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)


  1. John, it is great to hear the reports from our conferences in NE and NW. Thanks for posting. The statements from Roberts are excellently provocative.

  2. Thanx for the reports John. Keep running!

  3. Cannot wait to hear Bob Roberts at the US Leadership Conference!

  4. Thanks for the Bob Roberts quotes, John. Found this quoted on the blog site. Thought it might be of interest:

    Jon writes:
    “You guys are young. You’re already light years ahead of where I was at your age. And whether what you are doing now becomes a huge success or it doesn’t the most important is who you guys are becoming. Businesses come and go. But the stuff you learn now and the networks you guys build will be with you for the rest of your lifetime. And you’re in an incredibly fortunate position to be realizing that at a young age. Most people don’t figure that out until they’re in their 30s, 40s or later and they’re saddled with a mortgage and ton of credit card debt and they have families and then at that point there’s little chance they’ll step on the entrepreneurial treadmill.

    “So do all of that. Take as much risk as you can as early as you can. Put yourselves in positions where there’s a really good chance that you’ll fail. And learn, learn, learn. We’re moving into a world where the person who is learning 8/10/12/14 hours a day is at a huge advantage over the person who isn’t. The world is changing ridiculously fast right now and that’s to your advantage if you’re continually sharpening the saw. And there has never been a better time to do that. With blogs, podcasts, Twitter, more great books than ever. You are really in an absolutely amazing position.”

    Great advice. Put yourselves in positions where there’s a really good chance that you’ll fail.
    As someone who's seen the years fly by, I can only say how true! The easiest time to risk everything to follow the call is when we're young. We have to see & join in what He's up to and attempt something so big that without His intervention, we would fall flat on our face in our own efforts. Not foolish risks, but prayerfully led in faith & confirmed with the wise counsel of those who've gone before us and are mature in faith.

    Sometimes us older guys are a little envious of all the opportunities in God available today that weren't around when we were young - especially those that are linked with the wisdom, guidance, & support of a spiritual father. Yet, even we cannot let age in & of itself not hold us back or cause us to yield to the so-called "conventional wisdom" of our culture that keeps us from moving in faith outside the box.

    Neither Jesus or Paul let any obstacle or human reasoning keep them from keeping destiny's appointment in Jerusalem ever before them & pursuing it like flint. How easy it is to get sidetracked or diverted, even by good things! The quote above wasn't written by someone sold out to building the Kingdom, but was written by an entrepreneur seeking to make as much money as he can by starting innovative, cutting edge businesses. If these guys can have such passion and drive for merely fame & fortune, shouldn't it motivate and spur us on to serve the eternal Kingdom of God with even more passion & commitment?