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Jannette and I were reinvigorated at the recent CMA Bi-Annual Council, 2017, in Ohio. Our FaithBAC vision for reaching Juneau was reinforced during my break-out sessions on Greenhouse church development.
The Greenhouse church development mindset focuses on two points that use the church at Antioch, from the book of Acts, as an example:
1) DO SOMETHING (Acts 11:27-30) Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. (James 1:22 Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.)
2) SEND SOMEONE (Acts 13:1-3) Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
The Greenhouse theory reflects the CMA's beginnings with Pastor A.B. Simpson. Moving from Canada to Kentucky to NY, he had a passion for the church to reach out as a mission-minded body. He spoke on the wharfs to dock workers and ship workers and invited them to church despite differences in affluence. He testified to the need to reach the lost wherever they are at. The Greenhouse movement was birthed out of this desire from the beginning to step into nothing to reach the lost and the need to send others to reach the lost.
From, "All For Jesus, God at Work in the CMA Over One Hundred Years":
On November 20, 1881, two weeks after his resignation from Thirteenth Street Presbyterian (in N.Y.) Simpson conducted a meeting in the Caledonian Club Hall. After speaking on the spiritual needs of the city he urged those "in sympathy with an aggressive spiritual movement" to meet on November 23 to confer and pray. Only seven other people showed up. Huddled around a little stove in a "cold and cheerless dance hall," they opened their Bibles. "This is the word of the Lord," they read. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. For who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:6,10). Simpson recalled that the small group then knelt in prayer to thank God that they were poor, few and weak. "We threw ourselves upon the might of the Holy Ghost, and He has never failed us."
As I consider FBAC integrating the Greenhouse principles, I am convicted that we need to be a healthy body to send and multiply. We do not want to multiply our weaknesses, but multiply our strengths. We need to recognize we need to grow by pursuing the higher gifts, identifying how each of us fit into the body of Christ and develop our relationship with God. Our goals should be to build up the body, develop the armor of God, and the gospel message. Encourage teaching, mentoring, and discipleship. Jesus does not call us to a cul-de-sac mentality of holding what we have, but being a conduit to share with others what we have and know. We need to teach others to obey Christ's commands and great commission. As we go through the process of teaching others to obey, leaders will naturally rise and desire to be used by God in a significant way. Some of these leaders may desire to "Go out" and plant churches beyond the local body.
The Greenhouse mentality provides the environment for leaders to be sent out. We need to identify people's gifts and develop a growth environment. The size of a church does not matter to multiply.
See how we really are part of something MUCH BIGGER than ourselves through being part of the body of Christ and the CMA: http://www.cmalliance.org/video/watch/36593/?autoplay=true (CMA President John Stumbo's message from the Philippines)
With Bible open and heart open, let us stay in tune with the Spirit and what He has for us.
I am working on the lesson
for this week’s Awana/Journey lesson. The lesson for this week is about
Jesus’ 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan.
(Matthew 4:7) Jesus
answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’
I remembered a portion of
one of the talks we had regarding how hard it will be Living for Jesus in the
Last days. Shelli Prindle, our keynote speaker, told of a story of a
family living in one of the countries facing persecution because they are
Christians, not only Christians but Christian Missionaries. They
received word that all people who were not native to that country should
leave the country because it was no longer safe. The question for this
family was this: Do they stay trusting that God will
protect them or do they leave making sure that their family is safe?
They chose to stay.
The mother told her children, “There may come a day when some really bad men
will come through our door. They will want to hurt us. You may see
some blood and you will be really scared. If that happens, I want you to
close your eyes and say ‘I forgive you. God loves you.’ Then when you
open them again you will be with Jesus and everything will be okay.”
Wow! I can’t imagine
the feelings that had to have gone through this family. I can’t imagine
the faith that these parents had. “Just close your eyes and say… ‘I
forgive you. God loves you’”.
When Jesus was taken to
the top of the highest building in Jerusalem and was told “All you have to do
is jump. God will save you. His angels will pluck you up and not
let anything happen to you.” What Satan was really saying, “Do you Trust
God? Just jump…see if He really will save you…go ahead.”
Jesus didn’t need proof –
he had TRUST that His Father would keep His word. Just like the Mother
that said, “Just close your eyes. When you open them up you will see
Jesus and everything will be okay.”
I hope and pray that my
faith would be that strong in the face of adversity. I pray that when I
close my eyes for the last time; I will wake up I see Jesus and everything will
From the president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, John Stumbo. Presented at the Converge Conference in Colorado Springs, March 2017.
What are the true dangers that we are facing, that the American church faces?
- Compromising our message. The truth is, there are NOT a lot of ways to get to heaven. The CMA believes in the authority of the word of God and the claims of Jesus Christ.
- Losing our passion; for world evangelism, for the eternal, for things that really matter. We do not want to be infected with the "Samson Syndrome". Samson said, "If you cut my hair, I will be as weak as any other man." If we lose our passion, we will be as weak as every other man.
- Self-protectionism. As the media gets louder, we risk our churches falling into self-protectionism. We don't want to prioritize personal security over our kingdom calling. Acts 20:24
- Self-promotion. We need to advance the name of Jesus, not our own names.
Three assignments: •Advance the name of Jesus •Strengthen the church •Drive back the enemy. It is a sweet clarity that comes when self gets out of the way. We are large when we live for the eternal.
The title of my sermon on the 18th was "Giving Direction" in light of the opportunity I had to join other pastors from the Western Great Lakes District and hear a message from Dr. John Stumbo, the president of the Christian & Missionary Alliance. I want to reflect and recap the vision and commitments that Dr. Stumbo shared with the pastors. I also want to pass along commitments from myself and recognize that these are things that you as the body of Christ could be passing on as commitments to those that are lost in our community and to those who will carry the mantle of the church after we have passed.
So, while the title of the sermon was "Giving Direction", I am thinking I should title this blog, "Changing Direction". I was beginning to surpass my boundaries in my bulletin blurb with the amount of words I was using. So as not to squeeze out needed space for other ministry communication, I felt I needed to change venue and leave a sentence behind in the bulletin to communicate the change from the weekly blurb to a weekly blog found here on the Reflections page of our website. So, here we are, changing direction and giving direction.
I first want to say as we walk through some of the information that was shared by our CMA president, that I give him full credit for outlining his commitments and because they are in true step with where I feel I should be, I may inflect some of my own thoughts over his but will try not to detract from the straight forward, common sense approach he has given.
The president sat down with his advisors and his cabinet and one of the early on tasks was to define the vision casting in a three bullet format. What they emerged with was this: Christ Centered – Acts 1:8 – Family. Sunday we looked at the passage from which Acts 1:8 comes from, the recording of Jesus' ascension and what he gave as a parting statement and command. We also took a look at how this particular verse has two distinctly different interpretations by believers today. So, we broke down the literal viewpoint, which is being a witness in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth, against the personal viewpoint, which defined these specific areas as "spheres of application". Meaning that Jesus was inferring that Jerusalem is our family and local neighborhood, Judea and Samaria could be equated to our state and country, and the ends of the earth would be beyond those areas. What we came to in the conclusion, was that, what Jesus said he meant literally. So in speaking to the disciples of the day and our continued reading in Acts, we find that the early church actually carried out the first steps of the command. Let's review the Scripture verse again.
" … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:8
Because this verse is often associated with the missional mindset, many Christians want to excuse themselves from the equation by replacing the "AND" with "THEN". However, if we look at the interpretation of the early church and follow along in the book of Acts, we find that the disciples started in the literal city of Jerusalem as they were instructed to not leave until the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Once this had taken place and the persecution began to spread, many of the early believers found themselves scattered in Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). The gospel was being spread, leaving the final step. So what does this mean for us today, living in Dodge County, Wisconsin in the United States of America? Well, if we interpret Scripture properly, we would see that we are in one of the many nations considered to be Gentile nations. We are instructed to go throughout all the nations taking the Gospel to all ethnicities at the ends of the earth. That means we cannot look at just the unbelievers in our families, our towns and cities, or our country, and forget those across the world that have yet to be reached.
While it is important to clarify the interpretation of Acts 1:8, Dr. Stumbo wanted us to be clear on the order in which the three phrase vision is placed. Leading with the Acts 1:8 focus can lead us to become works driven and program oriented forgetting who we are doing this for. Focusing on the Family as our leading, turns us inward and we become complacent and we start to die as a church. No, we have to draw our attention to the fact that we need to be centering everything we do around the person of Jesus Christ. Why, Where, When, How, and What we are doing all should point back to Him.
Now that we have defined a foundational platform from which we can build the vision and some insights to the foundation, let us now build on the vision with some of the commitments the president identified and then hang them on the framework of the four pillars he outlined as a Christ Centered - Acts 1:8 – Family and what we will do.
We will start with the six commitments Dr. Stumbo gave to the church leaders and pastors of the Christian & Missionary Alliance and follow up with the four pillars of action that will be needed in order to carry the vision forward. Over the course of the next few months we will look in further depth to these commitments and action pillars.
The six commitments are as follows:
- Celebrate Jesus
- Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit
- Staying under the Authority of God
- Personal Soul Care
- Strengthen and Extend our impact for the Kingdom
- Hand off the Church in a healthier state than what I inherited (Pass off a more loving church)
Again, we will look further into each of these commitments one by one in the upcoming weeks. They will be the keys to how we are to Love, Proclaim, Reach and Launch our local church along with other local churches scattered around the world to spread the Gospel to the nations and to the ends of the earth.
I hope you will continue to join me as we look at how we can begin to do these things in the context of our own situations and areas of influence. I would ask that you continue to pray for ways to be used by God in the gathering of those that belong to Him. Going and Growing where God is asking us to meet Him. Getting out there and getting it done.