will directly ask you to pray for them!  You didn't have to force them and you didn't have to talk them into it, they just became open to being prayed for because the Spirit has led them to trusting you through your relationship with them!  (You are in relationship with them, of course, because you have a relationship with Jesus!)

At this point, pray for them in person!  They may, or may not, be ready to receive Jesus as Lord, or even go to church with you...but they are at least trusting you for something greater--- and God is greater!  Pray for their felt needs that require some sort of healing (as expressed by them, to you).  Obviously healing comes in many forms.  There's not only physical healing, but emotional, relational, motivational and spiritual healing.  Continue to build-up peace and continue to build-up trust (Steps 1 and 2).  Love them as Christ first loves you.  The Holy Spirit will crack them because you've been asking the Holy Spirit to crack YOU into HIS plans!

This means Step-4 is now ripe and ready to enter.  The kingdom is near!  Tomorrow, I'll share more on that.  Thanks for staying tuned in!     

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Quest to be Missional: Making Connections, part-3-of-5

Hi Friends.  This blog is part-3 of a 5-part series on the Quest to be Missional.  If you haven't done so already, I invite you to take a moment to review blogs 1-2 as we head into part-3.  The Outsider/Insider terms come from my "church window story" in blog-1.  

For outsiders to ever know and experience the love of God from inside a church facility...the Body of Christians must live-out the same love and hope they receive from the inside, to the outside.  Otherwise, how will outsiders ever be able to trust that Christianity is anything more than an institutional insiders-club for religious types?

But the question I often hear is...HOW CAN WE BRING FAITH OUT?  Especially for shy folks....

Practicing Prayer Evangelism is one of the most powerfully biblical means to change the world.  It's foundation is to obey in faith what Jesus instructs us to do.  After all, he and the Father are the creators of the world.  Therefore, who would know more about what works best for all creation, than the original creators!?   In my last post, I laid-out Luke 10:1-9 and the 4-steps of Prayer Evangelism.  Step-1 from verse 5 is "Speak Peace."  Step-2 from verse 7 is "remain in that house."  But, what is Jesus saying to us in verse 7?

Too often Christians have been more interested in winning outsiders to Christ by simply having them "pray a salvation prayer," rather than also discipling them.  This occurs when some Christians get confused to what it really means to be missional.  They believe it's their job is save someone.  It is not.  That's Jesus' job.  Our job description as believers is to disciple others.  Jesus says so in Matthew 28. When we don't do as Jesus instructs, it often leads to discouragement in ourselves, and to someone else's disappointment in the Christian faith.  It creates insiders vs. outsiders...and neither represent God's heart.

Step-2 of Prayer Evangelism, however, is Jesus' way of saying, "hang in there with people.  Get to know them and vice versa.  Don't just jump from house to house."  In Jesus' day, "house" was more than a personal place to eat and sleep, but often a person's business headquarters, or school, usually centered in the marketplace.

Quality time with people is more apt to lead to quantity success.  Churches may have great attendance in Sunday worship, but are the attendees also being discipled well enough to have a great faith impact on Monday?  In the Great Commandment, Jesus calls us into God to worship.  In the Great Commission, he sends us out to make disciples.  Both are needed, but we can't automatically equate worship attendance with disciple making.  Worship can be a great start, but discipling others requires personal patience, mentoring, prayer, accountability and loving training.  Jesus knows that long-standing relationships through the thick-thin of daily life is what speaks volumes of a person's mature faith--- as well as how that mature faith can be contagious for the sake of others.  That's missional!  Think about how easy this really is.  Step-1 says pray for the spiritual climate to usher-out darkness and escort-in light, giving you better access within other people's daily lives.  This develops trust, and when you have someone's trust, you often have their ears for discipleship.

In my next blog, I will speak to the ear.  That is, Step-3 of Prayer Evangelism that takes insider faith, out, in order to bring healing to many.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Quest to be Missional: Speaking Peace, part-2-of-5

The following is the second of a five-part blog series on, "The Quest to be Missional."

In part-1 of this blog series, I spoke to the reason that more church outsiders don't want to come inside a church facility, is because the insiders aren't living their inside faith on the outside!  However...changed lives in-Christ, lived-out in the daily marketplace, is always attractive to those who know they are missing something.  We have, after all, a missional-God who SENDS himself to us, so the world may know Him!

The following is called, "Prayer Evangelism."  It is God's directive, through Jesus, into believers for the sake of pre-beleivers.  It is Jesus' blue print to how to evangelize his good news in the power and the love of God.  Nothing is forced.  It is Spirit-led and Word powered.   I believe that when Christians begin practicing the following 4-steps as a daily life-style process (and not a rigid procedure or another program), the spiritual climate of a city, or a certain sphere, is transformed in the Spirit--- opening the gate to God's kingdom presence!

Begin by meditating on Luke 10:1-9...and note how many times the missional words "sent," or "send" are used!
"...the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.  2-And he said to them, 'the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3-Go on your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.  4-Carry no money bag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.  5-Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!'  6-And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him.  But if not, it will return to you.  7-And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8-Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you.  9-Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'"

Step 1-of-4 of living-out Prayer Evangelism comes in verse 5.  Jesus says that when we enter a sphere of our influence, declare PEACE!  Now, peace is not necessarily the absence of crisis, rather the hope of Christ despite the crisis.  Therefore, peace is a person--- Jesus.  His name is the name above all others.  In simply proclaiming the name of "Jesus"--- his powerful presence begins to move in and push out anything anti-Jesus.  It's like a bulldozer pushing-out a bolder to escort-in a new landscape!

When we practice step-1 of Prayer Evangelism on a daily basis, the first thing that is transformed is...US!  We are no longer cursing, mocking or judging; but instead, speaking "peace."  When this happens, the spiritual climate of a space is radically changed.  It's OUT with the darkness of the spiritual enemy that's been sitting over an area, and IN with the light and rule of Christ!  Think of it as having the home field advantage for sharing faith in a manner that is no longer perceived as judgmental or hypocritical, but natural and real.

Imagine if all Christians in the body of Christ (The Church) were to practice this biblical directive on a daily basis!  What an impact it would have on our hurting nation and world!  Outsiders would start seeing Insider's faith on the outside, opening a path for Step-2 of Prayer Evangelism....

For Step-2, and what it means to daily walk in the home field advantage of the Holy Spirit, stay-tuned for my next blog, tomorrow.  Thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Quest to be Missional: Inside Out. Part-1-of-5

Earlier this year I was at a conference in Florida where one of the stage speakers said something like this:
"Often times we Christians are found pressing our faces against the inside windows of our churches, looking out and wishing we could party like the world.  What we really want to be doing inside our church buildings, is partying with such joy that outsiders would want to press their faces against our windows, looking in and wishing they could party with us!"

I know what he meant and you probably do too.  In fact, I agree: the INSIDE of our church facilities should be one of the greatest spaces of concentrated joy there is--- because the power and presence of Jesus calls us to gather into Himself!  Having said that, if Jesus is with us on the INSIDE of our church facilities, how can he also be with us on the OUTSIDE?

The answer is: Jesus is everywhere his BODY (the Church) is!  If the body is only believing, worshipping, serving and testifying on the inside of a facility, then Jesus' power is limited to four walls on a Sunday...but if the body lives the faith outside the facility, then the power of Christ has no boundaries Monday through Saturday in the daily marketplace!

Trouble is, too many post-moderns on the outside of the church facility aren't seeing enough Christians living their inside Christian faith on the outside of the church facility.  Why, then, would the outsiders ever want to become insiders if they aren't seeing insider's changed lives on the outside?!

Think on this for a moment: there are two main ways most people understand Church as a place to GO TO...

1)...for teaching of the true Gospel of God's Word and to correctly celebrate the sacraments.  This is a great start, but God's Word isn't held hostage to just Sunday mornings.

2)...and receive religious goods and services.  In this understanding, people are welcomed into a church facility as customers.  Membership means you belong and have rights and privileges within the tribe--- such as having a welcoming place to be baptized, married and buried.  Expectations are an exchange: for the member's loyalty, money and time volunteered inside the facility; comes new insight through teachings, fun experiences, a place to make friends and publicly worship.

Certainly nothing listed in 1 and 2 is bad...but if 1 and 2 don't exist for the sake of mission outside the building, the church is quickly seen as an institution that exists for only the benefit of its inside members.

Instead, the "biblical church" exists for the main benefit of others!  Members join the inside to become equipped missionaries for the sake of those living on the outside!  With that in mind, allow me to add a third way to understand the church...

3) people called and sent by God to participate in His redemptive mission for the world.  The church is a body that is sent.  We gather, yes, but we gather for the sake of God's mission in the marketplace.  We come together to be equipped through teaching, prayer, worship and study--- then sent out.  We are gathered to be scattered in the power of Jesus to change the world around us!

Blog-2 of this series, The Quest to be Missional, will feature a powerfully influential and biblically directed mission, in which your church can start connecting Christians from the inside of the church, to folks on the outside of the facility.  It is called, Prayer Evangelism.  Stay tuned for the new blog, tomorrow.  Thanks.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bi-Vocational Church Planting: the way of the future?

Part of my calling as Coordinator for New Ministry Development in the LCMC, is to advocate with our existing congregations the need for "Mother Churches."  In other words, churches that are willing to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit to multiply themselves with biblical influence (in their respective cities, states or districts) by assisting in birthing new churches.

Such Mother Churches are missional ministries of great leadership--- recognizing and lifting-up potential planters from within their own ranks--- either sending them to seminary training and/or encouraging them with "contract" pastoral training.  Churches can also pool funding with other LCMC churches and assist a new planter in, or out, of their area.  Or, they can do a combination!  There is great freedom in the LCMC to do great kingdom work!

ON THE OTHER HAND....what seems to be a national trend, and maybe even the way-of-the-future in effective missional planting, is for more and more planters to see themselves as BIVO...or Bi-Vocational.  BIVO is where a planter works full or part-time at a job that supports themselves and/or family, while also working at leading a launch team for planting a new ministry movement.  The plant may one day lead to a full-time paid position, or not.  Some planters are thinking that having one foot in the daily marketplace and one foot in the temple, is an excellent way to better connect with people on a daily basis--- especially with the growing number of "nones." (no faith, or at least, no connection to a church family).  See my previous June 1, 2015 blog for the story of Jonathan Haseley, and his BIVO work in Niagara Falls, NY.  

Therefore, contrary to what some may believe, BIVO planters don't have to feel left to the wolves.  No way!  That is why I'm delighted to announce there is a training conference coming up that is directly speaking into the BIVO way of planting--- it's encouraging and strategic!  Not only that, we already have ONE OF OUR CURRENT LCMC CHURCH PLANTERS, Eric Hulstrand, who is set to go.  Eric would love to have you join him!

Some details:
Pastor Eric Hulstrand of Realife Church in Bloomington, Minnesota
Cell: 612-741-6615
(Eric has a housing connection, so that would eliminate one major expense!).

Go to for greater details and registration for the conference, held August 7-8, 2015, at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado.  Sponsored by the Forge Network.

Let me know if you are going!  A $500.00 scholarship is available for attending the conference, through me, for those who are serious about BIVO planting.

Dan Clites

Monday, June 1, 2015

Falls UP! Planting Update #4

The following is a brief report on one of the 30-some new church starts the LCMC is experiencing over the last couple years.  

Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful and powerful wonders you'll ever gaze your eyes upon.  Intrigued, dare "devils" have walked tight-ropes across it, while others have attempted to go over the watery edge in a barrel.  Some have succeeded, but many have not...even to their demise.

I have visited the city of Niagara Falls, located in western New York, a couple times in the last two years.  While the falls is spectacular and its reputation is romantic, the reality is that much of the downtown area is falling a part.  Some businesses are struggling to stay open.  Buildings that have closed doors are now eye sore broken shells.  Niagara, like many other cities, has its share of the poor in pocketbook, homeless and those trapped in addiction.

There is hope, however, because Jesus is leading the Falls, UP!  That's because one of our LCMC church planters lives in Niagara Falls and has a great heart for his city.  He doesn't want to see Niagara "falls"...but seeks God's heart for how the city can "rise!"

The Rev. Jonathan Haseley recently started a missional community in Niagara Falls, calling itself, "Barefoot Community Church"--- as in Romans 10:15, "Happy are the feet that preach the good news!"  Barefoot is Jonathan's first call, sort of.  You see, while going through seminary training, Jonathan served as a part-time associate pastor at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in nearby Sanborn.  Now at age 28, Jonathan is starting an unconventional missional church, while continuing to serve part-time at St. Peter's.  All that, while also being employed in the marketplace--- teaching in the Niagara school district and working at a rec center.  This, while also serving on the board of a local homeless shelter!  I believe Jonathan's sense of call may very well be the norm of the future, with more and more successful clergy keeping at least one foot in the daily marketplace for the sake of missional connections and effectiveness.

Obviously, Barefoot is in its baby-toe infancy, but with Jonathan's leadership heart, I see Barefoot imprinting a prototype foot print---  a kind of church plant that can get off the ground with very little up-front finances, but with a ton of up-front vision to reach a city for Christ!

Barefoot is currently.... the midst of forming its core team and laying out a timeline for the multiplication of missional communities and the launching of worship.

...planning on meeting in homes, local coffee shops, community pubs and restaurants in order to embed believers into the community.

...building connections in the greater Niagara region: such as the Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission (for inner city ministry), the Niagara Power baseball team (a local FCA "Fellowship of Christian Athletes" collegiate summer team), the Magdalene Project (an inner city ministry for women and children) and Destination Life Fellowship (an inner city church plant with a clothes closet and food pantry).

A busy guy?  Yes, but Jonathan knows the best way to reach A city is to be IN the city with fellow disciples--- serving a city's felt needs in the name of Christ.  Yet, Jonathan's passion for discipleship multiplication goes beyond western New York, as he also serves with three other LCMC pastors and myself on the first-ever LCMC Mission Team--- a group recently formed to assist in spreading the purpose of planting throughout our association.

Mission Team:
Rev. Jonathan Haseley (living in New York)
Rev. Jonathon Kosec (living in Florida)
Rev. Sean Kelly (living in California)
Rev. Nathan Anenson (living in Iowa)

While Niagara Falls has experienced its share of dare "devils" over the decades, it is now experiencing dare "angels"---  Christians looking to team-up with other Christians for the sake of those who are not yet...Christian.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WANTED: Apostolic Ministry in Your Church!

A couple of thoughts for readers to ponder and pray:

1). The church has traditionally been way better at making its membership numbers increase, rather than multiplying its discipleship making numbers for the sake of the whole city and nation.  In doing so, some churches have grown in numbers even while diminishing in their cultural influence.

2). This has occurred, in part, because the church has focused more energy and money on training volunteers to work within the buildings of its organizations, rather than training, equipping and encouraging Christian leadership to live as disciples of the organism--- blessing the marketplace of every day life.

I hope to write more on these two points in the near future--- focusing on possible solutions.  In the meantime, let me suggest that one great way for the church (ecclesia) to regain its original purpose of making disciples, is to be re-captured by the biblical 5 fold ministry gift set---  and not just teaching and shepherding, but evangelism, prophecy AND apostleship. 

Let me state for this blog entry, that I believe the church (and, of course, the LCMC) GREATLY NEEDS its apostolic ministry to be matured for increase.  This, for the sake of planting new congregations while revitalizing existing ones.

With that in mind, below is a segment from the newly released book, Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church, penned by authors Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim.  I find  this particular section extremely interesting...and spot on.

"Without apostolic multiplication, we stop at evangelistic addition.  Salvation is seen as individualistic as we fail to see how God wants to start a gospel pay-it-forward movement through the life of every believer.

Without apostolic action, we fail to experience the promised presence of Christ.  Spiritual authority comes when we operate as an apostolic people sent to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18-20).

Without apostolic clarity, our identity and purpose become murky.  We fail to think strategically about the underlying value systems and core ideologies that define a community.

Without apostolic modeling, we miss out on a culture of releasing and empowering.  Instead, we contend with culture of management and control.

Without apostolic parenting and releasing, multigenerational mentoring and leadership development are replaced by a dependence on the ministry of professionally training clergy.

Without apostolic accountability, we fail to ask the obvious questions of strategy and sustainability behind our best practices.  Consider these examples:  Do we really need to have million dollar budgets, seminary educated leaders, and 50 to 100 Christians to start a church?  Do we need to have land and a building to be the church?

Without apostolic imagination, we fail to ask the questions of scalability.  Instead of reproducibility and scalability, we opt for "go big" and "launch large," forgetting that big movements grow out of small ones done well.  The New Testament is our best and most basic example of this.

Without apostolic vision, we fail to ask the questions of reproducibility and transferability.  We so complicate the message and training process that few know it and are able to pass it on to others.

Without our apostolic passion, we fail to embrace our roles in the big picture of kingdom mission.  Rather, we busy ourselves with the smaller vision and goals of our organizations instead of embracing our calling to actively participate in the global movement.

We believe the idea of custodianship establishes the correct relationship that apostolic people have in relation to the Lord, the gospel and the ecclesia--- namely, that of a slave or a servant.  A great deal is contained in this idea: the custodian both seeds and guards the theo-genetic codes of the church, and this helps generate and sustain movements as well as catalyzes the incredible potential locked up in the ministry of Jesus' church.  Exclude the apostolic, and it becomes hard to see how a fully formed, mature, and expansive ecclesia can possibility take place.  Most likely the church would be limited to good preaching, groovy contemporary worship, and Bible studies.  We suspect that Jesus intended much more for the movement that he started."  The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church, by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Multiplying Momentum for the City

"Go and make disciples...."  

I just returned from attending the annual Exponential Conference in Tampa, Florida.  With me, were 10 LCMC church planters and their planting teams--- for a total of 23 souls amongst 4,000!  Exponential is where church planters and missionally-minded existing church leaders gather for God's inspiration and direction to multiply gospel impact for their cities.

For example, the group was introduced to a Dan Smith, pastor of Momentum Church in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was wearing a t-shirt that read: "I liked Cleveland before liking Cleveland was Cool."  I'm not totally sure what that means, perhaps it has something to do with LeBron James....?!

Anyway, Dan's planting story is quite intriguing and really out of the box for most conventional pastors.  You see, instead of measuring accumulation (that is, determining success/failure by the size of buildings, the number of butts in seats and budget numbers), Dan intentionally birthed a church that is all about the SENDING impact.  In just a few short years, Momentum Church has sent out more than 100 people to plant churches, while still running several hundred in regular worship attendance.  Dan says the day will soon come when they've SENT OUT MORE people to impact the city of Cleveland, than they will have in their own congregation.  Now that, is multiplication!  Unselfish.  Kingdom-centered.  Biblical.  It breaks the scarcity mentality that many plants have for years.  It's Jesus-like.

Momentum Church is not about a model or a method, but a scripturally-based heart-commitment that purposefully designs the DNA culture of Momentum's people.  They don't wait back and say, "Someday we will do _____ once we get: more people, more staff, more money, etc".  Instead, they created the future in order to break from an unhealthy, or limiting culture, that many churches wind up becoming.

I greatly admire the faith courage of pastors like Dan Smith of Cleveland.  To him, kingdom expansion is not about how big an individual church can grow, but how big an impact God grows through a planting culture of sending out leaders to be the church of the city!  Dan's focus is not on accumulating staff and programs within buildings, but rather about training, equipping and encouraging disciples to multiply themselves so that different kinds of churches can be established to reach different kinds of people.

How about you?  Will you settle for doing church as usual (which, if you haven't noticed, is losing momentum in the culture), or will you actually "follow Jesus" in such a radical way that creates multiplying momentum?

Monday, April 20, 2015

An open roof policy

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."  Hebrews 13:2

Christian Hospitality is more than just offering coffee and cookies in the church's Fellowship Hall on a Sunday morning.  As I see it, biblical hospitality is when followers of Jesus put pre-believers into a position to be in fellowship with Jesus!

Take a look at Mark 2:1-12, where buddies of a crippled man cut a hole in the roof of a home where Jesus is preaching.  They lower-down the paralytic, putting him right smack in front of Jesus' face.  From there, a miracle happens!  The man is healed of both his sin AND his disease!

What a great example of the power of true hospitality that leads to true fellowship!  True hospitality is God's action on our behalf, as He cuts a hole in the floor of heaven AND IN the ceiling of earth.  God then lowers-down His Son Jesus.  In doing so, we meet the Savior!  When that happens, we gain the gift of fellowship with Christ.  And, when that happens, Jesus calls us to rise up and walk brand new (verse 11) so that " may KNOW the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sin...." (verse 10).

On a recent trip to Easely, South Carolina, I drove past a major mega church facility on my way to doing a workshop at one of our church plants.  I came to find out the mega facility had recently built a huge bowling alley for its members...only.  Why? The church didn't want its members to have to bowl, or fellowship with, community folks who were not currently practicing faith.  Hmm.  In other words, the church wanted to separate itself from the very mission field that God created it to reach!

Christian hospitality is when we implement an "open roof policy" in our daily lives--- opening up our calendars, our pocketbooks, our homes...and certainly our church facilities so that God's hospitality of the gospel can welcome in strangers to meet His Son!

What might God's kingdom look like in your city, if your congregation began to practice this kind of "open roof" hospitality that leads to this kind of fellowship?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Planting updates number-3

Every once-in-a-while, I've been sharing some of the great-God-moments that are resurrecting within our LCMC church plants.  Here are some recent examples...

Les Sheridan of Rejoice in Norcross, GA, is currently having his new congregation worship from a local retirement center.  Because of the church's worship location, Les has partnered some of the residents with a local elementary school where 4th grade students and Rejoice's "grandparent-types" are now writing each other as pen pals!  Les says the school knows the letters are coming from Christians, but the teachers are excited to have older people caring and connecting with younger people, and vice versa.

Eric Hulstrand of Realife in Bloomington, MN tells the story of how a single man in his 30's, who suffers from bipolar disorder, responded to the church's sermon series, "Sometimes Life Sucks," by not only coming to worship, but has stayed for nearly 3-years!  In that time, the "once un-churched" man has brought his formally un-churched mom to meet the Lord...soon followed by the dad who was a self proclaiming atheist!  But, no more.

Julie and Brad Samuelson, co-pastors of Hands for Pine City in Pine City, MN, recently kicked-off their first Easter weekend with an Easter Egg hunt that drew over 150 kids and parents in their small, rural town.  Julie says it was the church's way of promoting its ministry of reaching the city, by showing it was willing to first bless the city.  This included the distribution of prepared meals, gift baskets and encouraging notes to the residents and visiting families of the town's retirement center.  The Samuelson's are now awaiting to see how early connections impact their worship attendance.

Frist and Lora Trost, co-pastors of Mobilize in Grimes, Iowa, moved from meeting in homes to meeting in a public coffee shop on Easter Sunday.  During one of the "practice times" before Easter, the church held a service at 5:00 pm as the coffee shop was closing.  One customer, however, stayed to see what was up that day...and has been coming ever since.  The Trost's hope it is a sign of how Mobilize can live up to its name sake!

Bill Retza of Living Waters, Crivitz, WI, says his nearly 2-year old congregation has saved-up enough money to purchase a second facility in neighboring Pound WI.  In doing so, Living Waters will now be able to minister to two local areas at once.  The congregation is also starting a food pantry to reach both cities in Jesus' name, and has been drawing all sorts of interest from new people moving to town who want to help!  In addition, Living Waters is sponsoring a weekly radio program so folks can hear the gospel and be invited into city ministry.

Please continue to lift-up in prayer these planters, their church starts and their communities.
Still to come...updates from Niagara Falls, NY, Wisconsin Falls, WI, Bismarck, ND, and a couple communities in Mexico.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Holy Week: It is finished...

"When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."  John 19:30

Some have said the church is the hope of the world.  That's true, so long as Jesus continues to be the hope of the church!  

This week is not only a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death on our behalf; but a celebration for the church.  That's because Jesus brings the message of grace alone to a church often laboring under the burdens of performance-based Christianity.

Hmm.  I sometimes wonder if our churches have become more "Nike-Victory-Like" in our discipleship, rather than "Jesus-Victory-Like."  I wonder if we've unintentionally adopted a worldly war cry of, Just Do It, rather than a biblical war cry of, It Is Finished!

Or can there be---  a combo meal of sorts?

One major way Jesus' biblical discipleship can be resurrected in us, is through the painful process of self-forgetfulness.  Currently, there's a bunch of spiritual narcissism inside the church where we're obsessing over how we're doing.  Big churches do it, little churches do it...and church plants can quickly fall into the same pit.  We're obsessed over whether we are doing things right or wrong in worship, in our small groups, or in the visitor follow-up with our marketability.  We obsess because we want to do better and fix people and their problems.  I've been guilty of that!  Trouble is, it can lead to church performance, rather than church discipleship, as the driving purpose of church.  It can lead to accomplishing worldly goal-purposes, rather than accomplishing God's kingdom purposes.

Having said all that, please hear me also say that wanting to do better is not a bad thing, so long as we understand that only as we first follow Jesus we will always be in the right.  I've heard it said, "Discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own."  I believe that's true.

That's why hearing Jesus declare this Holy Week from the Cross, "Come and follow me, and I will...finish it, becomes our redeemed battle cry of, Just Do it!  

Just follow me, says Jesus,  and I will do it.  I will redeem all things.  You don't have to finish it.  You don't have to even start it.  You simply need to believe me, trust me, follow me, and then anticipate something great is going to happen for you, through you, for others--- to the glory of our Father!

With that, I bless you, dear friends, with a powerful Holy Week of celebrating and receiving Jesus' Victory performance!  It is the true hope for the world when it's the true hope of the church in the world!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Leaders for the sake of Mission

"Leaders are for the sake of mission.  Mission is for the sake of God."  Bob Logan

This coming May 3-6 in Columbus, Ohio, the LCMC Ministry Board is hosting a great opportunity for learning, developing and deploying greater biblical leadership.  This, for the sake of greater mission...which is for the sake of greater impact...which is for the sake of Jesus' Great(er) Commission!  Please go to and check-out the needed background information and registration details for the iFollow: 2015 Leadership in the way of Jesus.              

It promises to be deeply meaningful and fun, but maybe some of you leaders are feeling flooded by all your individual in-house responsibilities.  If that's the case, then attending the May conference on leadership is even more crucial for you and your congregation!  Perhaps the conference experience will transform your mind from inward duties to outward delights?!  Your congregational stats may, or may not, grow from a renewed sense of "what is biblical leadership," but your kingdom influence will--- and isn't that the real point of life in the way of Jesus?

Of course, all the hard work that goes into seeking greater worship attendance and developing more fluid programming within our congregations is certainly worthy of your attention, but only if the greater attendance and programming is leading to greater discipleship for greater city impact in Christ!  Look to 2 Kings 4:1-7 and see that when our motivation is to give and grow outward for kingdom impact, we'll always find more oil in the jar--- for ourselves, and for our ministries to move forward and into our respective cities.

I recently came across this situation myself.  I was sensing that most of our 800 LCMC congregations were disconnected from our church planting vision of "1,000 in 10."  I sensed many of our leaders were ok with the idea, but it was just not for them.  With that in mind, our newly formed LCMC Mission Team recently came together to pray-storm the next steps for developing our church planting mission.  We knew we didn't have a financial problem, nor a faith problem...but we believed the LCMC was experiencing a leadership problem.  Leaders, that is, for the sake of mission and mission for the sake of God!  From our meeting, we sensed the Lord gave us the following steps of strategy:

1). Start Small.  I'm going to be meeting/connecting with 35 of our most mission-minded congregational leaders over the next year.
2). Go Deep.  When we meet/connect, it is to begin gelling together in a missional mindset that goes way beyond the four walls of our church facilities.
3). Think Big.  When 35 of our congregations begin moving forward as bold models of missional success, we are believing that other congregations will be inspired to join together in the same kingdom endeavor.

While it would be wonderful to get buy-in and full participation from everyone in the LCMC, the secret is, we don't need it.  Jesus called some who chose not to follow him in mission.  And when they didn't follow, he went on with his work anyway, focusing on those who had ears to hear.  Trying to develop those who don't want development will actually become counterproductive, creating a drag on those who are truly motivated.

Leaders, think on this: too often I've mixed-up the difference between training people for mission and orientating them for mission.  Maybe you have too?  Orientation is like a ball team studying game film in the locker room, while training is more like implementing what was learned in orientation by actual engagement on the practice field.  Great leadership is knowing the difference.  Great leadership is doing both, well.  Great leadership is learning to first follow Jesus and his way.  After all, many of you Christian leaders are tired of talking about the same old things without them making much of a difference.  You want to see lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, marriages restored and people released from addictions.  A vision like that is compelling, urgent, and energizing for all.  It's leadership for the sake of mission...and mission for the sake of God!  

Please consider registering TODAY for the May 3-6, iFollow Leadership Conference in Columbus, Ohio (host: Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, in Hilliard, OH).  Then, let's anticipate God will stir us and our work will be empowered!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Using A.D. as a tool for outreach

Planters: Inspired by an article I recently read in the March/April 2015 edition of OUTREACH magazine, let me share the following ideas in order for you to contemplate possible uses in your new congregation for city impact:

A.D.--- the Bible Continues is a 12-week television series airing on NBC beginning April 5th.  If used well, A.D. could very well be the tool you need for great post-Resurrection Day follow-up!  I believe the series will not only engage your current congregants, but also serve as a means of outreach to those in your community who are unchurched, yet are still intrigued this spring by the power of the Easter message and want to somehow get connected to the Christian faith.

What is the television series about?  A.D. speaks to the birth of the Christian Church, connecting historical facts to spiritual drama through the first 10 chapters of Acts.  The series starts live on the evening of Easter Sunday, April 5th.  I realize, of course, that most of you have already planned your Holy Week messages, but here are some thoughts to how you can still use the videos:

1). Order right now the official A.D. Church Kit via, and you'll receive sermon outlines that work with each of the 12 TV shows.  You'll also get video preview clips and a Study/Guidebook.  From there, either develop an A.D. preaching series for post-Easter into the summer months, or wait until fall as a kick-off series that could also impact your September youth ministries and small group start-ups.

2). Or, record the show and play it over the big screens of your church facility, or in the homes of your small groups, at your convenience.  The great thing about showing A.D. at your church facility is that it gives folks outside your congregation "public permission" to come and see and then get their questions engaged.  If you don't want to record the show, then air it live at your church!  Promote and invite people from outside your congregation, then end each night with a question and answer session...perhaps even some ministry time!

These are just two ideas for how to use this up-coming television series to teach the faith and reach the lost.  Might something work for your culture?

Friends: even though you may have already planned out your sermon-series of Easter through the month of May, you can still easily implement this great biblical tool into your ministry this spring while the story is hot.  Video clips could be used Sunday mornings to encourage people to watch the show Sunday nights.  So, whether you develop a Sunday morning sermon series, or small group gatherings around A.D.--- the Bible Continues, clearly the TV show can be a great culture-touching tool that gets people talking on Monday mornings in the marketplace about the Christian faith!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blurring the lines of Sacred and Secular: part-2

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save WHAT was lost."  Jesus, as recorded in Luke 19:10.

Contrary to what we often hear inside many of our churches and various American institutions these days, there is no such thing as something (music, movies, sports, jobs, school, government, etc) being either sacred OR secular.  Instead, ALL things are either sacred (of God), or sinful (not of God).  That's because when Jesus went to the cross and laid down his life as an atonement for the sin of the world, He redeemed all things for His purposes!  Therefore, when people, places and things are "acting" outside of God's purposes, they aren't being secular, they are being sinful!

At the resurrection, all things that were once lost are now re-found by Christ.  He owns them and he wants YOU to now reclaim them as well!  That means all schools belong to God (even Harvard).  All music belongs to God (even hip hop).  All sports belong to God (even the Packers).  All money belongs to God (even the millions that are grabbed by greed).  All neighborhoods belong to God (even the darkest, most run down, most dangerous).  Businesses, hospitals, parks, police departments, shopping malls, and government agencies and nations--- they all belong to God via Jesus.  This is why believers can reclaim them instead of avoiding, or bad mouthing them!

With this kind of transformed thinking by the power of the Holy Spirit, believers are deputized by Jesus himself as his "marketplace ministers" to serve in their spheres of influence.  Teachers are the ministers of their classrooms.  Business people are the ministers of their co-workers and industry.  Government workers are the marketplace ministers to those they serve.  No longer are ordained pastors the only ones capable and called to do ministry, but they lead others to live-out their God-given spiritual gifts for the sake of ALL THINGS!  

CHURCH PLANTERS: as you meet and work with your launch teams, be sure to train and deploy them as fellow-ministers in Christ.  Don't just tell them they should "do discipleship," but also model for them what discipleship (following Jesus) looks like in regular, everyday circumstances.  This gives them more than just mere permission to invite others to "come and see" your new worshipping community, but it models for them what it looks like to minister to other people where they are at (see my last blog, part-1) in life.  When this happens in the culture, non-believers are inspired to find out more about this Jesus fellow, or this new church that is meeting in the school's theater, etc.  They are now intrigued by your new church plant because they are seeing ordinary people like themselves doing extraordinary things in the city! 

Still, the biggest barrier to getting people out of the church facility is often the culture within the church itself.  Much of Christianity has become ghetto-ized.  In other words, in the name of staying holy, we often separate ourselves from the rest of the world.  We object and reject so much of popular culture, that we have created our own "Christian" music, movies, schools and novels.  We become so defined by what we are against, that nobody knows what we are for.  When a current book or movie hits a note of discord or controversy within the church, we often preach, "Don't go to that movie, or don't buy that book."  So instead, try this: examine why a particular book, or movie, or political stance is so popular right now in our culture.  What is the so-called need that is being met, or not being met, in the life of the viewer/reader/voter?  Where is the "hole" in people's daily lives that the church can fill and meet such needs in a far more life-giving manner?

Here are three recent examples:
1). The book and movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, focuses on the dark side of male-female sexual relationships.  So ask, "What part of the human soul is longing for this story line?  Is it because our male-female relationships are missing something that only God can truly provide?"  Probably so.  Then dissect the root cause of such a need and biblical preach into it so people are reminded that God is the creator of within His context, sex is a great thing!  In other words, don't just say, "Don't go to the movie, it's bad."  Instead, speak into it's issues, our issues, and God's promises in sexuality.  

2). The elevation of heated race relations in America.  Or, the promotion of same sex marriages.  Is it true that people are still bias or hurtful against others based upon the color of skin or sexual orientation?  Yes.  It is also true that media and politicians are trying to exploit race and sexuality for some un-Godly reasons--- like for increased power of their own?  Probably so.  So planters: lay it all out on the table with the conviction and courage of Christ!  Help your new congregation walk by faith as the folks daily engage people of all sorts of cultural backgrounds and lifestyles in the marketplace.  As you do, your people will live differently, and your church will gain a reputation as being willing to lovingly address issues that other cultural groups simply avoid or exploit. 

3). The rise of ISIS in the world and its killing of Christians, Jews and even other Muslims.  Are we going to just hate Muslims we see working, shopping, schooling or living next to us in order to make us "feel" better?  If we do, are we becoming more like ISIS, or more like JESUS?  I know you know the answer, but that's why discipleship of the Christian faith has to move from the pews to the do's.  Start addressing your folks on how they can speak and act into this divisive momentum in such a manner that gives more people the breakthrough that only JESUS is the way, the truth and the life--- because people are seeing Jesus in us!

Preachers: not only be brave enough to tackle this subject with your Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, but give your people means and models to practice loving those who are not easy to love.  Let's move from good ideas to God ideas that lead more and more people (including Muslims) declaring Jesus is Lord! 

Friends: contrary to news reports or even some churches...there is no such thing as a separation of what is sacred and what is secular.  ALL things are under Christ's victory at the cross!  Therefore, ALL things are either sacred (living in the purposes of God), or they are sinful (living counter to God).  Truly, Jesus has already paid the full price to redeem this world, and now he wants his followers to reclaim it as well!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blurring the line between Sacred and Secular: part-1

This past week I heard a conference speaker share something pretty close to the following:  
"Often times we Christians are found pressing our faces against the windows of our churches, looking out and wishing we could party like the world.  What we really want to be doing inside our church buildings is partying with such joy that others would want to press their faces against our windows, looking in and wishing they could party with us!" 

I know what he meant, and you probably do too.  In fact, I agree the "inside" of our church facilities should be the greatest places of concentrated joy there is--- because Jesus is with us as we gather!  Indeed, the world needs to experience that kind of life-changing hope.  Trouble is, our secular culture is rarely going to peer into our church windows.  Why?  Because they don't know that's a good idea to even try!  They have no clue such power exists, mostly because too many Christians have kept their joy-power inside the church buildings--- dressed-up as membership programs.  Therefore, "un-churched" folks haven't been intrigued enough by watching Christians on a daily basis to even desire peaking inside our windows!

That's exactly why I'm calling for our 30 new LCMC church fact, FOR ALL our churches, to stop working so hard at only seeking to get people to look inside our church facilities for our cool worship services and warm fellowship events; and instead, START GOING TO the people, meeting them where THEY ARE AT in their everyday lives--- in homes, schools, places of work, libraries, shopping malls, gas stations, restaurants, ballgames....

You see, our human tendency is to draw lines that create insider/outsider perspectives.  We Christians, of course, are the insiders.  We are the saved.  Others, those unbelievers out there, are the lost because they are not inside with us.  We're ok if they join us, but we are expecting them to come inside to join us on our cultural terms.  Yet, look to the Gospels and you'll find Jesus doing exactly the opposite.  Today, Jesus is the incarnational one--- God with us in all ways, places and situations.  Jesus changes lives because he first meets us in the dust of the fields and the messes of the kitchen.  He socializes with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes on their turf.  He then says, "Now Follow Me!"  It seems as though Jesus enjoys being with the outsiders more than he does with the religious insider folks.  Perhaps that's because his grace is most appreciated, and God's glory is most celebrated, by the outsiders!

Friends: as we follow Jesus out of the temple and into the everyday marketplace, we are intentionally becoming a part of other people's daily turf, instead of expecting them to first become a part of ours.  When we follow Jesus like that, we are becoming like Jesus to someone who needs to know what a real party planner is.   In doing so, we are blurring the lines between sacred and secular.  We are witnessing to a whole network of people who are now experiencing the transforming power of the gospel.  It often begins like a mustard seed, impacting just one person, but who then impacts others, allowing more and more people the freedom to process the power of the cross in their own environments.

Consider this:
1). Look to Luke 10:1-9 for instructions from Jesus.  He calls us to:
a). speak peace (his name is peace) wherever we go to change the spiritual climate, vs. 5.
b). take the needed time to develop trustworthy relationships, vs. 7.
c). because you are speaking peace and making trustworthy connections, people are now naturally giving you access to them for healing, vs. 9a.
d). Then proclaim the kingdom of God has drawn near, vs. 9b.

2). Now look for the image of God in everyone.
3). Now look for the image of God in the natural world.
4). Challenge the thinking that the physical world is bad and only the spiritual world is good.
5). Recognize that believers need unbelievers for God's glory to shine as much as unbelievers need believers for God's glory to shine!
6). Jesus died to redeem all things: people AND places AND things!  See Luke 19:10.

So yes, let's make the inside of our church facilities a place of concentrated joy-training in the hope of Christ, so that when commissioned to go out and make disciples, we leave the inside of the church building better equipped in faith to build the church of Jesus on the outside!

Next Blog: part-2.  What is Sacred and what is Secular...and how can the lines be blurred to the glory of God?!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Checking-in with our New Starts-2

Every month, or so, I'd like to hi-lite one of our 29-new start-up worshipping communities.  Each one is planted with the same vision--- to reach unreached people with the gospel.  Each one is also planted with a different purpose, because every mission field is different.  Gone are the days of the cookie-cutter Lutheran Church.  Planting with a focus on transforming the city by the power of the Holy Spirit is NOW our best method of reaching the cracks and crevices of the culture with the hope of Christ! 

In January, we looked at Waterside Missional Community in Rockport, Texas.  In this blog, we shine light on a missional community that is looking to shine light on Pleasant Hill, Iowa--- Lighthouse!  

Lighthouse is being led by Pastor Noah Ruppert and his spouse Emily (by the way, the Ruppert's are expecting their first child in about a month!).  When Lighthouse was born about a year ago, it started meeting as 5 couples in a home with the expectation to serve as a small group ministry that left the confines and comforts of a home's 4-walls, and start meeting and serving IN the community.  Why?  So their lights might so shine before others to see their good works and GLORIFY their Father in heaven!  (Matthew 5:16).  The partners of Lighthouse are seeking to be light in the midst of darkness!

Therefore, Lighthouse likes to meet for Bible study and prayer in certain restaurants (like the Pleasant Hill Diner) so they can been seen, heard and encountered by the help and customers on a regular basis.  The group is expecting this strategy will develop relationships and trust from others--- which will lead to healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God has drawn near!  Where does Lighthouse draw its strategy?  From Jesus himself!  See LUKE 10:1-9...and Prayer Evangelism:

Biblical Step-1.  Lighthouse wants to bless and speak peace wherever they go, verse 5.  They are focusing on praying for the people and agencies of the city (schools, businesses, government) and will soon begin prayer-walking the streets to usher light over darkness.

Biblical Step-2.  Lighthouse wants to stay connected, rather than quickly jumping from place-to- place so meaningful relationships and trust can be developed, verse 7.  Already they have adopted a local elementary school and are working with the school's nurse to get connected to families that need a variety of assistance-- including friendship and hope.  Lighthouse expects the Holy Spirit will connect them to unchurched people who will soon be joining them in blessing others!

Biblical Step-3.  According to Jesus, when steps-1-and-2 are implanted by the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Lighthouse will gain greater access to helping people who are "sick," see verse 9a.  (healing relational sickness, spiritual sickness and material sickness).  Because their financial over-head is next to nothing (Noah's paycheck comes from serving as the worship leader of Lutheran Church of the Cross in Altoona, IA), the group is able to receive offerings and then invest them into the community.  This not only blesses a "community need" in the name of Jesus, but is giving Lighthouse a local reputation as "givers," breaking many people's immature perception that Christians are only interested in themselves.

Biblical Step-4.  Lighthouse then wants to shine on being welcomed into people's lives--- sharing the faith that ushers-in a new kind of kingdom, verse 9b, so others may share in the breakthrough for the city of Pleasant Hill.  There is no pushing, no condemning, no judging.  Instead, it's natural and loving--- just the way Jesus himself trained his 72 disciples in order to see Satan's darkness fall like lightning and God's reign rule with light!

Friends: As demonstrated by both Waterside and Lighthouse, the power of missional communities is they are fluid and flexible, featuring low costs with high financial impact. MC's communicate the church is about believers shining-out the faith into the every day marketplace, rather than just inside a temple.  For more information on Lighthouse Ministries, contact Noah Ruppert at:
ATTENTION!  Eagle Ranch Church in Albuquerque, NM is looking for a new pastor!  The recent plant is a daughter-congregation of Faith Lutheran in Albuquerque, and is seeking a new leader now that Pastor David Breidenbach has been named the Director for Eastern European Ministries.  If interested, contact me:  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Checking in with our new starts-1

I'm thinking it might be fun and helpful in encouraging "missional-mindedness" in 2015 if I were to every once-in-a-while put a spot-light on one of our newer LCMC church starts.

Let's start with Waterside, a missional community based out of Rockport, Texas, but its influence is spreading to other states and even other countries!  Waterside is pastored by Jonathon and Cheryl Kosec.  What I love about the Kosec's and Waterside is the boldness to be experimental--- understanding that to reach the cracks and crevices of culture, church cannot not be "one-size-fits-all."

For the sake of time, I will explain Waterside in a basic manner...and maybe that's the joy of this particular ministry!  It's simple, but it's so different from most people's view of "church" that it's often misunderstood and too quickly dismissed.  The proof, however, is in the multiplication pudding!

Example: Think of circles that are multiplying themselves--- like healthy cells in your body.  They don't break off, they are born out and become separate circles, yet still connected by family DNA.  It's kind of like the familiar mega church statement of "one church, many campuses," except Waterside is not about a single campus, but smaller groupings of people meeting "as church" in circles that begin rolling into their respective cities as a daily church-on-wheels.  That's Waterside in a nutshell!  The movement starts in Rockport, but the circles of people are now in Jones County, Iowa, with Los Angeles, New Orleans and southern Florida on the radar.  It's all about thinking kingdom even if it's just one day at a time!

So....each circle group is started because of some kind of relationship.  I think of it this way:  If I were to start a missional community in my home city of Prior Lake, MN, and then begin influencing, training and encouraging all my life-long friends that are living in other areas of the country (men and women I've known since high school through adulthood) to take on my missional communities' DNA of making disciples---- I could birth missional communities from the Atlantic to the Pacific!  Wow!  Simple, but powerful.

Reflect for a second.  Could this be a ministry means that God is currently placing upon your heart, but you have failed to hear the call because it's not fitting your previous notion of "church"?  Many folks have told me they've given up on the modern-day methods of what is church...but they don't want to ever give up on being the church of Jesus.  If that's you, or someone else you know, Waterside's blueprint might be what you are suppose to do--- starting in your community!

Besides the U.S., Waterside is also adopting the same methodology with relationally-based circles in Haiti (with 7 churches) and the Dominican Republic (with 3 churches).  The Kosec's will travel to these areas a few times a year to make personal, discipleship training visits.  Otherwise, much of the contact (including sermons) is done through the website or other social media.

According to the Kosec's own words, "...each missional community is encouraged to have a specific focus or area of service that might help define its mission.  In Rockport, the community works within the government and Chamber of Commerce to find new ways to bless the Rockport area.  In the Jones County Community, there is a great emphasis on workplace ministry, so gospel presentations are conducted all over the map--- in restaurants, realtor agencies, even a body shop.  In Haiti and the DR, we see more neighborhood house churches being established who draw people into relationship with Jesus (through the relationship of other believers)."

While each Waterside circle is different, each holds the DNA of prayer, worship, Bible study, fellowship and sharing/showing the good news of Jesus.  They focus on relationships in order to build trust to more effectively share the faith.

If you would like to learn more about Waterside Missional Community, or bless it with your financial gifts and prayers, see it's website:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Staying Relevant

One good way to start 2015 is to ask the following questions....

Q: How does a business stay RELEVANT to the culture it is serving?
A: By keeping a pulse on what the people (will) need or (will) want, then quickly serving-up that product in an affordable and effective manner.

Q: How, then, can a business become IRRELEVANT?
A: By doing just the opposite of the above answer!

Rick Warren, pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life, has said, "...churches become IRRELEVANT when the speed of change around them is faster than the speed of change in them." Since hearing that quote, I've been seeking to help churches re-discover their Godly vision-mission-and-values so they can stay (or become again) relevant to the culture they are trying to reach.

Seem too difficult?  Here's the deal: we have a great advantage as Christians!  After all, when we are operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, and not just in tradition or doctrine, we experience the heart and soul of Jesus who gives his power with his authority.  When that happens, change is constant in us.  We are being born brand new each day with greater, Godly insight!  (see Romans 12:2).

Here's the DNA of Relevance:

D = DEVELOP a laboratory mentality in your church.  In other words, create an experimenting culture of always trying something new and then never stop trying.  I say, "If you alway do what you've always are done!"

N = NEVER stop learning!  All leaders are life-long learners.  Disciples are student leaders of the Rabbi Jesus.  Sticking close to Jesus will automatically keep you relevant--- not because you are doing the latest, hippest ministry thing (using twitter, etc. etc), but because you are constantly practicing the Great Commandment and Great Commission.

A = ACKNOWLEDGE the grief.  There is no growth without change.  There is no change without loss.  There is no loss without pain.  There is no pain without grief.  People who are often opposed to an idea of yours are not necessarily against you or your idea...they are simply grieving.  Learn to lead people's emotions in a Godly manner.  Honor the past without perpetuating the past.

Friends: Practice these DNA thoughts with the truth of the gospel as the core, and I believe the speed of change in you and your church will be faster than the speed of change in the culture.  That's when you become exactly what the culture longs for and desperately needs--- the real HOPE of Christ!

HAPPY NEW YEAR with God's blessings to achieve great things because you are following the Great One!  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Be a Church that Reaches it's City in 2015!


The Lord has really been bugging me about what I'm suppose to be doing this next year as the LCMC Coordinator for New Ministry Development.  I'm not giving up on those of you who feel called to start a conventional church plant, but more-and-more I'm inclined in my missional thinking that our new plants (and even our existing congregations) have to be started and led in a completely new manner, in order to completely connect to people that are currently disconnected from faith and the work of the church.

In addition, I believe that too many of us "church people" think only of our particular church family, when the Great Commission calls us to reach the nations.  In many ways, we are settling for leading at halftime, or being ok with a tie, instead of winning the game.  We confuse doing programming well with doing people well.  FOR MORE on this, check-out this article by the Verge Network.  In my opinion, it's a bulls-eye for truly reconciling, redeeming and restoring the people, places and things in YOUR SPHERE of influence over the next year and beyond.  Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I bless you in the name of Jesus--- to be ordinary people doing extraordinary things!