Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
As one of the pastors on the lead team at an attractional church that’s on a transformational journey into missional, let me share a metaphor that scares me, sobers me, and keeps me asking hard questions.
Is my local church a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier?
My friend Todd Wilson use to serve in the nuclear navy and he was the first one to pose that question to me. When the navy deploys for battle, they deploy in a carrier battle group. A carrier battle group is made up of all kinds of vessels: fast frigates, supply ships, guided missile cruisers, fast attack submarines. At the very center of the carrier battle group is something called the aircraft carrier, a 390,000-ton war machine that is arguable the most potent war machine in the entire history of mankind.
The mission of that massive aircraft carrier is one thing: To launch the pilots and help them fulfill their mission.
We need to think of our local churches as an aircraft carrier. Our goals is to arm and equip the pilots, so they can launch out and fulfill the mission God has given them at work, in their neighborhood and their community.
The temptation pressing down on us as church leaders is to allow our local churches to operate like a cruise ship. If you were a kid in the 70’s like me, I know you can hear this song in your head right now, “The LOVE BOAT soon will be making another run. The LOVE BOAT promises something for everyone…”
What do you do on a cruise ship? You go to be entertained. You eat a lot. No worries about accountability or equipping for mission. A cruise ship always comes back to the same port it left from. Cruise ships are fun, but they don’t advance the mission.
If the enemy can disarm the carrier, confuse the pilots on their mission, and shut down the catapult system, we’ll end up simply being the LOVE BOAT.
No pastor or church leader I know wants to lay down their life to be Captain Stubbing or Gopher. But, if we don’t have a strategy to get the pilots launched and in the air, I know that’s where I’ll end up.
If we can cooperate with the Spirit of God and reboot our systems to equip and launch people on mission, we will unleash the most powerful, effective, indigenous discipleship and evangelism force on the face of the earth.
That’s the church Jesus was talking about when he said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against.”
This calling toward the “aircraft” and away from the “cruise ship” will require some earth-shaking shifts – ‘Missional Moves’ – that fundamentally alter our understanding of the church and how its mission is lived out. That’s the kind of transformation we’re in the middle of at Granger Community Church.
Our book Missional Moves is our attempt to share some of the blood, sweat, tears, mistakes, and breakthroughs we’ve experienced in the process. It’s a resource by practitioners for practitioners. We want to help keep moving the missional conversation from conceptual to practical.
If you’re wrestling with the same questions and you live in the Indianapolis area, we’d love for you to join the conversation, April 11, at Maggiano’s (free lunch!). This event is sponsored by the generous folks at the Aspen Group. You can register for the event here. The team at Aspen just want to add value to church leaders pursuing mission, no strings attached. Hope to see you there!
Miss Belle will have a surprise shower of balloons when she opens the door on her 9th birthday morning. @maddiewegner and @whitneywegner12 are the great sisters who pulled this off.
My Mom was placing flowers on Grandma’s gravestone two nights ago. A car stops nearby. Mom figures its the groundskeeper, who has had to kick her out at “closing time” before. A man gets out of the car holding this silver package and approaches Mom, whose quit frightened by this. He says, “This is our blessing for you. It is our tradition to share a homemade pie with those who are facing the loss of a loved one, so they know they aren’t alone. Would you take this pie?” At this point his wife and daughter had approached and were standing next to him. His wife assured her, “Fresh-baked. It’s still warm.” Mom could feel the warmth of the pie in her hands. Grandma Warmelink was an incredible baker, know in particular for her pies. As mom shared the story tears welled up in her eyes.
God’s love comes to us in such a personal, customized and intimate way.
I told Mom, “Reminds me of another woman who stood at the graveside, heart-broken. She was also interrupted by someone who she thought was the groundskeeper, but it ended up being Jesus who met her.” John 20:15
By the way, the pie was amazing…almost as good as grandma’s!
Take a minute to rest and receive the grace present in this gift. My amazing wife created this work of beauty (the photos are hers, song by Nicole Nordeman).
“When you wonder why you are being severely tested, remember that the reason does not lie so much with you but with those to whom God will make you useful…the effect of one life on another can hardly be fully known…we will never understand how being prepared here, there, and in a thousand other places has helped a fellow pilgrim.” Charles Spurgeon
(Painting by Marty Friend, who also shared this quote with me.)
Leroy dropped me this message a couple days ago. It was just another day in Monroe Circle filled with moments that only happen by the power and grace of God.
Today I realized that I do not have the capacity to keep up with and share the “God Stories” that continues to happen at and through Monroe Circle Community Center and Granger Community Church…sigh… breathe. But I will attempt to lay out today’s scenario:
- Received 5000lbs of chicken legs and 2400lbs of chicken sausage donation from Miller’s Poultry, which should last us 3 months. And Stanz Food service has donated us refrigerated storage space for the chicken and will deliver the chicken to MC3 as needed. Today was the first chicken distribution to our friends.
- Last month Elle White and Lindsi Gillean shot portraits of approximately 60 MC3 families for free. Elle created a packet for each family containing an 8x10 family portrait and a CD of their pictures. Today, our friends picked up their packets. And the smile on their faces, as each one viewed their portraits, were priceless.
- Just left a bunch of excited ladies engaging in the MC3we quilting program. It’s crazy what’s going on there. Those ladies are on something :).
- Sparked by one of the ReEntry Center resident’s desire to volunteer and serve (this resident attends the Hurts Hang up’s and Habits (H3) program and the Sunday night ReEntry church service), the ReEntry Center contacted me about possibly having their guys volunteer at MC3. Today, eight guys from the reEntry center delivered food to the sick and shut in as well as volunteered with Carpenters Hand in the MC3 renovation project. It was awesome! They want to do it again and will…next Saturday. Two of the guys from the reentry center are employees at the GCC eatery. Carolyn, the Eatery’s manager, happened to stop by to bring some left overs from the Eatery. She was able to connect with the guys (they still had their eatery uniforms on :) talking about representin’).
- This message came from the correctional officer at the Reentry Facility, “On behalf of the South Bend Community Re-entry Center, we would like to thank you for letting our residents be apart of your volunteer projects. Our residents shared with me the heart filled emotions they had while giving back to the community. These projects not only uplift the community, but engrave positive feelings and achievement in our residents.”
It’s amazing to see the people of Granger, the people of Monroe Circle, the guys from the reentry facility, and local business people come together in a transformational relationship and partnership that is bringing “up there” down here. It’s like a beautiful dance centered around Jesus Christ and the melody is the full expression of the Gospel, proclamation and demonstration.
This is a story of what only Jesus can do. I received this from Jack this morning, who is on the field in India. We’re multiplying from one to five training hubs in Tamil Nadu, trusting God for the multiplication of this type of transformation.
I’m attaching a picture of a girl named Simbu that some of you may remember. We first met her in 2009, i think. She was probably about 14, but didn’t know how old she was like so many because she is illiterate and never learned to count. She is Kassi’s granddaughter and lived in another village, but spent a lot of time in the KIC because her extended family was there. I remember Simbu from that time period as a girl who was feisty and fun. Specifically, she would flash me her dynamite smile and challenge me to races and contests of all sorts of descriptions. During a construction team to build the foundation of what is now KC3, she would sidle up to me, nod, smile, and pick up a plate full of cement, then dash across the work site daring me to catch her. I can still hear her giggle as i would gain ground in pursuit and remember that no matter how hard or hot it got, she refused to buckle on the work load. Every day, she stood with the “big women” of the community and also work long and full days alongside our GCC team, and won the hearts of that entire team. I looked for her for quite a while whenever i went back, but only saw her a couple of more times, then not at all for the past year or so.
Until today. I saw her today looking plump and sweet, but swinging a beautiful baby on her hip. Shocked at seeing her, i rushed to greet her (she was surprised that i remembered her name, but started laughing that same feathery giggle when i shouted it) and asked Raj where she has been all this time. He told me the following story.
Simbu’s parents sent her to work at a factory in a nearby village a couple of years ago. They figured she could make more money that way, and she did for a time. They thought that things were going well. One day a little over a year ago, however, at the factory, she was gang-raped by a number of young men who had singled her out and separated her from anyone who would notice or come to her aid. She became pregnant as a result of that incident, but because of the number of young men, they were never able to identify the father. Simbu returned home and her family decided not to attempt to pursue legal action (note: why?! Erg!!!). She carried the child to term and had the baby. After that, she moved to the KIC where she now lives with her grandfather (Kassi) and grandmother who are helping to raise her little boy along with her extended family and others in the community.”
I’m sure i had to pick my jaw up off of the ground as i tried to stifle the disbelief and rage that started boiling up in my soul at hearing about how she had been treated and seeing her standing there in front of me while knowing what she has been through the last year. But then something shocked me. Simbu just smiled at me and held her little boy’s 5 month old hand out to me. He smiled at me (something that never happens with Indian kids, as you guys well know when they see me for the first time) and Simbu pointed to him with a smile and said, “Moses”. Raj asked her a question and then said, “Yes, this is her son. She named him Moses.”
Let that sink in for a sec. When i met Simbu last, she and her family were Hindu. Now, only a couple of years later and even after enduring something i cannot even fathom, she is now a follower of Jesus with an extended family who are following Jesus as well, standing as a community to raise a child who came to them all through a heinous act of violence and violation. And she named him Moses. As i stood there and watched Simbu interact with the other village men and women, there was no hint of any kind of stigma or shame. She stood alongside Manju (who proudly carries her niece Anita everywhere she goes) and they balanced babies on their hips and chatted like nothing could be more natural or normal in all the world. I watched her sit among both children and adults, and watched them simply interact with her as though they had already enfolded her into their little collective (and confirmed that indeed, they have). Through it all, it forced me to step back and simply say, “who else but Jesus?” Honestly. Who else but Jesus could take a situation like that and bring so much beauty out of it? You could see the light and the heat in Simbu’s heart through the smile on her face, and i walked away knowing that she will be well cared for, not only by the people in the poor little community of Irular who surround her, but by the God who loves her and has brought her to Himself.
Sure, i’m probably a little bit of a romantic and maybe even sentimental at times, but this was just pretty unreal. As i left the village, my rage at wanting to hunt down the jerks who hurt Simbu and hold them accountable for their actions (preferably through life-long maiming) was honestly overridden by the sense of awe i felt at the Beauty that i saw in the little community.
Who else but Jesus?
If you’d like to learn more about the story behind this transformation and how a local church can be the hub for this kind of change, we wrote Missional Moves for that very reason.
There are no words to describe the gratitude that springs from knowing Jesus as my source of Life! I see His goodness in 100’s of ways in my family, the church & the world.
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. John 1:4
The team at Exponential is asking church leaders what their personal working definition of a disciple is. Here were my thoughts…
What is a disciple?
The word disciple refers to someone who is an apprentice, learning a way from a teacher they adhere to. A disciple is one who follows another in their ways and teachings. So, discipleship happens all the time. Everyone is a disciple of someone or something. Discipleship is unavoidable.
We are all being discipled and we are all discipling others. The question is: To who or what am I discipling others?
As the leaders of this church, that means either we will disciple our people to Jesus or they will continue to be discipled by our culture. Jesus created the church for this purpose: “Therefore go and make disciples.”
The term Christian, which is much more commonly used, was actually a name given by the Romans in Antioch (Acts 11:6) as a term to describe the disciples of Jesus. That term only occurs 3 times (Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16) in the NT. The term disciple appears over 250 times. In other words, disciple was the main identity Jesus fostered in his followers!
Disciple-making is not a department, it is the driving mission, including everything else we do as churches. A disciple of Jesus is someone who is learning to apply the gospel to every part of life, learning the way of Jesus in every area of life.
In Missional Moves, we discuss how “Jesus is Lord” is not just another box I add to my life, where Jesus is the first in a sequence. “Jesus is Lord” is the hub of the wheel, where Jesus is first in everything. To be a disciple is to let Jesus live increasingly through you. How do we know if this is happening? Here are the two greatest indicators of maturity.
1) Maturity = Love. If your discipleship is working, your maturity will show up in love. You will become a more loving person, loving God and others.
2) Maturity = Reproduction. In addition, to be a disciple means to make more disciples. Jesus said to every disciple, “Go and make disciples.” So every disciple of Jesus is designed to become a disciple who can make disciples. This is the truest sign of maturity is reproduction. Check our Founding Pastors thoughts on reproduction. Brilliant stuff!
How does your eBook, Transformational Partnerships” Church to Organization add to the national conversation on discipleship?
Discipleship must happen at a micro level, helping individual’s become disciples. In addition, discipleship must happen at a macro level. As God’s people, we are called to “seek the welfare of our cities for in its welfare, you will find your welfare (Jer 29:7 ESV).” In other words, how do we disciple an entire neighborhood or even a city? If a local church wants to disciple a neighborhood, community, or city, they can¹t do it alone. That kind of community transformation will require the local church to partner with players from every domain of society, including parachurch organizations, NGO¹s, business, school corporation, health care providers, and government. If your church has a vision big enough to believe the Kingdom impacts all these areas, then high levels of partnership skills will be required.
Our current free eBook, Transformational Partnerships: Church to Organization, dives into the practical realities of how we can build transformational partnerships across the domains of society without compromising, but rather advancing the mission of the church. We’re hoping it will add real value to church leaders who are seeking to disciple at this macro level.