Tuesday, April 29

Quote of the week

Camel Crossing quotes SBC Tomorrow as saying...

"...a Baptist Church is the closest thing going on in the world today to a New Testament Church."

Camel Crossing's response (also a Baptist) to the above merits the 'quote of the week'...

The NT church met in homes, drank wine, had no full-time paid staff, were intensely persecuted, spoke in tongues, healed people, sold all they had to meet each others needs... What part of this looks like the average Baptist Church?

We no longer go out to the highways and byways, we build campuses and ask them to come, we’re known more by what we’re against than what we’re for, we promote superstars that dictate policy and beliefs to “autonomous” churches. I agree our theology is strong, but only Jesus is perfect and we’re no where near it...

Sunday, April 27


Felicity Dale shares in a recent post here some of the different trends that seem to be occurring of relevance within the Kingdom that affect simple churches. Commenting on the points she makes below would require a separate post for each. Suffice it to say, we find that 5 of her 6 points VERY TRUE here in Ecuador.

There is an increase in the number of healings. We are hearing stories of regular "no-name" people praying, and remarkable healings occurring. These stories include healing from things like cancer, major abdominal problems etc. Those praying are not those with a healing ministry, but just a group of ordinary Christians praying for someone with a physical or emotional problem. Sometimes they are occurring out in the marketplace.

There is an increased hunger to hear about simple church. Many people are asking questions, searching for answers. Many leaders within various denominations have become open to these concepts.

Churches are being planted cross-culturally, both within different nationalities such as Afghan, Cuban etc and across cultural boundaries such as with the homeless.

Simple churches are becoming more missional. We are hearing stories of simple churches that started with people who left legacy churches now turning outwards and reaching out into their communities. It's as though some have needed a period of time so they can experience some personal healing, but now that has been accomplished, they have become very Kingdom minded and outreach focused.

More women are engaged in church planting. We heard of one example of a group being formed for women who are planting churches.

Please feel free to add any other trends you have observed from your own context. To read all six of Felicity's observed trends, check out the link above, as well as my comment as to why I don't see her 6th trend applying much with us here locally.

Friday, April 25

Seeing and hearing

"...for we cannot but speak the things
which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20

*Can our potential church planters on the field today say, "for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard," or will they simply state, "that which we have heard?"

...Many times all that is passed on to the hopeful church planters is nothing more than that which we heard from trainers and teachers that could never share with us what they had done, only what they had also heard. We did not see from those who trained us and those we train many times also don't see church planting from us, they just hear it.

Why is it important for desirous church planters to see church planting as well as hear it?

I will go back to my belief that we are expert church planners and not as expert at church planting. We do have all the latest data on our people groups and the latest methods, books and are up to date with the most current and popular church planters but still fail to see new works happen. We have supplanted the "t" in planters with an extra "n" and are now the planners instead of the planters.

If the ones we are teaching never see it, how are they to do it?

Hearing is never enough! ...It is important for them to see church planting because they will know that what we teach...has validity and a foundation. It is not based on theories that might or might not work as they go out to try and test them out. We will share from personal experiences and most of all share how those experiences either helped or hindered our personal church planting efforts...

Jesus' training of the 12 was never just words. More was learned by them from seeing and many times never a word was spoken but the experience of being there while Jesus carried out His ministry was what was able to sustain the disciples through their own time of implementing the ministry that they had seen and heard. I like the order in which these two words appear, notice that "seen," comes first and then "heard." So many times we are heard far more than we are seen doing in our ministries and training. Don't train from what others taught you but rather with the nationals at your side carry out the planting so that they and you will continue to learn as you do.

Have they learned from us that which they need to do and say by seeing and hearing us or has it simply been an oral trickle down of knowledge without foundations, theories without practice and dreams based on pressure to create a CPM at any cost? ...It is scary to go out and do it, therefore it is far easier to teach it, but Jesus taught by doing and saying. We can do no less!

*--adapted from an article written by Manuel Sosa (and inspired from, "The Training of the Twelve", by A. B. Bruce)

Thursday, April 24

How much time will I invest this week in

A. Prayer, seeking God?

B. Family relationships and activities?

C. Survival needs? (What it takes just to live here!)

D. Meetings?

E. Ministries/activities that have little bearing upon why we are here?

F. Support activities to generate prayer and missions awareness (blogging, emails?)

G. Mobilization and Recruitment?

H. Communication of Vision?

I. Administration and paperwork?

J. Activities to build relationships and goodwill?

K. Intentional evangelism and discipleship?

L. Planning and implementing strategies which accomplish the main thing?

M. Relaxation and rest?

N. Discipling/mentoring members of our team and network?
--original source unknown

We all have 24 hours everyday to do everything we have to do. The difference between those who get more done is recognizing where their time goes. All of us periodically need to make readjustments to what we do with our time. I know where I need to make some adjustments, how about you?

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
--Ephesians 5:15-16

Monday, April 21

Things God is showing us (Part 1 of 4)

The way to get to a 'church planting movement' is focusing on what it will take to initiate a 'disciple making movement'.

Our focus for many years has been in trying to get churches to reproduce themselves. The whole CPM thing of 'churches planting churches that plant churches' simply hasn't happened in our context.

What we are learning from the Lord is that we need to get back to 'making disciples that make disciples'. The church plants will follow if new disciples are being taught to make disciples themselves.

I have been reminded over and over the past few months that Christ didn't charge us with going out and starting churches. Our assigned task is to 'make disciples'. He has stated, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18)--not, 'WE will build his church'.

God is on mission. He invites us to partner with him in bringing about the Kingdom. In this partnership each "party" is responsible for certain things. If we will do our part and 'make disciples', He will certainly do his part and 'build his church'!

There is nothing new about any of this. But for some reason, we busy ourselves with all kinds of activities other than the clear cut commands and instructions of Christ to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach the new believers to be Christ followers who reproduce themselves into other new disciples.

One of the more helpful and practical books out there on discipleship and church planting is Neil Cole's Organic Church. I quote from page 98...

Trying to multiply churches is starting at the wrong place...We must go further down microscopically, to the smallest unit of Kingdom life if we want to start the multiplication process...The way to see a true church multiplication movement is to multiply healthy disciples, then leaders, then churches, and finally movements--in that order.

As passionate as I am about church planting, I found it perplexing that the Bible never instructs us to start churches...we are not to start churches, but instead to make disciples who make disciples. that is actually the way churches are started...Jesus gave us instruction that is one the molecular level of Kingdom life, for a very good reason: it works. Trying to multiply large, highly complex organisms without multiplying on the micro level is impossible.

Our focus must be on getting back to multiplying healthy reproducing disciples. Trying to get churches to multiply who are filled with non-reproducing believers is futile. Until we get back to basics of being disciples, and multiplying ourselves in others, there is little chance of ever seeing a CPM in our midst.


To see the rest of the series of posts on "Things God is showing us" click on Part 2 of 4, 3 of 4, or 4 of 4.

Friday, April 18

Is discipleship really our priority?

Confession time... As of today's writing, April 18, I, Guy Muse, a disciple and follower of Christ have not discipled a single person this year. I am truly embarrassed. It is the skeleton hidden in my closet that I don't want anybody to know about.

Everyday for the past two weeks and continuing for two weeks more, our team has been teaching groups of fifteen pastors who are coming to Guayaquil from all over the coastal region of Ecuador. They are being introduced to our COSECHA (Harvest) discipleship/church planting training materials that will be used to reach the goal of 1-million disciples in one year.

The heart of the training is making disciples. The only way to win/disciple a million in a year is to begin making disciples that make disciples. Nothing new. But are we doing it? Am I doing it?

If we are out there everyday exhorting everyone about the priority of making disciples, who am I discipling? My biggest fear everyday in the trainings is that someone will bluntly ask me who I am discipling! It happened the other day. Instead of answering, I ask one of our co-workers to share about the disciples they were working with.

Don't get me wrong...I do my fair share of witnessing with taxi drivers and people whom I cross paths with in my daily living. And of course, like everybody else, we do a lot of Gospel sharing when volunteer teams come down. But that isn't making disciples, is it?

In the daily trainings it is shared that if we would just win and disciple ONE person per year, and they in turn do the same, in 32 years the whole world would be saved. Yet after 50+ years of Baptist presence in Ecuador we can claim only some 28,000 believers. What this says is that we aren't even discipling ONE PERSON per year! Something is terribly, terribly wrong!

On our team of twelve (2 IMBers, 10 nationals) we have adopted the language amongst us about asking one another about our disciples. This is to stimulate us and exhort one another to be about doing what Jesus said to do. I can guarantee you that my most frantic prayer these days is that God would give me at least one soul that I can report back to our team that I am discipling.

What is even more embarrasing is that the youngest believer on our team who was baptized 14 months ago has 17 new believers she is discipling every week. I doubt Monica could tell you the names of the books in the NT, but she is making disciples in two house churches along with her husband Medardo and daughter Aneida.

But I am not alone in my embarrassing confession. In each of the trainings with the daily groups of fifteen pastors we ask them for a show of hands of those who are actually discipling someone. Out of the nearly 150 pastors we have met with so far, maybe 5 have raised their hands saying they are actually discipling someone.

Question. What are we doing? We are certainly busy. But doing what? In all the stuff that we are doing are we actually making disciples? I fear the enemy has us so distracted with all kinds of good activities, but in the midst of all we are doing, can we honestly say we doing what Christ commanded?

Do we need to start an AA group for followers of Christ who don't make disciples ...Hi, my name is ____, it has been three years since I last discipled someone...

With all the attention in our denomination and organization over tertiary issues, it is truly amazing that no one seems to be asking the infinitely more important question with eternity of souls riding upon its answer: are you actually making disciples?

What are you doing to encourage a disciple making movement amongst your community, people group, town, sphere of influence?

P.S. I have an appointment this coming Monday evening with a family who live in one of the upper class neighborhoods. I am praying desperately that the Lord would allow me to lead them to Jesus and then begin with them the discipleship process. Would you please pause a second and pray for this Monday night meeting in their home? Thanks.

Wednesday, April 16

Things God is showing us (Part 2 of 4)

The lack of a clear defined purpose for why God has us here is clearly one of the major hindrances I see in the overall work and ministry here in Ecuador. There is simply too much going on. Too many irons in the fire. Too many distractions. We desperately need to simplify. Focus and act on fewer points to accomplish more.

I am becoming more convinced one of Satan's major schemes is to distract us from the few things that are really important. As Jesus says in Luke 10, "Martha, Martha...you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

What is the "one thing" needed that Jesus tells Martha? I think it is simply that very little of the "stuff" that we are distracted with is all that important. The one thing we need to make sure we are doing is to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness..." Cut out all the clutter in our lives that is detracting from obeying this command. Define what "seeking first his kingdom" means and then do it.

How do we implement this commandment of Jesus in our daily lives?

God is showing us is that we don't have to respond or act upon all that is directed our way. Just because someone throws us the ball, doesn't mean we have to catch it.

To me it means simplify. Reduce. Unclutter our lives. Define what is really important and focus on doing well fewer things. Prioritize where our time is being spent.

If the enemy can somehow keep us on the move, filling our days with endless trivial tasks, we won't have time, energy, or focus for those Kingdom matters that really count.

Few are able to process all the data and daily demands coming from all over. It is unrealistic to expect people to process and act upon a constant and ever changing flow of new information. There are just too many ministry opportunities, assigned tasks, expectations, reports to absorb, books/articles to read, prayer concerns, meetings to attend, busy work, programs, activities, and daily appointments we really don't care anything about but do them anyway to please others. When all is said and done, we find we have spent yet another day spinning our wheels but accomplishing very little in regards to those things that really matter.

All of this leads to an unfocused and distracted life. Very little of importance actually ever gets done. Most of our time is spent on the "tyranny of the urgent." We stay busy, busy, busy, but accomplish very little in regards to those things Jesus said are important.

For a couple of other lessons God is teaching us these days check out these two previous posts from "Things God is showing us: Part 3 of 4, and Part 4 of 4".

What do you think of the above? What are some things God is showing you these days?

Sunday, April 13

In a missionary culture a person does not look to the central hub for direction

In the previous post of Reggie McNeal quotes, one that stands out to me personally is...

In a missionary culture a person does not look to the central hub for direction.

This one really intrigues--and convicts me. What this statement says to me is that in a missionary culture like our own, people are so freed and empowered that there is little need for our missionary presence. This would be the realization of our dreams if it were true on a wide-scale basis!

The truth is that our presence is still largely felt. People continue to look to el misionero for all sorts of help, advise, affirmation, "permission", materials, and approval. While all of us need to some degree these things in our lives, they become unhealthy when long term we continue in the role of being that "central hub."

Curtis Sergeant and CPM methodology speak of the MAWL training cycle (model, assist, watch, leave) as the basis of our missionary presence.

It is likened to teaching a child to ride a bicycle...

1) provides a model by riding the bicycle,
2) provides assistance to the child by holding the bicycle as they learn to ride,
3) then watches while the child rides the bicycle by themselves,
4) and finally leaving the child to ride on his own.

The secret to achieving a missionary culture where people do not look to the central hub for direction is in understanding and applying the MAWL training cycle.

My own tendency is to stay in the first two stages of modeling and assisting. It is hard to stand back and just watch, not to mention leaving! It takes a special kind of parent to resist jumping in to rescue the child every time they know he/she is about to mess things up.

I am personally not very good, nor do I really understand the "watch" stage very well. It is here that 2 out of every 3 new church plants dissolve, sink, disband--whatever you want to call it. It is very hard to stand by and watch something fall apart. My tendency is to want to jump in and fix it.

Yet as I reflect on the house churches that have survived over the years, they are all--without exception--groups that we have indeed "watched" and yes, "left" to survive on their own.

Some make it, some don't. I have never been able to quite figure it all out.

Jesus says in Matthew, "I will build my church..." We are actually never really told to plant churches, we are told to make disciples. Making disciples consists in modeling, assisting, watching, and yes--leaving.

The churches that no longer look to the "central hub" for direction are the ones that have survived.

Does any of this remind you of raising children? What do you think is the secret to achieving a missionary culture where people do not look to the central hub for direction?

Friday, April 11

Reggie McNeal quotes

The following Reggie McNeal quotes come from a seminar given at Marty Duren's church entitled, Nuggets from McNeal. Reggie is Director of Leadership Development for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and author of The Present Future one of my all-time favorite books. I have included a partial list of a few of the quotes that jumped out at me and relate to our own life, work, and ministry.

In 1900, 80% of Christians were white, Western, northern hemisphere. In 2000, 80% were non-white, non-Western and southern hemisphere.

The church in North America is not like the Pharisees--we are the Pharisees, and Jesus does not like Pharisees.

The Pharisees clumped together and built a parallel culture--refuge theology is Pharisaical. When dealing with Pharisaism, we are dealing with a religion that has nothing to do with Jesus. They have a heart for religion, but not a heart for God.

People who live by a missionary set of values cannot abide those with a "club member" set of values.

The missional church is the most radical resorting of Christians since the reformation. Those who are missional have more in common with those in other tribes than with those in their own tribe who don't get it.

Kingdom growth is profoundly anti- what we have typically been doing.

Don't count critics; weigh them.

Talking about the future will lead Satan to crank up enough background noise that we cannot hear God.

Christianity is the fastest growing religious/spiritual group in the world today: 175,000 new Christians in the world each day.

The church is not the destination; the kingdom is the destination. Jesus does not say, "Thy church come." He spends 40 days before His ascension teaching about the kingdom. Acts closes with the kingdom. Jesus uses "church" twice, but "kingdom" 90 times. When the kingdom breaks out, things change. People's lives get radically re-altered; their entire worlds get re-ordered.

God says to Abram, "I'm blessing you so that you can bless all those people who are not like you." God regularly blesses people with whom He disagrees.

The "post-congregationlist" category is at 5% of the population and will go to 30% in the next 20 years.

Our conversation rate has to go up before our conversion rate can go up.

The kingdom of God is all about people, and God has seeded the value system of the younger generations (Xer's and millenials) that will feed the shift He has begun.

In a missionary culture a person does not look to the central hub for direction.

Most people are burned out from dealing with prolonged trivia.

Most of the stuff that impacts our congregations happens outside our meetings and it is stuff that we cannot plan for.

The bandwidth is expanded in a missional church: how many conversations are we having, how much life interface is taking place, how is our community service component, how many community leaders are we praying for, how many teachers have we partnered with, how many community groups have used our facility?

Feel free to jump in and comment on any of the above. They are thought-provoking, aren't they? Which thoughts speak to you?

Wednesday, April 9

Church planting transition points

David Watson refers to five critical transition points that must be managed properly if a successful church plant is to take place.

I have changed some of the language David uses to reflect our own terminology, methodology, and experience. However, the idea of five critical transition points in church planting is all David's. I hope he doesn't mind my borrowing his ideas to share some of what we are learning about church planting transition points.

1. Getting started. This is possibly the biggest hurdle of all. Taking that first step of faith and believing that God can use me to plant a church. While it sounds obvious, if we don't start something, somewhere, there will never be a church plant. In our training we have discovered that if an outreach group is not started within the first 4-7 weeks, there is little likelihood that anything will ever develop. It is better to get out there and put into practice the basics of disciple-making, than to sit around endlessly attending CP seminars and buying the latest books. Books and seminars do not plant churches. People do. Churches are started by people who get out there and put into practice the little they know. The NIKE slogan, "Just do it" is some of the best church planting advise we can give people. There are really only a few basic principles that need to be understood before getting started. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to be our teacher and guide. He will guide you into all the truth for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak, and He will disclose to you what is to come...

2. Identifying the person of peace (POP). The POP is that key individual that will open up doors to his/her family, community, friends, neighbors, etc. It is out of the oikos of the person of peace that the nucleus of the new church plant will arise. In our experience one might have to make many contacts with different people before "discovering" who the person of peace is. One of the things we ask our trainees to begin praying from day one, is that the Holy Spirit will reveal clearly who the POP is. If a POP is not identified in this second crucial transition period, it will be difficult to proceed further. In our context, more than often, the POP will end up being one of the newly won disciples we are working with. Once we have a solid, influential person who is open to us and welcomes us, making the transition to the third step will usually not be too difficult.

3. Moving from the POP to facilitating an outreach group. For us, an outreach group is a group consisting of not-yet-believers who are open and interested in discovering in a group setting what it means to become a follower of Christ. We have found that there is an incredible openness to spiritual matters in most people. What is rejected is the way this truth is often presented. In other words they are rejecting our methods, but not necessarily rejecting Christ or His message. The way we teach church planter trainees to make this transition from their POP disciple(s) to gathering together a group, is to simply encourage the new disciple to invite his family, friends, neighbors to join us for what we call an open group time of discovery. It is an informal gathering, usually held in the home of the POP, where we discover together what the Bible says about certain issues that relate to real life issues people deal with daily. Subjects such as forgiveness, anger, worry, fear, family, honesty, etc. are examined according to what the Bible teaches about these matters. We begin to interact and dialog with one another about these heart felt issues. It usually isn't long before one of two things takes place: 1) they lose interest and stop coming to the gatherings, 2) they give their heart to the Lord.

4. Facilitating a group of new believers to becoming a New Testament church. Each progressive step is a little easier than the one preceding it. If #1-3 have been successfully transitioned, this fourth step is not usually complicated at all. Since the new believers know one another, are continuing to be discipled, are growing in their faith, knowledge, and obedience of Jesus, have grown to love and appreciate the one who came bringing them the Good News of Jesus, this fourth transition is usually--and should be--the smoothest of all. However, in our own ministry we have "dropped the ball" countless times at this transition point and ended up with the group disbanding. Why? Wolves dressed in sheep's clothing step in and steal away the sheep from the innocent church planting shepherd. One of the most common scenarios we face is that after a group starts meeting regularly, a well meaning brother/sister in Christ from an existing established church will come in and begin to sow doubt, discord, fear, and division amongst the new believers. They will often question the credentials of the novice church planter. They will ridicule the idea that a church can meet in a house. They will share with the new believers how much better their "real" church is than the home grown "improvised" version of church they are getting with the "lay person" who led them to the Lord. What normally should be a smooth transition of new believers meeting and functioning as a NT church, is quickly nipped in the bud by wolves in lamb's clothing. The simple, natural church life of believers gathering under the Lordship of Christ and learning together to obey what Jesus says, is substituted for an institutional, programmed, professional clergy-led version of church. While this may sound harsh, it is nevertheless what happens more often than not.

5. Leaving to start another church elsewhere. The natural way of planting an organic NT church is that the church leadership will arise out of the harvest itself. The church planter should be a transitional figure. We do not plant a church to stay there and pastor; we plant a church so that out of the group new leaders will emerge, freeing the church planter to move on to another needy area. We do not import pastors, leaders, workers from the outside to take over once the church planter moves on. Leadership must arise out of the existing group. This is the normal, natural way of organic church life. So, when does the church planter leave? If he/she stays too long they create a dependency upon themselves. If they stay too short a time, local leadership may not yet be ready to assume leadership of the flock, and the risk of disbanding increases dramatically. We have found that "church planter" and "pastor/shepherd/elder" are often used as synonymous terms. The reality is that they are different giftings and functions. Both are needed, but the church planters have to learn when it is time to move on. I confess this is one area we are still trying to get a handle upon. We need a lot of guidance on this fifth transition point. It is indeed a hard thing to know when to leave.

So, what are your thoughts, ideas, experiences about these crucial church planting transition points? We would welcome your input. We still have a lot to learn.

Sunday, April 6

Things God is showing us (Part 3 of 4)

Pray without ceasing. Several months back we were talking on our team about what it means to "orad sin cesar". This is a command, not a suggestion. We all have heard numerous teachings and applications to what Paul's words mean in 1Thessalonians 5:17. Our own understanding is that God wants us to pray about something continually (without ceasing) until He answers. What we usually do is pray about something for a few days, and then move on to other things. We seldom pray "without ceasing" until God actually answers.

Persevering in prayer over the long haul is probably the most crucial work we are engaged in. But not just prayer for prayer's sake, but praying in the same vein as the widow in Luke 18.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should ALWAYS PRAY and NOT GIVE UP.

Jesus then relates the parable of the persistent widow and her pleading her case with the unrighteous judge.

For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.

What Jesus seems to be clearly teaching is that pleading, insisting, stubbornly asking, persistence in praying for "Kingdom causes" is something that He is pleased with. If this sounds theologically "off" about "pestering" God with our repeated cries, just read slowly again Luke 18:1-8.

While we have always prayed in our ministry, what has changed is the WAY we pray. We have clearly identified several things that are absolute "musts" if we are ever going to see Ecuador come to Christ. It is these few things that we stubbornly, daily, persistently bring before the Lord in prayer. Every time we meet as a team we pray these same things over and over. We believe Jesus' words where he says, "I tell you, he [God] will see that they get justice, and quickly."

So, what are some of those things we pray for daily?

-laborers for the harvest

-God would give us 500,000 new disciples who will gather in newly formed churches

-that every church would plant at least one other church this year

-that every single believer amongst us would win/disciple at least four others this year

-that God would send us Stateside partnering churches to help us reach our province for Christ through the "Guayas Para Cristo" project

-that God would give to every believer in our midst passion, perseverance, and power from on high to serve Him

-that God would protect each of us from the "3 D's" of the Devil: discouragement, distraction, and division

-that God would heal the sick amongst us and heal us emotionally and spiritually

-that God would grant us love, joy and harmony in our families and homes

-for our list of national and international missionaries and their needs and ministries

-for all our family members who do not yet know the Lord

Each month there are several new dated items that we pray for, but the above list is carried over day after day, week after week, month after month.

We publish a printed one-page prayer list that is distributed to all of the cooperating churches in our network. Every believer is encouraged to pray daily for the petitions on the list. (If interested in praying with us, and you know Spanish, drop me a line and I will gladly send you a copy!)

So, has God begun to answer the above? You bet!

Time and space do not permit sharing all that God is doing in response to these petitions. Hardly a day goes by that I don't receive a phone call, or hear a testimony of how God is answering the above petitions. Our people are excited because they can see that the Lord is opening doors like never before. Our prayers are being heard. We can hardly keep up with all God is doing on multiple fronts in response to these prayers. We are learning that our God absolutely loves to answer prayer!

Just to give one example of many... After literally years of daily praying for laborers, asking God to mobilize workers into His harvest fields, in the past few weeks we have seen the Lord begin to answer this prayer beyond anything we could possibly imagine. This year we are being asked to help train 60,000 church planter/discipler workers. They in turn will seek to win/disciple 1-million into the Kingdom in the coming year. We attribute 100% this to God answering our continued, ceaseless praying for laborers. The trainings begin April 8. Will you pray with us "without ceasing" that God would be glorified in all of the above?

Friday, April 4

The way God works

Marcos and Tania are members of our Guayas Mestizo Team. Every week, for over a year, they and their three small children, have made a weekly trek out to Balerio Estacio. Balerio is a vast invasion area on the outskirts of Guayaquil. Their purpose? To plant a new church amongst the thousands of people who live in the community.

Due to the many dangers of the area, one of their frustrations has been having to always leave before dark. By doing so, the men of the community are not yet home from work. In all this time, their only contact has been with the wives and children of the families they have been trying to reach.

Marcos and Tania have been praying that God would somehow allow them to establish relationships with many of the husbands of the women whom they have won to the Lord.

Last Friday, the Lord answered.

Because of the heavy rains, the roads are nearly impassable getting in and out of Balerio Estacio. After a fruitful afternoon of visits, with two more people giving their hearts to the Lord, Marcos and family extended their stay a bit longer than was prudent. By the time they left, it was already dark. Leaving in the dark on the treacherous flooded and muddy roads, the car slid in the mud and ended up hopelessly stuck in a deep rut.

Marcos did everything he could to free the car, but the more he tried, all that he managed to do was spin the wheels deeper into the mud. As the family got out of the car and were standing in the pouring rain and wondering what they would do next, they prayed for help.

Out of nowhere, a group of men came walking up the road. As it turned out they were the very men and husbands of the women they had been visiting over the preceding months. Marcos introduced himself, and the men instantly recognized who he was. They all got into the mud and together freed the car out of the rut.

After getting the car out, Marcos had a good visit with them and told them of his and Tania's desire to plant a church in the community. One thing led to another, and a large, empty house was offered where the meetings could begin with the new believers. The men gave Marcos and Tania their welcome, appreciation, and support for the work they had been doing in the community.

To put it mildly, Marcos and Tania were on "cloud nine" rejoicing in the Lord for answering their prayers in this most unexpected way!

Now they are praying about actually moving in to the offered house and making it double as the space for the new church to begin meeting on a more regular basis. This is a big step of faith for Marcos and Tania, though. Balerio Estacio is a rugged, undeveloped invasion area. It would mean considerable personal sacrifice, and living in extreme poverty to make the move from their current rented facilities in the city, to the undeveloped outskirts of Guayaquil.

Would you join us in prayer for Marcos and Tania that the Lord's will be done in their lives concerning what the Lord would have them do in regards to the new work out in Balerio Estacio?

Wednesday, April 2

A Completely Biblical Church

Alan Knox has done it again with another great post entitled, A Completely Biblical Church. Before you get too upset about some of his "biblical" conclusions, remember yesterday was April Fool's Day! :)


I've decided to begin a new church which I'm calling a Completely Biblical Church - since it is originating completely from Scripture. Trust me... this is completely legitimate... not a joke at all... I wouldn't lie to you... not today, or all days.

To determine the practices of this church, I've scoured Scripture and determined practices that most churches ignore, using the same hermeneutical principles used to determine church practices by other churches today. Here are a few of the new practices along with the texts which demonstrate that these are scriptural practices:

1. No church meetings will be held in rooms that are at ground level or below. All meetings will be held above ground level.
  • He will show you a large upper room furnished and ready... (Mark 14:15)
  • And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying... (Acts 1:13)
  • There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. (Acts 20:8)
2. Regardless of the start time, every preacher or teacher will continue speaking until midnight (or someone falls out of a window, whichever comes first).
  • [W]hen we were gathered together..., Paul talked with them..., and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)
3. Songs will only be sung silently (in the heart). In public, songs will only be spoken out loud.
  • [S]peaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in your heart... (Ephesians 5:19)
  • [S]inging psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God... (Colossians 3:16)
4. The people of the church will eat together every day.
  • And day by day..., they were sharing their food with glad and generous hearts... (Acts 2:46)
5. Only young people under 30 will allowed to be leaders.
  • Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
6. Only those with stomach ailments will be allowed to be leaders. Those with other types of ailments will be considered under special circumstances.
  • No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Timothy 5:23)
7. All women will give birth in pairs (or more), while a man from the church helps them.
  • Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side... (Philippians 4:3)
8. All prayers will be spoken while kneeling with the hands raised.
  • For this reason I bow my knees before the Father... (Ephesians 3:14)
  • I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands... (1 Timothy 2:8)
9. A "conversion" will only be considered valid if the "converted" actually falls down on his or her face. If the fall draws blood, the person's conversion will be considered extraordinary and the person will immediately be entered into a leadership training program and put on a lecture circuit.
  • But if... an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God... (1 Corinthians 14:24-25
10. When meeting to pray, the prayer will not end until the meeting place begins to shake.
  • And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken... (Acts 4:31)
We will continue to study Scripture to determine what activities should be practiced by the members of this church and how those activities should be carried out. Why? Because, we want to make sure that everything we do is completely biblical using the common hermeneutic of today...


While we may smile at a church holding to such teachings, the truth is this is how many of us come to our theological and church practices. After all, the Bible says it right there in clear English... doesn't it!?!?

Frank Viola and George Barna talk about this misuse of Scripture in Pagan Christianity. The way many of us approach the Bible is by isolating and pasting together a series of texts to come up with just about any kind of theology one can imagine. Our approach is akin to putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Frank describes it, "You could call our method of studying the New Testament the "clipboard approach..." where one cuts and pastes pieces of text via the computer clipboard. In this way you can copy a sentence from one document and paste it into another. Little regard is given to the text's original intent. By this practice we can pretty much say whatever we like, and then justify it by saying, "the Scripture clearly teaches..." Isn't this what many of us do in order to justify our theological stances and church practices?

Time and space do not allow me to get into this topic further, but suffice it to say, Alan's spoof illustrates the danger of isolating Biblical texts and then pasting them into our own outline to justify some crazy stances on things. What's worse, we try to impose our "biblical" position on everyone else. Those who disagree are not in disagreement with us, but with the Word of God!

What do you think?