Saturday, February 27, 2010

Austin American Statesman Article

The local paper in Austin interviewed my friends Jeremy and Christina Gabrysch about his recent trip to Haiti and his ongoing ministry in Sudan with our church. The article represented them well. The article especially reflected that demonstrating the gospel of Jesus Christ is why they go. I was really pleased to see this kind of article in the Statesman.

Read article here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Verge Reflections

The last two posts are the highlights from my notes on the Verge Conference.

Above all the notes, I appreciated the heart of worship and the centrality of the gospel in the conference. There wasn't a watering down of the gospel of Jesus, but rather an intentional focus on letting mission be the identity of the church.

Sometimes it is easier for me to think about how to apply this in our church, but I want to make sure that I think about how to apply it to my life first. I have always thought of myself as a missionary to Austin so the identity is clear but some of the practical outworkings are missing. I feel that I often leave my neighborhood to go serve on mission in another part of town where the need is more pronounced. I recognize that the needs in my neighborhood may be "imbedded" as Hugh Halter said, but I need to be intentional in seeking them out. I spend my life pastoring, but how often do I think about pastoring our community? This conference was a great reminder that mission is discipleship and living missionally is the call of Jesus.

Verge Highlights 2 - Missional Communities

Here are some more Verge highlights.

Dave Ferguson discussed how to get the church excited and motivated toward the mission of God? This is how he establishes apostolic cultures or entrepreneurial environment.
1. Ordain every Christ follower. Who are you called to impact or reach?
2. Lead with a yes. Ask how later on. Be comfortable with mistakes and failures.
3. Teach people to “go” and not just “bring.”
4. Plant the gospel before planting a church.
5. Incarnational and apostolic/reproducible – deepening and sending. Reproduction must be a part of it.

Saturday Morning – Missional impulses

Hugh Halter defined "incarnational" as being an "advocate for non-Christians.” He used the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. This is a great picture of how we do more than pastor our churches, but pastor our communities and truly be an advocate.

Jeff Vanderseldt encouraged us to “equip the church to be worship leaders," which is to do anything where Jesus is exalted. He also suggested that missional people are highly connected to the rhythms of culture. He defined them as: 1. Story. We must know the redemptive story and how each person’s story fits into that redemptive story. 2. Celebration. We engage in cultural celebrations and bring the “best wine” like Jesus did. We bring the best wine because we bring freedom, redemption, etc. 3. Eat. Hunger pains show our created desperate need for God at all times which reminds us of the gospel. 4. Recreate. This includes both rest and taking risks to restore beauty.

Dave Gibbons kept it real simple and said that the mission is to Love God and Love Neighbor. Who is our neighbor? From Luke 10, our neighbor is someone not like us, someone that it isn’t easy to love. He asked 3 questions that every church leader should ask: 1. What is in your hand? Your strengths, your passions, etc. Most important is the realization that the Holy Spirit is in your hand. 2. What is your pain? Pain is the platform to humanity. Transform it and let it be used. 3. What is outside your hand? Who are the fringe, marginalized, the rahabs of the city?

Communitas – Saturday Afternoon

Alan Hirsch said, aim at mission and you also get community. Middle class living can be a hindrance to missional community because it is so often obsessed with comfort, security and safety. We let the gospel affirm our lifestyle.

Hugh Halter – Mission in the burbs.
Hugh Halter talked about how to engage culture. Become friends of non-Christians and learn the stories of your neighborhood rather than just the demographics. He knows that he is a friend when they invite him to hang out with their friends. Mission in the burbs also involves “leaving” just like a traditional missionary. Leaving comfort, leaving what you like to do by yourself. Assess how much time you spend with lost people.

Verge Highlights - Everyone Gets to Play

The Verge conference was designed to rally churches and church planters around missional communities. Missional communities are simply communities of Christians that are committed to each other and are committed to being connected to the mission of God. Mission is not a service project or an event, but an identity, a critical part of discipleship and a lifestyle. I found the conference really helpful and practical. It seems much easier to start and maintain missional communities in organic churches, new churches or church plants. It is more complex in a large church setting, but well worth the effort. Here are some of my highlights broken down by the different speakers. Hopefully you will find them helpful in transforming your community to a missional community.

Thursday Night – Jesus is Lord
Matt Carter, pastor of Austin Stone, encouraged the leaders to never love the mission more than loving Jesus, our first love.

Francis Chan talked about the community on mission that needs each other so that we don’t get distracted from the mission. The early church saw a man rise from the dead so they got together and sung some songs, ate some bread and some gave 10%. No, they gave their whole life to the mission. If you saw someone rise from the dead, you would give everything.

Friday Morning – Organic Systems
Neil Cole said plant Jesus, plant the gospel and then let the church grow. Jesus' parable of the seed and the sower implies that most of the work is done in the sowing and harvesting. There is little work when it comes to growth, yet that is where so much of our time is spent.

Jeff Vanderseldt reiterated the idea that in missional church, everyone gets to play. Everyone is a full time minister and God is routing his money to you through Dell, AMD, Freescale, etc to you. Equipping is not just informing. Equipping is life. Lets not extract people from life, lets equip them for life and call them to mission.

Friday Afternoon – Apostolic Mission
Alan Hirsch compared the movement of the gospel to viruses. Apostolic mission plus the people of God gives everyone a role to play. If we want to reproduce, we have to create things that are reproducible. If the concept of the church is not reproducible then it will not spread like a virus. If concept of leadership is not reproducible, then leaders will not be developed. Your baptism is your commission!

Hugh Halter talked very practically about misisonal communities including three elements: mission (being a blessing), communion (prayer, scripture, great commandment, etc), and inclusive communities. He believes that that the error most churches make is focusing on only one of these aspects of Spiritual Formation rather than all three. There are three barriers to these kinds of communities: individualism, materialism, consumerism.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


My friend, Jeremy, just returned from Haiti. Great perspective for all of us. Read the whole post here.

"One last thought. If you or I learned that a friend or family member was losing a limb or had passed away, we would be grief- stricken. When I read that the number of dead in Haiti may be near 200,000, the numbers are overwhelming. And in the numbers, you lose sight of the fact that each tragedy is it's own story. As we interviewed patients, we heard stories of loss over and over - children, spouses, parents. Those who are still living are facing life with new disabilities even amputations. In this next generation of Haitians, there will be very few who have not been touched by this tragedy. I hope that we will pray for this next generation and consider what we might do to help them through what will be years of healing."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Mark Driscoll just distributed a free online book on scriptural insights on fatherhood. It is called Pastor Dad. Below is a quote from the preface.
"This book is a simple attempt to help God’s men be a “poppa daddy,” as my kids call me. Some day when my children are older, I hope to, by God’s grace, write a more thorough book on fatherhood, since I expect to learn from my mistakes and gather more wisdom on fathering in the ensuing years. Until then, I hope this book can be of some service to the men to whom God has entrusted children, for God’s glory, the children’s good, mom’s gratefulness, and dad’s gladness."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Leadership and Identity

I recently reread one of my favorite books on leadership called Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. It is written as a story exposing convicting leadership principles from King Saul, David and Absalom. It is great to be reminded of the upside down paradigm of leadership and identity in the Kingdom of God.

“The clearest memory I have of my King, when we lived in the caves, is that his was a life of submission. Yes David showed me submission, not authority. He taught me not the quick cure of rules and laws, but the art of patience. That is what changed my life. Legalism is nothing but a leaders’ way of avoiding suffering... Men who speak endlessly on authority only prove they have none. And kings who make speeches about submission only betray twin fears in their hearts: they are not certain they are really true leaders, sent of God. And they live in mortal fear of a rebellion... David taught me losing, not winning. Giving, not taking. He showed me that the leader, not the follower, is inconvenienced... Authority from God is not afraid of challengers, makes no defense, and cares not one whit if it must be dethroned.”