Tag Archive | Wolfgang Simson

Coming in October:

Okay….okay…I get it. It’s not as catchy nor anywhere near as intense as Shark Week. I mean, who in their right mind would try and top Shark Week? I did want to announce, though, that in October (one month from today) we will begin Starfish Month here at Pursuing Glory.

What’s Starfish Month, you ask?

Well, nearly nine years ago this October, I was part of a conference that was hosted by some dear friends in Kansas City. These friends had invited a long-time inspiration of mine, Wolfgang Simson, to come and share about what he felt the Lord was doing in the Earth. Wolf, as some of you know, wrote Houses That Change the World and at that time was putting the finishing touches on a new book that he eventually published himself called the Starfish Manifesto.

Houses That Change the World helped birth the idea of house churches in the hearts and minds of many early adopters within the house church movement. The Starfish Manifesto was kind of a next step. Where Houses was a micro level view of how churches should function, the Starfish Manifesto was the macro view of how a movement of house churches could reach the world for Jesus. It was next level thinking beyond anything I had come across at that point.

indexAlso during this conference, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes here and there chatting with Wolfgang. I remember him saying very firmly at one point that if we wanted to understand the true nature of what the Lord was doing in the church in that hour, we had to go and read a secular book called “The Starfish and the Spider” by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. When the conference was finished I hurriedly ran to my nearest bookstore and picked up a copy with a gift card I received. The book, which was all about the power of leaderless organizations, blew my mind and changed the way I’ve thought about the church ever since. Don’t let the fact that this is a secular book throw you. There is so much here gleaned from history and nature that you will quickly see the Lord’s inspiration in this book, whether the author’s meant it that way or not.

Needless to say, that month of October all the way back in 2008 was a formative year. Much of what came from that time formed the basis for what was to come as we worked to plant and raise up house churches here in Iowa.  Every October, as the weather gets colder here, I look back sentimentally on that season and wish I could share it with you all. So, this October, I plan to do just that.

Starting Monday, October 2nd, I’m going to host a sort of book club here on the blog. Mondays and Thursdays in October I’ll share a brief synopsis of a chapter here on the blog with my thoughts on the content. Tuesdays and Fridays during October, I’ll take some of the thoughts and apply them to how they relate to the church.  Throughout the week in October, I’ll also be sharing short excerpts from the condensed version of Wolfgang’s Starfish Manifesto, the Starfish Vision, on my Twitter feed.  All of this adds up to us talking about how Jesus designed his church to function like a starfish.

Why am I telling you all now? To get you prepared, of course. First, I would love it if one or two of you joined me in re-reading “The Starfish and the Spider.” If that sounds interesting to you, now is the time to pick yourself up a copy of the book.  You may also want to jump straight to Wolf’s Starfish Vision booklet and dive into what you find there.  Regardless, I hope you join me in Reformation month reading and thinking about how there is still more reformation left ahead for the church and strategizing about how we can be part of it.

It’s not Shark Week…but it might just cause you to change the world.

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When You Can’t Afford to Travel but Want to Learn from the Church

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Over the last ten years, God has had me on a journey learning from the Church in the global South and East. Many of these lessons I’ve been able to learn directly from those from other parts of the world.  But while I have had the privilege of spending time in other countries with believers I would never meet here, not everyone will have that opportunity. Thankfully, in order to learn from the church in other parts of the world, you don’t need ot be able to afford a plane ticket, you just need to be able to read.

Even earlier than my trips overseas, God was beginning to teach me about His Kingdom through books that were written by saints from other nations. For those of you who haven’t experienced or read much beyond your own borders, the following books can be helpful:

The Rising Revival

Rising RevivalFor those of you who remember that my story started in the midst of revival, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that the topic of revival was near and dear to my heart. Early on I started reading books on revivals in the West, but I quickly discovered there were books that talked about revivals going on in other nations of the Earth. This book documents the story of the revival that took place in Argentina over the 80’s and the early 90’s. This revival had ties to what was currently happening in the United States in the mid-90’s and talks about how Argentina was affected by this move of the Spirit. C Peter Wagner’s book not only talked about revival, but it sowed a vision for apostolic church planting in the midst of a move of the Spirit that I had never conisdered before.

Listen to Me Satan

Listen to Me SatanI picked up this copy shortly after I read “The Rising Revival.” Carlos Annacondia was featured in that book in a short way. This book is his story of becoming the Pentecostal Billy Graham of Argentina. I think the draw of this book is Annacondia’s reliance on the Holy Spirit to direct him and draw in a harvest, not just hold revival meetings. His meetings were marked by demons being cast out, the sick being healed, and the Holy Spirit filling new converts.  I loved seeing how the movement of the Spirit was playing out in a fairly modern nation like Argentina. I should note, while many of the things mentioned in “The Rising Revival” and “Listen to Me, Satan” were pivotal to my spiritual growth, I probably no longer hold to some of their views on how the church is structured like I did back then.

Houses That Change the World

HousesTechnically this breaks with my theme of learning from the church of the global South and East, since this book was written by a German. However, much of the insight that Wolfgang shares comes from studying house church planting movements all over the Earth. Most notably, Wolf spent a number of years in India trying to understand what the Lord was doing through the house church movement there with a goal of applying the lessons learned to the church in the West. This book changed my understanding of the nature of the church and I would recommend it to anyone who wanted a good book on house churches.

The Heavenly Man

Heavenly ManI read this book a year after I read “Houses That Change the World” and these two books helped change the direction of my life. While Houses was more of a “how to” manual for meeting as a church like in the New Testament, the Heavenly Man read like the book of Acts. This book tells the story of one of the leaders of the underground house church movement in China. Through persecution, Brother Yun spreads the gospel, raises up leaders, and mobilizes the Chinese church to take the gospel back to Jerusalem, the very place that it came from.  You will not walk away from this book without being personally inspired and challenged. And, as a bonus, for the first time in reading, I saw a house church movement and the power of the Holy Spirit tied together in a way I hadn’t read about outside of Acts.  In many ways it’s why I’m still able to contend for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the midst of a church planting movement. Many of us hear about how God is moving powerfully in the Chinese Church. This book give you a front row seat.

Living Water

Living WaterThis may be cheating to have two books by the same author.  This follow up is not really a sequel, as much as it is Brother Yun’s attempt to teach after having told his story. If you finished reading “The Heavenly Man” and were left wondering “How, then, should we live?” Living Water is the answer. It’s full of solid teaching on the Kingdom of God in the life of a Christian, from a Chinese perspective. Reading this book is like asking Brother Yun to disciple you a little bit each day for a month. It’s well worth your time.

The Insanity of God

Insanity of GodIt’s hard to put into words how refreshing this book was. I picked this up last year at the recommendation of some friends. It follows missionary Nik Ripken as he tries to grapple with horrible darkness and incredible fruitlessness that he encounters in Somalia. When he leaves the mission field for a season, he and his wife use the time to meet and research how the church survives and thrives under persecution. The stories he encounters and the people that he writes about are some of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard recently. They pages are also filled with a challenge to endure for Jesus under long-term sustained pressure. This is truly a global book, starting in Africa, moving to Russia, China, and the Middle East. Reading this book will convince you that God can work on your behalf anywhere you go. Because of all of this, this book was my number one book recommendation for last year.

Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes

MisreadingThis one deserves a mention though its a book I’m currently working through right now. The book is written by a church historian and a missionary to Thailand. Both of them use their background and education to reveal how we in the West read the Bible through lenses that the original audiences of the Bible never wore. When we do this, according to the authors, we come up with a different message than the one the Bible was intending us to hear. This book has been a fascinating look at concepts like honor/shame and individual/corporate interpretations that I think most Western believers never get exposed to. There is a lot of eye-opening thoughts here.  Reading it with an open mind will change (for the good) how you interpret Scripture.

Well, that’s enough for today. I could go on.  But my point in listing these books was that you see you can learn from the church around the world without buying a plane ticket.

Many of you have already written me some of the books you’ve read about similar things. If you’ve read a book from an author from a dramatically different part of the world that has strengthened your walk with Christ, leave a comment for us and tell us the name of the book and how it impacted you.

How I Became A House Church Guy

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….so this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down….

Ok…so, no, I didn’t become the Fresh Prince. But I did go from being a very traditional charismatic evangelical to meeting in homes with other believers, forsaking many of the things people think are “normal,” and generally causing a ruckus among unbelievers and believers alike.

It started when I moved to Kansas City. I had always felt called to plant churches and that pursuit took me to a small bible college in Kansas City known as the Forerunner School of Ministry*. However, the bible college, at the time, was not connected with a local church. Because of that, they encouraged us all to seek out a local church to become a part of.

My roommate, my girlfriend (now wife), and I took that challenge seriously together (we had one car…it was college!).  Because of my love for church planting and the things of the Spirit, we settled on this crazy little church plant in downtown Kansas City.  They met in the basement of this old church building that also hosted indie concerts several nights of the week.

One of the leaders told us that they wanted everyone in their church to be a part of a “house church.” When we asked what that meant, it mostly sounded like a small group. So we joined. And that first house church was mostly like a small group. The members interacted once a week outside of the Sunday service. But we got closer to the church through the process.

The real changes came in the following waves:

indexWave #1: I heard the senior leader of the church tell someone else that if they wanted to understand where the church was headed, they should read a book called “Houses That Change the World” by Wolfgang Simson. I picked up the book very shortly after hearing that conversation.

I didn’t immediately fall in the love with the book, but over time it became the book I recommend to anyone who is interested in the subject of house church.  One other thing to note: This is a house church book not written by an American and I value it for that reason. It doesn’t carry the same stain of the emerging church angst that color many of the other books written during that season. Houses That Change the World opened my eyes to what the Bible says about being the Church.

Wave #2: As we began to grow closer and commit to this church for a longer period of time, my roommate, my girlfriend, and I felt like it was time to strike out and start a house church in our part of town**. Mind you we weren’t ardent house church people at the time. Quickly we gathered believers from around the area we lived in and a house church was born.

All I can tell you was that quickly we became family. The presence of the Holy Spirit would meet us powerfully, multiple people began to function in their giftings, and we saw each other almost daily. Shortly after starting this house church, the leader of our church called to tell me they felt the Lord calling us to discontinue the Sunday service and begin to meet strictly as house churches. Do I need to remind you we weren’t ardent house church people again? This wasn’t a change I wanted. But we were in love with these people, so we said “yes” and went along for the ride. And I’m glad we did.

There was a specific moment when this all clicked for me. One of the women that met with us was a divorced mother of four girls. Our network was hosting a retreat an hour away from Kansas City and our whole house church came. It was a great time. But at the end of the retreat the leader asked us to share about what the Lord had been doing in our lives. The mom stood up and said it was her second oldest daughter’s birthday this weekend and over the course of the weekend she had asked her daughter if she was sad she couldn’t be with her dad. Prior to that year, they had always been together on birthdays. The mom recounted her daughter’s story: “At first I was sad mom that Dad wasn’t here, but then I realized that….” and she began to name the names of the men in our house church… “John***, Steve, and Travis were here, and they’re like dads to me.” There was pretty much no dry eye left in the place by the time she was done. Everyone was in awe of how God was healing and restoring a sense of oneness and family through a simple thing like a spiritual family.

That one event, more than anything else has solidified my view of house churches as a vehicle for spiritual family brought to its rightful place in the body of Christ. There should be moms and dads raising up spiritual sons and daughters. Daily contact and exchange of the life of Christ should be the norm, not the exception. Being part of a house church helped me see the beauty of a simple, organic expression of church in real life.

Wave #3: After a year and a half with the church that we had fallen in love with, we felt inexplicably called back to Iowa. We had a few dreams that had lined up with our previous plans and so my girlfriend (and now soon-to-be wife) packed our apartments and headed back to Iowa. We left the house churches we started (ours had multiplied) in the capable hands of my roommate and another trusted friend.

We rejoined the church we were part of before we left. We got engaged. We got married. I took a year off from anything ministry related in order to pursue Jesus more intently. And during that time, I noticed something. I was back in my home church, which I loved, but I felt like a fish out of water. And it was this fish out of water stage that was truly convicting. In Kansas City, I was just going along for the ride with someone else’s ministry. But now, it was clear, this spiritual family thing, this every member ministering thing, this simple, reproducible gathering thing was in me.

I began to talk with my pastors at the church. I also recruited a few trusted friends that began to share my vision for how church could be different. All of this required me to be an advocate for this vision I had in my heart.The pastors of the church, in incredible humility, gave me the green light to start something very different than the church we were all part of.    We’re good friends with a number of the brothers that are still there to this day.

Obviously, after that I was a house church guy. But it was the process of understanding that house church wasn’t just a strategy, but a life to live that was the final straw. I was jealous to live that kind of focused, Acts 2 life with other believers again. So much so that I was willing to advocate for it. It took being out of that environment for me to realize it had become who I was.

And so, now, I’m a house church guy. We have a small network of house churches that we love. We’re still working out the kinks on various parts of the process. We’re not good at certain aspects of what we’re called to (yet!). But it’s been worth the journey.

How about you? If your a house church guy (or gal) I’d love to hear your story as well.

*The Forerunner School of Ministry is now known as IHOP-University or IHOPU, a division of the International House of Prayer. I walked away from my time with IHOP with a respect for many of the people and having learned a great deal, but in the end I did not start a prayer center nor did I stay there. If you have issues with me respecting people who pray a lot but not starting a similar ministry, then you have permission to ask questions or give commentary.

**At this stage of my life, I do not endorse many of the ways I’ve started house churches in the past. Early on for me it just meant gathering seasoned believers and hoping unbelievers would show up, but I’d steer you away from that strategy now.

***Some names were changed, to protect the innocent. 😉

 

What Japan Doesn’t Need

I just finished reading an email sent out by Wolfgang and Mercy Simson describing their perspective on world events in light of the recent earthquake and tidal wave that has rocked Japan.  Opinions about the situation are a dime a dozen, but I found this thought by Wolfgang extremely helpful.  In describing how the church should address such a crisis he says this:

“Don’t do what the world does, but do what only Kingdom people can do, and no-one else. Kingdom people do not need to join the choir of a world without God that only sees the superficial humanitarian, economic, scientific or psychological aspects of disasters.” –Wolfgang Simson

I think this is incredibly key for the hour that we’re living in.  Right now, with all of the calamity and war taking place around us, it can be easy for us to become humanitarians.  And while I love helping others (and trust me, we will be called to help others) there has to be something that separates our response from the response of every other human being that doesn’t know Christ. You see Japan doesn’t need more money, they need Jesus.

The world has money, star power, volunteers, and sympathy. What they don’t have is any cure for the wrath of God that manifests itself partially in this age and fully in the age to come.  What they don’t have is Christ, loving them, leading them, indwelling them, and empowering them. He alone is the cure for everything broken in this world. He is anything but impractical. When a group of people come under the Lordship of Jesus and experience His life, they will change and heal society just by their very nature.

There will be a day when all the world’s money, star power, and volunteerism will not suffice to bring healing.  The weight of sin and the outpouring of God’s wrath will be too great.  In those days the church will no longer be able to rely on what she has been able to do through human means, but only on what she has learned to give from Jesus. Her access to a supernatural God who changes mankind, heals the sick, restores the broken, and shifts the heavens will be crucial. The time to learn how to give this is right now.

Wolfgang goes on to describe other practical responses the church can make, and I would encourage you to check out his email that he sent and the pdf attached that gives you some insight into his revelation about Japan.

Photo Credit: Shibuya Night by Guwashi999

Food For Thought: Snowmaggedon Edition

Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny.  These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site.  Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.

This week finds me pretty much snowed in my house, with the news predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow.  There are a lot worse things that could happen. I got to play with some of the most fun kids I know.  There’s nothing quite like spontaneous, fun, free time with the family. If only I didn’t have to shovel first. And now, on to the links:

If We Have Been Raised With Christ

One of the traps we fall into frequently is letting the things of Jesus distract us from actually knowing and following Him. Quincy at Christ the Center takes a look at Paul’s instruction to the Colossians and how we can reclaim the wonder of simply knowing Christ.

The Passion of the Sheep

One of the downfalls of making the transition into an organic church setting is that we can lose focus on our Master in the process. That’s why I love this post by Mercy and Wolfgang Simson at While We Slept.  Being some of the original house church thinkers, they’re still finding themselves longing to know Jesus.  I think you’ll enjoy this post.

Too Busy To Think

This post by JD at Missiologically Thinking focuses on taking time to reflect on everything that you’re doing to increase Kingdom fruit. Getting this sort of macro-level thinking to happen frequently is important as we move forward in the days ahead.

Remember the Poor

Keith at Subversive1 shares about his journey into loving the poor more effectively.  This is one area I think house churches are particularly well suited for.

Plant Churches Like a Missionary, Not a Pastor

One of the errors I see many rushing into is the tendency to think that just by planting a church, the lost will automatically get saved and discipled.  Dave writes at the Resurgence about the need to be a missionary while planting a church, and not getting sucked into pastoring a group of only saved individuals.

Photo Credit: Design Probes – Food for Thought by centralasian.

Food for Thought: New Logo Edition

Every week here at Pursuing Glory I try to bring together the best posts I’ve found that will equip the end-times church to operate in her God-ordained destiny.  These are the best blogs, articles, books and other resources related to our purpose here at this site.  Feel free to visit, comment, and make use of the resources found at each site.

So call me crazy, but I’m really excited this week to include a new piece of artwork here on the blog that I think better compliments the “Food for Thought” feel.  The previous graphic with some guy advertising grilled brain was fun, but maybe it wasn’t quite the “brain food” graphic that I was looking for.  Let me know what you think of the new picture.  Now, with no further ado, your links for the week:

Greek and Hebrew Evangelism Probably the biggest thing that holds back many in the church from missional lifestyles is the fear and confusion surrounding sharing their faith.  This article by Ross contrasts a confrontational, idea-based form of evangelism (Greek) with a conversational, listening-from-the-heart style of evangelism (Hebrew).  Ross’ message is that evangelism can be as easy as pointing out to those we know and love the places in their life where God is already working.  I think this style has a lot of merit and it would be interesting to know how this has worked out practically in the lives of others.  You can catch other great articles from Ross over at thejesusvirus.

Felix: Before and After This post by Keith Giles looks at the writings of a first century pagan and his view of the church before and after his conversion.  While his words before his conversion sound harsh and his thoughts after his conversion sound more complimentary, the interesting thing about both accounts is that they each describe how the people of God should live and operate together.  Get this at-once-unbeliever, now believer’s take on the the first century Jesus movement. Keith is a profound and challenging blogger that you can read more from at Subversive1.

Missional House Churches in America Part 1 Probably the biggest news of the week on the house church front is that the house church movement is big news!  Several articles came out in major newspapers talking about the move of many Americans into house churches.  J.D. Payne, a researcher and mission-minded theologian who has written and researched the house church movement, looks at the missional impact of this flourishing house church movement.  J.D.’s research is deep and thorough.  His case studies highlight the true potential of God’s people living out Christianity together.  He blogs regularly at Missiologically Thinking.

TV Series on “The Kingdom” This is more of an announcement than an article you can read, but it’s exciting none-the-less.  Those of you who have read Houses That Change The World or the Starfish Manifesto know that Wolf has a serious heart for the Kingdom.  An understanding of the Kingdom of God has to be central to anything that God is birthing in this hour.  Wolf has put together a series of television broadcasts that will be aired in Finland and then repackaged for distribution.  Check out the broadcasts and stay up to date with Wolf and his wife Mercy at While We Slept.

Photo Credit: Design Probes – Food for Thought by centralasian.

Why You Come To Pursuing Glory

Welcome to post number 199 here on Pursuing Glory.  You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged here recently, mostly because I’ve been wanting to do something significant for the 200th post.  Normally, I’m not a big numbers guy, so I wouldn’t make a big deal over the 200th post, but for whatever reason, reaching that post number has got me thinking about the direction of the blog, who comes and reads what’s here, and what God intends to do through this blog.  All of this is motivated me to take a look at my top posts and ask this question: Why do people come and read this blog.

Looking at the stats is a little telling.  The number one post here on the blog is "A Summary of the Lakeland Revival." Undoubtedly, this blog post came out during the final months of the Lakeland Revival when controversy was beginning to swirl and so many came looking for information about what had happened.  But I also think it speaks of the desire in the body of Christ to truly experience the power of Christ not only in our own lives but in the lives of the lost and dying. This post is significant because you come here believing God desires to pour out his Spirit in a dramatic way that awakens the nations.

The next most popular blog (which is really shocking to me) is called "Mark Driscoll Kicks Terry Virgo’s Butt." This blog recaps Mark Driscoll’s visit to New Frontiers and points you to the blog posts of both Mark and Terry. I’ve been totally shocked by how many times this page has been viewed.  What is even more shocking to me is the fact that about half the traffic comes looking for information on Driscoll and half comes looking for information on Virgo.  What’s driving those hits, I believe, is a sincere desire to experience and understand true apostolic leadership.  Both of these men represent significant movements of believers around the world struggling for the truth of the Gospel to be presented to a lost and dying world.  I believe some of you come because you’re hungry for the kind of Christianity where apostolic leadership is welcomed and encouraged.

"While We Slept" and "Wolfgang Opens A Webshop" are two other high ranking posts that feature Mercy and Wolfgang Simson. The content of these posts announce Mercy and Wolf each opening up a presence on the internet. I believe that these posts are visited frequently for the same reason that "Mark Driscoll Kicks Terry Virgo’s Butt" gets traffic.  However, Mercy and Wolf represent something different as well.  Mercy definitely has a prophetic anointing resting on her life.  Wolfgang is definitely an apostolic leader in the body of Christ.  But both of them also represent the growing house church movement that is developing all over the world.  I’ve never discussed the house church movement in a very structured way but this blog definitely has become a place to discuss the shift going on in many peoples’ hearts to a more relational form of Christianity that meets in homes.  I believe some of you come here to catch a glimpse of this transition that is taking place across the world. 

Another post that gets some pretty significant attention on this blog always seems to be "Red Moon Rising Quote #2."  This blog is a quote that came straight from the book "Red Moon Rising," which chronicles the birth of a prayer movement in Europe that challenges young adults to live lives of extravagant devotion to Jesus in the context of prayer and service.  I know people come to this post because of the quote, but I believe that throughout the body of Christ there is a hunger to live lives of deep prayer and consecration to Jesus. I believe you come to the blog because you know that the move of God that is coming will be supported by a revolution in prayer, both individually and corporately.

Finally, Stuff I’m Reading has always been a significant page on this blog.  This blog is significant in a way that is different from all the other posts.  This page is all about me and what material God is using to grow and mature me.  And in a way, I think this page is popular for the same reason that posts like "I Win (And Proof That I’m Not A Bad Sport)" and "Because She’s My Valentine" remain popular on the blog.  If I can say this without being self-centered, I think a lot of you come here to stay caught up with me.  This to a large degree was and is still the purpose of the blog.  As I’ve slowly moved over to Facebook and Twitter, a lot of that personal "what are you doing" sort of content has slipped out of the posts here. However, in my attempt to focus in more on the blog again, look to see more of this as we go on.  I’ll explain that later. 

So this blog has a lot of people showing up for different reasons.  But I believe that God is going to raise up a move of the Holy Spirit marked by radical signs and wonders, lead by seasoned apostolic men, who are extending the Kingdom through prayer, evangelism, and house church planting.  I call it “this thing,” and if you’re interested in seeing where it goes, stick aroundWe’re in for a fun ride.