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Monday, April 4, 2016

A New Trend in the Kingdom of God


I have the privilege of traveling around the world equipping people to release Jesus movements. I see first hand what God is doing globally.
One trend I am seeing everywhere is the planting of new works that may be church (in a broader definition) but are so much more than a local church according to our common understanding. For lack of a better language I refer to them as kingdom outposts. These outposts share a few common characteristics:
·      They create micro businesses that employ people that are becoming kingdom agents in the world and provide a needed product for the neighborhood.
·      They involve providing a localized spiritual family in sustainable community (often living in close proximity, together under a single roof or on a shared property). For these people, church has become so much more than a once a week event.
·      They often practice sustainable farming (even in urban settings) to provide for the spiritual family and often the neighborhood as well.
·      They often do volunteer work to clean up neighborhoods and serve the community in tangible and often thankless ways. Painting buildings, building or fixing homes, planting trees, picking up trash, feeding the homeless are things that are a part of the regular rhythm in these outposts.
·      They often work closely with very marginalized people in their neighborhood and provide a path toward self-sufficient living and kingdom fruitfulness.
·      They are able to change rapidly and start new things whenever the opportunity presents itself.
·      They are beginning to find each other and network on a global scale...which is exciting.
There are multiple reasons for these shifts. Here are a few:
·      Reliance on tax-free donations is tenuous in a future that is rapidly becoming hostile to Christianity and many well-established ministries will discover this in an abrupt and sobering moment.
·      The artificial separations of secular and sacred as well as clergy and laity are being dissolved. The result will be a global impact of God’s people that are no longer segregated from the world.
·      Sustainable, local and green enterprise is not just a fad; this is a strong movement that provides a kingdom opportunity to serve our world and its inhabitants in a responsible way.
·      Disciple-making on the job and on the streets is far more effective than two one hour meetings a week at a church building.
·      Providing jobs, raising entrepreneurs and equipping people to prosper in this rapidly changing world is a necessity.
I am actively involved with one such kingdom outpost in Los Angeles, CA. Here we have launched a few micro businesses as well as a sober living home and a twelve-step recovery meeting. In the coming weeks I will post information about some of these incredible works and tell some of the stories of people who have changed the entire direction of their lives for Jesus. You will be encouraged and challenged.


17 comments:

stevesimms said...

Sounds like The Salvation Army!

Unknown said...

I'm jazzed about this as it beats with my own heart. I love the idea (and practice) of the business as mission aspect of this thought. I'm looking forward to reading the coming posts and praying God would use me in this way.

Jace said...

I've been excited seeing where the Spirit is leading us. I wonder what the best way is for this movement to network?

The Deanster said...

Here's an example in Kansas City

www.theurbanfarmingguys.com

Steve Cornell said...

How I long to see it rise up in the Sarasota/Manatee counties of FL! I hear some noise now and again, but far away in Tampa! Praying for workers- Luke 10:2b.

Anonymous said...

This very thing has been on my heart. I'm in the 4 Corners area where we're thinking about putting our roots down and seeing a Gospel centered community come to life.

Christian said...

Neil,

Those are some interesting observations. I'd like to read more on how these organic church movements are presenting the Gospel to people... quick presentations? a series of bible studies, etc.?

Neil Cole said...

I will be posting more on this. I am pleased by such an immediate response. Thanks for visiting this page.

I will be sharing about our businesses as well as our more "ministry" type of works in LA, but understand that our team in LA is learning from others all over the world who have gone before us. I've wanted to do this for over five years now but found the timeing wasn't ready until more recently.

Pressing on,

Neil

Neil Cole said...

Christian,

While we do have a training in ways to present the gospel, I believe strongly that methods of presentation are not near as important as the gospel itself. Just the idea that if you share the gospel in omne way it will be more effective than if you share it another way illustrates a works based spirituality that is ugly and heretical. We do not make the gospel more or less effective by which manner we use.

The best method, is when the message is the method. For me that is when you let God's word do the talking. We often use the 7signs of John. Let the people read the story themselves and ask them four simple questions. The Word speaks for itself and Jesus is the focus rather than the method or the presenter.

Neil

Frank Doiron said...

Having visited Jason's coffee making business about a month ago i was very excited about what is happening there. I've been telling everyone around here about it and dreaming about what God would have us do here in Canada. I am really looking forward to the stories of how God is working in other parts of the world. Still planning to visit Globe Ariz. and what they are doing there. Neil, I have really appreciated your ministry and now the important work you are doing in LA

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, enough of the Bible studies. I feel it is better to live it than keep presenting it. All we really need are Jesus ' commands to love the Lord your God with all your heart, body and soul and love others as yourself.

Tony Wheeler said...

What do you have in mind?

Tony Wheeler said...

Anon, if you read this, touch base with me. I'm in your neck of the woods.

Christine Platt said...

I think you need a bit more than that. People need to know who God is, know what he's like, and know what he likes and dislikes. Otherwise they have no way to work through difficult situations and come out with a God honouring solution.
Discipleship has got to include Bible - though not necessarily reading - if you're going to produce mature disciples of Christ. Otherwise they will remain reliant on others to set direction or go off on tangents.

Christine Platt said...

I think you need a bit more than that. People need to know who God is, know what he's like, and know what he likes and dislikes. Otherwise they have no way to work through difficult situations and come out with a God honouring solution.
Discipleship has got to include Bible - though not necessarily reading - if you're going to produce mature disciples of Christ. Otherwise they will remain reliant on others to set direction or go off on tangents.

Neil Cole said...

Christine,

I am not listing everything we do, simply the common characteristics of these kingdom outposts. While I cannot speak for all of them, we are discipling the people we are connecting with. We are mentoring them with life skills and even job skills. They are also reading the bible, praying and holding each other accountable.

I would say that they do need their own intake of the Bible, Christine. I would say that is even more important than receiving teaching about it. But I assure you, in our case they are getting both.

Neil

Penn Janzen said...

"Reliance on tax-free donations is tenuous in a future that is rapidly becoming hostile to Christianity and many well-established ministries will discover this in an abrupt and sobering moment."

Do you mean tax-receipted donations? As in donations to registered charities that help you save money on tax time?

If so then, yes, I agree!

I've researched this and come to believe that it's not just tenuous, it's actually wrong. (For a number of serious reasons.)

1. The public begrudges us leeching off of public tax money this way.
2. Being a registered charity compromises the church's leadership.
3. If we're still dependent on it when it's taken away, the fall will be painful and embarrassing. (Ezekiel 29:7)

Anyone interested can read about out why at https://nomorecharitablestatus.com/, which is also a call for the church to voluntarily forfeit their charitable status.