The Community Saves

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

A friend of mine once told me, “We believe that the (church) community saves.”  After double clicking on her meaning, the fullness of her statement became clear:  The unconditional grace of Jesus is best experienced in community.  Living in community with people who love us and grace us as an extension of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – that experience helps move Jesus and His work from objective to subjective.  From teaching to being.  From external to internal.  Along the same lines as water transporting Word into my physical, experiential realm.

I suspect that has some connection with the Apostle Paul’s repeated use of the plural “y’all," perhaps even flowing from how Ananias called him 'brother' in Saul's initial baptismal welcoming.

I’ve treasured that understanding of community for many years and have witnessed time again the camaraderie and courage that flow from such spiritual relationships.  Ears had heard the Gospel but hearts received it not until the Word became flesh and was sacramentally shared by Jesus’ Body on Earth, His Church.

Christian community saves.

This neither takes away nor adds to Jesus.  Rather it speaks to the means by which Jesus’ salvation salves the wound.  It’s a sacramental grasp.  The Body of Christ on earth, His Church, is His living, breathing sacrament, wrapping His Word-presence and grace in broken but forgiven humanity and offering it to the world.  As the sacraments of Jesus, our lives present some of the most powerful ways Jesus’ forgiveness can be experienced by others.

This salvific community is at the heart of FiveTwo.  It’s a Jesus-community that breeds camaraderie and courage, two elements sacramental entrepreneurs are in dire need of.  It’s Jesus-relationships that lead to world-changing knowledge.

From day one, FiveTwo has had a three-fold strategy: 24/7 worldwide web; monthly local gatherings; annual national conference.  The annual conference – our WikiConference, September 23-25 in Katy, Texas – will host over 800 sacramental leaders from around the US.  Our website – fivetwo.com – is being radically overhauled and will be re-launched in August.  Our local gatherings – FiveTwo Locals – are now 40 strong, with groups from Hawaii to Alaska, from Florida to Washington.

The unified goal of these strategies? Create community.  Community saves.

Without community around common values, a national conference is just another place to hear compelling speakers. Without community that creates camaraderie, a website is just a place to download and pass on some information. Without community that shares a common cause, a local gathering is just a group of people trying to hang out.

But add authentic relationships into the mix and boom: everything goes deep and wide.  Pour on the gas and drop the match.

For FiveTwo to ignite a movement, community that creates camaraderie is job one.  That community is what happens in a FiveTwo Local. 

A FiveTwo Local is a gathering of sacramental entrepreneurs for the purpose of sharpening each other so that new ministries start.  It’s where the “how” is delivered in personal ways.  Where the “practical” is delivered by people who have tried it.  Where the common loneliness dissipates into common cause.  Where the sense of “lone, crazy guy” morphs into “a dance of thousands.”

FiveTwo Locals hold each other accountable to our goals of apprentices, starts and baptisms.  They provide knowledge through people.  They are a seedbed of change, a safe place where new can be explored and tested without being shot at, and a source of relationships that bind the broken hearted on mission.

Th FiveTwo local is a laboratory for living sacramentally.

The WikiConference?  A mountaintop community experience that’s become like my Schmidt family reunion on steroids.  But as great as the fresh smoked sausage and Aunt Dorothy’s sweet pickles are (work with me here), it’s only once a year. And that’s not enough to foster deep and abiding change.

Thus the importance of the FiveTwo Locals. God’s kingdom comes to life every day, no matter where you are, and as a sacramental entrepreneur you’re seeking ways to bring that kingdom to life. The Local is designed to set you on that course, all the while surrounded by others who are seeking the very same thing.

It’s a kingdom concept.  FiveTwo exists to tap into the growing and powerful Kingdom of God.  One of the fundamental shifts that FiveTwo is attempting is that we’re all in this together. It’s “respect for ALL”, not “respect for some” or “respect for me”. Respect for all. We can’t do this without each other. The Local, at its core, brings this together.  It offers you camaraderie and courage that you can’t get all alone.

So get thee to a Local!  Discover that ‘community that saves.’  If there’s no Local near you, consider becoming the catalyst that starts a local sacramental conversation. It all begins in relationship and in community.

So what do you think?  We’d love to hear your comments below!

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Knowing Me Like Jesus Knows Me

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

My wife and I have three kids and each time my wife gave birth, it hurt me a lot.  Seriously.  Ok, maybe not as much as it hurt her.  But watching her hurt, I wanted to help somehow.   I tried on child #1: “Dear, the needle on the meter says you’re about to have another contraction!”  Her response: “I know I’m about to have another contraction!  I can feel it!!!”  For child #2 and child #3, I simply sat and prayed.  Occasionally offered her ice chips.  Rarely touched her unless she wanted it.  Never uttered useless, pedantic wafflings of words intended to allay pain.  Mainly just sat and prayed.  I, after all, am a smart man.

Unlike many of the women I knew at the time, my wife opted for “epidural-less” deliveries.  Hers was the full-throttle pain variety, desiring to suffer all for the sake of our kids so they could enter the world drug-free.  Personally, had I been her we would have gone for the epidural.  “Stick me, please.” Instead, ours were vocal deliveries.  Just ask the others on our floor.

In Galatians 4:19 the Apostle Paul writes: “Oh, my dear children!  I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”  Moms get Paul’s words.  Delivery is about a baby, yes, but with it is born a world of dreams.  Future dreams begin with cries of suffering – from both mom and child.  And sometimes dad.

Paul’s words reflect a reality known as “the Jesus in you.”  His ultimate dream for the Church in Galatia was that it mature into a group of people in whom Jesus lived, moved and had His way.  In whom Jesus was present not only in spiritual ways, but also in real, everyday ways.  In ways where beliefs formed behaviors. 

Each of us baptized followers of Jesus possesses this same “Jesus in you” reality.  Your baptism gave you everything Jesus had to give.  But in His sacramental way of doing faith, Jesus wrapped His presence in your flesh, with your blonde hair, bronze skin, and quirky love for cars.  How He fleshes out in your life will look differently than the flesh on me.

This is a fascinating reality in the Body of Christ: the Jesus DNA in you has the same heart, the same Spirit as the Jesus DNA in me.  But it will express itself in wonderful, uniquely YOU ways.

What are those uniquely-You ways of living out Jesus?  What passions has He given you?  What abilities, natural instincts, and strengths has He poured into you?  What do you bring to the Jesus party?

If you’re a sacramental entrepreneur – one of those crazy people who like to start new in order to reach new – the Jesus in you has a unique footprint.  You tend to love new people; risk excites you; change is a resource.   The sacramental presence of Jesus in you leads you to create new expressions of Church, especially in ways that connect with people outside of Jesus’ kingdom.

Understanding the Jesus that is being developed in me – knowing me like Jesus knows me – that’s the key first step in living out Jesus’ calling for me.  At FiveTwo, we believe this happens best in community.  Jesus is best experienced in community.  When we gather with like-minded followers in a local community, we discover relationships that lead to courage and camaraderie that release us to be His sacrament to the community.

Where is Jesus calling you to be His sacrament?  What unique expression of His presence does He want to reveal to your community, through you?

When others like you join in community, learning from each other, helping each other to discover the Jesus in you, we’ll see a multiplication of sacramental entrepreneurs and sacramental communities that will change the culture of denominations and nations, providing renewal and reformation for the global Church.

“Oh, my dear children!  I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”

We at FiveTwo are laboring over you.  We invite you to join us in that labor.

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3 Values To Help Entrepreneurs Start – and End – Well (cont.)

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Last post we talked about values.  Values shape culture.  When starting a new endeavor, one must lay the values as you start because values are both attractive and protective.  They define what’s important and appropriate.  But they also appeal to the heart.  They speak to the soul.  They are the intangible that causes individuals to buy the coffee or protect elephants.  Or revoke an NBA ownership.  They provide motivation.  They bring the stickiness that isn’t easily discarded.

Values function as both foundation and fences.  While people write tomes about teams and companies uniting around mission, people united around values cause movements to happen because common divine threads define their view of the world.

I’m sharing these 3 values not only because they speak to who I am, but because I have seen the power of these values at work, especially in starting endeavors that connect people to Jesus’ Church.  I share them also because they are the heart of FiveTwo. 

Our 3 core values are Sacramental Faith; Respect for All; Action-oriented.  Respect for all flows from Sacramental Faith.  Core to being Jesus’ sacraments to the community entails we live out a Respect for All.  That’s value #2.

One of Jesus’ most disturbing behaviors (to the religious leaders) was his lack of disdain for those “outside” of the established church.  His entire being radiated a deep love for people, regardless of the path they were on or the lifestyles they chose.  As Jesus’ real presence, “respect for all” is how we honor the Imago Dei in others even though the Imago Dei may be warped and but a shadow of the Creator’s original intention.  All creation awaits Jesus’ return.  By demonstrating respect for the pinnacle of His creation, I help His kingdom come today.

“Respect for all” leads me to:

·      Love people simply because they are people.

·      Love the culture I am planted in, seeking cultural bridges for the Gospel.

·      Celebrate diversity and embrace the varied ethnicities and demographics Jesus has placed around me – I can’t reach people I hate.

·      Be generous and humble to all.

·      Rid my voice of condescension.

·      Welcome people into my home and gladly enter into theirs.

·      Adjust my worship style to accommodate them, not the other way around.

·      Listen for Jesus’ unique desire and passion in a person.

·      Trust people before they prove trustworthy.

·      Invite them into my cause, providing them community and camaraderie.

·      Help them belong before they believe because respect is experienced ultimately in belonging.

·      Have minimal hoops for them before they “belong.”

·      Seek to understand and respect why people feel the way they feel, believe what they believe, and react like they react, especially when different than me, especially if they choose to never belong.

“Respect for All” means I listen to people’s stories, bearing witness to their value.  I give respect by acknowledging them, first and foremost as a human being and not a human doing.  Their worth is based on their place in creation, not on their performance.

Our third value flows from the reality that time is short, the harvest is coming, and today is the day of salvation.  That means we FiveTwo folks are Action-oriented.

Apostles, catalyzers, and sacramental entrepreneurs are action-oriented.  We talk as we go. We discuss as we do.  While our identity is found in Whose we are, our joy grows in what we do to extend Jesus’ Kingdom.  We like to decide and do.  Ours is an impatient lot.

Action-oriented means I:

·      Help people to do ministry before they have all the answers because we learn best by doing.  (Think the docent model of training.)

·      Embrace due dates because they provide fulfillment and end-products.

·      Don’t do task forces or study groups.  T-o-o  s-l-o-w and usually a dead-end.

·      Appreciate progress, especially the kind demonstrated by changed lives.

·      Study a problem while trying out solutions to the problem.

·      Value change as a resource.  If something’s not working, change it.

·      Know there is no such thing as lack of resources; only lack of knowledge of where the resources are.

·      Consider most rules negotiable, unless strictly spelled out by Jesus.

·      Understand that action helps build momentum.

·      Intervene when a need arises, taking the action to the next level.

·      Gather leaders who will own the cause.

·      Treasure any action better than no action, and the right action is awesomeness.

·      Don’t accept “I can’t get an answer.”  That isn’t an answer.  Make your own answer.

·      Dig holes or tear down walls rather than let them keep me from a goal.

·      Go, gather, build, explore, accomplish, and move the ball down the field every day in some little or big way.

·      Daily pray, plan and push toward the end-goal of making disciples from the harvest, for the harvest.

·      I start stuff rather than simply talking about starting stuff.

Action-oriented means people can trust I will do what I said I would do.  And I appreciate when others do the same.

Sacramental Faith, lived out in Respect for All, with an Action-oriented mindset.  Adopt these values and allow them to flow from your life into the ministries, businesses and community development endeavors you start.  They’re a beautiful way to live out our calling as Sacramental Entrepreneurs.

What do you think?  We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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3 Values To Help Entrepreneurs Start – and End – Well

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

When I ask you for the common values that tie the likes of Estée Lauder, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Oprah WinfreyRichard Branson, Madam C.J. Walker, Jeff Bezos, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck, you might rightly guess: they all loved to start things.  These are/were all people who got ‘er done, made something out of nothing, and persevered when most thought them a loon.  From cosmetics to computers, from delivering household goods by wagons or by drones, these individuals saw a need and answered the need by starting something new.

New was not to be feared.  New was an answer to a problem.

That’s the attitude the sacramental Church needs today: “New” is an answer to a problem.  “Change” is a resource.

Often missed in entrepreneurial success, however, is the “why?”  “Why?” is a values question.  Vision is where you’re going.  Mission is how you’ll get there.  But values pre-date both of those.  They are the why for your mission and the heart behind your journey.  Values flow from who you are, tugging you out of bed when you don’t feel like being tugged.  They energize you when the mission changes or target gets missed…again.   

Values reside deeply inside of you – are frankly part of that “knitting together” David refers to in Psalm 139.  They are the Christ that is being formed in us.  In FiveTwo lingo, they are the presence of Christ in me, for you. 

Apostolic leaders innately know that when you’re starting something, you need to start with values because values are integral to shaping culture.  They function as both foundation and fences.  While people write tomes about teams and companies uniting around mission, people united around values cause movements to happen because they are speaking the same heart-language.  Similar soul songs.  Common divine threads that define their view of the world.

Three values that drive my life and undergird the ministries I’ve started are:  Sacramental Faith, Respect for All, and Action-Oriented.   These are my governing values.  I test everything I do against them, and the programs or congregations (CrossPoint Community Church) or networks (FiveTwo) I’ve started have all launched with these values coursing through their veins.

Over the next three posts I want to unpack them for you.  I have seen the power of these values in adding longevity and unity to startups.  I hope you embrace them for your own life and for the ministries, businesses and community development starts you undertake.  

Value #1: Sacramental Faith.   I’m from Lutheran lineage, of Germanic descent that landed in Central Texas in the 1800s.  When we hit Galveston, we brought not only a love for sausage but also a love for the sacraments.  They are core to who we are.  Everything we do revolves around what Jesus does in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and what, in turn, He does in us.

Sacramental faith means that while we emphasize what we’ve historically held dear, we also add a nuance that ups the ante.  We not only believe that Christ is present in the Word, that Christ is present in the sacraments, and that Christ is present in me; we also believe – with passion – that Christ is present in me, for you.  For my family, my community, my world.  You and I are the sacraments of Christ for our worlds.

Truth #1: Sacramental Faith flows from the Word of God.  This Word…

·      Teaches us about Jesus. No WOG, no Jesus.

·      Reveals God’s heart for man, and man’s need for God.  Both microscope and telescope.

·      Occupies a one-of-a-kind status.  No other book like it exists.

·      Self-authenticates.  The more you read it the more you realize how incredibly unified and true it is.

·      Provides the life-giving power of the sacraments.  It transcends calendar and GPS to bring the living Jesus to us who are defined and confined to longitudes and latitudes and chronographs.

Truth #2: Sacramental Faith trusts Jesus is really present in the sacraments.   Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are more than simply motions we go through.  They are real-time journeys of Jesus to us, in us, for us.  Baptism gives everything Jesus ever did (Romans 6).  His history becomes my history, daily anchoring me to His presence and power as I am daily drowned and raised. The Lord’s Supper offers me the really-present Body and Blood of Jesus, transporting me to the cross.  The new covenant Jesus fulfilled is poured into me once more in a tangible way I cannot deny, filling me with grace, reminding me of my place in His family.

Truth #3: Sacramental Faith means Jesus is really present in me. This means I am forgiven, called, and uniquely gifted for a unique time and place. I am a son/daughter in the Kingdom with a God-given destiny to fulfill in the family business of reconciliation.  I bring the cross to people so they see how suffering reveals God’s glory and pain brings about true healing.  I live daily in that forgiveness, enjoying it, celebrating it.  Daily Jesus’ kingdom comes about in my life.

Truth #4:  Sacramental Faith means that I am Jesus’ sacrament to the community.  Jesus is present in us for our salvation but also for your salvation.  We are the real presence of Christ given for our communities, lived out especially with lost people, in the moment, in their lives, for the sake of their souls.

Being the sacrament of Jesus for the community means that what I took part in on Sunday, I give out during the week.

This is the most important nuance of sacramental faith for the sake of reaching the world, because if the world cannot see Jesus living in you, the world doubts the value of Jesus to you.

If Jesus is really present in me, then I’m really His presence for you.  I’m here to bring you blessing, not a curse.  I’m here to give, not take.  I want to astound you with Jesus’ forgiveness, not break you some more.  I want to get to know the leaders in the community so they can get to know how to use their leadership for Jesus’ sake.  I want to get to know the poor in the community, so they can receive some of His riches here and now, in material, sacramental ways.

This sacramental faith means my orientation to people is full of G words, like generosity — I give of what I have even when it leaves me with nothing.  Like goodness.  When people think of me, they should think of me bringing good to their world — good food, good words, good feelings.  I throw confetti instead of dung.  And G words like Grace.  No matter where you live, throw a stone and you’ll hit someone who needs grace.  If I’m the sacrament of Jesus for you, I never apply God’s law to a broken and contrite spirit.  That’s not what it needs.  So I listen for your brokeness.  I’m constantly seeing where you need grace.

This is sacramental faith, the first of 3 values that will help you start well.  Next time, values 2 & 3: Respect for All and Action-oriented.

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Institution VS Movement

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in Blog, Quote | 0 comments

“A strong, dynamic movement, then, occupies this difficult space in the center—the place of tension and balance between being a freewheeling organism and a disciplined organization. A movement that refuses to take on some organizational characteristics—authority, tradition, unity of belief, and quality control—will fragment and dissipate. Movements that fail to resist the inevitable tendency toward complete institutionalization will end up losing their vitality and effectiveness. The job of the movement leader is to steer the ship safely between these two perils.” —Timothy J. Keller

As you examine your local congregation against Tim Keller's chart below, where do you fall?  As you seek to be the presence of Christ — His sacrament — for your community, what vision do you have for that community?  This balance between institution and movement is the challenge for mission-minded Christian leaders, especially in the US.  As CrossPoint continues to grow and impact, we are striving to keep a movement mentality.  As FiveTwo continues to grow and impact, movement is definitely our goal.  

institutions and movements

Where do you see your ministry?

 

 

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