Video Discussion Starter:Imperfect

God looks at the inside not the outside.  If you were to use this video as a conversation starter, what additional questions might you use?

Check out this video discussion starter and then I’ll share some possible ways to use this video:

(Feed Readers: You may need to click through to see the video)

How I could use this video

  • Show it at a youth group meeting.
  • Show it at a youth leaders training meeting.
  • Use it as a spring board to discuss “Game Face vs. the True You.”

One of my favorite youth retreat times when I was in high school was a Saturday night conversation in the dark.  We called it “Late Night Rap.”

The only light was fireplace or candles.  The youth were allowed only at late night rap, or in their own bed.  No wandering around.

The conversation had two rules:

  • What is said here, stays here.
  • You can take it as deep as you want, or keep it as shallow as you want.

We’d sit in the dark, laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling or gazing at the fire in the fireplace.  The setting contributed to the sacredness of the moment.

We had deep discussions.  Profound and life changing discussions.  Sometimes the conversations never went deep, but other times, kids brought forth their pain and received comfort from their peers, and biblical advice from youth leaders and friends.

When I was a youth pastor, I carried forth this event during our retreats two times year.   A video like this would make a great launching point for a very deep conversation among senior high teens.

ImperfectVideoImage

What kind of discussion points?

  • Where do you struggle with acceptance?
  • How do you strive to keep up appearances?
  • What imperfections do you wish you could hide or change?
  • If you could be or do differently, what would that look like?
  • If there was one imperfection you wish God would wipe away, what would it be?

As a leader, it’d be your job to keep the conversational boundaries and to bring biblical truth to light in the midst of the conversation.  This video would set up that invitation.

What other discussion points would you add?

If you were to use this video as a discussion starter, what additional questions might you use?

I invite you to add your question in the comments.  Don’t be afraid to be first.

 

 

Video: Reducing Life Transformation to Two Words

The power of Jesus to transform a life is dramatized in this short little film from JesusTattoo.org

As I minister often in developing nations and in first world nations, I encounter many people who believe powerful lies about themselves.

That they are:

  • Worthless
  • Useless
  • Weak
  • Addicted

Following Jesus can bring a change to all of that.  Jesus can bring healing to our life and transform these lies into powerful truth.

This is one of the benefits of the applying the gospel to our life.

Can you reduce life transformation into two words?

(Note: Feed Readers may need to click through to the article to see the video).

I’ve experienced this life transformation first hand.

The label that Jesus changed for me:

  • Aimless to Directed
  • No Purpose to Purpose
  • Unable to Love Correctly to Beloved
  • Ignorantly Lost to Gratefully Found.

JesusTattoo

What is the label that Jesus changed for you?  Can you fit that testimony on a piece of cardboard?

In my example above, you may have more than one label change in your life transformation

What was yours?

In the comment field, give a short summary (no more than 10 words) of the label transformation that Jesus worked in your life?

Gospel centered life change is the church’s work

From a pastor friend of mine:

“Two Amazing stories from church today…card from one Campus said, “the guy I used to buy drugs from came to church and got saved today.”

Report from another campus “I was on my way to buy heroin to kill myself tonight b/c I had no hope…saw the church…came in…gave my life to Jesus…found hope.”

I love the KING and HIS Kingdom!!!! Thank you church for being the church that helps people find hope in Christ.”

My pastor friend bragged on his church.  A good form of bragging.

I was excited for him.

Stories of life transformation is part of what propels me to help churches with their evangelism and hospitality.

Are you seeing life change?

Hearing conversion stories is exciting.

Being involved in a local church body where people are finding Jesus, experiencing redemption from their past, finding hope where they had none is a dream for me.  I want to be part of a church that is helping people find Jesus.

The power of the gospel in action is exciting.

Newcomers come to church where they can encounter hope as they learn about what it means to follow Jesus.

Transfers from other churches will stay in churches where the gospel is transforming lives.

Keep inviting your unsaved friends to church.  Help them to belong while they are searching and see how Jesus can change their life.

Your hospitality will play a role in people inviting friends to church.

Your hospitality will play a role in helping people come back to hear more of the gospel.

Don’t lose that vision

BuenasNuevasBaptism.jpgOver the years, I’ve talked with several churches that have lost this vision.  Their vision is survival, budget maintenance, or keeping the sheep well fed.  For them, it’s all about discipleship.  I don’t sense any excitement about the gospel’s power of redemption.

I have asked: “What would it take to see 10 adult baptisms this year?”

In those churches, I’ve seen sighs of hopelessness, objections, and even instant pessimism that it’s not possible.  They have lost the vision to reach people for Christ.

There is no excitement about what Jesus can do.

I wouldn’t want to stay involved in such a church.  Even if I came for a few weeks because the people were nice, I don’t think I’d stay long term if the church doesn’t have a compelling vision to reach the lost.

Hospitality is not the end.

I encounter many churches that believe hospitality ministry will fix their attendance problems.

That may be true short term, and I encourage churches to improve and fix their hospitality ministry.

Improving your welcome can help you increase the number of visitors who return to your church.

But hospitality is not the end.

  • If there is no manifestation of gospel power over the course of time, many people will move on.
  • If there is no excitement about people coming to know the Lord, some will move on.
  • If there is no offer of the gospel, those searching for hope may drop out or go somewhere else.

My pastor friend wrote:

Having a nice auditorium or cafe is great and people appreciate it, but it will never do what only the gospel with do.

Without having a culture of grace, the congregation often doesn’t feel free to invite people who need that grace.

So in turn they only invite other Christians and don’t have the opportunity for people to respond to the message.

We have worked hard on creating a culture of Belong,  Believe, Behave.

Our first objective is to get people to feel like they belong regardless of their past or present situations. Like Thomas, this gives Jesus the opportunity to show up to people.

A good welcome helps people come back.

But what my pastor friend is doing is helping people find faith in Jesus Christ.

That’s what I can be excited about.

Do you want to ramp up your hospitality?

I’ve taken several of the top articles on EvangelismCoach and turned them into a downloadable ebook that you can purchase, rather than spend hours digging through the over 1000 pages on this website.

It’s a shortcut to practical action steps.

If you are leading a hospitality committee looking at these issues, buy your copy of How to Welcome Church Visitors and get a head start.

 

Statistics on PC USA Membership Loss 2008

Since the PC USA is where I hold my ordination as pastor, these statistics are of interest to me, and I know that many of the EvangelismCoach.org subscribers are in that same tribe.

Source: PC(USA) – Presbyterian News Service – PC(USA) records steepest membership loss since reunion in 1983.

Membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) fell by 69,381 in 2008, the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) has announced in its annual statistical report, continuing a trend that began in the mid-1960s.

Total membership of the denomination is now 2,140,165.

According to the Research Services office of the General Assembly Council (GAC), the 2008 decline was the PC(USA)’s largest numerical and percentage net membership loss since Presbyterian reunion in 1983.

Almost 104,000 people joined the PC(USA) last year, but that good news was more than offset by the 34,101 Presbyterians who died, the 34,340 who were members of the 25 congregations that left the PC(USA) for other denominations, and the staggering 104,428 who were removed from the rolls by their sessions without apparently joining any other church.

Can a positive spin be put on this?   The General Assembly Stated Clerk announces

Parsons insisted that “Presbyterians can be evangelists!”

“But we often stumble over the words. Can we not challenge one another to be able to answer these basic questions,” he said. “Why do I believe in God? Why do I go to church? Why do I go to that particular church?”

Fewer congregations were dissolved in 2008 than in 2007 — 65 vs. 71 the previous year. And 40 new churches were organized last year, 23 more than the previous year. The PC(USA) currently comprises 10,751 congregations.

This suggests the need for

Eric Hoey, in an additional statement wrote:

In a June 18 statement, the Rev. Eric Hoey, the GAC’s director of Evangelism and Church Growth,  . . . . . attributed the large number of new members, in part, to the “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” initiative that came out of the 218th General Assembly (2008).

“Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” created a groundswell of local and regional activity. The initiative challenged all levels of the church to acknowledge our decline and to commit to four areas of growth: evangelism, discipleship, servanthood and diversity,” Hoey said.

Presbyterian News Service has written a series of articles about congregations that are engaged in innovative outreach programs in order to Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide,’” he added.

The Rabbit and the Elephant Review

rabbitandelephantcoverToday, I’m participating in a blog book tour for The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church Tony and Felicity Dale.

Others have published their entry ahead of me (see below), and a few others will follow behind.

The Rabbit and the Elephant

A movement of house churches is reaching the tipping point in North America.  Some claim it’s a second Reformation.

How could we change the world if our Christian faith began multiplying at a rapid pace — through a way of life that is explosive and transformational?

We can grow, can we reproduce?

pic_lg_dale_tonyx100Fleicity Dale

As Christians, we are the church—whether we meet in office buildings, college dorm rooms, coffee shops, factories, or homes—and the Holy Spirit uses us to expand that church to the far reaches of the globe.

By practicing “simple church,” we’ll find that a small gathering of friends loving Jesus together and reaching out to the community around them can help us to be the church, the way God intended.

The Rabbit and the Elephant Synopsis:

If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in 22 months you may get one baby elephant. But two rabbits together for the same amount of time will result in thousands of baby rabbits!

In The Rabbit and the Elephant, “micro church” planters Tony and Felicity Dale use the “rabbit” illustration to show the pace at which the Christian faith can (and should) be growing—through evangelism that is explosive and transformational. The Rabbit and the Elephant contains the key to 21st century evangelism—taking the Gospel to where the pain and the people are.

My take on the Rabbit and the Elephant

If you are familiar with Neil Cole (Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens and Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are) you are likely familiar with the simple church movement.

This book by Tony and Felicity Dale adds to the body of literature about the house church / simple church  movement.

The Rabbit and Elephant can serve as a great introductory book for Christians looking into this model of church planting.  The entire book is written so that one can grab a good introductory level concept of what a house church might look like, how it might multiply, and how a house church can rapidly do the work of personal evangelism.

Overall, I found it to be an easy read, easily digestible, and full of personal stories that model what a house church might do, including some of the messiness of spectacular failures.

Because every house church is unique, The Rabbit and Elephant can’t get into every single detail or challenge presented by one house church, so the authors have to stay at a generic overview level.

But they do provide enough information that one could follow a few practical steps and launch a house church in their own area.

Included are some sample meeting outlines, a FAQ appendix, and a good review of common pitfalls in a simple church.

Worldview

The writers are well seeped in a charismatic worldview, which believes in the ongoing operation of the spiritual gifts and the realty of spiritual warfare.  They firmly believe in God’s miraculous activity and the guidance of the Holy Spirit about how and where to share the gospel.

I share their worldview, so much of this text and examples were easily digestable.  For those that don’t share that worldview (such as dispensational cessationists, or people who aren’t even aware of their worldview), some of the stories and principles may be a stretch, a sticking point, or even heretical in your worldview.

Yet the Dales are clear to say that not all simple churches share their worldview with regards to the spiritual gifts and spiritual warfare.

As another part of their worldview, there is a nice mixing of relational evangelism, which means their church meetings might have more non-believers than believers in them.  If this makes one uncomfortable, then this model of doing church might not work for you.

The best chapter in the Rabbit and the Elephant

Chapter 13, called Luke 10 Principles, outlines their entire church planting methodology.  This chapter alone is worth the price of the book, whether you want to plant a church or simply learn about small group expansions through networks.  In my estimation this chapter is the crux of the entire book so let me give you the basic outline.

1.  Trust God to provide the strategy and workers (Luke 10:1-2)

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

The disciples were sent out as “church planting” teams and directed where to go.  The job of the disciples were to obey His instructions, and go to places where He was to visit.

The root of this is prayer.  They recommend prayer walking (webinar, resources) where you sense Jesus is sending you.

2.  Trust in God’s protection (Luke 10:3)

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves

As you go places you may very well confront demonic powers (which exposes a worldview claim in the text).  We are to bind the strong man (Luke 11:21-22) and cooperate with God’s rescue.  Ed Silvoso writes much more about this in That None Should Perish.

3.  Trust God to provide Resources (Luke 10:4)

Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road

4.  Trust God to lead you to the Person of Peace (Luke 10:5)

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

This is the most crucial insight into the methodology.  Look for the person of peace who will invite you into their home to start a house church within their social network.

This is a person who has some kind of reputation (good or bad) and has a wide circle of influence.  The church is usually started in that person’s home (p. 105).

New Testament examples would be Cornelius (Acts 10), or Lydia (Acts 16), or perhaps the woman at the well (John 4).

5.  Enjoy the Hospitality that God provides (Luke 10:7-8)

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.

Don’t move from home to home, but stay in the home of the person of peace.  House churches celebrate meals together as part of their practice.  Eating with people creates relationship.  At this point, you’ve only become a friend.  There has been no proclamation to this point.

6.  Trust God to Answer Your Prayers (Luke 10:9)

Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’

Look for opportunities to pray with and for people.  You’re looking for opportunity to bring people face to face with God’s activity.  Once you identify needs you can put your faith on the line and pray.

Then watch God respond.  In their experience, this often happens in connection with one of the spiritual gifts, such as prophecy or word of knowledge, as a demonstration of the kingdom of God.  When people experience the power of God in this way, word of mouth causes more people to gather to start studying and learning from God.

The Rabbit and the Elephant For Legacy Churches

They use the term Legacy churches to speak of what most of us think as church:  a gathering of believers in a building, led by one or more pastors, with a worship service that follows some kind of liturgy.  Mainline denominations, evangelical denominations, all of these have what we would consider traditional churches.

For legacy churches thinking about migrating to simple church, this book hints at such a transition, but doesn’t serve as a how to manual to make that transition.  It also doesn’t get into helping one re-frame their current way of doing church into this model.  It doesn’t get into issues like 501c3 status, record keeping, membership, articles of organization, paying a full time pastor, and stuff like that.

It doesn’t deal with some of the confessional theology of legacy churches (such as what are the marks of the church, Westminster confession of faith, ch 25.4).  I think this direction is outside the scope of the book.

However, legacy churches that want to expand their small group structure, this book can have a lot to say in terms of launching new small groups, and empowering people to launch small groups in their areas of influence.  The Luke 10 principles above are, I think, equally applicable there as well.

I also commend the Dales for not ripping the legacy churches as they present an alternative model.

Order your copy of The Rabbit and Elephant from Amazon. (affiliate link)

Related Resources

Other Reviews of The Rabbit and the Elephant