Yesterday I told the world I was going to write a book.
Today I’m hoping to give a little perspective.
Six months to a year ago I had a friend call. My friend is prophetic, which means that he hears from the Lord very accurately and will often be used by God to communicate messages to the body of Christ. He was calling with something the Lord had spoken to him about the book I was writing.
He started to talk to me about Mephibosheth from 2 Samuel 9 and how David made a place for the son of Jonathan to be taken care of all of his life. This story is remarkable because David showed kindness to a potential political enemy out of his loyalty to his fallen friend. But it’s even more remarkable because David welcomed Mephibosheth to his table even though as a cripple, he was basically unclean (see Leviticus 21:16-23). David made a place at his table for an outcast.
“God is calling you,” my friend said, “to start a book club for the club-footed ones. He’s calling you to make places at the table for those who sit on the outside and feel like outcasts. It will be a book to empower those who live at the margins and those from the inner city. They need a seat at the table of the church.”
And so hear I am, still writing.
But make sure you don’t miss the message. There’s a message for me in what was said, but there’s also a message for you. Maybe you don’t feel like the person who should be leading people to Jesus or starting churches. But God is raising up unlikely people from the margins of society to take the Gospel where it hasn’t gone.
You may feel like a cripple. You may feel like an outcast. You might not come from right education or even the right side of the tracks. But Jesus has mercy on you and invites you to eat at His table. You are invited to the book club for the club-footed ones. You can be used by God in this hour.
Don’t miss the invitation.
I’m not sure there’s a much easier way to say it.
This is something I’ve felt strongly about since at least 2011, but I’ve never had the time or fortitude to start working on until last year. I’m writing about it today because if I don’t I may not finish. I would appreciate you, my dear readers, to ask me about it from time to time.
What’s It About?
Oh you know, the normal stuff I write about: Jesus, the reformation of the church, the Gospel going out to the ends of the Earth. Just little stuff.🙂
Actually, I’m writing a short (50 pages?) e-book/booklet meant to provoke people into planting house churches.The working title is “Stick Out Your Neck: A Modern-Day Appeal to Dangerous Church Planting.” It’s a manifesto of sorts, detailing why Christians should leave their comfort zones for the messy, dangerous life of planting churches.
Obviously, the plan will be to call Christians to plant house churches in whatever context they find themselves. Most books like this are filled with how-to’s and the experience of the planter. This book will be purely focused on telling people why they should do it. It’s birthed out of a lot of conversations with ordinary believers who don’t think they can do it. I’m hoping to convince them they can.
Why an E-book/booklet?
Back in the day, Christians would write tiny pamphlets that were like tracts and they would hand them out on the streets. They would cover everything from abolishing slavery to giving women the right to vote to why Christians should pursue sanctification. These would be handed out on the streets, not to promote an author or gain a platform, but to promote an idea worth spreading.
Friends, in the past I’ve been tempted by the Christian celebrity circuit. But I’m not interested in gaining a platform or a being a paid speaker. My goal is to spread the idea that the harvest is great but it will mean many, many more laborers entering the harvest. I hope to write just enough about the topic to spread the idea that simple, reproducible churches are within the reach of ordinary believers.
So, I’m writing an E-Book/booklet. My hope is to make the E-book permanently free and produce a few hundred or thousand physical copies cheaply enough to give away. I hope that we can give it away to believers we meet who would never buy a book about house churches. I want to be able to take copies with me to Africa and hand them to the African believers that would never think of doing something like start a church. And I hope that others find it on Amazon/iTunes and that it can be helpful there as well.
Why tell us?
Frankly, it’s because I need to commit to finishing. Ever since I wrote the first chapter, I’ve secretly told myself that I would probably write the manuscript and never publish it. It’s the resistance telling me that what I’m writing will never be noticed. That thought alone will literally sabotage the book. But, since I committed to write publicly every day, I have. There’s something about committing to something in this space that helps me follow through. I’m hoping that this post keeps me accountable to actually following through.
Secondly, if you’re a believer, I could use your prayers. Pray that I have courage to write what I need to write. Pray that I write words that light fires in the heart rather than just inform the mind. Pray that this project remains an act of service and not something that glorifies me in any way. Pray that the book actually gets finished.
Lastly, I hope that some of you, who have come to this site over the years and have found my content helpful, will have some interest in this book when it’s finished. I also hope that when it comes out, not only will you be interested, but you’ll have others you know who need to be challenged in this way. My hope is this book becomes a part of a larger conversation about starting churches among the lost. Maybe you can help.
So…I’m writing a book. There, I said it. Look for more details in 2017.
You and I will disagree.
Most people think this is a problem. I disagree.
First of all, I disagree with myself sometimes. You may think that’s impossible, but as a growing human being, I change my mind sometimes. I think that’s healthy.
Other times, Future Me disagrees with Present Me. Or, sometimes Present Me disagrees with Past Me. So if I argue with myself, I’m bound to disagree with a completely different human being from time to time.
The question isn’t whether we disagree. The question is what we do with the disagreement.
Some disagreement comes from one or more of us not being submitted to Jesus. The fix for that is for both of us to submit to Christ in whatever area.
But a lot of disagreements come from the fact that we’re human. We’ll approach things differently. It’s bound to happen. In those places, the fix is for us to accept one another as Christ has accepted us. Remember: God has accepted Communists, Trump supporters, terrorists, homosexuals, and housewives when they’ve repented and turned to Jesus. His very first disciples contained a tax collector and a zealot who wanted to overthrow the Romans because of taxation!
The point is that Christ calls men and women from different backgrounds. He also calls us to accept believers who agree with us on Jesus but disagree with us on other issues. This requires us to sacrifice and put others before ourselves. The only way a body can continue in this very diverse situation is if the unity that they have is in Jesus.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11
And if you and I disagree about something, even about spiritual matters, but we are both following the real Jesus and seeking to understand and obey the Bible, then I can put up with you disagreeing with me. I hope you can put up with me disagreeing with you.
I write these words about you and me. But if you’ve been paying attention, they’re not just about you and me. They’re about how much we are all willing to lay down our lives in order to build the body of Christ on its one foundation—Jesus.
My wife looked at me the other day and said, “Don’t spend so much time writing that you’re not getting time with Jesus.”
It hurt, but she was right.
Two lessons can be drawn from this incident.
One: Wise wives are the best pastors for their husbands. Wise husbands listen to their wise wives.
Two: Whatever it is that God has called you to do is not more important than the relationship God has called you into with Himself.
In the West, we have an interesting problem. The Church is cloistered. But because of that cloistering we believe no one wants to hear the Gospel. The opposite is true. The harvest is great, but the workers are few. And that sets up an interesting problem.
Jesus’ answer to a great harvest and a shortage of laborers is simple and yet very different than ours. We start Bible colleges, seminaries, training programs and apprenticeships. Jesus starts with the Father.
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
So Jesus’ first response is to pray. We look for strategies, but God is looking for people to pray. The raising up of laborers is a divine act that requires us to go to God in prayer. Have you been doing this? What does your prayer life look like in regards to God raising up laborers? I would suggest this is a good litmus test for how connected you are to God’s heart for the lost.
Now, a lot of people are familiar with this verse and some people actually practice it. This isn’t just Jesus’ being impractical. He expected God to answer and He did. But how?
Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave to them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness…Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
-Matthew 10:1, 5-8
Did you catch that? God answers the prayers of the disciples by raising up laborers among the very people Jesus told to pray. The people who prayed for laborers became the laborers themselves!
We can’t miss either of these two ideas. For the believer who sees a need for laborers, we need to spend time asking the Father to raise up laborers for the harvest. God is the source of true laborers for the Kingdom and if we ask Him for them in faith, He will give them. But the other idea is equally as important: If we pray for God to raise up laborers for the harvest, we shouldn’t be surprised if we ourselves are some of the very people that God raises up as a laborer.
This idea is crucial. So many people see the need for laborers, see the situation of the harvest, and may even pray. But few are willing to step out and be the very thing that they’ve been asking God for.
But we’re going to need more than just you in the harvest field, we’ll need others as well. God will raise up laborers from the church in much the same way as He did with the disciples. But one of the places we significantly underestimate finding laborers is among the lost.
Why the lost? Well, as we make disciples of lost men and women, we should be teaching them that they have a responsibility to make disciples as well. The teaching and modeling of this responsibility cannot be underestimated. New believers who are amazed about their new relationship with Jesus are often the best at convincing unbelievers that Jesus is real, and often are better at it and more motivated than long term Christians. As a ministry that I know of is fond of saying “The resources for the harvest are found in the harvest.” God has actually stored up laborers for the harvest in the harvest field. We should expect this and teach this as a normal thing, and quickly we will find the number of laborers dramatically increasing.
Friends, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Have you prayed to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest field? Are you prepared not just to pray that prayer, but also to be an answer to that prayer?
I see this regularly in our attitude toward the unbelieving world. Most of the church believes either consciously or unconsciously that unbelievers don’t want to follow Jesus. Don’t believe me? Ask someone to go share the Gospel with you on the street. The responses will be telling. Our cloistered attitudes tell us the world has no interest in following Jesus.
But this perception of the harvest comes more from our experiences than from Jesus. Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.“Jesus never seemed to have a hard time finding people so broken they didn’t need healing. Jesus never had a problem finding people who were outcasts that needed love. He never had a hard time finding those marginalized by society and telling them God has a better Kingdom, a better family where they would be welcomed.
In fact, from Jesus’ perspective, the problem wasn’t the harvest. He actually saw so much untapped potential for harvest that he told them the problem wasn’t with the harvest—it was with the laborers! They didn’t have enough laborers to accommodate the harvest that was coming.
This is a massive perspective change for the church today. Rarely do we spend time praying and raising up laborers for the harvest because we don’t really believe the harvest is that great.
Oh if we only had Jesus’ eyes.
Friends there is a sea of humanity, not just across the seas, but across our fences and streets and cities that have no answers. The John 3:16 sign held up at a professional sporting event wasn’t enough to reach them, nor was the chick tract they found in the bathroom at Walmart. But a living, breathing expression of the gospel that has a testimony of transformation is something they’ve never seen. And while I agree with the church that the world at large doesn’t want traditional religion like they’ve seen, they do want the Kingdom of God. They do want Jesus.
And if you begin to touch this realm just a little, you begin to understand how big the harvest is. One year our house church began to serve food at a local park and play sports with the kids in our neighborhood. Word got out and quickly our house church was filled with people from the neighborhood that had barely ever darkened a church. One of the lessons we learned from that season was that there was no shortage of people who had interest in what we were doing.
The problem with that season was we didn’t have enough laborers. The needs they brought to the table were overwhelming. The amount of discipleship each person needed was more than we were used to. We weren’t ready for the harvest that came in. I think most churches are in the same spot.
One of the lessons I took away from that season is it’s not the harvest that’s in short supply. It’s the laborers.
I found this on Facebook and thought it might be helpful. It’s from Roger Thorman.
Kavorting in Kenya:
Roger and Brooks Thoman have a ministry into Kenya, working a lot with orphans, widows and others.
Below is an amazing story of Karen, and how she is reaching around Kenya with discipling and house church development.:
This Christmas season, Brooks and I celebrate you for the work we share together!
Meet one of your partners: a woman of focus & passion
I (Brooks) sat in their humble home one on one with Karen. This tiny woman, as eloquent as any woman I’ve ever known, spoke with passion and intensity as she told me her story.
We train new converts to become disciples of Jesus Christ so that we can reach the world with the gospel by equipping disciples to make disciples through house church movement. The gospel will be spread at a fast pace as each one wins one.
In 18 months this lady has reached 196 women. She has raised up seven leaders within 14 house churches. She and/or her disciples have baptized 36 women. Inside their one room, dirt floor home where she lives with her husband and 8 children there is one thing hanging on their wall: a worn, large sheet of paper where written out is a listing of counties and subcounties in western Kenya. Beside each one are names and numbers. These are leaders and numbers of people who have been reached. Others are blank and yet to be reached.
She lives and breathes her passion to share the transforming power of the Gospel…
Karen is intense. I look at a woman who would never in a million years spend money on hair, make-up, clothes. She has one focus: Jesus Christ and his commandments.
There’s no doubt about if she lives this out. To make it possible, she gets up every morning early to make mendazi (donut like pastry that Kenyans typically eat with tea in the morning), which she then takes into the village market to sell. Why? To use the proceeds of the sales to pay for her transportation on a boda boda (motorcycle) to share the gospel with those who have not heard or do trainings with leaders or check in on house churches.
Not only does she share God’s love with them, but her intention with so many women left as widows or single moms is to help them. She teaches them farming, making baskets, purses. The needs are enormous and she’s desperate to do what she can. Why?
Because she knows, lives, breathes the love of God. In another culture this dynamo of a woman could possibly be President…of a corporation or a country, but in her world, all of her intellect, her wisdom, her passion is used for her King. The price is enormous.
Because of her focus, her drive, her commitment she can do no less.
Thank you for partnering with us and with amazing people like Karen!
Roger and Brooks