The Power of Music

This speaks for itself…. There is something powerful about music. It connects on a deep level and brings us to life in ways nothing else can. How are we using the power of music to connect and stir people to life?

Masters FTW – Use Your Platform


“The Shot”


“The Jacket”

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, tgiving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Gotta love Bubba Watson. Fellow Bulldog. More significantly, fellow brother in Christ. This guy can’t stop talking about His Savior (insert Masters cliché here). I read a great article on BillyGraham.org about his faith. I won’t recap it here – click the link and read it. The main thing that struck me, was how he is seeking to be true to his personality and his platform to share the gospel with anyone and everyone he can. He’s a twitter evangelist and he jumped at the opportunity, tearfully, to remind the world that Sunday was bigger than golf and green jackets – it was the celebration of our risen Lord. My favorite tweet was this: Most important things in my life- 1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5. Golf

That’s a man with his priorities in line. How does your list look? Where are your priorities…. not just what do you say are your priorities, but what does your lifestyle reveal to be your priorities?

Bubba also realized that he had to get his own attitude and emotional outbursts in check if he was going to be successful in his career or his witness. Gut-check.

And what about your platform? How are you using your gifts to glorify God? What is your circle of influence and the ripples of your testimony?

Follow @BubbaWatson (Christian, Husband. Daddy. Pro Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1.) or just check out his twitter feed and personal website.

Murdered Son

Here’s a new song off of John Mark McMillan’s latest album Economy. We first heard this song at Vinyl, a small bar in Atlanta… although some guy in the audience turned the chorus into the song that never ends at the set’s close… That over-zealous fan almost ruined this song for me, to be honest. But it’s a great one for reflection this week, in keeping with last year. Check out his own blog (here) for a friend’s theological unpacking of the song’s lyrics.

I love what John says: “At the end of the day, I’m a songwriter who dabbles in theology. I don’t sing about Jesus because I want to spread a message. I don’t sing about Jesus because it’s the Christian thing to do. If I sing about Jesus, it’s for one simple reason, and that’s because I believe he’s worth singing about. While it’s never been my intention to communicate theology through my music, my heart’s fascination with certain subjects have carved out a good bit of space for it in my songs over the years.”

Here are last year’s videos and blog posts:
Maundy Thursday – How He Loves
Good Friday – Death in His Grave
Saturday – Closer
Easter Sunday – Skeleton Bones

The Foolishness of God

When you really think about it – the gospel story of Jesus is the most unthinkable reality. It flies in the face of both philosophy and religion. It is beyond reason and silences all efforts of man to reach an unreachable God. The gospel reveals the all-powerful Creator, becoming human, living among and dying at the hands of His creation, in order to make possible a relationship between a rebellious creature – humanity – and a perfectly holy and just Creator – God. And it didn’t stop there. This God-in-the-flesh, Jesus of Nazareth, was raised from the dead. Not even His own disciples could believe this at first (see Mark 16:9-14 and John 20:24-29) – it was all just too much to grasp. Paul put the foolishness of the gospel this way:

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 1:20-31 ESV)

We’re all fools. None of us have it all figured out – not even the beautiful mystery of the cross. We can’t wrap our finite minds around an infinite God. This week, as we remember the final days of Jesus’ walking this planet that He created (See John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16). Be in awe. Be overwhelmed. Allow the foolishness of the cross and this gospel to overwhelm you. Let it drop you to your knees where the only response is worship of the Holy One.

How to talk about your faith… and make people WANT to know more

This guy continues to floor me with his passion, depth, and humility. Being deeply entrenched in the Bible Belt and Mega-churches for most of my life (with a brief stint as a sort of hippie) the way most people talk about faith, gets hung up on using the “right” words or checking off a list of theological truths… and honestly, there’s a bit of pressure to “win” or “convince” the other person that you are correct and they too want to be on the right side of belief and theology (and church membership and tithing).

But when I watched this short clip of Josh Garrels’ IN:5 interview, I just sat here thinking… yes.. Yes… YES… I can imagine being any random person Josh encounters as he skates through Portland, pops in and out of small coffee shops with his guitar, or as he plays with his kids and the neighbors…

He speaks in a way that draws you in. He chooses his words carefully. Speaks conversationally but confidently. There is an eagerness and healthy fear in his eyes that makes you want to know what it is he’s talking about.

I’ve been on this thought again for a while, and I’m not at all suggesting that sound theology isn’t important, BUT what I do believe is that if we truly believe and are following Christ and being changed by Him, then we’ll have more than theological formulas to sell someone or cliché Christianese… Granted, Josh is a poet and songwriter, so he has a way with words. But can we share, in our own words (and a barely containable enthusiasm in our body language) what we say is the single most important thing in our lives?

Josh Garrels IN:5 // Believe from IN:5 on Vimeo.

God as He really is… Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast

Eric Metaxas wrote some of my girls’ favorite books and thick biographies on Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer. (You can easily find his best-selling works here on Amazon) Here he gets bold, funny, and honest about the difference true prayer, true faith, and true relationship with Jesus makes… it changes everything about your life, the way you see others, and the action you must take in response to the Amazing Grace that has transformed you. (30 minutes well spent) Whether he’s speaking to the President, writing VeggieTales rhymes, or New York Times best selling Biographies, this guy is “not ashamed of the gospel.” What an incredible influence through his God-given gifts, talents, and platform. Grateful for his obedience.

Small Things With Great Love

[post from my wife, Amanda, reflecting upon her recent trip to India]

Christmas feels a little different for me this year. Before now, I don’t think I fully appreciated Jesus humbling Himself and becoming poor. Last Christmas, I hadn’t really witnessed poverty. God graciously allowed me to see something that changed me forever.

I’m a stay-at-home mom of three little girls. My day usually goes something like this: wake up, get some one-on-one time with God in the Word, get the kids up, feed them and get them off to school, do some housework, start thinking about dinner, pick kids up from school, prepare dinner, get kids to bed, spend some time with my husband, and, lastly, put myself to bed. All simple things, making my world seem rather small.

Up until a few weeks ago, when my world got a whole lot bigger. I had the opportunity to go, almost literally, to the opposite side of the world. I traveled to East India with some pretty amazing people as part of a Compassion International trip. Much was done in the way of preparing: shots were received, checks were written, a 10 page “survival guide” drafted and printed out for my dear husband as he braved life with the Shenanigans (our girls 5, 3, and 2) and then we were boarding a plane for almost a day and half of travel to finally land in Kolkata.

So, it’s obviously very different from my small town in Alabama (or the Atlanta suburb I grew up in ☺). The smell of burning trash, the inability to see the actual sky because of the smog, the garbage everywhere, the horns constantly honking as cars, rickshaws, bicyclists, pedestrians, dogs, and cows all share the same un-laned streets. People selling all types of meat (usually surrounded by swarms of flies), fruits, and wares all over the place. People making their homes out of a lean-to positioned on the sidewalk.

But, honestly, I expected these things. I knew India, and especially Kolkata, was one of the most impoverished places in the world. So, I had an idea of what comes with that. But, I found something unexpected during much of my trip. And it became clear to me what that “something” was during one of the home visits.

During home visits, we traveled with Compassion representatives to the homes of participants in the project – either a mom that was part of the Child Survival Program or a student that was part of the Child Development Sponsorship Program. The first day, walking over a stagnant stream and a mountain of trash, we visited the home of Tumpa. She has a toddler and is a participant in the CSP. We were all sitting there, along with many of her curious neighbors, in her tiny home, trying to make conversation. Tumpa had come to trust in Christ through her participation in the Compassion project and He was so evident in the Hope in her eyes and the smile on her face.

So, I asked a simple question, “Tumpa, can you describe for us your typical day?” Sam, our East India Compassion office rep. translated the question into Bengali and then relayed the answer back to us in English, “she wakes up, reads her bible, feeds her baby and other family members, sees her husband off to work, does some housework, and then starts thinking about what she’s going to cook for dinner.” And that’s when God showed me the sameness that became the common thread for me throughout this trip. Tumpa’s daily routine was strikingly similar to mine. God has the same love for her as He does for me. The difference is in the things we have no control over – the part of the world and the circumstances we were born in.

Before I went to India I knew that Christ commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. I knew that He commanded us to take care of the poor. But, God used a stay-at-home mom in Kolkata to show this stay-at-home mom from Birmingham what it means to love my neighbor and take care of the poor. God made it very easy for me to see my neighbor as myself. And it’s pretty impossible to ignore yourself.

I’ll admit, the needs seem so vast and overwhelming. The temptation to be paralyzed by that thought is very real. But, I’m reminded of a quote that I read while visiting the home of Mother Teresa, just a short walk from the place we stayed in Kolkata… “We can do no great things,
only small things with great love.”

And this is where I find an avenue to do a small thing – to love my neighbor and take care of the poor – Compassion. I went into this trip with great respect for Compassion, but that respect was strengthened even more when I saw the integrity of their ministry and the selflessness of the staff for the purpose of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. We were able to see the holistic approach taken by Compassion in action during our time in East India. Something that was very profound to me was that several of the staff members at the projects had grown up as participants in the Compassion project and were now serving as teachers. They’re the real deal. Read more here www.compassion.com. And ask me about it. I would love to share more of what God taught me in India.

We also learned that India is a rather under-served area – there were around 300 applicants for the Leadership Development Program last year, but only funding for 80. There are lots of children who need sponsors – sponsors to not only help provide resources, but to love them and maintain a relationship with them. I did not realize until this trip just how much those kids love their sponsors. They all asked us to pray for their sponsors. They all wanted their sponsors to come visit them. And they cherished their letters from their sponsors.

So, this Christmas is different. I got a tiny glimpse into someone else’s world. And I’m praying that God would be glorified in the small things that I can do because of His great love.

Memorable, Creative, Low-Budget Sermon Ideas

PROOF that effective communication and creativity don’t require huge budgets – just great ideas. Don’t think these are great? Ask yourself this: How many sermon illustrations do you remember? How many do you remember from 5 or 10 years ago? How many do you know from a church you’ve probably never visited or maybe even heard of? How many could you not wait to share with a friend (or someone couldn’t wait to share with you)? Years later… we’re still talking about these.

Here’s all 4 classic “Jesus Videos” from Vintage 21 Church – These came up in our small group last night as we began studying the Gospel of Mark – the discussion and these videos (from a 2003 sermon series) dealt with our misconceptions of Jesus and what it means to be a disciple…

If these offend you, you’re either missing the point or simply not the intended audience, the rest of us can laugh at the creativity in shedding light on our own issues (the joke is not on Jesus – it is on our own hang-ups) These still own me.

And one more video – after thinking about the “stickiness” of the Jesus Videos, the only other sermon illustration as memorable (but more powerful and worshipful) was also a super-low-budget idea in creative communication. Unlike Vintage 21’s Jesus Videos, this idea was copied by countless churches.

I’m also honored to say that Pastor Tommy Politz and his wife, Donna, are old friends of the family. I remember getting to the end of this video several years ago (2008), teary eyed, and then saying “That’s Tommy!” I hadn’t seen him since he moved to Texas to pastor Hillside. (Also the worship band sang John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves” – a song which changed the worship “scene”)

An Impossible Challenge: $1 for 1 Day

Today is World Poverty Day. Surely you’ve heard by now statistics like “Over 1.25 BILLION people in the world live on less than $1 a day.” Yes… that’s Billion, with a “B.”

I wanted to challenge myself and friends to get through the day on only $1 per day… to try and identify with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffering extreme poverty… But it’s impossible. It is simply impossible to even force yourself into that kind of poverty as an experiment in empathy…

Here’s what I mean: Have you ever let yourself identify with that harsh reality? Not just in a “poor them” kind of sympathy, but really try to imagine that bare bones existence?

  • To be honest, if you happen to see this via twitter, tumblr, or facebook, then you’ve probably already exceeded your daily allowance – what we spend on the cheapest data plan for cell phones or internet service at home is close to, if not more than, $1 per day…
  • Imagine all of your utilities are free – electricity, water, sewer (forget about TV, netflix, DVR, etc)…
  • Imagine the cost to get to work or school is free – car payment, gas money, insurance, tag fees, transportation fees…
  • While we’re at it and since we’ve mentioned a place to live, work, and get an education, imagine all of those things are free too – mortgage or rent, tuition and fees, any qualifications or even basic wardrobe and hygiene needed to be employable (let alone successful)…
  • Imagine your health needs – insurance, medications, vitamins, even something as simple as clean water… not just branded and from a bottle, but from the tap… that’s all free too…
  • And we haven’t even mentioned FOOD…not just $1 item on a “value meal” but food for the whole day every day.

We can’t even pick ONE of those things and try to manage $1 a day in ONE category! And even if all of those things were “free,” (which is the best we can imagine, since we can’t escape these obligations to banks, service providers, and employers for the day… we can’t unlearn our education or undo the physical and mental development resulting from a lifetime of proper nutrition and basic healthcare.) we still can barely stretch our imaginations to picture only $1 a day left to live on for everything else…

So, again, It’s only 8am and as I drink my second cup of coffee, finish a quick blog post on my laptop after reflecting on my daily reading I downloaded from my church’s website and a tweet about #WorldPovertyDay from my smart phone… I realize I CAN’T imagine life on $1 a day… I can’t even fake it…

It’s simply impossible to fathom… it’s a tragic injustice… in light of all the buzz lately about “Occupy Wall Street” and everywhere else… people bent out of shape about the obscene gap between the 1% and the 99%… Let’s stop focusing on ourselves “deserving more” and remember that well over a Billion people live on less that $1 a day and that pretty much anyone in the U.S. already has more than 80-90% of the world’s population – an obscene gap exists between our daily reality, no matter how budget-conscious, and the struggle for survival of Billions of people on this planet who happened to be born at a different latitude and longitude than we did…

This isn’t about feeling guilty about what we have – it’s about doing something about the fact that so many people DON’T have. It’s not about “UNDOING” something temporarily in our lives – it’s about DOING something for the sake of eternity in other people’s lives.

I can’t even imagine…

But I know something has to be done.

Being Right. (an iota of difference?)

I haven’t blogged in quite a while… I’ll be turning this site into a portfolio and future blog posts will be on my new tumblr (you can comment on this post here, since I can’t get my wordpress comments working…

2 Tweets this morning finally pushed me over the edge in something I’ve been rolling around in my heart and mind lately…

1. Rob Bell is moving to LA to write a new show for ABC with LOST’s exec-producer (link from @jonacuff http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2011/09/sclq-new-show-from-rob-bell-exec-producer-of-lost/ )

2. T.D. Jakes was invited to the next Elephant Room (link from @challies http://www.challies.com/articles/macdonald-jakes-the-elephant-in-the-room )

Now I’m NOT saying I do not personally hold the orthodox view on Heaven, Hell, or the Trinity… I do. And I’m NOT saying the church shouldn’t guard orthodoxy and hold Christian leaders, especially Pastors, to a higher standard…

BUT my question is: WHAT MUST A PERSON BELIEVE TO BE A CHRISTIAN? TO BE SAVED? TO BE PART OF THE CHURCH AND FELLOWSHIP AS A BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST?

Now, I can certainly see biblical arguments for the above hot topics, but is there a biblical justification for not being sure about eternal hell or how the mystery of the trinity works being worthy of declaring someone “not a Christian”? (Again, I am fully aware of Church history, creeds and councils, and these things making “an iota of difference”… a little seminary trivia… homo- vs homoi- )

I grew up a mega-church staff kid and realized that without being told so, per se, my understanding was that a person must be “right” about certain things in order to go to heaven and really love Jesus, otherwise being wrong meant you were going to hell and didn’t really love Jesus. (and being “right” naturally meant being in agreement with me/my denomination/church) The kicker was that those non-negotiables were NOT directly about faith in Jesus… they were things like baptism, maybe even communion, and the end times/eternity, for example…

This has been especially difficult, even in my own church, as my 5 yr-old daughter voluntarily prayed a beautiful prayer of repentance and lordship and desperately wants a personal relationship with Jesus, but I was plagued by doubts of whether she would be deemed “legit” and worthy of the baptism she also desires… This is heartbreaking and tragic. Like I felt pressure to not allow my daughter to follow Christ, falling in love with Him because I was worried that even though she could answer all the questions “right”, maybe she didn’t REALLY understand everything “right.”

Has “being right” been elevated over “being in love” and “having faith”?

Expose’ on Teen Sex & Dating (Free Kindle & Nook)

A couple of weeks ago I was able to meet a few people deep in the trenches of ministry with teenagers while attending a meeting for TH1NK, the student line of books from NavPress. Andy Braner was one of those passionate servant leaders. In addition to being a writer, Andy runs Camp Kivu, an intensely focused time of outdoor adventure designed to instill a passionate Christian worldview in teenagers. Andy has devoted his life to next-generation discipleship.

His new book “An Expose on Teen Sex and Dating: What’s Really Going On and How to Talk About It” (NavPress) is intended to give parents and youth workers a glimpse behind closed doors, so to speak. Download a free copy to your Kindle or Nook this week only (ends May 22). As a parent of three little girls and former youth pastor, I’d say this is a must read – or at least check it out. I haven’t finished it yet, (I’m reading it in bits on my phone’s Kindle App) but I appreciate the urgency of Braner’s straightforward approach AND that from page one he does two things:

1. He admits that there is no specific biblical model for dating, because dating didn’t exist! He then proceeds to speak to biblical truths that are present, primarily that God is sovereign over every tiny detail of our lives – this is the central reality even in dating.

2. He humorously confesses that he’s not going to “Kiss Dating Goodbye” as the only or best God-honoring solution for young Christian teenagers… and neither are most teenagers!

This isn’t just his personal musing either. Two years of research went into this book (In addition to the daily interaction already mentioned). So grab your free copy on Kindle or Nook and spread the word while it’s still free to other parents and youth workers (feel free to purchase physical copies of the book too). This is a conversation that we need to be equipped to recognize and address from a biblical perspective – whether or not anyone agrees with every point in this book (or any Christian book, for that matter) is not the primary issue. The great thing is that Andy is seeking to open the eyes of our generation to what is happening in the next generation and how to guide young men and women through this ever-present issue in a way that honors Christ. (It’s a conversation, that quite frankly, parents and churches just aren’t very good at having).

Thoughts? Comments? Other recommendations? @JRMaxfield

Free e-Publishing (issuu & Tony Morgan)

At the turn of the year, I was able to help develop a website for LAUNCH, a new church-planting and leadership development network. Check out my earlier post here. Tony Morgan is part of the leadership team for LAUNCH and Pastor of Ministries at West Ridge Church (out of which LAUNCH was birthed). But you may know him best as a consultant and guru of all things practical in church-world. If you follow Tony Morgan Live, you know that this week he released another free eBook (short, practical, biblical resource). You can preview it right here, or jump over to issuu to download Big Churches Getting Bigger along with his other eBooks (The New Traditional Church, and Developing a Theology of Leadership) and a virtually endless world of eBooks, eMags, etc. If you want to share resources, publications, or information, issuu is an unparallelled tool/community. So if you’re not familiar with issuu.com, drop what you’re doing and explore it now. (I, for one, am in love with the possibilities…)

Do We Appeal to the Flesh in Faith? (Francis Chan)

Francis Chan takes a break during his video shoot with BluefishTV to share his reflections on the intense faith and sacrificial life of Believers. Take a minute to consider God’s call on His Church around the world and in America. Is there any difference in what is expected of people in the West and in the Rest?
Is your faith real?
Is it intensely distinct?
Are you different from the world around you?

Check out another great video moment with Chan at the RightNow conference, speaking on the “New Middle Way” (And if you’re not familiar with BluefishTV and RightNow check out this video)

Yep. It’s a Book About Books (Besides the Bible)

Read any good books lately? Something you’d call a must for someone’s summer reading list, vacation book, or bucket list reading? Besides the Bible is a new book making its case for the 100 most significant books shaping Christian culture. Sure, you have classic Christian masterpieces like Dante’s Inferno, but it’s not just “Christian” books – it’s everything from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’m intrigued. And this is a time I really wished my comments were working… I’d love to know what everyone is reading/recommends.

Click here for the official site or check it further (and maybe pick it up) at Amazon.

Miscommunication

Wow. What a Sunday. Ever wonder if what people hear is in no way what you’re saying? I’ve wondered this a lot lately as I’ve read various blogs and forums of people “hearing/reading” all kinds of different things from the same writer/pastor (including my own). How do some people hear the opposite of what someone else hears? This is critical question to ask as communicators, leaders, disciple-makers… Though we are not responsible for what people do with our message, we are stewards of that message – how we deliver it is important. So, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of what is heard, not just what we’re saying. It’s easy to get defensive or dismissive. But our goal is to communicate, not just write/speak.

Here are a few funny examples of gross misunderstandings from my family afternoon (Me, my wife, and our three crazy daughters):

Us: “What did you learn today in your class?”

Ella (3): “Jesus did not die on the cross.”

Us: WHAT?!?!?!

Ella: “The teacher was wrong. He said ‘Let my people go’ but the bad man said ‘no, no, no!'”

* I’m guessing one teacher said something along the lines of “today we’ll probably talk about how Jesus died on the cross…” But another teacher said “No, today’s Bible story is Exodus.” OR maybe even an attempt to explain that Jesus did not stay dead after the cross – He rose again on Easter. (???)

(Thanks Orthodox, Bible-Believing Church)

 

Later, Adalyn (5): “Dinosaurs lived a long time before people.”

Us: That’s right, what else do you know about dinosaurs?”

Adalyn: “I think God killed them.”

Us: WHAT?!?!?

Adalyn: “Or maybe they just died.”

(Thanks Christian Preschool)

 

Ella: “Yeah, like Curious George had blood in his eyes and mouth and people were dancing on his body.”

Me: WHAT?!?!?!?

Amanda: “Oh gosh. Yeah, you mean on PBS when they showed the cartoon about how your bodies work when George was sick and they imagined that they went inside his body to see everything and were dancing around with good blood cells and bad germs?”

(Thanks Educational Programming)

 

Closing example. While we were at Dairy Queen, eating our kiddie cones, I noticed this sign. Again, two completely opposite meanings could be conveyed from this overly simple graphic. Is this a kid running TO Friendly McHugger or FROM Scary McGrabber? Either way I understand that this is a safe place, but what is on that disturbing sign?

So is what you mean to say clear?

Radical Together: THE GOAL IS CHRIST

This is worth spending our lives on. This goal. This God.

David’s second book is about to release:
Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God

For anyone who has misunderstood or worried that others might misunderstand where David / Radical is “coming from,” (you can read my own confession and watch the video for the first book here) watch this video from Taylor Robinson @ SixFootFive Productions. I think this should not only clear up any confusion, but hopefully stir up your passion to see disciples made of all nations. (And speaking of, be on the look out for some great stuff from DMI/disciple-making international… more on that soon.)

Church Planting

Over Christmas break, I had the honor of being a very small part of a bigger movement of church planting – something I’m deeply passionate about. If you know me, you know that for a couple of years we prayed earnestly about if and where God may be leading our family and some close friends (the Mitchell family) to plant a church… or more specifically, hopefully spark a network of multiplying house churches. After trips to a couple of cities and much prayer, fasting, and research, God made it clear that at the very least, it was not the right time. (For now, God has called me to write and to assist other churches and ministries in that capacity, so that is what I did here – help create the content for a website designed for churches, church planters, and ministry leaders.) But the desire to see churches reproduce is a deep part of me now.

That past experience opened my eyes to the harsh realities of church planting, even in a culture that is not hostile as many countries or even regions often are to the gospel. It is a tremendous sacrifice and step of faith, one for which a man and his family should be as thoroughly equipped as possible. The sad fact is that many, if not most, church plants flounder or fail within a few years. As a staff member of a young church plant myself for several years, I saw firsthand how practical leadership issues can be a struggle when wanting to focus on the urgent needs of ministry in the “real world” instead of on paper (the models and diagrams and vision statements we’ve created).

Not that solid theology, Spirit-lead faith, biblical teaching, and meeting people’s needs should not be the foundations for any church, certainly those are a given. But how do you continue to do that with integrity – how can you be faithful and seek longevity, enduring to the end, finishing the race, walking in a manner worthy of the gospel? God entrusts churches with the gospel of Christ and with the souls of His children. So why are so many ministers and church planters ill-prepared in the practical aspects of leadership if that is what they wholeheartedly believe God has called them to do? The wheels can fall off without integrity in leadership. It’s a shame and an offense to God, I believe.

Now you may or may not agree on the importance of leadership, but even so, there can be no denying this other harsh reality to which my eyes were opened: The vast majority of churches are not reproducing new churches. Biblicaly speaking, the church is a body (1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4) and bodies naturally reproduce (Gen 1:28). Everything in nature reproduces. In overly-simplified terms, if not maturing toward reproduction, an organism has gone over the curve and is now on the descent toward death. You just don’t see any biblical precedent for churches or Christ-followers not being about the business of making-disciples and spreading the gospel. You don’t see a “come be one of us” mentality in the New Testament. You see in Acts 6 the first church delegate leadership responsibility in practical matters so that the Word of God would not be neglected and as a result the gospel advanced, spreading throughout Jerusalem. Those leaders then took the gospel, beginning in Acts 8, and were preaching and reproducing churches beyond Jerusalem after being scattered from persecution. This was the initial stages of fulfilling Christ’s command to reproduce, making disciples throughout the world (Matt. 28:19-20). But this command has not yet been fulfilled. It is still our task.

So, why are most churches (85%) not reproducing? Why are we hoarding our resources in finances, in church leadership experience, in biblical wisdom, and most importantly in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Why not multiply and reproduce, scattering rather than gathering unto ourselves? This is what Mac Lake, Brian Bloye, and Tony Morgan from West Ridge Church (Atlanta, Georgia) have been asking…. and doing. Their relatively young church has planted 50 churches in the last 6 years and has now stepped up their commitment to church planting by partnering with others through LAUNCH – a new network designed to build relationships among church-planting churches and new planters. The strategy is to mentor young men and provide ongoing training and accountability in a holistic approach to church leadership, recognizing both the spiritual and practical dynamics of ministry demands).

I just wanted to get the word out in a very small way (not that anybody reads this blog) and also ask the question to anyone who may actually find this post: Are you reproducing the gospel in the lives of people around you? Is your church reproducing? What will you do to advance the gospel personally and with your own church body?