Saturday, February 28, 2009

False Ideas 9: Faulty Assumptions Lead to Strange Practices

Once we view the world through these illegitimate lenses, we start to live accordingly and end up making some foolish decisions. For instance, one parachurch ministry exists to reach college students. They insist on being in the parachurch camp for many reasons. Since they need to raise their support from the church and exist to serve the church, they never want to be seen as competing with the church. Because they are “parachurch,” they do not start churches (unless it happens to be overseas where the new churches wouldn’t be seen as competitive with their support base), so this organization does not function as a church (at least according to a very limited understanding of what makes a church a church). They are also a streamlined business that is not bogged down with the bureaucracy that is found in many churches.

For these reasons this group works hard to maintain a parachurch status. The problem is that they are making decisions based on understandings and distinctions that are not in the Bible. In their eyes (much as it is in the eyes of the U.S. government) a church is defined as fulfilling certain sacerdotal duties, such as baptism and communion. But simply dunking people in a pool or dunking bread in a glass of wine is not what defines the church.

In a staunch effort not to be a church, this group refuses to practice these specific duties, thus maintaining their parachurch status. They evangelize but do not start churches. They make disciples but do not baptize them. Doing all they can to keep their mission focused, they make every attempt not to threaten the local church in any way, and they encourage their people to attend a local church and maintain membership there.

The reality is that starting churches is the by-product of evangelizing and fellowshipping with one another on mission together. By living within the false boundaries these false dichotomies have created, Christians are actually instructed to disobey Jesus when they are told not to baptize their disciples. The practice of baptism is not something Christ gave to the church organization but to all disciples. One of the sayings in our own church-planting movement is “The Bible doesn’t command us to be baptized but to be baptizers” (Matt. 28:19–20). There is absolutely no biblical support for the idea that only the clergy in the local church can baptize (another false view discussed above). Though our traditions and experience may reinforce these standards, the Bible does not.

It is amazing how much damage the simple idea of baptizing another has caused through church history. People have been killed, cults have been initiated, denominations started and split, heretics burned at the stake, and parachurch organizations have been formed—all because we view baptism in a strange, unbiblical fashion. If we would only read the Bible and take it for what it says literally, rather than defend our “sacred” traditions, the church would be healthier. Both sides of the church aisle are guilty of this.

Boundaries may start as helpful language to manage our understanding of things, but soon they disrupt our spiritual life and divide the body of Christ illegitimately. When false boundaries begin to take on a biblical sense of authority, they are quite insidious. We accept them as truth and even rise to defend them as though they come from the Bible, when they do not. Unfortunately, we are willing to submit to these false divisions more than to Scripture itself. This is how the subversive strategy of the Enemy causes much damage. Because we have allowed artificial boundaries to separate Christian groups, based on illegitimate organizational differences, weird things happen.

For instance, one motto for the parachurch ministry discussed above has been: “To fulfill the Great Commission in this generation.” This seems honorable, except that they have rules in place that prevent them from ever fulfilling the Great Commission in any place. Right in the middle of the Great Commission is the command to baptize disciples, which they strictly forbid.

I want to raise awareness of the weird, almost schizophrenic policies we have made in the church. Whether it is separating a spiritual family into voting “members” and silent “nonmembers” or telling Christians to fulfill the Great Commission by disobeying it, false and artificial divisions have caused some strange practices to be established.

The purpose of all the categories we have created was to make life better, but they have had the opposite effect. We have limited God and his kingdom because the views developed through false understandings have kept us bound. We must shed the lenses that cause our distorted vision and enjoy a more holistic and healthy view of the church.

Friday, February 27, 2009

False Ideas 8: Parachurch versus Local Church

A final false division I want to discuss is the separation of the parachurch from the local church. This is very prevalent today. Again this label is not found in the Bible but is used to categorize a segment of the church, and the label has an effect on us that is both subtle and subversive.

This false dichotomy is relatively new and was born out of function rather than doctrine. It has become such a prevalent way of viewing ministry that I will give the attention of a few posts to it.

The prefix para has the idea of coming alongside something. So a “parachurch” ministry is a ministry that comes alongside the church to help her fulfill her mission. So now in our thinking there is the church and there is an auxiliary ministry that is not the church but functions alongside the church. If Jesus saw this as a need, why didn’t he create the church and the parachurch from the beginning? Why did it take eighteen hundred years before parachurches were formed?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Organic Church Movements Conference

Whew! The conference went well. We had 200+ people there from all over and as far away as South Africa. I am exhausted, in spite of the fact that others did all the work. Good delegation is either a sign of good leadership or good laziness. I would like to think that I have both spiritual gifts.

I appreciate all those who worked so hard to contribute to this time. Wow, there are so many. I am so honored to be part of this movement. I especially want to acknowledge Mike Jentes, Heather Cole and Chris Wright who were constantly working hard to keep things running. That deserves a "standing ovulation" (as my father used to say). Well, maybe we'll just clap our hands and slap you on the back, how does that sound?

Now that the conference is done I MUST concentrate on writing before I take off traveling again. I appreciate prayer that I would feel the wind of the Holy Spirit on my back as I start writing. I need the creativity of the Creator to get this done and done well. I am working on Primal Fire (with Alan Hirsch and Wolfgang Simson) which is too important a work to do poorly. Please pray.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random Ramblings

We are all getting ramped up for the big Organic Church Movements conference that kicks off here tomorrow night. I am looking forward to reconnecting with folks from all over that I do not get to see very often. We should have a full house at the conference this year.

Reggie McNeal will be sharing Saturday morning at the conference from his new book Missional Renaissance. Dave Gibbons will be sharing Saturday afternoon on his new book The Monkey and the Fish. Both of these men are courageous leaders and good thinkers and have lots to say. I enjoyed both of their books. They are each addressing leadership in the new world we live in. Ali Eastburn, one of our own from right here in So CA will share her exciting story of the birth of a ministry called With This Ring on Friday night. I will share tomorrow night (Thur) on something that God has been impressing upon me for the past couple months. It is a message I have not given before so I am a little nervous, but confident that the Lord will override any of my own inadequacies.

Here's something funny. My new book Organic Leadership is ranked number 5 today on's bestseller category for "Ecology" under "outdoors/nature and the environment." Hmmm, interesting place to put my book.

I also noticed that Dr. Larry Richards wrote up a very nice review of OL on Amazon! I have to say that his work done a few decades ago (A Theology Of Christian Leadership) laid a strong foundation for the way we are thinking and behaving today. He was thinking organic before the rest of us! It means a lot to have a positive word from him on my new book. He was supposed to be at our conference but had an injury and is now unable to make the journey. He will be missed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

False Ideas 7: Local Church versus Universal Church

Another false dichotomy we have created is the local church versus a universal church. You can find these terms in most theological textbooks, documenting their statements with verses from the New Testament, thus assuming biblical authority. But in reality these words are not used in the Bible in this way.

Church is both universal and local, hence the labels, but I have to wonder if Jesus sees his church through this same broken lens. Or does he just see the church? Are we all members of one another at both the local level and the universal level, even throughout history? Yes, I think we are, and while this false viewpoint may not be as harmful as the previous two (secular vs sacred and clergy vs laity), it does excuse a whole lot of foolish polarization in the church.

When we allow for a “local” church, we give credence to separation and noncooperation among the members of Jesus’s body. We have defined church as a local group of people who are committed to an organization and usually to some property in a neighborhood. We do not see “church” as all of Christ’s church in that locale, just the one group with whom we happen to associate. And we think this is biblical, because we are convinced that the idea of a “local” church is in the New Testament.

But when the authors of the many New Testament letters wrote to local churches, they were writing to all the Christians in a given geographical region.

Today we are separated by minor differences over doctrines that were not even a passing thought in New Testament times. The Thessalonians had two competing views of eschatology. They didn’t have some dispensational churches in Thessalonica and some who were not. Rather than forming separate local churches they were still one family. The Corinthian church was divided over spiritual gifts and especially speaking in tongues but were still one church. They didn’t become two local churches, one that was charismatic and one that was not. The church in Thyatira had some who followed one leader’s attempt to contextualize, which led to some serious compromise. Others, who did not follow them into worldliness, were still part of the same church according to Jesus. They didn’t have some who were the liberal church and others who were not.

We use the theological justification of a “local church” doctrine to maintain space between family members. This division keeps us weaker and is a poor witness to the community around us. We cannot really change the situation we find ourselves in now, but justifying it with false distinctions doesn’t help our cause and will lead us down an even more dysfunctional path.

To maintain this false distinction, we have instituted something called “church membership” and then established hoops for people to jump through to be called “members.” In a church you can have some Christians who are “members” and others who are not. This is a secondary dichotomy that is built on the first, but both are unbiblical viewpoints. There is no distinction in the New Testament between the disciples who were “members” of a specific "local" church and those who were not “members.”

The idea of a new members class is foreign to the New Testament. The idea of dividing God’s people according to those who are “members” and those who are not, and having such membership based upon who took a class or was baptized in a certain manner is absolutely foreign to the Bible. Having part of Christ’s body able to voice an opinion and cast a vote, and others remain silent because they are not “members” is foolishness. This sort of distinction is not the kingdom of God; it sounds a lot more like a country club, with certain rites and card-carrying members. All this is built on a false view of the church.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

False Ideas 6: The Rise of the Clergy

I mentioned earlier in these posts that it didn’t take long for the institutionalization of Christian leadership to take root in the church. I believe it had taken place before the New Testament was even completed.

The apostle John lived longer than the other eleven disciples. Later in his life, one of his greatest battles was against this separation between Christian leaders and the rest of God’s people.

He wrote of one such skirmish in 3 John when he said:

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.
3 John 9–10

Apparently an insecure leader, who wanted to be exalted above the rest, seized control of a church and censured input from anyone else. This contrasts with other leaders who remain anonymous out of respect for their servants’ hearts and are mentioned in verse 8. John writes of these heroes with flattering terms, encouraging the church to support such men who “went out for the sake of the Name [of Christ], accepting nothing from the Gentiles” (v. 7).

The issue is not receiving support for ministry. The issue is in developing a separate class of Christians who are elevated to a higher stature. It is becoming professional Christian leaders who have seemingly greater responsibility and therefore more privilege and respect than other Christians that is the problem. I believe that Diotrephes is not the only one who is such a threat at this time.

In John’s last writing, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he addresses the seven churches of Asia Minor. In a few of the churches the rise of the clergy is addressed. It is called the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Scholars disagree over what this group is. Some believe it is a band following some false teaching of Nicholas, but the only Nicholas that they can point to is the one mentioned in Acts 6:5. This is one viewpoint, but I see another view that is probably more consistent with the whole of Scripture.

Nike, a word made famous by athletic shoes, means “victory.” It comes from the word nicos, which means “to conquer” and is the prefix in the word Nicolaitans. Laos is the Greek word for “people” and is the term from which we get the word laity. I believe the Nicolaitans were an emerging professional class who ruled over God’s people in the church. From their name we can say they were the ones who “conquered the people.” And Revelation 2:6 says that Jesus hates “the deeds of the Nicolaitans.”

To the church in Pergamum, Jesus writes that the Nicolaitans were guilty in the same way as Balaam, a professional prophet for hire, whom Balak bought (the highest bidder) and sent to curse God’s people with his special spiritual authority (vv. 14–15). It is interesting that the name Balaam in Hebrew is made up essentially of the same combined words as Nicolaitan in Greek—meaning to conquer or destroy the people. Nicolaitan may be a good Greek translation for the Hebrew word Balaam.

Our very language betrays that we have fallen victim to the deeds of the Nicolaitans—those who would “conquer the people.” Some people have a special “call to ministry.” We refer to them as “ministers.” They are “ordained for ministry.” We even call them “reverend” as though they are more holy than the rest and deserving reverential respect. The New Testament does not use language like this, in fact, quite the opposite. Leaders in the church are not to do the work of the ministry, but to equip the ordinary saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11–16). The ministers in the New Testament are all those who are of the family of God. No one but God is to be revered.

Jesus took this idea way beyond our comfort zone. He said we should not call anyone our leader, our father, or even our teacher, because God is all of these things for us (Matt. 23:8–12). God is the only one to be revered or worshiped. To do otherwise is clearly blasphemous. The idea that some people are more holy than others is not found in the New Testament. The people, whom the leaders are supposed to equip, are called “the saints,” which, as we have seen, means “holy ones.” They are the ministers—the ones “called to the ministry.” These ordinary Christians are set apart, called to be holy and to serve.

The idea of professional Christians who are for hire is something that Jesus hates. He refers to leaders who are for hire as hirelings (John 10:12). They are not only “for hire” but, like Diotrephes, they have ambitions to be higher than the rest. This is what Jesus says clearly that he hates, and so should we.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

False Ideas 5: Clergy versus Laity

It did not take long in church history before a special class of Christians developed that was professional. The idea that there should be a class of professional Christians has plagued Christianity for almost two thousand years, but is just not biblical.

The idea that special people are set apart and called to serve the Lord “full-time” is a cracked lens that distorts our view of everything and we have developed language that supports our view. Those who serve as professional pastors are “called.” everyone else is just working.

The distinction is not biblical. As I read and reread the New Testament without this lens, I find that all are called to follow. It is not the destination of the following that indicates the calling; the calling is the following. So if God calls you to serve as a pastor, your calling is fulfilled among a flock. If you are called to be a contractor, your calling is fulfilled at the contractor’s work site. Whatever your calling, you are to serve your Master well.

The problems with seeing some people as called into special roles are profound. Those who serve the church professionally are seen as more holy than those who do not. Expectations are placed on them that are not placed on other Christians. And as I said earlier, this lowers the bar for those who are not pursuing a ministry vocation, with the result that average Christians do not bear the responsibility of following God fully. They are simply the drones who work hard to finance the real workers who carry the weight of the kingdom. The lives of those who serve professionally are held to higher account. We have a whole list of traits that we must check off before someone is allowed to serve in such a high position.

I do not see this in the New Testament. Jesus calls all of us to surrender our whole life to follow him. This is not a call into a career but into a kingdom. All citizens of Christ’s kingdom are called to serve fully. No Christian is held to a higher level of accountability for his or her character than another. Jesus bled so that all of us could be holy and set apart, not just a few.
Now it is true that leaders are held to a stricter accountability, but that is true whether they are paid to lead or not. And regardless of accountability, each of us is called to a holy life. None is called to a more holy life than another.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

False Ideas 4: Great faith in flimsy things

I do not want to boast, but let me tell you a brief story of the time I exhibited the greatest faith of my life. Several years ago I slipped in our shower tub. In a desperate act of radical faith, I reached out and held on to the shower curtain for support. Needless to say I not only bruised my body, but I had to reattach the shower curtain...wet, sudsy and naked (sorry for that picture). It is not the amount of our faith that is as important as what we place that faith in.

Having great faith in flimsy things is not admirable but foolish. We do this in many ways in Churchianity.

I believe that changing our views on what is secular and what is sacred can have immense implications. When we actually believe that Christ's presence within each of us is in fact the greatest treasure we have, than we will not only value it more but trust in it more. We need not trust the frail walls of sacred institutions for our holiness. Our holiness never was determined by our organizational skills or in depth studies of theology. Our holiness is from Christ alone and cannot be taken from us.

We do not get more holy by avoiding R rated movies. The idea that "I do not dance or chew or go with girls who do" is a pathetic caricaturization of Christianity, not at all the real deal. Circling the wagons to protect us from the world is a grave mistake. It is actually Satan's strategy designed to protect the world from God's kingdom presence. It is always the enemies desire to box us in behind the walls of false ideas that rob us of true faith in the living God.

We must learn to trust the power of Christ living within us and stop placing our trust in other things. In a very real sense, we must be called on the carpet on this. We really do place more faith in ourselves and our institutions than we do in Christ. If such were not the case we would do everything very differently, and the whole world would display the difference.

Unfortunately, it is even worse than that. The way we try and remove ourselves from the "secular" world for fear of losing our spiritual power demonstrates that we actually believe more in the power of the darkness than we do in the light of Jesus Christ. Ouch!

I would rather have small faith in a substantive thing than have great faith in a flimsy thing. Jesus said it only takes the faith of a mustard seed to move mountains when that small faith is in the right person.

We must remove the lies from the minds of God's people that tell them that there are secular places and sacred places. We must tear down the walls that separate secular jobs from sacred ones--all people have a sacred calling and therefore a sacred trust to be an agent of Christ's kingdom wherever they go. The cleric and the clerk are both empowered by the Spirit of God to serve their king. The pastor and the postal worker are each agents of the kingdom of God and must carry God's message to their neighborhoods and the nations. The barber and the bishop are both called to serve Christ equally, and frankly, the barber is easier to talk to.

God doesn't love one vocation over another. Even our own Lord Himself was a simple carpenter. He loves to use fishermen, tax collectors, and doctors for his service. His kingdom of light is more powerful than the world and overcomes the darkness. If we can believe this the kingdom can be unleashed from the confines of a false viewpoint of what is sacred and secular.

Yes, it is that serious! Don't believe the lie! You are pure and that purity is not lost when you touch a glass of wine or step on a dance floor.

I start to wonder in my own sanctified imagination what could happen if people went to work with a viewpoint that they are called by God to that place and empowered to do His work there. Their job is no longer just a way to make some money so they can feed their family and give 10% on Sunday morning, but actually a mission field. Even more than a mission field, what if it is God's playground and laboratory for creative work? What if they went to work inspired by the Holy Spirit to be the best they can be in that field. Wow. The implications are immense.

Monday, February 9, 2009

False Ideas 3: Inside and Out

It is interesting; whenever Jesus wanted to heal someone of leprosy, he did so by laying his hand on the person. We know from reading the Gospel accounts that he didn’t have to heal this way. Jesus healed people he never touched (see, for instance, John 4:46–54). According to the law, someone with leprosy was unclean; to touch him or her meant you would become unclean. Lepers had to shout, “Unclean,” whenever people came by so they would avoid any contact.
Jesus did not avoid contact; he initiated it. And it’s remarkable that he didn’t become unclean. Instead, the leper became clean!

This is a new spirituality. It is more powerful than the dirty world around us. We can actually have a sanctifying effect on the people around us as we walk in the power of God’s Spirit within us. We rub off on others, not the other way around.

There is an interesting story in the book of Acts. Peter is hungry, waiting on a roof in Joppa for a meal. He falls into a trance and sees the sky open up and the Lord drop a sheet full of unclean animals. He tells Peter to kill and eat them. Peter refuses, stating that he would never eat anything unholy. Then the Lord announces, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:15). This happens three times to verify that it is the Lord who is speaking to Peter.

You have in this story a hungry and devout Jewish man, some Old Testament laws, a herd of unkosher animals, and God. Something changes here that is profound, but what is it? Are the previous laws no longer any good? Did God change his mind about pork? Or did God suddenly run all these particular animals through a carwash?

It is Peter who changed, not God, not the Old Testament, and not the animals. Once he was unclean, but then he was clean (John 13:10). Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension and the indwelling Holy Spirit had altered Peter forever. His life was no longer subject to the damaging effects of mixing it up with unclean animals or people. He was no longer affected by touching something unclean, because his holiness was not subject to what surrounded him. He was so changed from the inside out that he could become a change agent to those around him, including Gentiles, which is really what the vision was about.

Before Christ’s atoning work, being married to an unbeliever was condemned because God’s people were incapable of withstanding the influence of false gods. But all of that has changed, so Paul writes that the believing spouse should stay with an unbeliever because he or she will have a sanctifying effect on the one who is not yet a Christian (1 Cor. 7:12–14).1 This shows us that our salvation in Christ is more powerful than the darkness in the world around us. We are holy and nothing can change that.

Now to us, all things are lawful but not necessarily profitable (1 Cor. 10:23). It is now a question of what is beneficial, not what is secular and what is sacred. The NT still says it is not a good idea for a Christian to marry an unbeliever and become unequally yoked. That would not be profitable or beneficial. But it is not the concern that was once so rampant int he OT of contamination from the unclean Gentiles.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

False Ideas 2: Safe and Unsafe

The idea that there are secular things and sacred things for the Christian is just plain wrong. This is an idea we have carried over from the false religious viewpoint of the Middle Ages. But let’s not blame the Catholics, it was also found in the early church. In fact it is addressed in the New Testament as an issue. So if we want to blame anyone, let’s blame Gnosticism that taught the same sort of viewpoint (1 Tim. 4:1-5; 6:20-21).

There isn’t secular music and sacred music, there is just music. There aren’t secular movies and Christian movies, there are just movies. There are not secular schools and sacred schools, just schools. Labeling things secular or sacred gives them a moral quality, but things have no moral capacity. Only people with souls and the freedom to make conscious choices have moral qualities.

You can judge a book by its cover, but it has no soul, so you cannot judge it as “Christian.” It is simply a book written by someone who has a soul and views life through a Christian mind-set. You can judge a song as good or bad but not as guilty of sin. I have no problem with calling a song bad, just don’t call it secular. A song does not have a soul, unless of course it is performed by James Brown or Aretha Franklin, but that is an entirely different sort of “soul.”
People are able to make moral choices and are therefore good or bad. The fruit of their lives reflect what is within, so bad people produce bad fruit.

When we call the things Christians produce sacred, we are assuming they are good, and this is definitely an incorrect assumption. A lot of the works Christians produce are less than stellar in quality. We may do Christ a favor by removing his name from some of the things we call “Christian.”

This false dichotomy, deciding whether something is sacred or secular, has wreaked havoc on the kingdom of God in multitudes of ways. We start assuming that the sacred is safe and the secular is unsafe. Often it may be the other way around. It is common for something labeled “Christian” or “sacred” to be indeed toxic, legalistic, and unsafe. Many churches, schools, and even families are this way.

We believe that the spiritual can be contaminated by coming in contact with the secular. The truth is that we simply cannot be removed from contact with the world. Paul states that it would be virtually impossible to be removed from the sin of the world (1 Cor. 5:9–11). But of course we can carefully choose those with whom we share our intimate lives. Paul states, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). It would be far better if we called things “healthy” or “unhealthy” rather than “secular” or “sacred.”

There were laws in the Old Testament that seem to imply the secular is unsafe. When you touch something unclean, it rubs off, and you become unclean. This implies that godliness comes from the outside in, rather than the other way around. Jesus changed all the rules when he came and established the new covenant, which places God’s pure law in our hearts. Spirituality was no longer conditioned on people staying away from the unclean but comes from within and is worked out in any and all environments.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The False Separation of Secular versus Sacred, Part 1

The first false lens we must remove to see life correctly is the division between the secular and the sacred.

Paul writes, “To the pure, all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). When Jesus redeemed you and me, he made us holy. We are no longer striving to be holy; in actuality we are already holy.

I know that our life experience doesn’t seem to reflect this truth, but it is true nonetheless. From God’s point of view we are already redeemed, cleaned, and esteemed in the high courts in heaven. Now from your spouse’s point of view, this may not be as clear! But one of our problems is that we do not respect that God’s point of view is more true and real than our own.

There is indeed a struggle we face in seeing the reality of our position in Christ actualized in our lives. Our holiness is in process. We are holy and we are becoming holy. Theologians refer to this as the sanctification process. It is a big word for being set apart, which is what holy really means.

The way I see it: holiness is already ours, and we are learning to become at home in it as we mature in Christ. We are learning to lay aside old destructive patterns and live out a life that reflects Christ’s beauty and transcendence. This will not be accomplished in the seventy to one hundred years we have to live, so none of us ever totally arrives at holiness in this life. We always have some of the crusty residue of the flesh. But trust me, if you are in Christ, Christ is in you, and therefore you are holy—right now.

That crusty residue doesn’t make you unclean. The atoning sacrifice of Christ has cleansed you wholly and made you holy. It covers every flaw, every mistake, and every blemish—past, present, and future. Its redeeming power doesn’t change. Christ’s work is eternal, powerful, and stable. As he said on the cross, “It is finished.”

In the New Testament there is not a single church that struggled more obviously with immorality and carnality than the Corinthians. They were wrestling with all sorts of evil—divisions (1 Cor. 1:10–11), pride issues (3:18), and even gross sexual immorality (5:1). Yet when writing to them, Paul says they are “saints” (1:2). Wow, there’s a word we don’t understand after centuries of reinforcing false ideas about what a saint is. Literally saint means a “holy one” and can be used to refer to all who are in Christ. Paul calls the carnal Corinthians “holy ones.” He remarks in chapter 3, verse 17, that the temple of God is holy and that they are indeed “holy”! How remarkable this is!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Viewing Life Through Faulty Lenses

There are many different false dichotomies that affect the way we view life. For some reason, we Christians want to find a nice category for everything. We’re experts at this. The problem is that the world does not always go along with our labels.

When we label everything, we are able to see life only through the lenses of our artificially framed categories. This forces us to live our lives submitting to false ideas that do not represent real life and we become more and more removed from what is indeed true. And worse, we do not even know it.

For the next few blog entires I intend to expose some faulty thinking that keeps Christ followers trapped in artificial boxes. These thoughts come from my new book Organic Leadership.

I personally have been very impressed of late that if these lies are dealt with and replaced with truth God's kingdom can not only expand in size, but in impact on the world. I only hope I can convey my thoughts well on this because I believe it to be the most important topic of this year.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Everything is Changing

Doesn't it feel like everything is changing? When the clock passed midnight and into the new year on January 1, you could just feel the difference. The economy is tanking. Businesses that were once anchors at the local shopping center have shut down and now their buildings sit empty collecting dust instead of customers. An African American has been elected by a landslide into the oval office. And the Arizona Cardinals are playing in the super bowl. Yes things have radically changed.

At this year's Organic Church Movements Conference, we are picking up on that theme and looking at ways that the kingdom of God can change everything as well. I actually have great hope during this time. I believe we may be on the verge of seeing breakthroughs that could change everything about the church, and therefore about the world.

We will have Reggie McNeal speaking. His book Missional Renaissance just came out. He will address how we must change the scorecard of what is success for churches today. We cannot afford to be content with meaningless measurements of success. Counting nickels and noses is no longer enough.

We will have Dave Gibbons speaking and his new book The Monkey and the Fish just came out. Dave will look at what it means to be relevant in todays rapidly changing world. Dave is involved with a handful of new business enterprises to bring God's kingdom into some very unusual places.

Ali Eastburn will be telling us about how God is using her and her friends to change the word With This Ring. Ali is a great example of how an ordinary Christian homemaker can hear from the Holy Spirit, follow with courage and sacrifice and find herself doing something of great significance in the world.

I will also be sharing from my newest book which is now out...Organic Leadership.

I believe that if we simply remove a few lies embedded in the minds of Christians, things will change. If we can remove the barriers of clergy vs laity, secular vs sacred or local church vs universal church/parachurch the implications could literally be global and extend into every domain of society. This change is not about mega church versus micro church. It is not about attractional versus missional. It is about every follower of Christ being free to follow into the vocational call of God on their life--no matter what that may be. And then doing so with the vigor and inspiration of the Holy Spirit resulting in greater innovation, creativity and compassionate righteousness in all spheres of our society. It is about every part of Christ's body being connected to His head and hearing His voice. Come join the conversation.