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Helping make ready the bride of Christ (Rev.19:7-8)

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

The “iPlant” (10 Essential Applications for Church Planting) PT 2…….by Robert Beike

Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church or a church looking at sponsoring a new work, consider an “iPlant” and these 10 essential applications for maximum kingdom impact. The first 5 from part 1:
* INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
* INDIGENOUS APPROACH
* INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
* INTENSIVE PRAYER
* INTENTIONAL OUTREACH

Pt 2

INCLUSIVE MINISTRY
(1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 4:8-10)

Every member is to be on mission for God; involved in the ministry of both the “gathered” and “scattered” church. Spiritual gifts must be discovered, deployed, and developed. A God-sized impact on a community or people group depends on the inclusive ministry of all God’s people. Help others to catch the vision of being missional, and release them into the harvest field.

INSTRUCTIVE PROCESS
(Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:42;11:25-26; Ephesians 4:12-13)

Remember the goal is to make disciples who can reproduce disciple-makers. A systematic process should be in place to build up the body of Christ, making its members fit for the kingdom of God, and equipped for service. The study of God’s word and development of Christian skills are to be designed for every stage of spiritual development. Think discipleship by design.

INSPIRATIONAL WORSHIP
(Psalm 34:3; Isaiah 6:1-8; John 4:23-24)

Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-led, God-glorifying, believer-edifying, guest-appealing worship is critical. Whether in a living room or auditorium, the Savior is to be magnified, the saints motivated to serve, sinners moved to repentance, and the repentant experience grace and renewal. Times of worship act as a fueling station, and strategy session, that provides impetus for the work of the church–beyond the walls.

INNOVATIVE MEANS
(Mark 2:22; Proverbs 18:15)

Don’t be afraid to color outside conventional lines. Creat a climate conducive to risks and experimentation, where failure is not seen as final, but tuition necessary for ultimate success. Avoid being trapped by the familiar, wed to the comfortable, or driven by the traditional. Neither become enamored with everything new, but rather embrace what honors God and is effective in fulfilling His purposes. Remember, creativity runs in God’s family.

INVESTMENT OF LIVES
(Romans 12:1; Isaiah 6:8)

Planting churches requires seeing ourselves as “living sacrifices,” an offering poured out for the kingdom of God. A faithful investment of time, energy, and resources in God’s kingdom, will pay divine dividends.

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The “iPlant” (10 essential applications for church planting) pt 1

More and more lives are being influenced, even dominated, by the latest and greatest technology. iPhones, iPods, and iPads are flooding the marketplace with the “ipromise” of making life better. But, if its real life change you’re after, i recommend the “iPlant.” Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church, or a church considering sponsoring a new work, here are 10 essential applications that can lead to eternal kingdom impact.

INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
(John 20:21)

Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, we are to flesh out God’s kingdom among those to whom He sends us. A godly presence is foundational for church planting. Being good news is an inseparable companion to sharing the good news.

INDIGENOUS APPROACH
(Luke 8:38-39; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)

For maximum church planting impact, our efforts must fit the cultural context. It’s important to avoid inflicting a community with a vision and values that God does not intend, or implanting elements into a culture that are not readily suited to, or sustainable within the local context. Discover how God is already working and allow the culture to be a channel for God’s blessings.

INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
(Proverbs 12:15;16:9;28:19)

Seeking the wisdom and guidance of God is paramount, but, the wise counsel of others should also be utilized. Counting the cost is a necessary first step in planting a church. In addition to a calling, church planting requires the power of God, know-how, energy, and money. Determining a people to reach, a place to meet, partners to support the work, and a prayer strategy to fuel the work, is all part of the initial planning to make it happen.

INTENSIVE PRAYER
(Luke 10:2b;11:9; 2 Corinthians 10:4)

Church planting moves forward on the knees of devoted believers, who persistently ask, seek, and knock with fervent prayer. Ask God to provide workers, seek God’s direction and timing, and knock on heaven’s door for needed resources. Recognize prayer as our work and weapon. Utilize it for the welfare of the church and mankind.

INTENTIONAL OUTREACH
(Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; Mark 1:38-39; Luke 8:5-8)

Take the great commission seriously. Be strategic in attempting to reach the “Jerusalem” to which you are called, but understand the reach of the local church body also extends to the ends of the earth. A new church’s strategies should reflect an intention to reduce lostness by encompassing the globe with the good news, and growing the body of Christ, numerically, spiritually, locally, and globally.

….to be continued..

5-G Evangelism Connection

Likely, you are familiar with 4G networks, the latest and fastest way to communicate electronically. But, you may be unaware of the 5G evangelism connection, the most effective way to communicate the gospel. 5G evangelism involves:

1.GODLY PRESENCE

A godly presence is the necessary foundation and framework of evangelism. There is no substitute for “being there,” connecting with people where they are–where they live, work, and play. Jesus provided our pattern when He became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, He has sent us to flesh out the great commission among others. Being missional requires an incarnational, relational, and sacrificial presence. Christians must be good news as well as share the good news. The Christian life is a daily show and tell experience, in which good works must be a normal and vital part.

2.GROUNDED PROCLAMATION

If a godly presence is the foundation and framework of evangelism, proclaiming the gospel is like doors and windows. The sinless life of Jesus, His sacrificial death, certain resurrection, and gracious offer of salvation, is like light shining into a dark room, and provides the way of entrance into God’s eternal family.

Proclaiming the way of salvation, whether verbal, written, sung, or signed, must be grounded in Scriptural authority. Our witness must align with God’s Word. It is the truth that sets people free, not wishful thinking, or worldly opinion. But, our proclamation should also be grounded in cultural sensitivity. When properly understood, culture offers common ground and a conduit for the good news of God’s life changing love.

3.GRACIOUS PERSUASION

Often, a person is unresponsive to a straightforward, and heartfelt gospel presentation. Prevailing spiritual blindness, and a cultural hostility toward Christianity usually requires a persuasive element of evangelism.

Persuasion sounds like arm-twisting, but gracious persuasion is a Christ-like way of leading someone out of darkness and into the light. The Apostle Paul exerted great time and energy persuading Jews, Gentiles, governors, kings, and queens to receive Christ. With speech seasoned with salt, and lives reflecting the light of Christ, we can persuade others to cross the line from death to life. Just as a beggar who has found bread persuades another beggar that it is true, we can convince someone to act on the truth.

4.GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Lest we think evangelism is all about us, God’s providence is the one indispensable key to the process. God removes the scales of spiritual blindness, and readies human hearts for the gospel seed. a sovereign God providentially connects those needing the gospel with those willing to share it.

Winning the world to Christ is a spiritual enterprise, and is possible only when Spirit-filled believers on mission for God learn to trust and obey Him completely.

5.GATEWAY PRAYER

Since evangelism is the work and mission of God, we look to Him for the means to succeed as evangelists. Prayer is the gateway to advancing the kingdom of God. Fervent and faithful prayer reduces strongholds, removes obstacles, and releases those held captive by the enemy. A blanket of prayer can warm a person or people group to the gospel. Persistent prayer can open closed doors and closed minds. Prayer produces boldness in the witness and brings power to the witnessing process.

Gateway prayer asks for God’s blessings, seeks God’s guidance and timing, and knocks on heaven’s door for divine resources necessary for eternal and supernatural transformation of souls and communities.

Health-E Church

A survey by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention revealed a few years ago that 98.6% of responders agreed that sponsoring new churches is Biblical, and that the great commission cannot be fulfilled without starting new churches. Those results indicate a theological temperature that appears to be a normal and healthy 98.6. In the same survey, 96.2% agreed that churches starting churches is the preferred method of church planting–another healthy indicator. Yet, upon closer examination, there seems to be a serious spiritual abnormality affecting the reproductive process of the body of Christ. Somewhere between only 4% and 20% (depending on who’s reporting) of SBC churches are, in any way, involved in starting new churches. That seems a long way from normal and healthy. Our brains are obviously sending theological messages that the body refuses to acknowledge.

Why is there such a disconnect? And what will it…

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A Church Planting Check-Up…. by Robert Beike

A survey by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention revealed a few years ago that 98.6% of responders agreed that sponsoring new churches is Biblical, and that the great commission cannot be fulfilled without starting new churches. Those results indicate a theological temperature that appears to be a normal and healthy 98.6. In the same survey, 96.2% agreed that churches starting churches is the preferred method of church planting–another healthy indicator. Yet, upon closer examination, there seems to be a serious spiritual abnormality affecting the reproductive process of the body of Christ. Somewhere between only 4% and 20% (depending on who’s reporting) of SBC churches are, in any way, involved in starting new churches. That seems a long way from normal and healthy. Our brains are obviously sending theological messages that the body refuses to acknowledge.

Why is there such a disconnect? And what will it take for church planting to become the habit of all churches and not just the hobby of a few? The problem is no doubt systemic and complicated by multiple issues. However, there are three chronic ailments that if left untreated will continue to retard kingdom growth.

Church Planting is not normal for most churches, first of all, because of impaired vision. A lack of kingdom focus blurs the purpose of the church. As Jesus stood with His disciples beside the well outside the city of Sychar and watched people streaming from the town toward them, He said, “Open your eyes and look…(John 4:35). Jesus intends that we really see people, to view them in a way that transcends the physical. But, like our physical eyes, our spiritual eyes are subject to maladies that prevent us from seeing clearly.

People blindness comes in a variety of forms. A church’s vision is often clouded by prejudice. Other churches suffer from tunel vision, allowing those on society’s fringe to go unnoticed. Near-sightedness is another common affliction in churches. Spiritually myopic churches can’t see beyond their own local context, and their mission awareness is restricted to those who are “just like us.” Still others, ironically, have a far-sightedness that enables them to see needs afar off, even on the other side of the world, yet prevents them from seeing needs on the other side of their own town, or street.

Clearly, our vision needs correcting. Acquiring a kingdom focus begins on our knees in the word of God. Getting beyond our blind spots and into our mission field requires us to become like the blind man, who was asked by Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man responded, “Lord, I want to see!” (Luke 18:41).

Heart Trouble is another malady hampering our church planting effectiveness. If subjected to the careful scrutiny of the Great Physician, we may discover our hearts have shrunk to the size of our church rolls, and our heartbeat out of sync with God’s mission.  God’s heartbeat resonates clearly, in that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Furthermore, Jesus prioritized all the law and prophets by insisting that we love God with all our being, and our neighbor as ourselves. He personally resisted the pull of His disciples agendas, and the press of a needy crowd to take the gospel to neighboring towns, adament that, “This is why I have come” (Mark 1:38). Oh, that God would sync our heartbeats with His, and enlarge our hearts to include all our neighbors near and far.

The third chronic ailment negatively impacting church planting is spiritual anemia. That may actually be too mild a term, but multitudes of churches are listless, and lack a robust spirituality. Unless they experience genuine spiritual renewal they will continue to exist in a kind of ecclesiatical fetal position. Years of inward focus and lack of regular spiritual exercise has left us weak. Recognizing our condition, repenting of our sin and selfishness, and aligning with God’s will are necessary first steps to spiritual health. Getting outside the walls of the church and into the fresh air of different neighborhoods and communities has a way of raising the fitness level of a church. Personal contact with others, building relationships, and gathering them to make disciples who will make disciples, can have a viral effect that results in a church planting epidemic–in other words, normalcy.

When Jesus scanned the five porches surrounding the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, He saw “a multitude of the sick–blind, lame, and paralyzed…” They were all waiting for a miraculous movement of God that would restore them to normal–a 98.6 life. He singled out an individual who had been sick for 38 years and asked him one critical question: Do you want to get well?” (John 5:3-5). How about you? What’s your church planting temperature? Do you want to get well…really?

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