Friday, December 28

Top 10 "M Blog" posts (2007)

According to the "M Blog" posts receiving the most hits in 2007 are... (drum roll)

10. Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. While generating only four comments from readers, apparently many read the post, or were linked to it through search engines. The post shares ideas for giving to the annual offering that is collected in S. Baptist churches for international missions. Also tying for tenth place was Effective church planting which was actually an email shared with us from fellow IMBer Kevin: Somewhere in South America.

9. Conflicting visions was one of my personal favorites. It is essentially a post about "There are two Christian visions that compete: 1) traditional church with its structures, programs, and leadership, and 2) the Biblical imperative of Christ to his church to go to the lost, make disciples, baptize those who believer, and teach them to observe Christ's commandments. Two worlds colliding..."

8. Is breaking the law always a sin? generated 30 comments on a subject that gets into the complicated copyright laws we live under and whether or not breaking these laws constitutes sinning in the eyes of God. Those commenting offer some good observations on the subject.

7. Growth vs. Reproduction is an excerpt from a Carol Davis article entitled, "Let's Stop Planting Sterile Churches" and looks at the difference between the church "growth culture" that many of us have been trained, and a "reproduction model."

6. What did Jesus say and what he did not say is a reproduction of an article by India church planter Victor Choudhrie. Even though this entry was originally posted August/2006, it is still getting lots of hits mainly through search engines by readers looking for material by Choudhrie, or "sayings of Jesus".

5. How missions minded are we really? gets spot #5. This is an IMB news story excerpt questioning some of our priorities. "As I travel, I hear a lot about how 'missions-minded' Southern Baptists are," said Gordon Fort, IMB vice president of overseas operations. "I often ask, 'How much does your church pay for utilities each year?' Then I ask, 'If you are paying more for your utility bill than you are giving to reach a lost world for Christ, how does that make you a missions-minded church?'"

4. Top Ten Einstein Quotes for Missions and Church Planting is another 2006 post that keeps getting hits mainly from search engines. It seems Einstein knew as much about missions and church planting as many of the "experts" today! My favorite Einstein quote is his definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Aren't we all guilty of this in our own work and ministry? That one quote has had more impact upon our own ministry than entire seminars attended over the years. Read the rest, they're all great!

3. Top ten reasons for planting house churches is the list from Rad Zdero's book, "The Global House Church Movement." Seems there is a growing interest in house churches coming from a wide variety of believers from across the evangelical world.

2. CPM concepts revisited was one of my favorite posts this past year. This article by David Watson was a huge encouragement to me personally, and was glad to see that many "M Blog" readers also benefited from it as well.

1. Women shepherds took first place by a landslide in terms of numbers of readers and 106 comments generated! This post was actually a follow-up to my earlier Shepherd: function or office? which I thought was a better post. It is basically a question about the role of women in ministry. If you do decide to click, please read the original post first before tackling the second "Women shepherds" and don't forget to take along a cup of coffee if you should decide to plow through all the comments!

Five other of my personal 2007 favorites that did not make it into the top ten are (in no specific order)...

The Garden is a great YouTube children's animation that so perfectly illustrates the futility of trying to do Kingdom work in the power of the flesh. God alone is the one who causes all things to grow, including church plants. I am embarrassed at how much like "Toad" I really am.

What a difference you've made in my life and What a difference you've made in my life (Part 2). This is an ongoing story taking place in our work here in Guayaquil. It is hard to convey in words how inspiring this story really is. If you haven't yet read it and viewed the accompanying photos, click and be blessed. This story is still developing even as I write!

Things I wonder about is a post about things I wonder about! For example, Where in the Bible does it refer to believers as members of a local church? And, why don't we ever hear any sermons on 1 Corinthians 12:28ff " the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues..." and, why aren't our churches structured according to Paul's order, rather than the way we are structured today with Senior Pastors leading the list? Are pastors even mentioned in the 1 Cor. 12:28 list?

Was this man biblically baptized? is an example of the difficulties encountered when we would substitute man-made baptismal guidelines for the clear instructions given to us by Jesus. More than 1600 people viewed our YouTube video Salitre Baptisms "Send Us Out" where this event actually took place.

And finally, One million disciples a post that combines many of the themes close to my heart: unity in the Body of Christ, prayer, making disciples, city church, and the Kingdom of God.

We will be out of town for a few days of R&R to the sunny coast of Ecuador, and so we won't be able to respond immediately to any comments. Until we get back, I would invite you to share which of the above posts you connected with the most (or any others not listed.)

Gracias for reading the "M Blog" this past year and especially for all of you who took the time to leave your thoughts and comments. Like most bloggers, we love to see people interact with what we share!

Wednesday, December 26


And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths,
and lying in a manger. Luke 2:12

Does God really give us signs today like he gave the shepherds? I think so.

If only God would give us a sign! Like the cartoon above, the true spiritual picture is one of being surrounded with overwhelming manifestations of God's love, concern, and direction for our lives. We do not see his signs because we come to him with our own set of expectations. We want things our own way.

God is all around us. He is working behind the curtain of our life in all its multiple dimensions. But do we see him?

Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "Aurora Leigh" VII.821-22

Sadly, the "signs" God sends us are not always what we are looking for. When we don't get our "bush afire with God", we assume God isn't interested and settle for "plucking blackberries."

Our problem is we want God to do for us what it is we want him to do. When he doesn't comply, we sigh, and wonder where is God?

What are the clear, tangible signs of his love, care, compassion, guidance and direction in our lives? Can we identify the signs he has surrounded us with? If not, maybe we need to spend the remaining days of this year asking God to open our eyes to see Him at work all around us. Let 's not settle for blackberries when every common bush is afire with God!

Oswald Chambers says it like this,

We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail. Never allow that the haphazard is anything less than God's appointed order, and be ready to discover the Divine deSIGNS anywhere.

As we finish 2007 and approach 2008, may the prayer of our heart be this well-known praise song...

Open the eyes of my heart Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see you.

*The above cartoon was first seen on Debbie Kaufman's blog.

Monday, December 24

The best Christmas present of all

Yes, it is hard being away from friends and loved ones at Christmas time. Instead of snow and cold weather, sweat drips down my back as I sit typing this post. Instead of Christmas Carols in the background, I hear salsa music coming from the neighbors house. The door bell rings every few minutes with children asking us for their Navidad (Christmas). We give them as many mangoes as they can carry and send them on their way. Instead of the usual baked goodies and sweets, we enjoyed a great Christmas Eve meal of shrimp ceviche with chicken empanadas. The side dishes were chifles (plantain chips) and popcorn. Of course, to drink, we had thick, sweet mangoe juice!

But the real joy of being a missionary at Christmas time is to stop for a moment and reflect back on all those who through the grace and mercy of God have entered the Kingdom this past year. It is a humbling thing to be a small part of all that God is doing in Ecuador these days.

Yesterday, for example, our family was invited to one of the house churches to share in their Christmas turkey dinner (rice, potato salad with peas, carrots and apples). As I gazed around the hot, humid room, amidst the laughter and smiling faces, it dawned on me that most present were celebrating their first REAL Christmas of knowing Jesus. We attended many of their baptisms this past year. In fact, I counted ELEVEN people present in just this one house church that I was present at their river baptisms! The biggest reward and most meaningful Christmas gift I will get this year is to hear these precious new brothers and sisters address me as hermano Guido (brother Guy)!

Thank you for your prayer support for us here in Ecuador. Thank you for making it possible for us to be here by your gifts to the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. We honestly wouldn't trade places with anyone on earth!

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21

NT Churches with OT Structures

When did we start going back to the Old Testament to find systems of organization, leadership and finances for New Testament churches? Alan Knox hits the nail on the head with his recent Old Testament Structures and the Church. Here are Alan's thoughts on the subject...

Often, when I'm talking to people about church structures and organizations, they usually point me to Old Testament structure to defend hierarchies, authorities, buildings, positions...temples, tithes, etc...

The conversations tend to go something like this (in a condensed form, of course):

Person #1: "The pastor has authority over the local church."
Me: "I can't find anything in Scripture that gives the pastors authority over anyone."
Person #1: "Well, you have to go back to the priest system of the Old Testament."

Person #2: "You should give tithes to the local church."
Me: "I can't find any teaching in Scripture that tells us to give money to a local church."
Person #2: "Well, you have to go back to the tithe system of the Old Testament."

Person #3: "You need someone trained in music to lead your worship."
Me: "I'm sorry but I don't see that in Scripture. Nor do I see music called worship."
Person #3: "Well, you have to go back to the Levites of the Old Testament."

Person #4: "Why are you not saving money to build a church (meaning, 'church building')."
Me: "I don't see a requirement for having a church building in the new testament."
Person #4: "Well, you have to go back to the temple in the Old Testament."

Here's my concern: I don't see the New Testament authors making these connections. Instead, I see the New Testament writers calling all believers "priests" (Rom 15:16; 1 Pet 2:5,9; Rev 1:6; Heb 10:19-22 - notice the resemblance to the sanctification of priests). But, pastors/elders/overseers are never specifically referred to as "priests".

Once again, all believers are taught to share generously with those who are in need, with those who are traveling away from home in order to proclaim the gospel, and with those who teach and lead them well (Acts 2:45; 4:34-35; James 2:15-16; Gal 6:6; 1 Thess 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17; 3 John 3-6). But, I do not see the New Testament authors comparing this to the tithe of the Old Testament, nor requiring a tithe to be given to the "local church".

Similarly, all believers are encouraged to exhort one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; 1 Cor 14:26). However, I don't see where training, practice, or even talent is a prerequisite for this singing (although, it does seem that being filled with the Spirit is a prerequisite). Also, I can't find any connection between singing in the New Testament and the Levites of the Old Testament.

Finally, I also see that all followers of Jesus Christ are compared to the "temple" (1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21). But, as far as I can tell, "temple" is never associated with a designated meeting place for Christians.

So, where did this contemporary practices come from? When did we start going back to the Old Testament to find systems of organization and leadership and finances? When did the Book of Nehemiah start teaching how to have a successful church building campaign? The exact details of how and when and why these interpretations of the Old Testament filtered into the church continue to be debated among church historians today. I think they all started when the church ceased to be the people of God and started to become an institution. In order to justify the institution, the leaders had to go back to the Old Testament system - the very system that the author of Hebrews calls a "shadow" of the reality that we have in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 19

Intro to "City Church"

What is meant by "city church"? A lot of ideas, both pro and con, are circulating out there about city church. While not in total agreement with everything shared on this 10-minute video, it is still a good introduction piece covering the basic arguments for there being only one church per city.

Your thoughts on city church are welcome in the comments section below.

Sunday, December 16

One million disciples

I love crazy people. Crazy people like the Ecuadorian hermano (brother) who came over yesterday to ask for our help in making one million disciples of Christ in '08-'09. I told him his "crazy plan" trumped our own crazy 500,000 disciples in five years!

But this wasn't just any "kook" mouthing off numbers. He was dead serious. My visitor was one of the top heads of the Assemblies of God churches here in Ecuador. My heart was warmed beyond expression that KINGDOM trumps denominational ties. Here was an AoG leader asking our (Baptist) church planting team for help. His way of putting it was: share with us your process, discipleship materials and training; we'll provide the passion and people, and through the power of the Holy Spirit working through us all, bring in a harvest of a million souls! Isn't that the way it is supposed to be in the Body of Christ?

We can talk about unity until we are blue in the face, but until we sit down and begin sharing our plans with one another and drawing from each others strengths, we will never fulfill the Great Commission. I happen to be one of those crazy people who actually believe that we can fulfill the Great Commission in this generation (at least here in Ecuador.) I'd rather be around other crazy-thinking people like that, than the so-called "sane" amongst us who can only find reasons for not partnering, and can only point out all the negatives involved!

But we have got to begin doing the kinds of things that are more than just talk. Materials have to be shared; not withheld. We have to be willing to appear on stage at THEIR meetings. Partner with them how all these things are going to work. We have to make room on our calendar for training THEM, as well as our own projects, assignments, goals. We have to be willing to feel a bit of discomfort at being around those with minor doctrinal differences and practices. Personally, I can put up with a little tongues speaking and charismatic practices in exchange for a million souls!

So, how did all this come about?


Our people are taught to obey Christ's command to pray the Lord of the harvest for laborers (Luke 10:2). We pray daily for the 500,000 disciples in five years. We pray for passion, perseverance and power from on high to complete the task. But most importantly, we pray,


By praying these two phrases incessantly to the Lord, we are letting Him know we want HIS WILL and KINGDOM to come, not our own. We are not telling Him HOW it will be done, only praying that it WILL be done. The choice is God's as to how it will all be worked out. His Kingdom is about JESUS, not us, not our plans, our strategies, our team, our denomination, our church.

So we continue to pray, and wait for God to open doors. When He does, like yesterday, we must be ready to walk through them in faith and with resolve.

The thing about KINGDOM work is that God gets the glory. If even a tenth of the AoG million are won next year, that's 100,000 disciples! Who knows how many newly planted churches will come out of it all? Guess how many we will be able to report on our IMB annual statistics? ZERO! Yet, if this crazy plan is only moderately successful, there will be THOUSANDS of new brothers and sisters in Christ added to the Kingdom. The AoG will get to show the numbers on paper, but what really counts is that Jesus will have to stay busy a while longer building mansions in Heaven for all these new folks!

Thursday, December 13

'Growth' vs. 'reproduction'

I first read Let's Stop Planting Sterile Churches by Carol Davis on Les Puryear's blog. I strongly encourage you to read the entire article. What follows is an excerpt...

...I want to show you the difference between what I call a "growth culture" in which we've all been trained and a "reproduction model." Because I believe to plant a church is a different animal than to plant a church-planting church. In fact, I'm convinced that the skill sets we learned in ministry training will actually insure that things don't reproduce.

In our growth culture we've learned to focus on individual conversions, while a reproduction model focuses on group conversions.

We've started on believer's turf. But in order to reproduce, we must start on unbeliever's turf. If we want group conversions of family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends, those people are not going to come to a stranger's house or into the strange setting of a church. They will come to turf where they are always involved. In our culture we teach Scripture for information. With the reproductive model it is taught for application, so that people are watching the power of God.

We've begun by finding Christians. But if you want a really powerful church start, find people of peace. Bar the Christians; don't let them in. They mess things up in the early stages.

We've begun in facilities. This takes money and expertise, which are not readily available. If you begin in homes or front porches or yards or parks, there are always more of them.

We've tended to start with celebration in a large group. For reproduction you start with a small group. Very few people actually have the ability and gifts to do a large group well. It takes more expertise, more preparation, more everything. A lot of people can facilitate small groups. They were already doing it in their own natural network before they were saved.

We build programs and buildings. To reproduce, you build leaders.

Leadership is also different. Traditionally we import professional clergy. But what we need for reproduction is to have indigenous and convert-emerging clergy. Where are the future pastors for this setting? They are in the streets, they are beating their wives, they are ripping off their employers.

Also, the leader tends to see himself as the leader for all the participants. In a reproducing church, the leader is the equipper for the emerging leaders. That is how they see themselves, and that is how they stay focused. We are used to funding the church starter. But for churches that will start other churches, you need to have bi-vocational church starters. If we are going to see the cities reached, it is going to be with bi-vocational people. Otherwise, it takes too long to actually fund.

In my own experience, every time we got ready to plant a church we felt like we couldn't afford to lose those people, their tithes and all that. But every time we did, we actually didn't skip a beat. God supplied. I found the most powerful thing is that connection with another church who cares.

In fact, in every church that I see planting churches, I find that some of their own issues begin to dissolve. I don't know what it is. They are giving themselves away. I am convinced you cannot out-give God. The more you give, the more God does.

Growth Culture vs. Reproductive Model

GC: Focus on individual conversions
RM: Focus on group conversions

GC: Start on believer's turf
RM: Start on unbeliever's turf

GC: Teach Scripture for information
RM: Teach Scripture for application

GC: Begin by finding Christians
RM: Begin by finding "people of peace"

GC: Begin in facilities
RM: Begin in homes, front porches, yards, parks

GC: Start with celebration in a large group
RM: Start with a small group

GC: Build programs and buildings
RM: Build leaders

GC: Import professional clergy
RM: Have indigenous and convert-emerging clergy

GC: Leader leads all the participants
RM: Leader equips the emerging leaders

GC: Fund the church starter
RM: Start churches with bi-vocational people

Wednesday, December 12

Effective Partnerships

Effective Partnerships
By Jay Lorenzen on Nov 29, 2007

I see it over and over. Movements that bring change depend on partnerships. Working together is a Trinitarian expression. God lives in community, in relationship, in a heavenly dance–modeling the cooperation he intends for us as families, as churches, as organizations. Satan’s strategy is always to divide. Unfortunately, over the last 200-300 years, the intense individualism of Western societies has made the journey toward wholeness, relationship, and cooperation much harder. Personally I’ve been driven so often by building my particular organization rather than building the kingdom. I’m beginning to repent.

Phil Butler, in his book Well Connected, argues that “individualism has inflected our lives, our theology, our churches, our educational paradigms, and the fruits of the missionary movement.”

In his book, Phil identifies some of the key issues and principles of effective partnerships...The following principles will help us build such partnerships.

1. Effective partnerships are built on trust, openness and mutual concern. Partnerships are more than coordination, planning, strategies and tactics. The heart of Gospel is restored relationships.

2. Effective partnerships need a facilitator or coordinator — someone who, by consensus, has been given the role of bringing the partnership to life and keeping the fires burning. This “honest broker,” usually loaned or seconded from an agency committed to the task, must be a person of vision who will keep on despite all discouragement. Prophet, servant, and resource person — this individual has to be trained and nurtured. Serving everyone in a partnership is a lonely task.

3. Effective partnerships have a partnership champion: inside every partner ministry — a person who sees how their individual agency can benefit from such practical cooperation: an individual who will sell the vision to their colleagues and keep the partnership focused to realize those benefits.

4. Successful partnerships develop in order to accomplishes a specific vision or task. Partnerships for partnership’s sake is a sure recipe for failure. This means lasting partnerships focus primarily on what (objective) rather than how (structure). Form always follows function — not the other way around. Concensus is usually better than constitution!

5. Effective partnerships have limited, achievable objectives in the beginning, and become more expansive as the group experiences success. Though limited, these objectives must have clear Kingdom significance that captures the imagination and provides motivation for the group as well as relevance to each partner ministry’s vision and objective.

6. Effective partnerships start by identifying needs among the people being reached or served. They do not start by trying to write a common theological statement. From these needs, Kingdom priorities, barriers to spiritual breakthroughs, and the resources available or needed, realistic priorities for action must be distilled and agreed.

7. Partnerships are a process, not an event. The start-up, exploration and formation stages of a partnership often take a long time. Call a formation or even exploratory meeting too early and you will likely kill the possibility of a partnership. Ultimately, personal trust is required. Taking time to establish it privately in one-on-one meetings, the facilitator will find that later, in the group, it will pay rich dividends.

8. Effective partnerships are even more challenging to maintain than to start. Making sure the vision stays alive, the focus-clear, communication good, and outcomes fulfilling takes great concentration and long-term commitment.

9. Effective partnerships are made up of partner ministries with clear identities and vision. They must have their own clear mission statements and live by them. Otherwise, they will never understand how they “fit in,” and contribute to the overall picture, or benefit from the joint effort.

10. Effective partnerships acknowledges, even celebrate, the differences in their partner agencies’ histories, vision and services. But partnerships must ultimately concentrate on what they have in common, like vision and values, and ministry objectives rather than on their differences.

11. Effective partnerships serve at least four constituencies: the people they are trying to reach; the partner agencies with their own staffs and vision; the partner agencies funding and praying constituencies; and eventually, the partnership itself with it’s growing expectations. There are many more players around the table than we often acknowledge or remember. Forget them, and eventually the partnership will fail.

12. Effective partnerships have a high sense of participation and ownership. Facilitators need to give special attention to the widest possible participation in objective setting, planning and the process of meetings, and on-going communications — increasing the likelihood of wider ownership and commitment to the common vision.

13. Effective partnerships keep focused on their ultimate goals or vision and are not distracted by day-to-day operational demands. It is often easy to focus on the “means” rather than the “end”. Only constant diligency will keep this long-term view clear.

14. Effective partnerships see prayer and communion as uniquely powerful elements to bind partners together in Christ. Effective partnerships are refreshed and empowered by frequently praying in small groups where individuals can express concerns for each other’s personal needs, and by the group taking communion together.

15. Effective partnerships do not come free. Just participating in the planning and coordination takes times and money. Deeper commitment may take still greater investments. But, the “return on Kingdom investment” through the partnerships should more than offset the contributions a partner agency may make.

16. Effective partnerships expect problems and plan ahead for them. Make sure a process is built into the partnership for dealing with changes, exceptions, disappointments, unfulfilled commitments, and simply the unexpected. A wise man know one thing — the only predictable thing is the unexpected.


“build on trust”
"a facilitator”
"a partnership ‘champion’”
"accomplish a specific vision”
"have achievable objectives”
"identify needs of those being served”
"it’s a process, not an event”
"it’s more challenging to maintain”
"it’s made up of partner ministries”
"celebrate differences”
"serve four consituencies”
"need high sense of participation and owernship”
"be focused on their ultimate goals”
"maintain prayer and communion”

Sunday, December 9

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions

Every year Southern Baptist Churches in the United States collect a special offering in December for international missions. 100% of this offering goes for overseas work. The goal this year for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $165 million.

Since we see first-hand and experience the impact of this offering, I would like to say THANK YOU for giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Do you know how much the average Southern Baptist gives to international missions per year? $8.35!!!

Here are a few suggestions that you might consider this Christmas Season as you determine what amount to give. Some of these ideas come from the IMB website here, but most are things we have tried ourselves over the years and personally practice as a family.

1) Decide what amount of money you will spend on your family this Christmas and give MORE than this amount to the LMCO. After all, it is Christ's birthday we are celebrating. Should we be getting more than He if it is his birthday?

2) Something we have done as a family for several years now is set aside an amount out of our monthly paycheck and have that amount automatically credited to the LMCO. This took a couple of email and phone calls to set up, but we haven't had to fool with it since, and are able to give to LMCO throughout the year.

3) A variation on the idea above would be to have a LMCO gift box that you deposit a set amount every week/month throughout the year. Then give this amount to your church when the offering is collected in December.

4) Sell tickets to a mother-daughter or father-son breakfast or brunch. Invite a missionary as a guest speaker. Proceeds go to Lottie Moon.

5) Auction students to church members for a day of service, from cleaning house to raking leaves. Money members give for the work youth do goes to Lottie Moon.

6) One thing we missionaries have done for many years is have an auction where a volunteer team brings in "goodies" from the States and auction them off to the missionaries. A six-pack of Dr. Pepper went for $120 one year! My son paid $60 for a box of Double-Bubble gum. I myself have paid $35 for a jar of Jiff peanut butter! All proceeds go to the missions offerings. Might your church do something similar?

7) Challenge folks to save money for the offering by giving up something small. Examples include a fast-food meal a week or a movie a month. Host a special ceremony for everyone to give their offering and share what God taught them through their sacrifice.

8) Double (or triple!) whatever you gave last year. Give sacrificially, not what is convenient.

9) As a church body, decide to channel funds to a lost world instead of to building improvements or beautification projects.

10) View some of the ideas for promoting the LMCO at the IMB Idea Gallery.

Whatever you decide to give, please do so beforehand in prayer. The idea of just reaching in your pocket and giving whatever comes out doesn't seem worthy of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Give thoughtfully, prayerfully. There are few offerings that make as much of an eternal impact on the world as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Do you feel a yearly offering of $8.35 is worthy of the One who left his throne in glory to die on a cross for our sins? How much will you give this year to see souls around the globe come to the Savior?
Checks can be mailed to (gifts are tax-deductable)
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
International Mission Board, SBC
P.O. Box 6767
Richmond, VA 23230

Thursday, December 6

Women shepherds

Back in November I posted a blog entry entitled Shepherd: function or office? I took the liberty of posting these same thoughts on the Church Planting Forum in hopes of generating more discussion on the whole role of women in church planting and shepherding.

One of our missionary colleagues wrote...
Could it be that, in the biblical sense, that a woman could be a pastor in the city/region church just as there were women prophetesses and a female apostle in the city/region church, but that women could not be elders in the house churches?
I confess these thoughts have gone through my mind as well: women functioning as ApostlesProphetsEvangelistsPastorsTeachers in the city/region church, and men only as "elders" of local assemblies.

But we still have to deal someway with the whole "Let the women keep silent in the churches for they are not permitted to speak..." and "I [Paul] do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet..."

Are women to be silent in local assemblies, but free to speak to the church at large? If so, Paul's admonition doesn't make much sense. If they are to be silent in one, shouldn't they be silent in the other as well?

I fear all of us have violated these admonitions of Paul because I see plenty of women out there speaking in churches and teaching men. What was Paul saying when these admonitions were made?

In most of the churches we relate to we don't refer to leadership (whether men or women) as pastors. We try to instill in all our people that ALL of us are ministers of the Gospel charged with fulfilling the Great Commission.

We stress Peter's words in 2 Peter 2, "YOU [all of us] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood...that YOU may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..." All of us.

Our part is to "make disciples". His to "build his church". When half of the work force are women. It only makes sense that a good percentage of these have been gifted in shepherding. But again, is shepherding/pastoring a function or an office?

When it comes right down to it, can we wiggle our way out of the mess by saying we will not give the title/office of pastor to women, but women who are gifted in shepherding should be encouraged to exercise their giftedness?

In 1Tim.3:1 most versions say, "if anyone (male or female?) sets his heart on being an overseer..." I am no Greek scholar but a literal reading of the text implies ANYONE can aspire to being an overseer/shepherd/pastor/bishop/presbytero/elder.

Or if the above interpretation is too hard to swallow, how about a scenario where named "elders" of local assemblies will only be men, but any believer (male or female) who possesses shepherding gifts use those gifts to build up the church? In such a scenario male elders would share the shepherding and care of the local church with all those who possess the gift and aspire to shepherd/oversee/pastor.

Still open for input and instruction from anyone out there caring to share your thoughts on the matter.

Tuesday, December 4

Thank you video from Ecuador

December is traditionally the month set aside in SBC life for giving to global missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This month on Commission Stories fellow Ecuador IMB missionary, David Butts, shares a visual "thank you" note showing how the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering affects his "neck of the woods." We would add our thanks as well!

Just a reminder: 100% of what is given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goes directly overseas. This year's goal is $165 million. Have you prayed yet about how much to give so that the world might hear of Jesus?

Video courtesy of

Sunday, December 2

TOP TEN Reasons for Planting House Churches

The following is taken from The Global House Church Movement by Rad Zdero. If you're curious about house church and would like to learn more, but not sure where to begin, this book would be a good place to start your journey.

The Top 10 reasons for starting house churches...

1. Biblical This was the normative New Testament pattern established by Jesus and the apostles and perpetuated by the early church of the first three centuries and in subsequent renewal, reform and revival movements throughout history. (Acts 2:46, 5:42, 20:20)

2. Exponential - To reach a growing world, we need to multiply, not just add. Current house church movements worldwide are outstripping more traditional church planting and church growth efforts.

3. Effective – The most effective method of evangelism is not growing existing churches, but planting new ones. House churches are the most easily reproducible form of church, and hence, are the most obvious choice for church planting.

4. Natural – House churches become part of the local community and easily tap into relationship connections, thereby more readily taking on an indigenous flavour.

5. People-Focused – They focus on relationships and the development of people spiritually, not on executing programs or projects.

6. Efficient – They are more mobile, flexible, and adaptable than conventional churches, especially in areas characterized by persecution and poverty.

7. Equal Opportunity – Because of their small, intimate and participatory nature, all believers have the opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts during church meetings, and not just professional clergy or key leaders.

8. Unbounded – They are not limited by church buildings. Whatever use buildings may or may not have, history shows that they are not necessary for rapid church planting movements to start; in fact, they may be a hindrance. Although church buildings are not evil by any means, nor are homes in any way magical, the practical release of time, energy and money away from building maintenance, and into evangelism and discipleship, should cause us to rethink current practices.

9. Inexpensive – They are less expensive than traditional church, because no expensive buildings, programs, or professional clergy are required.

10. Immediate – It can start now, right in your living room. There is no need to wait for a gym to be rented or for a building program to be completed to begin a new church or for a full-time pastor to be hired.

Special thanks to for reminding us of this list from the book.