Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers who have never been to Pursuing Glory.
This post was my 199th post. It was my attempt to sum up the reasons why people come and participate in this crazy blog and also articulate a little bit what the path forward looked like. If you’re wondering why you’re here or you have an interest in revival, apostolic ministry, the global house church movement, interecession, or our personal lives, you should check out this post to find out why you’re in the right spot.
I wrote this blog because I was in a season of trying to plant a house church and was finding out very quickly not everyone was going to be as excited about it as I was. You also will get a good look at me wrestling with whether I wanted to bear the stigma of what was (and still is) part of belonging to a house church. The good news is the Lord is faithful and we’re still here.
This post came out of the very first gathering of our house church. We’ve grown a little numerically, we’ve grown a lot in community and in each other’s lives. This post ought to give you some great insight in where we started. It’s hard to believe it’s been four years.
About two years ago Christy and I by the providence of God found ourselves at the Tribal Gathering hosted by Rock International. While Christy and I try to make a habit of going to the Tribal Gathering as often as possible, this year God seemed to have something up His sleeve. A work schedule that should have been impossible to navigate opened up and we found ourselves in the middle of a series of meetings that blew our minds.
The Rock’s guest that year was Wolfgang Simson, a German missions expert who wrote the mind-bending book, Houses That Change the World. To make a long story short, my life was dramatically shifted during that weekend in a way that’s hard to explain. Wolfgang unveiled his vision for multiplying house church movements being used to win masses for Jesus at the end of the age. He likened the process to a starfish, which can be multiplied many times over but never dies throughout the process.
Without going into a ton of detail, this “Starfish Vision” called for a gathering of believers to meet in Antioch in 2009 to gather before the Lord and repent for having missionary agendas that were not the Lord’s. This meeting, however, was only to serve as a springboard to a more significant gathering where house church leaders from around the world would gather to hear God’s plan for gathering in the last great harvest. I think it may look something like this.
Needless to say I was intrigued by the idea of the Antioch meeting and never forgot about it. Well, two years have come and gone and this meeting finally occurred. In the last few weeks, several of those who were there have written about what happened. You can read Guy Muse’s very personal observations here. You can get Tony Dale’s perspective here. And last but not least get the thoughts of the guy who called the whole thing together (Wolf) here.
And as if that wasn’t enough at the gathering, Wolfgang and Mercy released the finalized version of the Starfish Manifesto. The Starfish Manifesto is the culmination of a couple of years of waiting on the Lord, hearing His voice, and pairing apostolic strategy with prophetic insight. I have not read this version, but the early version I saw was amazing and challenged me to go deeper in the things that God started in me that weekend two years ago. You can download the final version of the Starfish Manifesto here.
And finally, turning our attention from Antioch back a little closer to home, I want recommend to my readers a new blog “Haven In The Hood.” The blog features two new friends of ours who moved out of suburbia and into a neighborhood not too far from us. The blog is their story about creating a little place of refuge where many think none could be had. You can check them out here.
It is the nature of movements to have leaders that inspire those around them to fulfill a cause. It is also the nature of movements to be made up of people who, once inspired by the leader, give that leader the assurance that fulfilling the cause is possible after all.
I just finished reading a really good article by Alan Hirsch that describes seven practices (or disciplines, as they are traditionally known) that cause a church to thrive in the midst of chaos. Alan loves “living systems theory” and believes the church will thrive best when she is constantly operating in a crisis mode. This crisis mode causes her to trust Jesus and not be encumbered by distractions that easily shift our gaze from Him. But obviously, to survive in the midst of crisis continually is difficult and so he suggests the following practices for a church trying to live near the edge of chaos:
1. Infuse an intricate understanding of what drives organizational success.
2. Insist on uncompromising straight talk.
3. Manage from the future.
4. Reward inventive accountability.
5. Harness adversity by learning from prior mistakes.
6. Foster relentless discomfort.
7. Cultivate reciprocity between the individual and the organization.
Alan is also very clear that these disciplines must integrated. To have one without the other six or even six without the other one leads to problems. But here’s my question: What does this look like practically in the life of the church? How have you seen these sort of practices fleshed out between human beings in the church to which you belong? I think the answer would be helpful for us all.
I was going to ask Alan on his blog, but you can’t leave comments there. So now, I’m asking you, my faithful readers, what you’ve experienced. And if Alan should happen to stop by, he could leave a comment as well. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
“…the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ. I think it is time to gather people together to do this…”
Extract of a letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother Karl-Friedrick on the 14th of January, 1935. (Source: John Skinner, Northumbria Community).
Today, while I was at work I plugged in my MP3 player to a set of computer speakers that I brought in from home. While I do this most days, I’m usually listening to worship music of some kind. But within the last couple of days I loaded way more preaching onto my Walkman than should be allowed in any country, and so instead of listening to music at work, I listened to preaching. The great thing about it was that I found myself wanting to get back to my desk and work so that I could hear more of the sermon that was paused while I was away. It was good motivation to stay at my desk and to continue working.
The featured speaker of the day was Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Mark has a movement of young men desiring to plant churches all over the place and has done (from what I understand) an amazing job of bringing the true Gospel to tons of non-believers. This sermon was given to a group of potential church planters that were thinking of joining Mark’s Acts 29 church planting network. It had a lot of funny moments, some stuff I liked, and some stuff I disagreed with.
But what the sermon did, it did well…and that’s this…Mark described very well the nature and pitfalls of movements. He described movements as a river made up of various tributaries, always focusing on young adults, always harnessing new technology, and always bringing reformation to those outside of the movement’s reach. One of the things I greatly appreciated about Mark’s message was the single-minded focus he had about keeping Acts 29 focused on bringing the gospel to lost souls and planting churches where lost people are saved. Mark has taken great pains to make sure that nothing else eclipses that goal.
And in the process it reminded me that all true, Jesus-centered movements are on the same mission that Jesus was on–to seek and save the lost. There are no new movements (in the Kingdom, at least) where people are not being converted. We (as a house-church and as part of the larger house church movement) need to make sure we don’t loose this as a cardinal value. When we loose this, we become just another plateauing church that is part of the reason lost people are going to hell every day. But if we embrace not just Jesus, but the mission He is on as well, we reconnect ourselves with the very cause the Church on earth exits and we become a little more like the phenomenal Jesus-movements of history.
I’ll talk more about movements sometime. For now…are you part of the movement of Jesus to reclaim humanity under the reign of God?
Most of the world probably didn’t notice, but I feel it important enough to announce that Wolfgang Simson has opened up his own little corner of the internet. I’ve honestly been surprised that someone with such a large vision would have so little presence on the internet until now. In reality it has upped my respect for him a ton.
Check this site out for all things relating to house churches and God’s end time global strategy for discipling half the planet. Enjoy!