FiveTwo Wiki’13 Keynote Video

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Blog | 3 comments

Many of you have asked for my keynote from Wiki'13. Here it is:

Feel free to forward it to friends and leaders.  I pray it stimulates much discussion and even more action.  Remember: Start Something Sacramental Right Now.

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Window Washing Via Michael Frost

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Michael Frost is a bald, metaphor machine, and the window metaphor he shared at FiveTwo’s Wiki’13 changed my understanding of following Jesus.

Perhaps you have heard Frost before.  I had not.  I had heard of him from Alan Hirsch.  I spent a year with the South African Obi Wan and others in FutureTravelers, a wonderful journey of large-church pastors learning how to more effectively reach and disciple those dissatisfied with the local church.  We Jedis traveled from Austin Stone to Soma Communities to Community Christian with each layover bringing new insight and fascinating stories.  It launched me and CrossPoint on a journey that aims for the blue ocean.

And it introduced me to the persona of Michael Frost.  “One of the best communicators in the Church,” said Hirsch.  After Wiki’13 I would agree. 

Frost’s window metaphor paints like this:  If the mission of the Church is to announce and demonstrate the universal reign of God through Christ, then we who are Church are simply called to help people see that reign present in this world.  The challenge, however, is the room in which pre-Christ people live: it is dark and dank with grime covering the windows.  No light seeps through.  No sun rises or sets are visible.  No beauty can be seen or birds heard.  Yet we who live in the kingdom of God by the certainty of baptism united to the certainty of crucifixion and resurrection know this Kingdom is real (I fleshed out the sacramental link).  We can already see heaven.  The smell of the wine is in our nose and taste of the bread, on our tongues.

Our windows are clean.  Our worlds, lit.  The images live in our minds by the power of full cross and empty tomb.

Our task, then, our mission, is to clean windows.  To expose friends and family to the reality of Jesus’ universal reign.  To remove the grime that hinders people from seeing Jesus and His Kingdom. 

According to Frost, Christians clean windows in two ways: by announcing and by demonstrating.  Words and action.  Sharing and doing, especially in the areas of reconciliation, justice, beauty, and wholeness.  (Frost admits the first three areas come from N.T. Wright but adds the last for completeness sake.)

Thus, if in the world to come no hatred or prejudice or racism will exist, how can you be an instrument of reconciliation when another color moves in next door?  If in the world to come have-nots will not exist and widows will not have to beg deaf judges, how can you be an instrument of justice for your co-worker who has been maligned, so that she gets a glimpse of God’s kingdom today?  If in the world to come the beauty of creation and music and food and art will be the norm and everywhere, how can you bring beauty, how can you leverage art to demonstrate Jesus reigns right now?  And if in the world to come the whole man will be whole, with no illness or demonic possession or debilitating addictions, what can you do to bring release and healing to the woman who has struggled for twelve years?

The mission of the Church is to move into the neighborhood – to be the sacrament of God in Christ – revealing the salvific reign of Christ for all.  That happens through announcing and demonstrating.  Through both word and deed.

For me, that means my widow neighbor whose husband recently died of pancreatic cancer eight (!) days after diagnosis needs to hear and see the “kingdom to come” today.  Through me.  Right now.

What about you?  Whose window do you need to wash today? How do you need to be God's sacrament right now?

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Ignorance At Its Best

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Blog | 4 comments

Last week the Supreme Court ruled on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, basically saying the federal government needed to agree with however the states define marriage. While the decision resonates with those in favor of states rights, the wording in the decision reveals an underlying belief that if you are against same-sex marriage, you are anti-human, a bigot and void of compassion for your fellow man. It even played the child card, claiming that children raised in same-sex homes would be confused when the love and commitment between their parents weren’t recognized by law.

We live in a time where confusion swirls around marriage and since marriage is at the heart of family, confusion swirls around family. From the beginning of time and throughout every society under the sun, marriage was a relationship reserved exclusively for a man and a woman. This in large part because marriage was understood as fundamental to family, which involved the procreation of children. It also stems from biological and physiological realities like the fact that men and women were designed to physically fit together while men and men and women and women were not. Bottom line, there are obvious but compatible differences between male and female, differences that when paired together bring companionship to couples, wholeness to homes and propagate progeny.

Recent trends, however, show a government more and more desiring to parent the children, and thus just who parents the children in the home is not that necessary. Marriage can be redefined because it’s divorced from creating offspring; divorced from life-long; and certainly divorced from God’s doing.

In our attempts to equalize the sexes, we have negated the beauty of the sexes, beauty found in differences, uniqueness, and the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. In our attempts to elevate the individual, we have lost sight of the family and thus, the future, for a family without a male and female at the head teaches only one-half of creation, one-half of how the world works. A family without a covenant between that male and female teaches relationships are temporary and expedient, geared for the adults rather than the child.

While the world is not saved through the government, while morality in the heart is not an edict of law, the government is responsible for protecting its citizens, for protecting its society. This recent decision failed for the simple reason that laws in the name of love, void of truth and full of ignorance as to how the world works, ultimately destroy the very society they aim to protect for they destroy the very foundation on which society is built.

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Speaking So You’re Heard

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in Blog | 5 comments

The church in the US is in a post-Christian society, which is the equivalent in many ways to a pre-Christian society only more difficult because Christianity/Church mean something in a post-Christian society, but almost always something negative that has to be overcome.

In a post-Christian society, the Church and its representatives must earn the right to speak to the culture and its representatives.  It must begin that conversation in the language of the culture and then lead into a Christian conversation.  The Christian missionary in the United States (that's what you are if you are a Christian living in the USA) must not adopt a Christian sub-culture mindset (different language, different hangouts, etc.–think Christian radio stations and Christian bookstores) but rather discern how to speak the local language and dress in the local clothing without selling out the ancient Christian faith (think Acts 17 and the Areopagus).

This is the ultimate challenge of doing effective mission work in any culture and is more true than ever in our US setting.

For that reason, I believe that Sunday mornings must be "evangelistic outreach experiences that are worship services" as opposed to "worship services that are evangelistic."  They should lead with prophetic voices speaking truth but in a way that leaves the listener not belittled but rather cut to the heart.  They employ the local communication methods and craft the message in the language and colloquialisms of the community.  By adopting this mindset we are able to draw the unchurched person into a worship experience with no hurdles.  It speaks to them in words and images they grasp, drawing them deeper rather than making them change or adopt before entering into the presence of the cross.  The cross does not demand change before receiving; it creates change in the receiving.

Nota Bene: Do NOT discard all of the ancient forms/traditions/etc.  But rework and contextualize them so that today's radical heathen, totally-biblically-illiterate American does not have to leap through a mental hoop so that God's Spirit can work in His heart.  Embrace the ancient but decorate it with music, visuals and words from today's cultural language so digestion happens.  Wrap a high, holy view of baptism and the Lord's Supper in a very 2013 package.

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What is the FiveTwo Network?

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

I’ve seen what happens when a congregation is willing to speak the language of the culture as it reaches into the community and as it worships with the community.  I’ve seen what happens when all sizes and shapes of “new” join together with ancient sacramental theology.  If I’m not providing an opportunity for the natives to worship Jesus in their language, then I am no better than the Pharisees of whom Jesus said, “You need a new paint job.”

I saw the power of this in south Austin when a former missionary to Japan was called to a start up church.  I saw the power of this in central Illinois when a 125 year old church in the most conservative circuit of the most conservative district of our denomination started a new worship service for people who didn’t have a church home.  I saw the power of this in west Houston when a small group of people started a congregation designed specifically for unchurched natives.

When ministries take seriously the First Article reality of taking on the look, feel and language of the indigenous community — of being God’s sacrament to that community in ways the community can understand and embrace — people previously stumbling through the dark become followers of Jesus.

FiveTwo wants to help your ministry accomplish this.  We are a network of sacramental church leaders — lay and professional — who have a heart for lost people and a heart for ancient, sacramental theology.  We believe they fit together quite well.  How God ordained the Church to work in Matthew 28 form.

One of our best resources is relationships.  Actually, relationships are our lifeblood.  Our network provides the relationship structure and relationship connectivity so that those who have been called into leadership of the sacramental church have an opportunity to find camaraderie and friendship with those who share their same passion for reaching God’s lost people in their community. We believe that if we can get people together on a regular basis around a common passion and common vision, introducing new insights and personal “how-to”, we can ignite a bonfire out of smoldering embers. Too often our institutional ways of relating pour water on the coals. We want to pour gasoline. We want to pour courage and knowledge and trust.

We want to help you be a part of something bigger than your local congregation, but we also want you to bear fruit in your local congregation AND local community. Everyone wants to make a significant contribution to a successful cause.  At FiveTwo, that successful cause is starting sacramental ministries for God’s lost people.

We need more people on the bus of starting something sacramental for lost people.  We want to ignite a movement of churches willing to adopt the godly values of their communities so the community can get to know the God who designed them.

Join us in a FiveTwo Local near you and join us at our annual WikiConference this September in Houston.

Common passion.  Common calling.  Camaraderie.

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Do you believe?

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Do you believe Jesus is able?  The suffering we go through, the events that pull us to our knees either to serve or to pray, there divine formation takes place.  There a life that matters is being shaped in us.  That’s the experience Jesus is using in our lives to deepen our dependence on Him, our belief in His abilities.

Do you believe Jesus can bring healing to your broken body, that He can arrest the cancer, reconcile the marriage, restore the sight?  That He has authority to unstop the ears, remove the paralysis, mend your back?  Do you believe the resurrected Jesus continues to walk beside you, that through your baptism His Spirit lives within you, that same spirit that raised the centurion’s servant from his sick bed, raised the young man from his funeral bier, and raised Jesus from 3 days in the tomb?

A life that matters believes in Jesus’ abilities, and so it gives generously, appreciates authority, and serves selflessly, every day, right here, right now.

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