I’ve been listening to a phenomenal set of interviews by Steve Addison that are part of his “Movements That Change the World” podcast. Steve is interviewing “Barney,” a missionary and church planter that has helped spark a movement in an undisclosed third world nation.
In his fourth interview, “Barney” is describing the wider context in which movements happen. Near the end of the interview, Barney talks about three different things that work their way in and distort the DNA of a church multiplication movement. Most of us would expect these things to be things like heresy or sin. What’s shocking about the things that he lists is they are things that well-intentioned people want to do for successful ministries. What does Barney say hinders movements?
- Buildings- According to Barney, church planting movements happen in all sorts of unconventional places: houses, restaurants, wherever people gather. When someone comes in and builds a building for the movement, the focus shifts from starting multiple churches in many people’s homes to getting as many people to come to the building as possible.
- External Funding- When money comes in from outside of the movement, it can cause the movement to embrace activities that in can’t sustain on its own financially. This can cause the church receiving funding to not be responsible for the resourcing of it’s own activities. Financial independence is crucial in the life of movements.
- Non-Practical Training- Probably the most seductive of the three, this typically happens when someone comes in and offers to build a bible college to train workers. The reality, though, is that this training takes people away from a more hands-on, obedience based training already happening within a movement.
Pretty interesting. Now, here’s the real question: these realities cause movements to slow in the third world. Is it possible that they hinder us as well? If so, why haven’t we noticed it before? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Photo Credit: Social Media Patterns (Energy Minimized / No Overlap) by KentBye
[This is part of an ongoing discussion on Financing a Kingdom Revolution.]
Discouraged. That’s one of the words that consistently describes my attitude toward Kingdom finances. The reason? I frequently see much of the money given in the name of Jesus used in ways that Jesus didn’t use money. And at the same time I see a number of legitimate people attempting to follow Jesus but lacking crucial funding that could amplify their substantial work. Somewhere there’s a disconnect when there are starving children in Africa America down the street* and we’re concerned because the carpet on the floor of a church building is wearing out.
It’s a startling fact, but some statistics say 97% of money given in churches is spent on people who gave the money. This means that no matter how much we say we desire the lost to be saved, the hungry to be fed, and the nations to be reached with the Gospel, our money is not where our mouth is. Now I could spend a lot of time debating on the legitimacy of pastors’ salaries and church building budgets, but the truth is that buildings and salaries only consume about 60% percent of most churches’ budgets. My question is where does the other 37% go?
My point in bringing all of this up is this: our giving tends to go right back to ourselves. We give and feel good about being sacrificial, but in reality we are consuming so much of what we give that no radical change takes place. Those who are strategically placed to significantly impact the world and extend the Kingdom of God often struggle with financing very real needs in spite of our overwhelming “generosity.” This is why no matter how much money we give, we fail to see significant Jesus movements take shape.
This is nothing new. Whenever the church has found herself disconnected from her apostolic purpose, she has used her resources poorly, most often for herself. But God has a financial system that is designed to meet legitimate needs and fuel the Kingdom of God. Our part in the process is to stop using our resources poorly, get connected with the purposes of God, and begin to channel money towards people and ministries who are actively pursuing those things that are on God’s agenda.
What if we put our money into the hands of people where God is powerfully manifesting His Kingdom right now? What would happen if we actually supported men and women who were raising up multiplying disciple-making movements in the earth? What would happen if we actually fully funded apostolic teams planting churches and reaching unreached people groups? What if those who were frequently engaged in caring for the poor or healing the sick through the workings of miracles never had to spend time writing another support letter? Would that be better than the new carpet?
*Editor’s Note: Africa (especially) and America in general both have significant needs. By striking them from the record my goal is to show that need is nearby, not that one form of need is greater than another.
For those who missed it, Andrew Jones of TallSkinnyKiwi fame wrote about the unseen financiers who supported the Protestant Reformation. Jones writes about different important “Kingdom Investors” who at various points gave significant amounts of money and resources to aid the spread of the Reformation. Reading the post, I was struck again by the need for a financial revolution that undergirds every genuine move of God.
Wolfgang Simson will be the first person to tell you that much of what you’ve heard about money in church is wrong. We often teach about money in a way that causes us to put all of our hopes in non-Kingdom financial principles. However one thing that remains true is that all Empires (including the Kingdom of God, which is the empire we belong to) have a financial system in place to fund their activities. Not all money given to a church is used well, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t use our finances to further this Kingdom revolution.
The truth is that all of us have a part to play in financing the advancement of the Kingdom. I remember reading Brother Yun’s book Living Waters where he described offerings that the Chinese house churches would take for members being sent off as missionaries. Some of the members of the house churches were so broken because they didn’t have money to contribute that as they wept, they would place themselves in the offering sack as pledge to devote their whole selves to the cause global evangelism.
This is the kind of giving that moves forward the Kingdom: Financial giving that flows from a life fully given over to Jesus. That’s what makes the testimony of the early church so powerful. They were continually giving everything extra they had to the cause of Jesus and His Kingdom. This enabled the poor to be taken care of and the Gospel to continue to spread through the apostles and others. Today the Kingdom of God continues to spread, but it does so with little access to the funds that could so enable to spread quickly and without the financial sacrifice that is characteristic of an apostolic movement.
So how do we finance a Kingdom revolution? It begins with giving our very selves to God and letting our finances reflect that level of sacrifice. In our next post we’ll look at where those finances need to flow to. But today, let me ask you this question: What do you think holds us back from joining God in financing the advancement of the Kingdom?
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.
I received an early copy of Primal, a book by National Community Church pastor Mark Batterson. This was a good read that took a look at loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Jesus raises up movements that sweep large numbers of souls into the Kingdom of God. In this post, I look at the nature of movements as unpacked by Mark Driscoll during an Acts 29 gathering. It’s good food for thought if you’ve never though of Christianity as a movement.
So I bought this new bible (Wide Margin ESV) and it inspired me to start a new feature where bloggers (in particular, me) talk about what we’re learning as we’re reading through the Bible. I’ve done a few more like it, and I would love to see others join me. If you’re interested, let me know.
I always love wishing someone a “Merry Christmas.” You really can’t do much better on a Christmas post than to challenge materialism, talk about the incarnation of Christ, and quote Dr. Seuss. This post may set the standard for my Christmas greetings in the future.
I was just a new blogger in 2006, but I also became a new dad! This was the only blog of December 2006, but it announces the birth of my first child. She’s just as special four years later as she was when I posted this.
Simple Church Europe just released its findings of its latest survey. The survey is an attempt by the leaders of the organization to uncover meaningful trends in the house church movement in Europe. You can get the full survey by following by jumping to their website here.
I won’t quote much of the 21 page report because, though it won’t cost you any money, Simple Church Europe does want you to download the report straight from their site. It’s important to look at their conclusions because the United States is quickly becoming a post-Christian nation, much like Europe. Their findings will greatly help us in the future.
The report actually breaks down three types of house church networks that exist in Europe:
- (a) Apostolic networks: simple church groups started by an apostolic worker ‘straight in the harvest’, mostly along the lines of the instructions Jesus gave his disciples in Luke 10 (planting a new simple church group in a household/social circle instead of inviting people to an existing church meeting). These networks are primarily made up of new believers who just heard about Jesus, are being discipled, and win others to plant new groups.
- (b) Bridge networks: simple church groups made up of existing Christians who intentionally seek to be ‘missional’. They try to build relationships with non-believers, often using conventional forms of evangelism and a ‘come to us’ approach.
- (c) Christian networks: simple church groups formed by existing Christians who mainly seek a more relational and participatory alternative for conventional church. These groups tend to be inward-focused and sometimes reactionary: seeing their way of church as more biblical and healthy than the churches they come from.”
Not surprisingly, apostolic networks grew at a faster rate than Bridge networks and Christian Networks (which as best as I can determine are more like small groups that have a larger meeting once a week). Apostolic networks see house church groups dissolve at a slightly higher rate as well. The most encouraging finding, however, is that apostolic networks see the highest number of conversions among people from previously non-Christian backgrounds.
What this points to is that fact that Luke 10-style church planting (Person of Peace, building on relationships around that person of peace, etc.) is both risky and incredibly rewarding for the Kingdom. Not surprisingly, the authors of the study suggest that bridge networks and Christian networks learn from the apostolic networks in a way that causes Kingdom expansion.
What does that mean for us? No research of this kind has been done in the United States, but these stories seem familiar from what I’ve seen in the house church movement in the United states. All three types of networks exist here and are growing. The major difference between our context and Europe is Europe’s population is much more secular than ours.
I think one of the major points this report emphasizes is the need to learn from apostolic workers who are building house church networks accoridng to the Luke 10 principle. Everywhere I see significant Kingdom expansion happening in the house church movement, this seems to be the model.
I think this report also highlights the tendency of churches that are not started out of the harvest to draw on already existing relationships with believers or those with a Christian background to fill our churches. We definitely want a place for everyone to belong and be equipped. But if our concern is for the harvest then those starting house churches among primarily Christians (myself included) need to adjust our models and strategies for church planting in the future. We want to avoid doing ministry that only attracts Christians and focus on those activities that are bringing lost individuals to Jesus.
This also highlights a great need however in the house church-community-at-large. That need is for those with apostolic and evangelistic giftings to seriously consider training and equipping others. Without more apostolic and evangelistic giftings functioning in and training our house churches, we will continue to draw people but we may not impact the Kingdom significantly. This will also require a significant amount of humility on the part of existing house churches, because until now many house churches have been reluctant to accept this kind of help.
I would love to know what you think. Does this survey reflect your experience with house churches in the United States? If you are participating in a non-apostolic house church network, are there changes that need to be made to grow in apostolic methods? What are the hindrances to that? Jump to the survey here, read it, and come back and let me know your thoughts.
If you’re looking for more information on the house church movement in the United States you can check out my previous post on house church stats here or pick up the book Missional House Churches, by J.D. Payne (Amazon Affiliate Link).
You can check out Part 1 of “Why Are Multiplying Churches Necessary?” here.
“Jesus lives on in an apostolic Mission that advances by Church multiplication.” – Wolfgang Simson
While there a lot of reasons that multiplying churches are necessary, the fact that it’s necessary because it’s in your DNA isn’t probably the first thing you think of. But if you stop for a moment and consider it, one of the most horrible things that can happen to a couple is that they are unable to have children. A couple can be healthy, popular, wealthy and successful, and yet miserable because they are unable to have children. They show us a fact the Bible already tells us: We were born to reproduce.
This reality goes all the way back to the very beginning of creation: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28).
There are two powerful concepts that are at play here, I’ll start with the most obvious one and then move the more subtle one. First, when God created a man and a woman in the Garden, He did not put them there just to enjoy Paradise. His commission to Adam and Eve was to carry the very life of the Garden to the furthest reaches of the planet. This wasn’t to be done by them living forever and trekking across the entire planet (though they did live for almost a thousand years). God’s plan for Adam and Eve to subdue the Earth was really quite simple: be fruitful and multiply. It was that easy.
The second principle is just as powerful. These two humans were to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the Earth, not because it was just the easiest way. In reality, this reproduction that God called Adam and Eve to was a facet of God’s nature. It is like God to reproduce Himself. And because it is like God to reproduce and He has put His likeness in us, we must reproduce because we are patterned after Him.
This is why Paul, the church multiplying king could write about the nature of Christ and say things like, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all,” (Ephesians 1:22-23) Notice that it’s the nature of Christ to fill all things with Himself and He manifests that nature through us, His church.
How does this apply to us? Multiplying isn’t something foreign to us as a church. It’s part of our natural and spiritual DNA. Just like the barren couple we started talking about, we will be frustrated in our lives and callings until we see successive generations of believers walk in the things Jesus called us to. But if we multiply ourselves, if we multiply leaders, and if we multiply churches, we become true to the very DNA Jesus sowed into us from the very beginning.
I stumbled onto the Batterson Blog a few months ago thanks to the recommendation of Randy Bohlender of Stuff I Think fame. As I’ve read the posts I’ve come to enjoy Mark Batterson’s unique perspective on life and ministry which is both transparent and biblical all at the same time. In true Web 2.0 form I became aware of Mark’s new book through his blog and I was intrigued because the theme of Mark’s book, restoring the lost soul of Christianity, and signed up to join the blog tour.
Mark’s book reads like an extended version of his blog, which in my opinion is a compliment. It’s personal, a good mix of experience and biblical thought, and well-written. Mark contends that we must return to what made Christianity great in the first few centuries and in order to do that, we must return to what made our Christianity great in the first days after we came to know Christ. This is the primal place, the place, according to Mark, “where loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all that matters…[where] the place for the lost soul of Christianity begins…”
I have to stop here and say that while I believe that loving God with all of our being is essential to restoring the lost soul of Christianity, I do not believe that you can just start there. I believe that loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is the result of a revelation of Jesus to the human heart, both initially and continually over the life of a believer.
The way forward in each of these areas (heart, soul, mind, and strength) seems somewhat like a maintenance prescription for a car that neglects filling the tank with gasoline. And while I’m sure that Mark believes in the necessity of encountering Jesus regularly, the book seems to convey the idea that simply attempting to grow in love in these four areas will cause Christianity to be revitalized. So, yes, these are essential, but they have to flow out of a revelation of God to the human heart. And when they do, we will see the recovery Mark is talking about.
That said, if you are encountering Jesus in a continual and regular basis and are looking to be pushed in some practical ways, this a good book and will be helpful for you. Mark splits it up into four sections focusing in on how we can grow in our heart, soul, mind, and spirit. I’ve never seen someone take quite the same amount of time on each of these sections individually. Each one would be great to focus on devotionally for a season of time and I think the book can be read that way. For the purpose of brevity, lets look at each of these sections and sum up Mark’s take on them.
The first section of the book is about loving with our heart and Mark does a good job of showing us how we’ve stopped living (and loving) from our hearts. He then points to the fact that much of our Christianity is detached from feeling what God feels and he calls the reader back to the place of feeling the things that God feels very deeply.
Mark’s description of what happens when we touch God’s heart focuses primarily on how it affects our pocket book. People who feel what God feels are compelled to lives of extravagant giving and generosity toward the lost and the poor. I whole-heartedly agree. My only complaint is we don’t see much on how loving with our whole heart affects other areas of our lives, such as prayer, how we spend our time, or live out our testimony before unbelievers.
The next section focuses on loving God with our soul. This was probably the section that challenged me the most. Mark links the growth of our soul in love to our ability to wonder at things around us. God, he says, wondered at His creation and we stunt our spiritual growth into His image if we loose our capacity to wonder at the things around us. I know for me, it’s easy to get caught in routine and lose a wonder for God and the things He has created.
The primary place of wonder Mark spends time calling us to rediscover is our wonder over the record of God found in the Bible. I found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with him about our tendency to expect to be fed by a local church leader and not feeding ourselves on the truth in the Bible. Mark shines in this section as both a teacher and a confronter.
After looking at our ability to love God with our soul, Mark spends time exploring what it means to love God with our mind. One thing I’ve learned by reading Mark’s blog and the book is that Mark has never been fond of boundaries and it shines through in this chapter. Because of that, Mark believes that there are new, God-inspired thoughts that can change the world and change lives, and it’s the believer’s duty to tap into them.
The challenge then is to receive these thoughts and act on them. The only way to put these thoughts into action is to change our approach to risk and failure, because a fear of failure will cause us only to replicate already existing patterns. Again this was solid food for thought and prayer and I would recommend it to those who haven’t thought about what it means to love God with their mind.
I have to be honest, I haven’t read this section yet, which saddens me. But the blog tour must take place and I can’t leave a book unfinished, so at some point stop back and I’ll give you my thoughts. I do have to say, however, that I think this is shaping up to be the strongest part of the book. Just by way of looking at the chapter titles, this is the part of the book I was most excited about and I believe most tangibly relates to movements. I’ll be interested also to see how Mark ties all four sections together into the “Primal Movement” he’s been describing since the beginning of the book.
In summary, Mark offers us a good book on returning to an all-encompassing relationship with Jesus. Because (at least in my estimation) Mark seems to be a boundary pusher, anyone who needs a jolt in their walk with Jesus or just a different perspective on loving God would benefit from the book. Again, I believe it would have been helpful to explore more of the vertical aspects of this love that Mark calls us to pursue. Things like encountering Jesus in prayer, fasting, and meditation might have been helpful. But to the person who is, this book will definitely push your boundaries in each of these four areas and bring us closer to the primal movement we all long to see.
*In the interest of full disclosure, Multinomah offered a free copy of this book in exchange for a review posted here as well as on a merchant site.