Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Read This - Now!!

Alan has nailed it. There is nothing I have read over the past 5 years that better describes our situation and solution than The Forgotten Ways (thanks Alan!). I believe every Cru staff member should read this, digest it and allow it to inform our thinking on movements everywhere. He has something to say for all of us who are enamored with the concepts, practices and principles of rapidly expanding spiritual movements.

Alan started the discussion by asking, "How the NT church went from 25k to 20 million in 210 years?"

Or, the contemporary example of the body of Christ in China going from 2 million to 80 million in about 60 years. His findings are inspired, mind blowing, ancient and amazingly simple. I told Alan I felt like he putting words to my angst every time I turned the page. Over the next few weeks I hope to chronicle my findings, hopes and dreams based upon the fork that Alan is jabbing in my side.

If you are Cru staff (or not) please join me in the discussion.

Monday, February 26, 2007

J. Oswald Sanders on Caution

A great deal more failure is the result of an excess of caution than of bold experimentation with new ideas. The frontiers of the kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution.

- J. Oswald Sanders

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NBC on Micro Church

Here is an interesting take on simple church (micro in the piece) from NBC news. It is interesting to note that the small house church they highlight is conducting a 'service' very similar to a large church. There is music and teaching from up front and it seems a bit formal compared to the stories I have heard (and my own, limited personal experience). Still, it is an interesting feature you can check out here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Joe in Mexico - The One Hour Launch

This is a must read on God showing up. These guys in Mexico City are hoping to plant over 400 new movements / simple churches in the city on college campuses.

This is just the beginning.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Center for Missional Research

Ed Stetzer is Missiologist and Senior Director of NAMB's Center for Missional Research. Here is an excerpt from some of his recent findings. This article is from 12/06 and you can see the whole thing here.
"Over the last several months, we commissioned Zogby International to survey more than 3,600 people (1200 interviews on three occasions) about several issues, but particularly about their involvement in spirituality and alternative expressions of church.

We asked, "Do you meet weekly with a group of 20 people or less to pray and study scriptures as your primary form of spiritual or religious gathering?"

  • Remarkably, 26.3% of the 3600 Americans who were asked that question indicated that they did—as their primary form of spiritual or religious gathering.
  • Comparatively, in one of the three surveys, we cross-tabbed the number to those who considered themselves "born again." In that case, 42.1 % of those who identified themselves as born-again Christians said that they met weekly with a group of 20 or less people as their primary form of spiritual or religious gathering.

It should be challenging, exciting, and concerning that one out of four Americans consider their small or house group / church / synagogue / mosque to be their primary source of spiritual training. However, most of those who consider their small community to be their primary place of spiritual encouragement still attend church at a significant rate. Only a smaller percentage of those who attend a small spiritual community do not also attend church—but that is still a large number.

When we cross-tabulated the "small group" question with the "church attendance" question, we found that 50 out of 3,600 adults attend both a group of 20 or less and "rarely" or "never" attend a place of worship. If extrapolated, this is almost 1.4 percent of the American population and may represent the purest measure of those who are not involved in an organized church, synagogue, or mosque but still are involved in some alternative faith community like, in the Christian faith, a house church. That is about four million people—not a small number. Barna's people have estimated that a million Americans are involved in the "house church," or the Christian expression of the above trend."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dallas Willard on Send

“Jesus did not send out his students to start governments or even churches as we know them today. They were to establish beachheads of his person, word, power in the midst of a failing and futile humanity. They were to bring the presence of the kingdom and it’s King to every corner of human life…. Churches are not the kingdom of God but primary and inevitable expressions, outposts, and instrumentalities of the presence of the kingdom among us. They are societies of Jesus, springing up in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the furthest points of the earth as the reality of Christ is brought to bear on ordinary human life.”

Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Five Developments WorldWide

Acccording to research from Joel News - here are 5 key things developing around the world.

  1. An unprecedented growth of the prayer movement worldwide;
  2. God's Spirit being poured out in many places, marked by conversion and miracles;
  3. Many new partnerships and networks are being formed on a city-, nation- and even continental level, linking prayer, saturation church planting and frontline missions;
  4. More and more Christians, churches and ministries are engaging in a transformational process to bring godly change to their societies;
  5. Radically simple and innovative forms of church are springing up in many places, reaching the unreached.
#5 is particularly intriguing. The simpler church gets, the easier it is to multiply churches. Nothing has more radical implications on movements everywhere than a simple and rapidly expanding form of church. I look forward to watching developments in this area.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Catalytic and Staffed Campus

Ever since the structure change in 1991 (yes, that is 16 years ago) we have had this funky Catalytic / Staffed Campus division. (Catalytic schools have a staff coach from a distance, Staffed Campus has a dedicated team). So, last year about this time I embarked on a simple investigation. I wrote a Catalytic Regional Director with this question: "From all the students who come to your Christmas Conference, what is the CAT / Staffed Campus breakdown . . . And how does that compare to how the staff are allocated in region. In other words, what percentage of the coference are from Catalytic schools and then what percentage of the your staff are catalytic staff? – I am curious if it is about the same.

Here is his response:
"Got the final numbers on Cat students at the conference. There were 814 students from non-SC schools. If you take out the schools that Staffed Campus teams own there are still over 700 of the 1900 students. So, 1/3+ students …. ¼ of staff "

I copied our national CAT leader on the email and he gave me this reply:
"These catalytic numbers pretty much echo the average across the country…a few more in some regions…somewhat less in regions where we simply don’t have anything developed. Usually it works out to about 1/3 of the students with about 1/10 of the staff. Imagine if each staff were actually coaching 5 campuses instead of 2. On the sending side, however, the numbers still lag further behind the 1/3 number…but, they are improving somewhat each year."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Henri Nouwen on Listening

Developing “ears to hear” God takes time. We all have strong resistances to listening. First of all, we find it very hard to create empty spaces in our lives and to give up our occupations and preoccupations, even for a while. We suffer from a fear of the empty space. We are so concerned with being useful, effective, and in control that a useless, ineffective, and uncontrollable moments scares us and drives us right back tot he security of having something valuable to do.

But even stronger than our fear of the empty space is our fear of actually hearing the voice of God! We know that our God is a jealous God who knows there is no other cure for our restlessness and deafness but finding our home in God. . .

Growing in faith requires a growing attentiveness to perceive where God is active and to where we are being led. One of the key questions in overcoming spiritual deafness and blindness is: Where is God active in my life or community right now?

Spiritual Direction by Henri Nouwen, 18-19

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tic Toc

We can thank Jean Calvin for the Swiss watch. In 1541, he restricted the wearing of jewelry—a worldly vanity. This forced the goldsmiths and other jewellers to turn into a new, independent craft : watchmaking. By the end of the century, Genevan watches were reputed for their high quality.

For centuries the Swiss have been the world’s leading watchmakers. They invented the minute hand and the second hand. They continually improved the design and functioning of self-winding watches. In 1968, they had a 65 percent share of the world watch market.

Yet by 1980 their market share had collapsed to less than 10 percent. Between 1979 and 1981, 50,000 of Switzerland’s 62,000 watchmakers lost their jobs. Japan, which had less than one percent of the world watch market in 1968, was in the midst of developing world-class electronic technology. By the early 1980s the Japanese had 33 percent of the world’s watch market.

The Swiss were the world’s best at making self-winding watches with their gears, bearings and mainsprings. Those skills were now irrelevant. Mechanical watches were being replaced by electronic ones. The Swiss watch makers’ success and expertise had blinded them to a fundamental shift in the world around them.

Ironically, it was the Swiss who invented the electronic quartz watch! When Swiss researchers presented this revolutionary new idea to Swiss manufacturers in 1967, they rejected it. They saw no future for the concept. Confident it would fail, they allowed their researchers to display it as a novelty at the World Watch Congress that year. Seiko took one look and the rest is history.

See: “Future Edge: Discovering the New Paradigms of Success” (Joel A. Barker), 15-17.

Movement insight: Those with the greatest investment in the way things are have the most to lose when it comes to the need for change. Expect the breakthroughs to come from people who don’t have an investment in the way things are.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tony & Lovie

Making history - in more ways than one.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Christendom in Europe

According to British scholar and church planter Martin Robinson the time of Christendom (when the Church held an established position in society) is definitely over in Europe. "Christians have to learn to live as creative minorities, living out a Jesus-centered spirituality and discipleship," Robinson says. "We have to mobilise the capacity of the church to create social capital, and serve and transform society bottom-up, very much like the early church." He calls for an 'organic approach' to missions in which Christians combine a sensitivity to God's Spirit (where is He already at work and how is He specifically guiding us) with reaching 'people of peace' (people of influence in a given social network who are ready to receive and follow Christ) and a DNA of multiplication of small groups.

How far from this picture is North America. According to the research we are already there.