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.