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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Another Dose of O2: Values

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

This week's O2 is an O2 two-fer.  This O2 speaks to FiveTwo's heart — our values.  Take a look.  Feel free to share the O2 with your friends.  Comment below.  I'd love your feedback.  Just don't make fun of the screen grabs from YouTube.  They're killing me.

 

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

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My Favorite 3 Metrics. Are They Yours?

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Blog | 5 comments

Metrics: Your board loves them.  If you hit them, so do you.  But deep inside – especially if you’re leading a church or non-profit – you always wonder if your metrics are the right metrics.  “Is it Sunday worship?  Weekly offerings?  Small group participation?  Number of ‘divine appointment’ stories?” 

Then you have soft versus hard metrics.  Hard are the objective, they-are-what-they-are, and easily measureable.  Soft are the intangible, story-oriented.  The number of people who said “Thank you!”  The number of generosity stories we received.  More difficult but definitely speaking to the heart.

Mix soft metrics into the hard ones and it’s a real struggle determining not only the what but also the how

Some pastors I talk to possess metrics phobia.  “Just preach the Gospel and let Jesus do the work.”  Amen to preaching the Gospel and letting Jesus do the work.  But to negate numbers of any kind flies somewhat in the face of Acts, Numbers, the parables of the talents, and just a basic appreciation of stewarding God’s gifts well.  Metrics help us understand if our efforts are the right efforts.

Metrics can also be broken into two kinds: Leading indicators and trailing indicators.  Often we confuse the two.  Leading indicators are the metrics we measure to see if the trailing indicators are materializing.  An example:  a leading indicator could be “guests in worship or house church, or unchurched neighbors in our small groups,” while a trailing indicator could be “# of adult baptisms;”  the understanding being that before I can baptize an adult convert, I have to engage them and form a relationship with them in some other setting.  I need to have the leading events happening before the trailing ones materialize.

Thus the metrics we’ve landed on for FiveTwo.  Our desire is a movement of God’s Spirit that enlarges God’s kingdom.  We believe for that to happen we who are Church need to think in new ways, try new ways and act in new ways to reach God’s lost people in our communities.  Frankly, we need some new metrics.

So here are our Big 3, moving from leading to trailing:

·       1 from 10 (1 new apprentice from every 10 leaders in a local)

·       1 in 10 (1 new start in the next 10 months)

·       1 to 10 (1 baptism to every 10 people in worship)

These three are my favorite.  I hope they become yours as well.  Let’s take a look at each one individually.

1 from 10: Go back to that list of metrics that identify a movement from the previous post. One of the distinguishing characteristics is a grassroots ability to develop leaders. This breaks into two parts:  Identifying people with leadership ability, and shaping and developing according to their gifts and calling.

Leadership development has challenged the Western Church since forever.  We’ve lost the concept of “learning while doing.”  The rabbinical model employed by Jesus has become foreign to us.  What if we reinstituted it???

A commitment to doing things differently is what it takes. And that’s where FiveTwo's first goal fits. Conscious opportunities to walk beside someone, pouring into them; residencies and apprentice programs for leaders; those are some of the bests way to provide a new leader with useful real-time experience that can really equip them to make a difference.

What if we could develop a new kind of leader in a new kind of ancient way?

What if we could balance the experience that leaders in the movement already have with a practical on-the-ground-laboratory to try things out?

If your future leaders had that kind of apprenticing, residency experience, they'd be able to risk appropriately, measure their mettle, and fail without crashing to the ground.  Safety nets in the form of people are powerful.

Developing a mindset that seeks apprentices is key to FiveTwo welcoming more people into God’s kingdom.  When our metrics include future leaders – that’s what apprentices are – we’re saying that leadership is critical.  And when we create environments where future leaders can risk and fly, that’s when movements get moving.  Practical experience that not only confirms an individual’s calling to leadership but also helps them understand how this calling is expressed in their unique mix of spiritual gifts, talents and temperament in God’s kingdom, that kind of culture makes all the difference in the world.

The first goal for every FiveTwo local is to identify and enlist one apprentice for every 10 leaders in a Local.  Apprentices are key leading metrics.  No apprentices, no sacramental entrepreneurs who start new ministries that lead to baptizing 1 person for every 10 in worship.  Get it?  (If you’d like to learn more about how we do our residency program at CrossPoint so that the residents are self-funded, send me an email.  Let’s talk.)

The first goal for every FiveTwo Local is to enlist one apprentice for every 10 leaders in a Local.  Who’s your apprentice???  Is this one of your metrics?

1 in 10: It’s been demonstrated time and time again that to reach new people the church is most effective when we start new things. Familiar and comfortable isn’t appealing to people who aren’t already familiar and comfortable with what’s going on. That holds not only in the church environment but anywhere in human experience.

So what if we took seriously our commitment to reach new people by starting new opportunities? What if we could identify people who aren’t connected to our churches, to our ministries, to our small groups, and our missional communities, and begin brand-new stuff and take brand new steps with the sole intent of connecting them into the baptized Body of Believers?  What if new starts were one of your key metrics?

If we’re really serious about reaching people who don’t know Jesus, our best strategy is to start new to reach new.

The second goal for every FiveTwo local is to start one new ministry to reach people who don’t know Jesus every 10 months.  One new opportunity every 10 months.  Are you in?

1 to 10: If we're developing leaders (the point of the first goal), and we’re focusing our efforts on opportunities for sharing Jesus with people outside of Jesus’ kingdom, (the point of the second goal), and we’re intentionally replicating what we’re about, new people will be added to God’s kingdom. The real question is how many?

That’s where the third goal comes in: One baptism for every 10 people in worship in your congregation.  That’s a high standard.  But it’s the best of all the metrics because not only does it welcome someone into Jesus' kingdom, it also starts them on the path of discipleship.  Plus, it works no matter your worship setting: large church, house church, rural, urban.  If we worship when we gather, we should share Jesus when we scatter.  If we’re serious about expanding Jesus’ Kingdom, then let’s expand Jesus’ kingdom!

Full disclosure: This baptism goal used to be first in FiveTwo’s list. But one baptism for every 10 people in worship is really the outcome of developing leaders who intentionally start new things to reach new people.  It’s the trailing indicator, the metric that happens when the others are happening. If we get the heart of FiveTwo right and balance our strategies, imagine what’s possible.

What do you think?  Are these the metrics you’ll measure?  Will you and your FiveTwo Local commit to own these three goals? Better yet, will you and your congregation commit to these three goals this year and every year?   FiveTwo is dreaming about this. And we will help. But it starts with YOU making the commitment.  

We’d love to hear your comments below!

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Alan Hirsch Wants To Move You

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I first met the masterful Alan Hirsch at a gathering in November 2010.  He was helping a bunch of us sacramental church leaders process next steps.  I boldly asked him to keynote our first WikiConference, an inaugural gathering of 200 in June of 2011 (that will now be over 800 in September of 2014).  June in Houston.  Those folks were faithful.

At that first Wiki, Alan described himself as a phenomenologist.  I'm tempted to tell you to go look it up, but I'll save you the surfing calluses.  A phenomenologist is someone who studies phenomenons and movements. That wasn't too hard, was it?

Hirsch talked about how the energy in a movement isn’t confined to the central core, but flows freely and readily to the outer limits…the extremes.  Almost all movements start on the edges.

That’s FiveTwo’s history: we started with nine edgy church planters, on the edge of their denomination, deciding to lead change from the fringe.  We like fringe.  Fringe is fun and frilly and typically freaks people out.  I’m good with that.

The year following the first Wiki, I spent time with Mr. Hirsch and his Future Travelers, a great group of large-church pastors who talked and dreamed about what could be if we boldly led our congregations into a new future that reached all of the new people the church currently wasn’t reaching.

During that time with Obi Wan Hirsch, I learned you can’t control a movement but key leaders CAN influence it.  Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can guide a movement, but you’re certainly not leading it.  More like prodding it: by exerting small amounts of energy you can cause slight shifts and slides toward a particular outcome.  Throw a little gas here, a little gas there.  Drop a match and pray the wind doesn't blow it out.

What has excited me the most in the past three years is watching the kind of movement FiveTwo is igniting.  Its one where God’s Spirit has evidently been at work, birthing us just in time and then leading us to other networks and groups who had been praying for such a movement of God’s Spirit.

The truth is, spiritual leaders spend their time and energy discerning where the Spirit is moving, and then making strategic decisions based on that direction. It was Jesus who said, “…the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19, ESV)

This is FiveTwo’s commitment:  moving under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and functioning the way a movement does.

Alan Hirsch built on this insight in his excellent book The Permanent Revolution.  He tells a story of an Australian blogger, Andrew Jones, researching whether the current missional movement fits the characteristics of kingdom movements of the past.  Some of the divine movement characteristics Jones lists are:

  • Beginning on the periphery of the established church.
  • Desiring a more authentic Christian life.
  • Selecting and training leaders by new ways and methods.
  • Leveraging grassroots connections.
  • Shifting the theological focus to the everyday life of every believer, and how they live out the calling they have.
  • Acknowledging that opposition from established church leaders is probable.
  • Maintaining flexibility … especially with the structures on which the church is built.
  • Embracing that movements are messy.

(Hirsch/Catchim, The Permanent Revolution, p. 211)

When you think of FiveTwo, which of the above qualities seem to fit?  Which ones do you resonate with in your own life?  Which ones are a challenge?  We’ll unpack more of the details of this whole movement orientation in the next few blog posts.

Tell me what you think.  I’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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