Tuesday, December 29, 2009


We are considering how God has chosen to build His church through prayer. We need to first answer the basic question: “What is prayer?” Let me provide some key principles to define prayer more clearly.

  • Prayer must never be an afterthought. It should never be given mere “lip service.”
  • Prayer is communication with God and is foundational to the believer’s relationship with him.
  • Prayer is the strategy for receiving a God-given vision and for developing a Spirit-driven strategy. God is not obligated to bless man’s plans—especially if He was not consulted in creating them. However, He loves to bless His people when they are obedient to the plans He has given them.
  • Prayer is an expression of dependence and an acknowledgment of who is really God in our lives.
  • Prayer is a demonstration of faith in a God who does the impossible.

Let’s not be content with what we can build with our own strength. Let’s not just have a church that prays but let’s become a praying church. Do we desire to see the gospel impact our communities and God move in our churches? Let’s pray.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Years ago a pastor from England named Charles Spurgeon saw his church grow from a handful of people to over 6,000. He noted something important in this experience. He stated: “the prayer meeting ought to be very precious to us, and to be cherished very much by us as a Church, for to it we owe everything. When our little chapel was all but empty; was it not a well-known fact that the prayer meeting was always full? And when the Church increased, and the place was not large enough, it was the prayer meeting that did it all."

Nowhere does the value of the church praying emerge more clearly than in the book of Acts with the ministry of the early church. Acts demonstrates a church that works. The book of Acts is more than a history of the early church. It is the chronology of the prayer-based activity of the first multiplying church network

It’s important to see the ways God built the early church through prayer. When reading Acts, prayer constantly appears on the scene as the mission unfolds. Note how prayer is a part of these occasions:

  1. The church is born in an extended prayer meeting (“devoting themselves to prayer” Acts 1:13,14)
  2. Prayer is a part of choosing leadership. (“And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one” Acts 1:24-25).
  3. Prayer results from the Spirit’s empowering. As the Holy Spirit fills believers, they immediately gather in homes to pray (“and they devoted themselves…to prayer” Acts 2:4, 42-47).
  4. On the way to prayer, a man is healed and revival breaks out (Acts 3:1-10).
  5. An external crisis drives the church to prayer (Acts 4:27-31).
  6. An internal conflict leads the apostles to prioritize their time of prayer together (Acts 6:1-6).
  7. Prayer is prominent as persecution begins and Christians are scattered (Acts 8:1-2).
  8. Prayer is vital to bringing the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 11:14-18).
  9. Prayer is instrumental in Peter’s escape from prison (Acts 12:1-9).
  10. Prayer gives birth to the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3).
  11. Prayer is instrumental in Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 16:6-10).
With these examples in mind, let’s make prayer a primary activity in our life together. We must build our lives and our churches with a rich and fervent prayer life.

Monday, November 16, 2009


This is the final post in our examination of what it means to be a Mission-Focused Reproducing Church. Today we look at the concluding reasons why Newfrontiers is committed to aggressively planting mission-focused reproducing churches.

5. Planting mission-focused reproducing churches keeps us open-handed.
Church planting is a purposeful upstream swim against the current of institutionalism. As we plant churches that have mission within the very center of their DNA, these churches will reflect the generosity and openness of Jesus in a culture that is wary of institutionalism.

6. It keeps us fresh
By constantly sending people out, we allow for new people to take their “seats” and new leaders to emerge. Churches don’t institutionalize because they have grown to a certain size over a long period of time. Institutionalization occurs because they fail to look outside their own walls.
7. It keeps us focused
By repeatedly participating in the birthing process of new churches, we are constantly reminded of our own mission and vision and why we seek to plant mission-focused reproducing churches in the first place.

Planting churches is much more than self-preservation. Included in the church planting process is biblical teaching, evangelism, discipling and worship!
8. It keeps us dependent
It’s hard to let good leaders go. It’s hard to let money go. Birthing new churches helps us to trust God as our constant Provider. We must be willing to risk significant sums of money, members, and leaders. We will miss those whom we send, but we will rejoice in the many people the kingdom of God will gain.

Jesus has called us to “march off of the map.” Like the Church in Acts we are a reproducing church movement.

Each Church must own this vision, it’s not enough for this vision to just be the property of apostolic leaders. Being a reproducing church is what you are, not just what you do.

If you have connected to our apostolic team then you have joined a vision. You are a part of this world-changing vision through your participation, financial giving, serving, witness, availability and care for one another. Let’s strengthen our commitment to the mission the Lord Jesus has called us to by planting mission-focused reproducing churches everywhere we go.

Monday, November 9, 2009


The final thing we will examine in this post and the next will be the “why” of church planting. There are definite reasons Newfrontiers is committed to aggressively planting mission-focused reproducing churches. I’ll share some of these reasons with you now and some in my final post next week.

1. New churches reach more people.

Christian Schwarz of Natural Church Development surveyed over 1,000 churches and discovered that smaller churches were 16 times more effective in winning new converts to Jesus than mega-churches. Having more entry points into the Kingdom of God increases the possibility of people coming to faith in Christ.

Ron Gladden poses the question, “If your city had only one restaurant, would more people eat out?” The obvious is that the more restaurants increase the possibilities of more people eating out. The more churches the greater potential for reaching more people with the gospel.

2. New churches reach new people.

New churches reach new generations, new residents and new people groups. New churches attract new groups about 6-10 times better and faster than older churches do. In a new church, younger and newer people can get into its leadership faster. New churches have a goal to reach new people and aren’t hindered by attempting to satisfy the desires of long-time members.

70% of people in the USA have no meaningful church relationship. The harvest is great and many new people will not be reached without new churches. Jesus said “open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (John 4:35)

The harvest is not only plentiful but it is also diverse. Around our building it is estimated that 70 different languages are spoken. Walk our streets and tour the world. One church can’t reach everyone so it will take all kinds of churches. The diversity of harvest requires a diversity of churches to make disciples of all people groups.

3. New churches release new leaders.

Starting new churches provides an opportunity to raise more workers for the harvest. A reproducing church will reach the harvest by developing, and releasing new leaders for church planting.

4. New, healthy churches grow and reproduce.

Hardly anything demonstrates the health of a congregation as much as the willingness and ability to give birth to new churches. Reproduction is a basic principle of life for all organisms. Churches are not designed by God to be unfruitful; they are designed to grow and reproduce other churches. As churches multiply, the potential harvest increases proportionately.

Monday, November 2, 2009


In Acts 14:21-26 we see two phases of Paul’s ministry. The initial phase is what we’ll refer to as Christian Formation. In this phase Paul preached the Gospel and people were brought into the Kingdom of God. Paul used a variety of means and venues to accomplish Christian Formation. He often preached/taught in synagogues, homes, in the market places, rented halls and occasionally one-on-one. A mission-focused reproducing church needs to be aware of the resources that are available for communicating the Gospel. Though this aspect of Christian Formation is constantly changing with the culture the goal remains the same.

It’s significant to note that Paul went back to places he previously visited in order to strengthen converts and to encourage them. The lesson for us is that over time people always need encouragement and a fresh sense of vision. There are too many things to distract and drain us from the overall objective of taking the Gospel to the nations. Therefore, those we lead will always be in need of encouragement and fresh direction.

The second phase of Paul’s ministry is that of Church Formation. Believers were first congregated together, allowing for the expression of their new found faith in Jesus. Community is always the New Testament context for the expression of belief. Relationships are a necessary ingredient of a believer’s faith being worked out both internally and externally. Relationships are not the flip side of being missional. A church that is truly missional must also be relational in order to provide a context for people to engage in mission.

Secondly, leaders were appointed within the churches. Before leaving a city Paul and Barnabas would appoint elders to lead the fledgling church plant (Acts 14:23). For a church to be a multiplying, reproducing church, gifted leadership is essential. Current leaders must consistently be on the lookout for new, emerging leaders who can be given the responsibility to lead. Christian Formation creates the need for Church Formation, which gives rise to Christian Formation, which creates the need for more Church Formation. In the end you have a dynamic local church that is fully engaged in mission, reproducing itself over and over again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


One of true characteristics of the Church in the book of Acts is its forward movement. As a result of the persecution in Jerusalem, the Church scattered throughout the adjoining regions and nations. Areas that may not have been reached with the Gospel for some time were suddenly transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit cultural barriers were crossed and traditional ways of doing things gave way to life-giving transformation.

The New Testament confirms for us that the Church is to always be moving forward with the Gospel, never allowing the complacency of a maintenance perspective to hinder it. Belief in the power of the Gospel is demonstrated through the forward movement of those who hold to such belief.

Not only was the Gospel moving forward in ways that early believers could scarcely imagine, newly formed local congregations were birthed with a mission-focused DNA. Early on the church in Antioch began sending key leaders out to plant churches into other regions. The new church in Ephesus eventually reproduced itself in the cities of Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Paul commends even the church in Thessalonica for reproducing itself into surrounding areas.

It’s clear that early on the New Testament Church recognized that its purpose for existence was found in the mission given it by Jesus Christ. Going into all the world and making disciples of all nations had become a mode of operation for the early Church.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The essence of being a mission-focused reproducing church is that of being a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel witnesses in Acts were often persecuted to such an extent that the Greek word martyr is used as the word for witness. This is more than semantics as it paints a clear picture of the commitment involved in being a witness of the Gospel.

Tim Keller says, “If you are persecuted all the time and never attract people to Christ its because you are obnoxious. If you are never persecuted for your faith it’s because you are a coward. “

A mission-focused reproducing church is not built apart from whole-hearted commitment to the Gospel. In that commitment there is a complete dependence upon the power of the Gospel to change people’s lives for the glory of God. Faith in methods, or a particular strategy are not adequate in and of themselves to accomplish this.

As a whole our witness as a church can be expressed in a variety of ways. One such means is attractional in nature. The attractional approach is usually associated with a great event backed with multimedia communication, high quality production, worship, the manifest presence of God, with an emphasis on cultural relevance. This approach seeks to attract people to such gatherings, affording them the opportunity to process their faith along the way.

Another means of witness expression for the Church is incarnational in its approach. The incarnational expression seeks to be Jesus in the community in which it exists. Meetings and programs are downplayed, while community connection is magnified.

While both expressions have their place, the book of Acts suggests that the early church, which was firmly missional in nature was both attractional and incarnational. Next week we’ll take a look at the dynamics of the early church to see how their witness to the Gospel was formed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The Christian Church was designed from the first to be aggressive. It was not intended to remain stationary at any period, but to advance onward until its boundaries became commensurate with those of the world. It was to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria unto the uttermost parts of the earth. It is not intended to radiate from one central point only; but to form numerous centers from which its influence might spread to the surrounding parts. In this way it was extended in its first and purest times. The plan upon which the apostles proceeded, and the great apostle in particular in his mission to the Gentiles, was to plant churches in all the great cities and centers of influence in the known world. (Sword & Trowel, vol 1, April 1865, p 63) C.H. Spurgeon.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus told his followers that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. Samaria was geographically near but culturally far away while the uttermost parts of the earth were geographically and culturally far away. Both places are “off the map” in terms of geography. This is why Newfrontiers is committed to an “off the map” approach to our mission. We value the edge more than the center, and the lost more than the found. While at the same time being proactive rather than reactive, moving from addition to multiplication.

In the next few weeks I will be outlining the biblical basis for this approach as it is recorded for us in the book of Acts. As we examine the expansion of the Gospel through the book of Acts we will learn what it means to be truly mission-focused. I hope you will join me on this journey.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thoughts from Tacoma

It's the first light of the morning as I sit here in the home of Sam and Marlene Poe in Tacoma, WA. I find myself up early as usual. I like early—it’s quiet before the day’s activities kick in, but most importantly, it’s time to be with and listen to God.

Celebration Northwest has just concluded at the George Fox University campus near Portland, OR. Celebration NW was wonderful as people (from our churches here in the NW) came together to worship, listen, and respond to the ministry of the Word; to get to know each other, play together, eat together, pray together, and most importantly to be envisioned for our mission together. The Church (and our family of churches) is really all about mission, which leads to God's glory. Anything less and we can't justify our existence.

A couple of weeks ago I was in New England for Celebration Northeast and we prayed into our mission on Saturday night. It was more than simply praying into images we had witnessed on a video. Our mission became very tangible as we prayed over two young couples on their way to Islamic nations.

Over the summer (and particularly at these Celebration events) I have had many conversations with young men being stirred to leave familiar places in order to go to cities, states, and even nations with the gospel. It is very exciting to me to observe the dynamic of God's call and passion in their lives. We emphasize planting new churches, provide training for church planters, and celebrate the news of another new church being planted in our cities. I do believe a church must be a community of God's presence that has invaded a city for its good.

I was reminded of a blog I recently read by Bob Roberts, Jr. and was provoked by the things he called to the reader’s attention as he addressed the Church in America. Bob's remarks were short without much explanation, demanding we not just read but spend time thinking through his pithy statements. I leave his words for you to consider:

1. Connect with the rest of the world:
Our “methods” aren’t working.
Our “pride” demands that we connect so that we can be humble learners.
The church really is global now. Really, it is . . . no joke . . . we are not alone in the U.S. Really!

2. Love people more than the church:
Yes, the church is the people. The problem is we focus more on the institution than the constituents.
The church is a reflection of the disciples being made - make disciples and serve people.

3. Rediscover God:
No revival came out of a church growth movement - but revival has produced church growth.
No revival came out of church planting - but church planting came out of revival.
Get on your face before God and pray - ask him to reveal himself to you.
Spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditation, Scripture reading aren’t niceties but necessities.

4. Let new believers and young people shape the form of the church more than yesteryear - or yester-century.

(Excerpt taken from Bob Roberts, Jr's blog article How the Evangelical Church of America Will Survive)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No Closed Countries

This past week I was speaking at Celebration Northeast, an event where Newfrontiers churches in New England come together at Gordon College in Boston for three days for a multi-church family camp. Of course we have Celebration events in the Midwest and the Northwest as well. As a family of churches together on a mission, these Celebration weekends form a clear picture of what we're about as a community of churches: authentic worship, genuine relationships, both Word and Spirit, a passion for the church with foundations of grace, and especially mission.

On Saturday night during the conference, we presented videos and gave an explanation of our involvement together both in the nations, as well as the USA. Afterward, all the churches gathered to participate in a very large prayer meeting regarding our vision for future advancement in training leaders and sending out people for new church plants. It was a particular joy to pray for two different couples that will be going to Islamic nations with the purpose of giving themselves to the needs of those nations—particularly to the poor and to share the Good News of Jesus. One of those nations contains not a single church in it. Of course I can’t divulge this nation, as this would be very dangerous to the young family we are sending there. How this couple is able to go there is a miracle of a story that can’t presently be told. I can only say that an extremely influential Islamic person in this nation has invited this couple to come and serve the poor of his nation with the substantial resources he possesses. I was overwhelmed as we laid our hands in prayer for these couples from our own churches that have responded to God’s call upon their lives.

We are a movement that has staked out 100 of the largest and most influential cities in the USA to start reproducing churches; however, we are also a movement that desires to reach the nations. So on Saturday night we prayed for and sent out two couples not just to the nations, but to two Islamic nations. Across our movement men and women have come to understand Jesus’ call to make disciples of all nations and have answered that call with passion.

We continue to give ourselves to training of all kinds as young men and women have joined the clarion call to take the Good News to our cities and nations. Coming September 4th-6th in Tacoma, WA we are sponsoring another cross-cultural training weekend, From the Nations to the Nations, hosted by New Community Church. This event is not only helpful for those who may someday go to other nations but also vital instruction for reaching those of other cultures in our own cities. We don’t all have to go to the nations—the nations have come to us and reside in our very own towns. It’s not too late to get involved, so register today at http://www.ncctacoma.org/nations.html.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Traveling to England

As I write this blog I am preparing for my departure to England where we will have a busy schedule. Linda and I are looking forward to our arrival and immediate transfer to Poole where we will be with Gateway Church led by Matt Hosier. Matt is a longtime friend, so we are very much looking forward to having a few days with them. Matt made it a priority to have me come to Sidcup, New Community Church in London every year to minister to this great church during his years as pastor there. He now leads Gateway Church in the coastal city of Poole. It was a joy to be with them last year and I am looking forward to my second visit where I am sure to note much progress. I look forward to the Sunday preaching but especially to meeting with elders and leaders and their wives during our stay.

Following my time at Poole, Linda and I will travel to Brighton, England for the "Together On A Mission" conference which draws nearly 5,000 leaders from around the world. We will be teaching at this conference on the topic of the priority of the leader's marriage. We do feel the weight of this important topic particularly as we note each year the failure of marriages among leaders, which goes beyond those that are often noted as high profile leaders. It is my belief that a leader's marriage priority supersedes all other priorities in ministry. This has been a topic we have often been asked to share internationally as well as in the USA. It has been rewarding to receive many expressions of appreciation from leaders and wives following these teachings. I do expect this year's "Together On A Mission" conference to be a most historic occasion following the 2008 conference. Terry Virgo will be taking three very important sessions as he prepares us for the transition that is taking place in Newfrontiers.

After the Brighton conference we will travel to Sidcup, a suburb of London, to again be with New Community Church, which is led by Dave Holden. It will be a joy to minister again to this wonderful church which has always been so warm and embracing of our ministry. I will also again be meeting with the elders for a time of input. I have greatly appreciated the openness of the elders to receive from me and I count it a special privilege to have this opportunity. Dave and his wife, Liz, have been such wonderful friends and we are so looking forward to having time together on the Monday following our week-end of meetings. Newfrontiers is indeed a family of churches together on a mission with wonderful relationships among the leaders and churches.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Report on June 09

I'm just about to conclude a busy but very productive month of June. I traveled to Seattle/Tacoma for several days and enjoyed meeting with the leaders of nine churches for two days. It was so excellent to witness the amazing advancement that is taking place in the Northwest. Four more churches have a desire to become a part of what we are in Newfrontiers and have been in the process of building relationship with us for some time now. I feel a real kinship with these leaders; in fact, it feels like I have always known them. I am very impressed with the heart and quality of these pastors who value relationships, having a great desire to be together on a mission as a family of churches. I honor the work they have already accomplished and know they will make a great contribution to us. It was also a joy to be with Bo Noonan and Sam Poe as well as our church plant New Community Church in Tacoma and to see the growth of the church. Although I was unwell during the Sunday preach, I was aware of God's presence and several expressed appreciation for the message.

During some free time on Saturday, Sam Poe took me to Mt. Rainer for a little mountain climbing. I have to say we did not make the summit of 14,000 feet, but did climb high enough to look back at Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens on what was a beautiful, clear day. It was amazing to stand on Mt. Rainer knowing that 711 inches of snow had fallen that year and much of it still underneath our feet. The beauty of God's creation continues to be vividly embedded in my memory.

Upon my return to Missouri, we spent a day with Terry and Wendy Virgo and traveled up to "Celebration Midwest" at the University of Central Missouri campus. What a joy to meet together with hundreds of people from our Midwest churches for three days. I encourage you to download the teaching which received such an excellent response. This event is like no other we do: the entire family is involved as people serve to make this conference such a great blessing. I greatly appreciate the way the churches pitch in to administrate, teach children, oversee recreation, supervise the book table and usher. More than any other type of event, our Celebration conferences express our churches as a family together on a mission. The presence of God was so precious during our times to worship. I noted particularly as people seemed eager to drink in the preaching and respond during prayer times. The Saturday evening meeting is a time in which we report news, pray for new church plants, give a financial report, and show a video of our past activities as well as vision for the future and then receive an offering for our mission together. It is great fun to welcome the ONEBLAZE into that meeting as we celebrate late into the night. That particular evening has become a highlight for us and is often commented on as the most envisioning point of our conference. I always find myself in awe as to the way our people serve and give so generously in the offering. If you were unable to attend, I would like to encourage you to come next year; your children and teens will love it as well.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Update on New England

Recently I was in New England for a very busy program which involved meeting with the leaders of both our Boston churches, a morning meeting with additional New England leaders, as well as spending time with those emerging in leadership from the various churches in the region. It was thrilling to note the sense of mission and movement among them. Christ the King has sold their building and moved into the city of Dover. I enjoyed spending time with Simon Wong, who leads Christ the King, and noted the growing faith among the church there. Ian Ashby, who leads Harbor Church and oversees our work in New England, has expanded into another meeting site in the historic city center of Portsmouth. The meeting in the historic "North Church" building has attracted a great deal of attention and Harbor is experiencing many guests and growth.

It was a joy to spend a day teaching at their quarterly leadership training program "Project 100." The packed hall represented our churches in New England and we were even able to provide a live video feed of the sessions to our churches in Canada! It was interesting to take questions at the end of each session, including those watching by teleconference! At the conclusion of the day we enjoyed a gathering of people from Harbor Church to celebrate the sending of Ian Jukes to a church plant in the UK. On Sunday it was a delight to preach at both Sunday meetings at Fenway Church in Boston. I love church plants, and being at Fenway church was a special thrill. Fenway Church meets in a trendy Boston bar ironically called "Church of Boston." I believe this was a first for me, preaching in a bar, and I must say I loved it. David Hill, who leads this church plant, is one of the most enthusiastic church planters I know. I love David's passion for lost people and anticipate that the rapid additions will continue.