Links I Like

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Denny Burk on What did Jesus think of homosexuality?

Erik Raymond on Unconditional love.

In one sense this is true, God’s love for his people is not based upon what they do or do not do. But this does not mean that God loves us unconditionally. If God loves anyone he loves them conditionally.

Barnabas Piper on Are millenials less godly than previous generations?

So what is it young people are leaving behind? In many cases they are leaving a faux godliness. Millions of lost people, people hanging their hat on morality or mere attendance, populated the pews of the church in previous generations. They were just a lot harder to pick out than those who brazenly walk out the door, so hard we can’t even be sure how many there were.

Aaron Armstrong on How should we talk about God?

While God is very comfortable attributing feminine characteristics to Himself, when He does so, it is typically in the form of a simile—God’s love and longing for His people is like that of a mother hen’s for her chicks. His anguish over sin is like that of a woman in labor. But when God chooses to reveal Himself, and when He gives us context for our relationship with Him, He does so in the masculine—as Father.

Mike Leake on Missional love.

Love is essential to who God is and it’s out of this love that he sent his Son to die. God’s love (and all true love) is not insular. It’s not looking in and loving oneself. That’s why the two greatest commandments according to Jesus are love God and love neighbor. That’s also why God as trinity is essential orthodoxy. God has been and will always be a God who overflows in his love for others. This originates with his love within the trinity and overflows onto us.

You are not the next anyone!

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Cheap [Leadership] Kindle Books 11.11.13

Here are some great books for cheap on kindle today (All books are $2.99):

All of these are solid leadership books.

Unleash Leaders & Plant Churches

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Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. On Tuesday, we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. On Wednesday, we looked at our target, what we call: Get the men, win the war. Yesterday we looked at how to be simple. To wrap up the 5 things that drive Revolution, we’ll look at our dream of unleashing leaders. Another way of thinking about this drive is to plant churches that plant more churches.

From day one of Revolution Church, we have dreamed of raising up an army of leaders that are unleashed to be on mission, develop other leaders where they work, live and play and out of those leaders, plant churches.

The reason is simple: more evangelism happens in church plants than established church. Also, in Tucson, because of our terrible highway system, people largely stay in their area of the city. To reach a city and see it changed, you have to plant churches.

The way we’ve stated this has been: We want everyone in Tucson to live within 10 minutes of a church we planted. 

What does that look like?

It looks like Revolution Churches all over Tucson. Some that have video preaching, some that have live preaching. But all of them carrying the Revolution DNA (helping people live the life God created them to live, taking their next step, being simple, calling men and women to be who God created them to be). This means that all Revolution Churches will do MC’s, preach the same sermon each week, use the same study materials, the same DNA. Our hope is that we become a large extended family, a movement.

Why do it like this?

Church planting is expensive and not predictable. Most church plants fail in the first year because they don’t get traction, run out of finances or don’t have leaders. By planting a Revolution Church, a name that is known in Tucson, there is some weight behind that. It also enables a church in a wealthier part of the city to help a church in a poorer part of the city have the same level of ministry and leadership. It helps people feel part of a larger movement. We have said from day one, our church planting and what each one looks like will depend on the leaders we have at the time at that plant. I think many leaders are unwise when they say, “We will only do it this way.” That’s poor stewardship.

Also, as I’ve talked with pastors who have planted churches, the wise stewardship that comes through sharing finances, missional community materials, devotional questions, kid and student curriculums is wise stewardship. If you have 10 churches, why create 10 different things, 10 different sermons? That’s a poor use of time and resources in my opinion.

As a church, we help to plant autonomous churches in Tucson and other parts of the country (in fact, as we plant we are supporting a church plant that is in the same area of the city that we are hoping to plant in because we believe Tucson needs more gospel-centered church), but our primary means of church planting efforts will go into planting Revolution Churches around Tucson.

One of the things I’m most excited about are the steps we are taking for this to happen. After years of praying and dreaming, we are seeing how God is moving and we are praying that we will plant Revolution Church | Midtown in January 2015.

Cheap Kindle Books 9.10.13

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Here are some cheap kindle books. Not sure how long they’ll stay that way:

The Environments of Your Church

In his book Creating a missional cultureJR Woodward lays out that a church should have a culture that is learning, healing, welcoming, liberating and thriving. I found this section of the book to be particularly helpful, especially the questions he asks to evaluate your culture.

Learning Environment

  • In what ways does Scripture shape the community you serve?
  • Is the community listening to God through the Scriptures and practicing in their everyday lives what they are learning? How?
  • In what ways are people actively reflecting on what they are practicing?
  • What percentage of the congregation is immersed in God’s story and teaching the Scriptures to others?
  • How many are actively interacting with God’s story as it relates to their local context and mission?

Healing Environment

  • Do the rhythms of the church make space for people to have down time and just hang with each other?
  • Are their regular times for people to be genuine with one another – with no masks?
  • How well do people know each other and share life with each other?
  • What percentage of the congregation considers the church as family?
  • How many are experiencing healing from past hurts and moving toward wholeness spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally?

Welcoming Environment

  • How many people genuinely welcome others into their tight community?
  • How well does the faith community reflect the diversity of the neighborhood?
  • What ministries are in place to help orient people into the life of the congregation?
  • What percentage of people meaningfully connect with others in the neighborhood, at work or in other missional spaces?
  • How well does the community incarnate the good news within the various missional spaces?
  • How willing are people to sacrifice their own cultural comfort to meet people where they are?
  • How many people willingly initiate with people who are different than them?

Liberating Environment

  • What percentage of the congregation is pursuing God’s shalom in the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • How many people are actively using their spiritual gifts to build the body and serve the neighborhood?
  • Is the congregation walking alongside the poor and oppressed? In what ways?
  • How is the congregation speaking to the powers and subverting systems that perpetuate injustice?
  • How much of the congregation seeks to be good stewards of all creation for the sake of the whole world?

Thriving Environment

  • How many people are discovering their calling and living it out with great passion?
  • To what degree is the multiplication of disciples taking place?
  • What percentage of people are being mentored and are mentoring others?
  • Are there apprentices for each ministry?
  • What percentage of people has a sense of ownership in the congregation?
  • Are there ministries in the congregation that intentionally help match people’s passions with the needs of the church, the neighborhood, the missional spaces and social justice issues?
  • How many people see their work as a sacred vocation by which they are able to serve their neighbor and bring glory to God?

Great questions for leaders to think through.

Missional is not the Opposite of Attractional

When I finished reading Andy Stanley’s latest book Deep & Wide (kindle version), my first thought was, “This might be one of the best books I’ve ever read on church ministry or leadership.” It is chock full of wisdom, things churches can learn and ways staff’s can grow together to be effective. I’ll share a full review on September 25 when it releases, but over the coming week I wanted to share a few longer quotes from the book that pushed some thinking for me. Some I agreed with, others I didn’t, but ones I wanted to share with the My World community.

Missional is not the opposite of attractional. Stop trying to pick a side.

This was one of my favorite quotes in the book. Do you agree or disagree? Are missional and attractional really on opposite ends of the spectrum?

Does Homeschooling Deny the Missional Life?

Last week, Scot McKnight reposted some of Tony Jones’s thoughts on homeschooling and being missional on his blog. Tony believes homeschooling denies the missional life. Here’s what he had to say:

But it seems to me that if I am truly committed to living a missional life, then I must enroll my kids in the public school. That is, I am committed to living a life fully invested in what I might call the “Jesus Ethic” or the “Kingdom of God Ethic,” and also fully invested in the society — in fact, you might say that I live according to the Kingdom of God for the sake of society….

Similarly, formal education was formerly for the societal elite. But in a democracy, education is for all, with the understanding that the more educated we all become, the more humane we will be toward one another (this, of course, is open to debate).

So it seems to me that to withdraw my children from public education is to not play my (God-given) role as a missional member of society — like I can’t just choose to withhold my taxes. We give our children all those vaccinations when they’re young not necessarily to protect themfrom polio (since the chances of any one of my children getting it is exceedingly small) but because we live in a society, and part of the contract within the society is that we will never again let polio gain a foothold.

So I can’t think, “I’ll just pull my kids out of the public schools — what difference will one less follower of Jesus make in a school full of hundreds of kids?” I don’t, as a Christian, have the option to “opt out” of the societal contractInstead, I live under a mandate to be the most involved, missional societal participant that I can be.

Let me start off by saying, whatever you choose to do for schooling for your kids is completely your decision. I personally don’t think a family should put their kids in a Christian school, a charter school, a public school or homeschool them. I think each parent needs to make that choice, and it may even be different for different kids in your family. I knew a family that had 3 kids, one was home schooled, one was in a public school and the other was in a private school as it was the best for each child.

Here’s why I’m posting about this and why I took offense to it. We homeschool our kids. We made that choice after having our oldest in school for a quarter and saw what it did to our schedule, especially since I work on the weekend. We lost too much of our family time because of my work schedule. We’ve made the decision to evaluate each year what is best for our kids and our family and right now this is what is best for us.

Tony is right on one hand because many families homeschool their children to protect them from the world. I don’t think this is a good idea. At some point they will encounter the world around them. But to say that it denies the missional life it to say that every Christian who has their child in a public school is living on mission. If that were the case, our schools would be drastically different.

Living on mission and homeschooling simply means you have to be more intentional about how you life on mission, how you bring the culture into the life of your kids. You have to think through it.

Here are some things we do:

  • Our kids go to school 3 days a week for specials: gym, art and music. This helps them to meet other kids, be in a school, it allows us to meet the teachers and build a relationship with them.
  • Be outside. People walk around neighborhoods, they work in their yards, on their cars. Play out front instead of in the back. People walk around our neighborhood around 6pm, so we try to play out front then.
  • Invite your neighbors over, get to know them. Football started this week and that is an easy invite to a neighbor.
  • Get involved in the school. You can volunteer at the school, be a part of fairs or carnivals the school puts on that are open to the public.
  • Ask the principal how you could serve at the school and then follow through.

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One of the Most Misquoted Bible Verses

I saw a billboard the other day and it reminded me of one of the most misquoted bible verses. The billboard simply had Jeremiah 29:11 on it. Which says

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I love this verse. Every Christian loves this verse. Pastors quote as a way to encourage their churches that God is in control, that he is moving, that he will bless them, and has a future in mind.

But, this verse is also one of the most misquoted verses.

Here’s what I mean. Every verse is found in a context. It is written by someone, to someone, at a certain time. This verse is written to exiles from Jerusalem that are now living in Babylon. This verse comes after a specific command from God to these exiles found in verse 5 – 7:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sones and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Look what God tells the exiles. First, you are exactly where I want you. I sent you into exile, I put you into that city at this moment. You live somewhere for a specific reason. Second, they are to set up shop. Build houses, plant gardens, get married, have kids, multiply and do not decrease. Third, they are to seek the blessing and welfare of the city. They are to be on mission, helping the city, the economy to win.

Then, we get to the promise of verse 11.

Obedience on our part to God’s commands leads to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Is verse 11 for everyone? Yes. Does everyone experience the promise of verse 11? No.

Links of the Week

  1. Tim Keller on the mission of the church.
  2. Mark Driscoll on When Jesus was actually born.
  3. 7 things highly productive people do.
  4. Bob Franquiz on What keeps churches small.
  5. Trevin Wax on The danger of the podcast pastor.
  6. 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Pastors
  7. Justin Holcomb on What is complementarian.
  8. Sam Rainer on 10 (unexpected) church trends to surface by 2020.
  9. Top leadership tweeters.
  10. Shaun King on Advice for pastors and church planters. This is gold.
  11. What do you tell your kids about Santa?

Top Post of 2011 – #10: Gospel Intentionality Everyday

Over the last 11 days of 2011, I’ll be posting the top 11 posts of 2011. Here is #10: Gospel Intentionality Everyday.

One of the reasons many people don’t live on mission as a follower of Jesus is time. Every Christian would agree, or should agree, that we are called to live on mission. That we are to reach the planet and disciple all people. Yet, most studies show that only 2% of Christians share their faith and live on mission.

Why? We have lost the idea of doing everyday, ordinary things with gospel intentionality. We see and often make living on mission an extra thing we do on top of everything else we do.

Here are some great questions taken from Missional Community Life by Tim Chester to think through how to do everyday, ordinary things with gospel intentionality and to live on mission in all of life:

List all the activities – including the mundane – that make up your normal:

  1. Daily routine (for example, travelling to work, eating meals, chores, walking the dog, playing with the children).
  2. Weekly routine (for example, grocery shopping, watching favorite TV programs, getting exercise).
  3. Monthly routine (for example, gardening, getting a haircut, going to the cinema).

For each activity, ask whether you could add a:

  1. Community component – involving another member of your faith community.
  2. Missional component – involving an unbeliever.
  3. Gospel component – talking about Jesus.