Category: Events

St. Patrick’s Day

This year I have been contemplating St. Patrick in light of my thoughts on Lent – this season when the church focuses on identifying with the suffering servant-hood of Christ.  In Lent we take up a spiritual practice to raise our awareness, to turn our hearts from our sin and toward submission to the will of our Father.  In Lent we bow low and seek grace to align our hearts to the humility of the heart of Christ.

Patrick was a man who lived out the heart of Lent, or more rightly stated, he lived out the heart of Christ that Lent is meant to reflect.  Here was a man who humbled himself, in the image and likeness of Christ, and laying down his life he returned to the land of his slavery as a messenger of the gospel.

I’m always inspired by his story and, while the world celebrates this day with shamrocks and green beer,  I find myself reflecting on the impact of even one ordinary life fully surrendered to the cross of Christ.

From St. Patrick’s Confession

“I am, then, first of all, countrified, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favors in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.

Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God, and you men of God, eloquent speakers, listen and contemplate. Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things? Me, truly wretched in this world, he inspired before others that I could be– if I would– such a one who, with fear and reverence, and faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime, if I should be worthy, to serve them truly and with humility.

According, therefore, to the measure of one’s faith in the Trinity, one should proceed without holding back from danger to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God’s name everywhere with confidence and without fear, in order to leave behind, after my death, foundations for my brethren and sons whom I baptized in the Lord in so many thousands.”

You can read St. Patrick’s full Confession, translated from Latin into English, here.

Excerpts from St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Community

I can’t believe that this week at Next Steps: School of Spiritual Direction is coming to a close. It’s been amazing and I’ll tell you more about it when I’m not posting from my iPod.

But I wanted to share these words from Andrew Peterson that may give you a hint of the beautiful fragrance of Christ that I have experienced here in this community.

“One by one we landed here
And found that we were not alone
As we listened to each other sing
The same song.

It’s the one about love
It’s the one about hope
It’s the one that makes it easy to believe
It’s the one about the ache and the longing for home
It’s the one about you and me

We’ve got valleys yet to cross
But we can make it holding on
To the common thread that binds us all
Cause the line that’s written on our hearts
It’s the same song.”

Blessed St. Patrick’s Day

From St. Patrick’s Confession

“I am, then, first of all, countrified, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favors in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.

Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God, and you men of God, eloquent speakers, listen and contemplate. Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things? Me, truly wretched in this world, he inspired before others that I could be– if I would– such a one who, with fear and reverence, and faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime, if I should be worthy, to serve them truly and with humility.

According, therefore, to the measure of one’s faith in the Trinity, one should proceed without holding back from danger to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God’s name everywhere with confidence and without fear, in order to leave behind, after my death, foundations for my brethren and sons whom I baptized in the Lord in so many thousands.”

Excerpts from St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Gleanings from Redeem: Cities – Part 6

I am reading Tim Chester’s Total Church and I find it compelling. While I have some strong disagreements with some statements made in the book, I also find myself deeply drawn to his presentation of church planting that is grounded firmly in community and established in the Word.  I would love to dialogue with anyone who has been a part of putting these ideas into practice in the context of church planting.  Actually, I’d be interested in dialoguing with anyone who has read the book.

Here are some points from my notes on Tim’s lecture at Redeem: Cities.

  • Attracting people “back to church” is not a viable strategy for the future. Today only 1 in 20 have had any church background. (We can’t just rely on improving the product: better music, better programs)
  • We should not be surprised that we are marginalized by our own culture. We are marginalized as Jesus was – He was pushed out of the world and onto a cross.
  • We are strangers in the world (as in exile)
  • We are strangers and aliens in our culture
  • 1 Peter 1:11 and 1 Peter 4
  • Home and Exile are no longer geographically defined
  • We need to let go of the idea of Christendom
  • We need to realize that marginalization is NORMAL in the Christian experience
  • We need to regain the sense that anything other than persecution is a bonus
  • In 1 Peter 2:11-12 Peter gives us a mission strategy, we respond to hostility with good works and ordinary lives lived for the glory of God
  • We must get close to people. Church is an extension of our every day lives. We must live everyday church and everyday mission
  • Mission takes place not through attractional events, but through attractional communities
  • This MUST be Word centered and in fact it is not less, but MORE Word centered than a Sunday sermon – it is the gospel lived and spoken continually, through our every day lives.
  • Peter flushes this idea out further. The gospel in:
  • Verses 13-17 our society/neighborhood
  • Verses 18-25 the workplace
  • Chapter 3:1-7 the home
  • Mission takes places by living good lives and proclaiming the gospel in our day to day lives
  • Our lives are our evangelistic events!
  • Write down all the activities that make up your routines
  • Daily routine
  • Weekly routine
  • Monthly routine
  • Ask yourself, how can I add a community component?
  • How can I add a missional component?
  • How can I add an evangelistic component?
  • Be a regular, at a coffee shop, a hairdresser, etc.
  • Do hobbies with non-believers
  • Join a neighborhood project
  • Do mission in the context of ordinary life!
  • Remember 1 Peter 2:9. We are Christ’s chosen people, his community. We are the one place in the world where people can see the Kingdom (people living under His reign).
  • This commendation of the gospel by how we live applies not just to our individual lives as examples, but to our life together as a community
  • The leader’s job is to prepare God’s people for works of service
  • For that 80% of people who have no contact with church, it is the missional, gospel community that is their front door
  • We must push mission and church down into community & ordinary life

Gleanings from Reedem: Cities – Part 5

Since Reedem: Cities was held in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, one of the topics addressed was that of Catholicism. After being in Belfast and talking with many, many people it is easier to see that Catholicism is a term not used to identify with a theological position, but to identify with family, history and a political agenda. (It is the same for the term Protestant.)

Over the years I have met many people in America who call themselves Christian simply meaning that they were raised in a Judeo-Christian tradition. One of the things that I encountered when I moved to Europe was the number of people who would staunchly tell me they were Catholic, then proceed to tell me that they had never in their life attended a mass.  Others often attend mass out of family obligation with no personal connection. And in some countries, like Northern Ireland and Poland, the Catholic church represents their national and political identity.

Here are my notes on church planting in a culturally Catholic area:

1. Remember that Catholicism is no more monolithic than Protestantism. You have to talk to the individual to know what they believe.

2. Is Catholicism a Christian denomination? They are in the Christian denomination category for these reasons:

They hold to the doctrine of the trinity. There is no cult that holds to this doctrine.

They believe the same things about Jesus. The virgin birth. The sinless life. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ as Lord and Savior.

Yes, they add a bunch of stuff that we disagree with, but so do a lot of other denominations.

3. Therefore, keep your disagreements within the family and disagree in an honorable way. (You fight with your family differently than you fight with your enemy.) Don’t compromise your position, but have an attitude and a disposition of love.

4. Remember that Catholicism is as much a family tradition and a cultural association as it is a theological position.

5. Reach out by seeking common ground:

They believe in the supernatural.  They believe in the power of prayer. Invite them to your prayer groups. Pray for them and with them.

They want to see a cross when they enter your place of worship. If you want to reach Catholics make sure you have a cross, it will go a long way to making them feel comfortable.

Catholic churches are colorful. If you are church planting in a traditionally Catholic area then add some color to your walls. Aesthetics matter.

They take communion and will feel comfortable sharing that with you. Use it as a bridge, explain what communion is and what it’s not, but practice it.

Invite them to know more about what they already believe.  Invite them to read and study the Bible with you.

Your senior minister should talk about his family. Catholicism places a high value on family, but the priest does not lead by example. Demonstrate for them God’s model for the family.

With all the scandal in the Catholic church you should be open and speak frequently about the accountability structures that you have in place.

Re-do old hymns.

Use the saints as your illustrations. Explain that we want to be missional, like St. Patrick was missional. Map it out. Use what the saints have to teach about a life lived for God without worshiping them.

Put Mary in her proper place. The Catholic church makes too much of Mary. The Protestant church makes too little of her. She should be an example of great faith, but not the object of our faith. At Christmas teach about her, show her how the Bible portrays her as a woman of faith, blessed by God.

When in dialogue start with the things we agree about: Jesus, Trinity, Resurrection…

It’s not about defending a religious position! As with all people from all backgrounds, it is about the regeneration of the soul.

Gleanings from Reedem: Cities – Part 4

Here are some bullet points from my notes on the first of the Tuesday afternoon sessions. They refer to some of the more practical issues of church planting and leadership.

1. Make sure you have a foundation of Jesus. (1 Cor. 3:10-11) You can’t talk about Jesus too much.

2. Watch your terminology. Don’t use terms that represent political or social ideas. (For Northern Ireland don’t use Protestant/Catholic)

3. Work cross denominationally with those who are evangelical, not just hosting events together but doing life together. Build real friendships. Serve one another, cover one another’s pulpits, etc.

4. Consider the global culture. Consider evening congregations, they can be very effective.

5. Fight the idea of control as opposed to influence (which is found in many denominational structures). Denominations: free up your young leaders to follow their call and let them plant churches where they want to be, then let the church grow up with them. If they have a heart for the city don’t send them to the middle of nowhere to prove themselves. Let them minister where they are called.

6. One of the things that will mark a successful church/ministry is how quickly it can change its methods. Sometimes we get in trouble because we move too fast, but the majority of the time we fail to be effective because we move too slow.

7. The church currently has a shortage of “kings” and needs to be recruiting them. (See Mark Driscoll’s explanation of the roles of prophets, priests and kings below)

A church of 70 or smaller usually has a priestly culture.
A church of 200 or so will generally be prophet led.
When you get beyond 300 in number it is essential to have some kings.

8. Guard Church Membership and Baptism vigorously.

Make sure that they understand who they are – define church membership. They need to understand that they are a missionary!

Make sure that they are not just religious, but that they are regenerate

Celebrate baptism – tell testimonies – make sure it is portrayed not as an obligation or religious duty, but that it is a celebration (and possibly their first public opportunity in the role of missionary)

9. Decide upon the culture of your church. High culture (liturgical) will reach one group of people, folk culture (the local scene) another, pop culture (globalism) another. Which layer of your city do you want to engage? This most often comes down to three things: where you meet, who is leading and your musical culture).

Remember: Sometimes the medium is the message. Do you see stained glass or projection screens – it’s a statement of your culture. You must determine your target audience.

10. Stay fresh. Keep up with what God is doing world-wide. Travel and look around. Go to where the gospel is awakening and see what God is doing. Ignite your passion. Learn.

11. When you preach, teach and lead you must distinguish for your people the difference between religion and the gospel. You must call them to repent of sin and to repent of religion.

Religion says: “If you obey God then He will love you.”
The Gospel says: “If you love God and understand His love for you then you will want to obey Him.”

Religion says: “There are good people and bad people.”
The Gospel says: “There are bad people and then there is Jesus.”

Religion says: “Hardship is a punishment from God.”
The Gospel says: “Jesus took all our punishment. Hardship is either to create discipline or for our correction or to show forth God’s work, etc)

Religion uses God.
The Gospel says: “It is not about getting from God, it is about getting God.”

Religion is all about rules.
The Gospel is all about making God’s invisible kingdom visible. (Do you love God? Do you hate sin? Don’t evaluate people by where they are at, but by where God has brought them from.)

Religion is about self-righteousness.
The Gospel says: Righteousness is a gift given to us from God.”

Religion ends in either pride or despair.
The Gospel brings joy and humility.

Gleanings from Redeem: Cities – Part 3

Tuesday started out referencing the article that Time magazine published last year about ideas that are changing the world.  Of Time magazine’s top 10 ideas, idea number three is New Calvinism.  You can read the Time article here.

The discussion then moved to New Calvinism, what is happening globally and how it plays out in church planting.  The Acts 29 Church Planting Network is founded on these four principles of New Calvinism.

Principle #1: Reformed Theology

What is it?

It rests in the Sovereignty of God, holds Scripture as the highest authority, believes that Jesus is the ONLY Savior, gives all the glory to God alone, believes in the church on mission,  total depravity, unconditional election and (for Driscoll and some others) holds to unlimited-limited atonement.

It begins with the trinity and places the foundation of God as the center “…in the beginning God….”

It follows the storyline of the Bible and places a high value on Biblical theology, not just systematic theology.

In regard to how people are saved and election, it holds that God is the primary initiator.

The summary could be:  Reformed theology believes in a big God and holds Jesus as the heart of all it’s teaching.

Principle #2: Complementarian Relationships

Men and women are made equally but do not equally occupy all spiritual offices

Government of the Home: Men are to lead as the head of the home.  The question is not whether they are to be the head, but are they a good head or a bad one.  The man bears responsibility before God for the leadership of the home.  Do they abuse, abandon or abdicate their role?  Or do they love, pursue and serve?

There has been a strong reaction to cowards and chauvinists, but it does not negate the man’s responsibility.  Christian leaders should “help the women and beat the men until they repent and change.”

To promote change we must give men a significant responsibility at a young age and combat the global epidemic of adolescence (“boys who can shave”).

1 Corinthians 11:7 teaches that man is the glory of God.  They need to be taught this.  They need to know that a man is not defined (as our culture says) by what he consumes, but by what he produces.  He should be thinking and planning about the future, for providing for his family and creating something of eternal value.

Government in the Church:  Elders and Pastors are to be men above reproach.  Men are given the responsibility of leadership and women are given the responsibility to help.  They are two hands working together and both are needed.  This is especially important because men follow men.  Men do not follow theology or tradition, but they seek out a man they can respect and follow him.  You need to hold to a high standard of leadership.

Principle #3:  Spirit Filled Lives

A Spirit filled life is not patterned after some strange TV evangelist, but it is patterned after Jesus.  Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit for his ministry and we should pattern our lives after Jesus.

More than 40 times in John’s gospel, Jesus says that the Father sent him.  Jesus was sent into our culture on a mission empowered by the Spirit.  When Jesus sent out the disciples, he told them first to wait on the empowering of the indwelling Spirit of God.  We can not be on mission for God in our own power – it will not accomplish His purpose.

The Spirit-filled life does not negate Scripture.  We believe that Scripture is our highest authority (Sola Scriptura), but we do not believe that the Scripture is the only authority (not Solo Scriptura).

All gifts of the Spirit MUST be used under Spiritual Authority.  We need to be humble submission to the spiritual authority that God has placed over us.

We need to foster an expectation of God at work through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Principle #4: Missional Churches

The church MUST see itself as both SENT (to their own community) and SENDING (around the world)

The church must be both contending for the faith and contextualizing

The choice is Mission or Museum: The missional church wants to honor the past by having a future, seeing new people meet Jesus, having a passion centered around the gospel and marked by church planting.

Doing ALL that you can by every means that you can.

Being missional is contextualizing but not compromising or capitulating.   You must move from meeting to mission…  Be careful not to cease being a church planter (seeking new vision, new opportunities, etc) and just start doing church.

Have humility and honesty about your mistakes and times when your vision gets off track.  Exemplify courageous leadership!

Session Summary:

Driscoll likened these four points to four tires. If you don’t have all the wheels on the ground you are likely to wobble off in the wrong direction.  It is important as a leader to consider this and to be very careful to focus on strengthening your particular area of weakness.  It is not less theology, but more theology applied to life.


Gleanings from Redeem: Cities – Part 2

Monday night Mark Driscoll held a question and answer session on church planting at the Common Grounds Cafe. He started with a six point overview and then moved to questions and discussion. Here are some abbreviated points from my notes. These are bullet points of long discussions…hopefully you can follow the thought process.  If you would like the full version of my notes just comment below and I’ll send them to you.

When looking at reaching our cities for Christ we must keep in mind:

1. The Mission of God

God is glorifying himself and creating for himself a people, a kingdom.

Anything that supersedes God’s creating for himself a kingdom, no matter how good it seems, is an idol.

We must be aware and vigilant against raising anything up to that place of idol.

2. Our Mission

Make Disciples & Plant Churches

Our authority is from Jesus, who reigns over heaven and earth.

We need to make disciples with true conversion and baptism (our mission is not to call the religious to church but sinners to repentance)

We need to make disciple making disciples

We must be obedient

3. Missional Church

Jesus was a cross cultural missionary…he left heaven to come to earth to humbly identify with us and save us

He lived his life by the power of the Holy Spirit : to be filled with the Spirit is to be like Jesus

He was sent by the Father and as the Father had sent him, Jesus then sent the disciples (but first he told them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit)

Our job is to live, serve and preach in the power of the Holy Spirit – to make the invisible kingdom visible

This includes attractional ministry (bring people in, do events) but must also include (and even focus on) missional ministry – scattering back out into the world as missionaries (around the corner and around the world)

Make the invisible kingdom visible to your city!

4. A Missiologist Leads

You need to have a leader who is a missiologist

His job is to know what is moving in and out of the culture, the trends, the stats – He studies the culture

He leads leaders and works beyond one church or one group (as opposed to the pastor who applies himself to one church – one group of people)

He raises questions to serve the whole church, not just one church location

He Contends and Contextualizes

Contending for the faith (Jude 3) – Know what you fight for, what are the closed handed issues and which are the open handed ones

Contextualizing (1 cor 9) – Becoming all things to all men, finding the most effective way to take the timeless truth into the current time and context – Don’t let your methods become idolatry.  Don’t change the message, but change the method.

5. Missionary

Missionaries are Christians, engaging the culture in which they live with the gospel of Christ and seeking the best for the city

The people in your church need to love Jesus and see themselves as missionaries

They need to see themselves as SENT (around the corner) and not just SENDING (around the world)

Motto: I belong to Jesus and I’m on a mission.

In regard to cultural engagement, they need to carefully discern: what they can receive, what they must reject and what they can redeem

6. Missional Movement

This is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit

It is when different churches come together as one stream – these churches are usually young and historically have been led by young leaders

It is an UNUSUAL work of God

There is an increased urgency

There is increased church planting

There is a change in culture that effects how the gospel can be delivered (examples: internet, video, radio, printing press, etc)

False teaching requires the clarification of theology, which in turn strengthens the church

What to be aware of:

What starts as a movement of God, gets to be an organization, then grows into an institution and finally can become a museum.  ***We are always either moving toward mission or museum.  You can not just maintain what you have, you must keep moving. ***

How do you stop from becoming a museum?

– Visit movements of God around the world: look and learn

– DON’T lead an organization, DO lead men

– Have an exit plan – you are not indispensable – plan for the mission to move forward with or without you