Dream Big or Go Home

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Dreams are the playground of fantasy and fiction.  Whether we’re watching Leonardo Dicapprio try to escape one…


or simply daydreaming about emerald water lapping on white sands, dreams speak to what we hope could be (or if of a nightmare genre, what we hope could be not).

When our group of church planters sat in that 24-hour divine think tank back in 2009, our crazy 2017 dream was to grow FiveTwo from the nine of us to a local presence in 29 metro areas in the US and an international presence in five countries.

Today, FiveTwo has 40 local groups in 37 cities; over 800 sacramental leaders attending our annual gathering every September in west Houston; and an international footprint on the way.  God is taking us on a humbling but exciting ride.

As the journey has unfolded, we have fine-tuned the mission we’re on.  We realize God is calling us to ignite a movement of sacramental entrepreneurs.  These are men and women who follow Jesus and want to start ministries and businesses and community endeavors that help others follow Jesus well.  To ignite the movement, we need a network full of people with practical, personal know-how.  Which is why this year we’re investing heavily in a website overhaul, including the back engine that gathers the resources you need.

We’ve also realized, however, that our dream was a little small.  With 2017 only 3 years off, we sat back and thought, “What about a blue sky dream?  What would we love to see happen through our efforts by, say, 2044?”

It sounds like a long ways out.  And it is.  But we dreamed about it anyway, asking God for some Psalm 37:4 favor.  I’m not sure I’ll still be here to see how God answers, but why not dream?

So here you go.  Here’s our big, crazy 30 year, humanly-impossible but divinely-probable dream, boiled down into one cup of joe.  Are you ready?  Drum roll, please:  Over the next 30 years we want to enlist an unstoppable force of 10,000 sacramental entrepreneurs who start 1,000,000 spiritual communities.  Is that crazy or what?  30 years | 10,000 sacramental entrepreneurs | 1,000,000 spiritual communities.  

Those spiritual communities will include little churches, big churches, house churches.  They’ll include businesses dedicated to using their profits and influence to bring Jesus to the community.  They’ll include community development endeavors that move into the community and let the Gospel transform the community from the ground up, holistically.  They’ll include sacramental entrepreneurs who take baby steps and start a book club in order to get to know their neighbors so they can ultimately introduce Jesus to their neighbors.  

The sky’s the limit as long as these 1,000,000 spiritual communities’ ultimate goal is more people in Jesus’ kingdom.

If you'd like more than just a cup of the dream, here's the whole pot.  Drink away.  Embrace the caffeine.  Hopefully it will lead you to dream big as well.

30 Years from now, FiveTwo will be known as:

·      A Sacramental multiplication movement that abides in Jesus Christ while listening for and obeying the Holy Spirit.  Centered in Jesus.

·      A multi-faceted network built on a unified heart for helping lost people follow Jesus.  We all agree the harvest is ripe NOW…and we need to do something about it.

·      An unstoppable force of 10,000+ sacramental entrepreneurs who catalyze the Great Commission.  We're turning the world upside down.

·      A multiplication movement that catalyzes 1,000,000 sacramental spiritual communities, including churches, businesses and community development groups.  1,000,000 is a huge number–but not to God.

·      A truly global, multilingual movement with expressions in at least Chinese, Spanish & English. The three most spoken languages in the world.

·      A learning community spanning cultures and generations while growing in depth and numbers at all times.  Deuteronomy 6 stuff.

·      A movement equipped with multi-media and community building platforms. If the WWW is still around, we'll be there.

·      A movement that has experienced great conflict and because of this conflict, FiveTwo will grow in faith, wisdom and missional focus; develop nimble systems that deepen connectivity; and greatly multiply the Kingdom of God.  Conflict precedes change. We don't like it but we'll move through it.

There it is.  Holy-Spirit dependent and needing people like you.  We have a long ways to go, but the train has left the station and over 300 congregations are on board.

What do you think?  Want to sign on?  Drop your comments below.

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Waiting to Take Detroit

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Blog | 2 comments

Recently I heard from a man with a heart for Detroit. He's in intern-ville, with one more year of on-campus seminary after that.  But deep down, his heart has already moved to the rusted steel skeleton of what once was.  That's where he wants to plant a church.

I'm not a Detroit fan.  Too cold.  Too far north.  I don't understand their accent, nor they, mine.  But I admire people who love that city because it is God's city, after all.  They're His people.  He knows them all.  And He's always looking for men and women who share His passion.

Said Detroit fan wanted to know what to do with his desire as he waits.  I was reminded of Psalm 37:4

Delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Here are the seven thoughts I penned for him.  If you're in a waiting time, looking to start a ministry, I encourage you to wait this way.

KEEP PRAYING.  Keep doing what you're doing, asking God to reveal His heart to yours.  There is a lot you don't know.  Ask Him to reveal His vision for Detroit that He wants to be brought about through you.  Ask God to reveal the hurts, needs, and resources for a ministry to His people in the city.  Turn your heart over to His and allow it to be formed by Him in this process. 

WRITE IT DOWN. Write your thoughts down in a living Detroit document.  Refine it.  Share it occasionally with a close friend.  Allow this time and information to form and shape this vision.  This waiting time is a working time.  Keep a record.

TELL YOUR DESIRES TO THOSE IN AUTHORITY. In this man's case, a district president needs to be informed.  Denominational leaders are always looking for men and women to take back the city.  Especially Detroit.  Make yourself known, and remind them you're there every 6 months.

BEGIN GETTING YOUR HEAD AROUND BEING A WORKER PRIEST. Unless God provides a benefactor, you'll probably need to have another vocation to provide income for you and your family early on.  Time is money, and money is time.  So if you don't have one, you'll need the other.

PRAY FOR BENEFACTORS OR RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL HELP FUND THE MINISTRY. We have not because we ask not.  Someone said that.  Be bold in your ask of God.  Be bold, and trust the results to Him.  If it's of His will, He will provide.  This prayer is asking Him to provide a specific financial way.  Generally He provides just enough, just when you need it.

TALK WITH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT EXPERTS. This is a huge need in Detroit.  Begin thinking about what community endeavor or business partnership could provide both a bridge into the neighborhood and financial revenue for the ministry.  Talk with Oscar Benavides of LINC-North Texas or Mark Junkans of LINC-Houston.

PRAY SOME MORE. Pray for those strategic partnerships or alliances.  Pray for insight and understanding of how God wants to reform the city.  Pray for relationships with people you can learn from.  Pray for people who will join you in this divine cause. 

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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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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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