The #Sacramental Wok | Oct 9

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

A weekly Szechuan mix of spicy cultural happenings, sprinkled with 1st Article insights and a dash of theological musings, all geared to help the Sacramental Entrepreneur bring Jesus to his hood.

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Leave It To Beaver, The Walking Dead, and FiveTwo

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

The world has shifted from Leave It To Beaver to The Walking Dead.  Your grandmother could not have predicted 15.7 million people watching zombies after church on Sunday evening.  My kids loved Lucy and laughed at Gilligan on TVLand, but they’ll be the first to tell you zombies rule the world. 

This fundamental cultural shift leaves many of the congregations we attend reeling and retreating.  They lack a language – they lack a love – that embraces the unique opportunity before us.  They have forgotten the power of the Sacraments and what it means to live those out in real time and space.

While it’s been said that the Church in the West is hemorrhaging, the Church of the Scripture is anything but.  It realizes the personal, sacramental role it plays.  Thriving and vibrant, it seeks to join the Father in expanding His Kingdom in today’s world.

Jesus followers don’t ignore the radical shifts in culture nor do they deny the mainline Church’s seeming inability to speak into them.  Their hearts break over both the condition of our country and the condition of local congregations who adopt a Sargent Schultz attitude.   How they address this new world, however, is at the core of their effectiveness. 

Do they simply dispense spiritual goods and services like your office vending machine?  Do they hole up in a Christian cave, shopping only at Christian bookstores and consuming only organic Christian food produced by organic Christian people while listening solely to indie Christian radio?  Or do they go on the attack, picketing their neighbor’s lifestyle, demeaning their neighbor’s children, and avoiding their neighbor’s need?

Dr. Robert Webber writes: “Christians in the postmodern world will succeed, not by watering down the faith, but by being a counter-cultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus.”

My discontent in years past centered on the Church’s lack of counter-cultural community coupled with a lack of desire to truly invite ‘outsiders’ inside.  Often we became vending machines, dispensing what we wanted or what the culture wanted rather than wrapping what the culture needed in a language it could understand, in a food it loved, in a meal that truly satisfied. 

We counted inputs – people needing discipling – rather than outputs – regenerated, transformed followers of Jesus.   Or when no inputs desired to be put in to, we counted faithfulness, wrapping fondant around our unwillingness to change, hoping it looked like love.

Nothing wrong, mind you, with inputs.  You need them and you should count them.  Nor with trying to meet people where they are.  Read 1 Corinthians 9.  Frankly, too many congregations who love the sacraments on Sunday refuse to be sacramental – the real presence of Christ, offering grace and mercy in real-time, tangible history – the rest of the week.  They do church on Sundays rather than be Church on all days.

It was this reality, coupled with a passion to act rather than task-force our way into a thoughtful stupor, that in March 2009—after a few years of talking about it—nine church planters gathered in a makeshift conference room in a Lutheran community church in Katy, Texas. Three other guys couldn’t make it or there would have been twelve of us.

We brought in a high-powered vision guru, Will Mancini, and asked him to help us stop talking and start doing. He did.

After 24 hours of praying and dreaming and cigar smoking (not the entire time), we arrived at FiveTwo. Actually, the name careened out from the doctored brain of Scott Rische who deftly explained the community impact of the feeding of the five thousand, that everything the planter needs to feed his community is already in the community. It just needs to be brought to Jesus for blessing.

We all sat in silent awe.

Silence led to light bulbs and the birth of a church planting network specializing in the “personal how.” When it came to planting churches—immigrant, suburban, high cost, low cost, more traditional, and crazily progressive—this crew knew how.

And we were sticklers for personal. To a man, we had all been encouraged, inspired and coached by someone. We each had a guy we could pick up the phone and call when we were disappointed or confused. Which happened often.

Great consensus broke out, and we white boarded the steps to launch a network that brought “personal” and “how” together for those front-line harvesters in the US and around the world.

Since then, we’ve expanded FiveTwo to help existing churches as well.  We’re no longer just for church planters.  We now help existing congregations sharpen their community focus so they can start new ministries for Jesus’ lost people.  We want to help ALL apostolic leaders start more effectively.

So FiveTwo is here because The Walking Dead is here.  The Church never retreats.  It reforms, reshapes and redeems.  It starts new to reach new.  That’s the FiveTwo journey.  I hope you’ll join us in birthing spiritual communities of passionate disciples of Jesus that transform their worlds.

What thoughts or questions do you have?  Give us your comments below!

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