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: