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