Saturday, May 30

Why I blog

Today the 100,000th page was clicked on the M Blog. I know this isn't a big deal to anyone else, but for me it represents a milestone in something I felt the Lord leading me to do going back a little over three years ago now. Not to mention that it is pretty amazing to me that anyone at all would ever take the time to read my attempts at putting thoughts into cyberspace. Most of what we have to share is definitely a work in progress, constantly being modified as we continue to learn from the Lord.

Why do I blog?

Everyone has their own reasons, but for me it began a few years back. It dawned on me one day that I was personally doing very little to make disciples of the nations.

Guayaquil is our "Jerusalem", not the ends of the earth. Though we are international missionaries living in a cross-cultural setting, I was personally not doing much of anything to engage our own Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. What difference was there between what we were doing, and all those other churches out there equally focused almost exclusively on their own Jerusalems?

After some prayer and soul-searching, I decided to try and reach beyond our Jerusalem and begin to impact in at least some small way the Judeans, Samaritans, and nations beyond.

Blogging is one of the ways we have been able to do this. No, it is not the blog itself that impacts, but the PEOPLE reading who are actively engaged in being witnesses to their own J,J,S, and ends of the earth.

Example: Last week a brother who had read some of our writings, contacted me by email and we set up a meeting to talk about ways we could partner to reach his "Jerusalem" (and what is for us, our "Judea"). We were both mutually encouraged, and have begun praying that the Lord of the Harvest would send a team from somewhere to help us engage his area of the province in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. Without the blog, and his having read the article, this meeting would probably never have taken place.

Many times a blog post written by myself or others touches upon an aspect that another brother is dealing with personally. Private emails and public comments are exchanged which often stimulate new ideas and function ala Hebrews 10 to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together...but encouraging one another... for more effective service.

Examples of this would be posts like What are we doing here? or Returning to Ecuador being used to encourage fellow laborers out there likewise going through times of questioning their own ministry, and hearing from fellow laborers that, we too, feel and sense these same kinds of weaknesses.

Likewise, I have received from other people's posts key insights, ideas, suggestions which we have used in our own church planting ministry. These examples are almost too numerous to mention. But in this way we are impacting one another's ministries for the good of the Kingdom.

One of the unforeseen ministries that has quietly evolved out of blogging, is the stream of emails and inquiries generated coming in from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Sometimes they are from fellow missionaries, but most come from brothers and sisters who have questions and do not know where to turn for answers. There are few resources available in Spanish for the who, what, when, where, and how of simple church, and church planting in general. I observe a swelling tidal wave of people beginning to explore and reexamine the NT in light of church practice--especially related to the "nuts and bolts" of doing simple/organic/house church practice. I have mailed out dozens of copies of our materials over the past three years to church planters all over the Americas. Sometimes I hear back from them, sometimes not. Related to this is a good amount of time spent weekly answering inquiries generated by people passing on posts and information originating from material read on the "M Blog." In this way we are able to have an influence not only our own Jerusalem, but on far-away places which we normally would never have a chance to engage.

As time has gone by, we have added to the blogging other projects to engage our Judea and Samaria that are beginning to yield tremendous fruit. One of these is our "Guayas for Christ" project to reach our Judea.

To engage our Samaria, our church planting team is currently partnering directly/indirectly with several ministry projects which seek to engage overlooked, or marginalized people's in our midst: the abandoned elderly, AIDS victims, street kids (gangs), women in prostitution, delinquent youth, and homosexuals.

This whole Acts 1:8 mindset is being caught by the churches in our network. It is exciting to sit with them over discussions of how they might be able to impact places like India, the surrounding provinces, and the jungles of Peru. Money doesn't seem to be the central issue; rather discernment of the Lord's will, prayer, faith, and how if we sacrificed more, we might be able to send at least one person as a short-term missionary.

So, in a nutshell, that is why I blog. Thanks for reading and especially for all you do in obedience to engage in the task of making disciples of the nations.

Thursday, May 28

Tribes: Free audio book download

After months of having on my wish list, Seth Godin's Tribes: We need you to lead us, I was thrilled to discover from Steve Addison that the complete, unabridged, audio version of the book can be FREELY downloaded from the author and

Thanks, Steve, for this great tip. I've already downloaded my copy and, so far, I think it lives up to all the hype I've been hearing!

If still wondering whether or not this book might interest you, check out these notes from

Wednesday, May 27

Is it time to change the Cooperative Program formula?

I read with much interest the following article penned by IMB Chairman Paul Chitwood and published by Baptist Press.

Is it time to change the formula for the Cooperative Program amounts received by the International Mission Board for global missions? Shouldn't this be at the top of the agenda at this year's Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville? I would vote a hearty YES!

Please prayerfully read...
Cooperative Program formula'
By Paul Chitwood

MT. WASHINGTON, Ky. (BP)--"If you will, with a broken heart, affirm the recommendation of our staff to temporarily suspend the ISC and Masters programs, and limit other new missionary appointments, please say 'aye.'" The motion passed.

After a prayer by one of our trustees for God to provide the resources necessary to once again fund all of these missionary-sending programs, I wiped the tears from my eyes and saw our president, Jerry Rankin, do the same.

During the tenure of Rankin's leadership over the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the total number of Southern Baptist missionaries has increased by more than 1,500. Our current count exceeds 5,600. But we do not have the money to support additional numbers of missionaries, nor will we be able to replace many of those who are
completing their assignments. Therefore, our overall number of missionaries will soon begin to fall.

In an era when more God-called individuals are coming to candidate conferences to explore potential service with the IMB and more students are enrolling in SBC seminaries with the goal of being appointed as Southern Baptist missionaries, have Southern Baptists decided they don't need any more missionaries? Have we reached the limits of our giving in support of international missions? Have we determined that we need do no more than we are currently doing to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth?

Because of the current formulas determining how Cooperative Program (CP) dollars are spent, only 18 cents of each dollar given through the CP in my state will ever make it to the overseas mission fields. While some states do indeed forward more money, they are the exception...

...My modest proposal is this: The time has come to change the Cooperative Program formula. Our prayers for workers for the harvest have been answered! The Lord of the harvest is calling out incredible numbers of workers for fields that are already white to harvest. Shall we tell them we are unable to send them? Shall we communicate to the lost we cannot afford to reach them? My conviction is that the time has come for us to make tough choices between the good and the best when it pertains to the Cooperative Program.

I am not suggesting that all North American CP ministries be defunded. Vital Kingdom work is supported by CP dollars in every state convention and in the Southern Baptist entities and institutions operating in the States. The time has come, however, to invest more of our CP funds in making disciples of all the nations.

I am proposing that every state convention and our national convention revise the formula they use in dividing CP funds by applying a simple two-question test to how and where every dollar is spent.

First, will this expenditure have a direct and transformative impact on lostness?

Second, could this money be better spent by sending a waiting missionary to a place where the Gospel will not be heard unless that missionary goes?

I believe such a test would dramatically change our stateside CP formulas. More importantly, this test would provide the funds necessary to support every called and qualified Southern Baptist missionary to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Just as Americans are changing their spending habits during the current economic crunch, the time has come for Southern Baptists to change their CP spending habits. Ministries and programs we enjoy during times of plenty but that have little or no actual impact upon lostness must be sacrificed for the sake of those facing hell with no access to the Gospel.

Through natural disasters, regime changes, creative access strategies and an ever-growing pool of missionary candidates, God has opened an unprecedented, seemingly unlimited opportunity for Southern Baptists to take the Gospel to the nations. We cannot allow doing what is good to prevent us from doing that which is best.

I plead with you, Southern Baptists, to change the Cooperative Program formula at every level to ensure that the majority of money given to get the Gospel to the nations no longer gets held back in our own nation. We are a Great Commission denomination. The urgency of the times demands that we prove it.
--30-- Paul Chitwood is pastor of First Baptist Church in Mt. Washington, Ky., and chairman of trustees for the International Mission Board.

Monday, May 25

Talkers and doers

It is my observation that there are two types of believers: talkers and doers.

Talkers know all the right doctrines and believe the right things and do a lot of TALKING about what everyone should be doing.

The doers usually are not as bright or as learned as the talkers, but somehow seem to get around to DOING the very things the talkers are talking about.

Luke 9:57-10:20 is a passage we use frequently in our teaching/training. In these verses Jesus has little to say to the talkers (see vs. 9:57-62), but a lot to say to the doers (vs. 10:1-20).

Talkers are usually the ones holding the microphone. Doers are usually the ones sitting in the corner trying to figure out what it is the talkers are talking about.

Saturday night I was again teaching from Luke 9:57-10:20. I was the assigned talker holding the microphone. It was very hot. More than 150 people were crowded in a tiny, windowless room. There were no fans, and the mosquitoes were merciless. Even so, I was annoyed that several of the, mostly rural, illiterate people present, seemed sleepy, bored or distracted to what I had come to talk to them about.

As the meeting broke up, and we were about to make the long drive back home, I was called back inside where a group of people were still seated. There sat one of the supposed offenders who had annoyed me with their sleepy, half-closed eyes as I was sharing my "pearls of wisdom."

I soon learned the unassuming brother had been responsible for bringing scores of people to the Lord. He works hard six days a week on a small rural farm. Every spare moment being given to reaching his lost friends, family, and neighbors to the Lord. That evening he had brought several people to the meeting to hear the special invited talker--me. Since I had failed to "give an invitation" at the end of my talk, he was rightly concerned that those returning home with him be dealt with spiritually.

I realized in that instant I was a talker. He was a doer.

We did what needed to be done, and concluded our time talking some more with the doer. We decided it made more sense to begin a new church plant in the recinto (rural community) where he lived, instead of transporting back and forth his lost friends, family and neighbors to the Saturday night meetings (a 30-minute trip over rough, rural dirt roads.) Why couldn't they have the same kinds of meetings where they all lived? All we needed was a doer to do what needed to be done. The doer (to the right of green-striped shirt) was willing.

I committed to come back and talk some more to help the doers learn what they needed to do.

In my own life and ministry, I have made the conscious choice to try and give 80% of my time and energy to the DOERS, and 20% to my fellow TALKERS. Both doers and talkers are part of the Body of Christ. Both are to be loved and respected. Both have a role in the Kingdom.

Are you a doer or a talker? If you are a doer, we'd like to talk to you about coming to help us do what needs to be done here in Guayas. Seriously!

Saturday, May 23


Lilita is one of our prayer warriors. At over 80 years of age, and nearly completely deaf, she made the trip yesterday downtown on two buses, arriving a few minutes before the start of the meeting.

Every hair on her head was in place. She was meticulously dressed in her one, neat white Sunday dress that I have seen her wear for the past ten years. Around her neck she wore a necklace, rings on her fingers, costume ear rings, and shiny high heeled shoes.

Like Anna, the prophetess, in Luke 2, Lilita is a widow. Lilita's "temple" is the tiny apartment where her days revolve around serving the Lord "night and day with fastings and prayers" reading her Bible, and more prayer. Day after day, after day, after day. This is her life. This is her calling. This is her ministry. She takes prayer very seriously.

For more than 20 years she has prayed daily for each member of our family. Arising between 3:00-4:00am it takes her between 4-5 hours to pray through her list of 68 people she brings before the Father every single day.

When she is not praying, she cares for her elderly brother who lives with her on the seventh floor apartment. Several times a day, this 80+ year old sister in Christ climbs up and down the seven flights of stairs. Her adult children and their families all live far away in Chile. She has not seen any of her children or grandchildren for more than 30 years.

Even though she was unable to hear a word of what was being said in yesterday's meeting, it was important that she be present. She is as much a part of the work and ministry as anyone else gathered. She sat in her chair proudly, holding her head high the entire two hours, glad to be part of the proceedings, even though I doubt she heard a single word that was spoken (did all our words even matter a crumb compared to what is accomplished through her praying?)

When the meeting was over, she handed over a check. Lilita vowed before the Lord, years ago, to help support the ministry by giving $2/month of her meager income. Yesterday, though, she asked that we not cash the check until the 1st of June. She felt that would give the Lord plenty of time to provide the needed funds to honor her bank draft. When we tried excusing her by saying it would be all right to skip this month, she would hear nothing of the kind. "Esto es mi compromiso con el Señor, no con ustedes!" (This is my commitment to the Lord, not with you!) There is no arguing with this saint, so no more was said of the matter. The check will be cashed June 1st.

This is the same woman who 13 years ago, when our adopted daughter, Anna, was taken away from us for six weeks, we prayed night and day that she would be returned to us. After four weeks of praying, we decided it was not God's will. We held a private family memorial service and gave her back to the Lord.

I told this to Lilita one afternoon two weeks after the memorial service. I thanked her for her prayers, but let her know they were no longer necessary. We had accepted God's will and that was the end of the matter.

I will never, ever, forget tiny, hunched-over Lilita wagging her finger in my face and sternly rebuking me in the Lord, "NEVER, NEVER, NEVER STOP PRAYING UNTIL GOD ANSWERS. I SURE HAVEN'T AND WILL KEEP PRAYING UNTIL HE ANSWERS!" That very evening, two full weeks after we had stopped praying--but Lilita had persevered in prayer anyway--we received a call to come pick up the baby girl who is today, Anna Victoria, our 13 year old daughter. She was, of course, named after the prophetess who was rewarded "victory" after praying night and day.

This morning, our Anna Victoria is meeting here at the house with her "Girl's Bible Club" she started with two friends. My wife peeked in on their "secret girl's meeting" last night. Anna had her friends seated on the floor of her bedroom and was sharing with them a devotional she had found in a magazine.

It is a comfort beyond what I am able to express, to know that Lilita still prays daily for our daughter Anna, as well as for the rest of our family. She is part of the little "band of warriors" here in Guayaquil who, by faith, have taken head-on the kingdom of darkness, and will not give up until His Kingdom comes upon this earth, or die in midst of battle.

Only Heaven will reveal the full impact of Lilita's prayers in all that is taking place here in Guayaquil. Someday, I fully expect to see Lilita standing next to Anna the prophetess, where together, they will be amongst those in the "inner circle" bowed in worship around the Throne of God, as one-by-one, all the answered prayers over the years are revealed to them.

Thursday, May 21

When reasons disappear and practices continue

Another great post from Alan Knox.
According to a commercial on the radio, there is a law in Arizona that makes it illegal to allow a donkey to sleep in your bathtub.

Also, apparently, in Minnesota, there is a law that makes it illegal to cross the Minnesota state line with a duck on your head.

While these laws seem funny and even ridiculous to us, there was probably a good reason for passing the laws in the first place. If we traced the history of these laws, we would probably understand why the laws are on the book. However, while the history may clear things up for us, history will not make the laws make sense today.

Why? Well, most people don't own donkeys today, much less allow them to sleep in their bathtubs. And, I don't think I've ever seen someone with a duck on their head.

But, of course, once a law is on the books, it is difficult to remove it.

The same thing happens with our traditions and practices and rules in the church. For very good reasons, the church begins doing things and begins doing them in certain ways. Eventually, the reasons disappear, but the practices continue.

Eventually, if we're not careful, those practices become more important to us than who we are as the family of God in Christ. The way we do things becomes more important than the reason we started doing them in the first place. We become defined by our methods instead of being defined by our relationship with God and with one another.

I think we see this today in many aspects of our lives together as the church. We don't know why we do the things we do or why we act the way we act or why we're structured the way we're structured, but someone must have had a good reason to start doing it this way, and we're familiar and comfortable with these things, so we just let them continue.

But, the silly laws I mentioned at the beginning of this post - laws against donkeys sleeping in bathtubs and wearing a duck on your head - generally don't affect people today. For many people, their lives will not be changed if the laws remain or are repealed.

But, it is completely different for the church. The things that we do day after day, week after week, year after year, simply because that's the ways it's been done, or the ways we've been taught, or the ways that have worked before, or even the ways that seem rational and logical... these things affect us as followers of Jesus Christ. They affect our relationship with God and our relationships with one another.

The things that we do or don't do, the way that we're structured or not structured, the way that we speak or don't speak, all of these things work to either build us up toward maturity in Christ, or they hinder our development in Christ.

Laws against donkeys sleeping in the bathtub seem funny and ridiculous to us. But, I wonder if the way we treat one another as the church, the way we set up hierarchies among believers, the way we abandon our responsibilities toward one another and pay others to carry out our responsibilities... I wonder if these things seem funny to God.

Wednesday, May 20

What you need to know to plant a church

Sometimes my head spins at how complex we have made church planting. I am overwhelmed with all the books, studies, graphs, surveys, conferences, blogs, methodologies, strategies, experts, and current discussions taking place. The implication seems to be if you don't have a PhD and 4 years apprenticeship with a CP guru in Asia, you simply won't make it to first base in planting a church.

If, like me, you are intimidated by all the jargon and sensational stories about what others experience in more exotic, far away places than the neighborhood where you live, then this post is for you!

A while back Bill Lollar shared what I consider to be pretty much everything you need to know to get started as a church planter--call it Church Planting 101. Of course, there is a bit more to it that than just these six principles, but everything else are just "details." For now, Bill's six basic principles for church planting work for me about as well as all the information in the pile of books and manuals gathering dust in my study.
  1. Recognize that every Christian is “called” to communicate the Gospel message wherever they currently live and work. That’s the “Great Commission,” so why look for a lesser one? You don’t need anyone else’s permission, since God trumps everyone, and you certainly don’t need an assessment to share the Gospel.

  2. Continue in your present occupation (1 Corinthians 7:17-23), so you can meet your obligations, particularly the one that requires YOU to take care of your family (1 Timothy 5:8) and share with those in need (Romans 12:13; Ephesians 4:28). Ministry is not a career path for those seeking a comfortable salary, benefits, and a retirement plan!

  3. Act on principle number one and begin sharing the Gospel with your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members. There is usually no need to go anywhere else, because your world is already full of people who don’t know Jesus! Yes, it’s okay to relocate, as long as you remember principle number two OR a group of believers voluntarily agrees to support you as a missionary in another culture where it is unlikely that you would be allowed to take jobs away from the indigenous people group to whom you are being sent.

  4. Since God has promised to provide a harvest for those who labor like this in His vineyard, begin to disciple/teach those who express an interest in spiritual things, expecting the power of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring them to repentance and faith.

  5. Meet together with these new believers on a regular basis (Hebrews 10:24-25), thinking of creative ways in which you can stimulate one another to love and minister to others, as well as encouraging each other in the Christian journey.

  6. Teach every new believer how to follow the above principles!
Now, go out there and do the above...and happy church planting!

Sunday, May 17

How 29 believers became 110 believers starting 5 new house churches--and all in less than a year

How did they do it?

Short version for skimmers:

--4 months of concentrated prayer
--4 months of abundant Gospel sowing (intentional evangelism)

Details for those who have a couple of minutes:

A few days ago, Geovanny and I were talking "shop" about various aspects of the Lord's work going on here in Guayaquil. In the middle of the conversation, he said, "have I told you yet that we are no longer a single church meeting at "11 and Huancavilca", but are now a network of six house churches?"

Seeing my obvious interest, he proceeded to share what had taken place over the past few months...

"In April 2008 there were 29 of us meeting together in our church. We decided to ask God for 70 new believers by year's end. From April to August we did nothing but pray. Some weeks we would fast and pray, other times we stayed up all night praying...but prayer was our focus, praying the Lord of the Harvest for laborers and praying for the "70". We prayed individually and collectively for four months.

Sometime around mid-August we started praying less, but began implementing an evangelistic emphasis every month. At first we thought a single monthly effort would not be enough. But because of the spiritual preparation make by the previous months of concentrated prayer, we were amazed at the response these evangelistic efforts were bearing in spiritual fruit.

By year's end (2008) we had surpassed our prayed for goal of 70, and were busy discipling 110 new believers --the fruit given to us by the Lord from these monthly evangelistic efforts. In Feb-Mar of this year, these new disciples began meeting in five homes closer to where they lived. Nelson is now leading the "Villa España" church, José the "Sucre y 14" group, Marcos and Tania the "Balerio" church, Juán the "Febres Cordero y 14" group, and William the "35 y El Oro" house church.

For 2009-2010 we plan to continue our PRAYER-EVANGELISM strategy and are now asking the Lord for 300 new disciples and 20 new churches by the end of next year..."

110 new believers from an initial 29 is a phenomenal 380% growth rate. How many churches do you know with this kind of growth in less than a year? How many churches have you heard about recently that planted five other churches in less than a year?

As much as I quizzed Geovanny, the only "strategy" was prayer and proclamation of the Gospel. So much for all the fancy stuff we think we have to do to reach the lost! No surveys taken, no $150 conferences (plus $800 airfare/hotel) to learn "how to", no $$$ spent on media campaigns, no stadiums rented out, no free concerts or hot dogs...just prayer and proclamation. Sometimes I think we ought to take a year's fast from all our books, conferences, blogs, internet, and do nothing more than get serious about prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in what Jesus would have us do to reach our lost family, friends, neighbors and co-workers with the Good News of Christ.

What are your own observations? What can we learn from the above? Is there anything in Geovanny's testimony that speaks to your heart about prayer, evangelism or church planting?

Friday, May 15

Missions is...

Our training center for church planters is known as CAPCO (Centro de Apoyo para la Cosecha). On the wall is a large poster with these words:
MANOS que dan
RODILLAS que oran
PIES que van

HANDS that give
KNEES that pray
FEET that go

Which part are you? Hands that give? Knees that pray? Or, feet that go? In other words, how are you actively engaged in the task Christ gave to the church to make disciples of the nations?

In the following interview Ed Stetzer and Jerry Rankin get to the heart of Satan's most effective strategy for keeping missions out of the mainstream of most churches: spiritual warfare. More than any other strategy, the enemy keeps us distracted from being actively engaged in missions. Watch and see if you don't agree.

Wednesday, May 13

Guayas for Christ

Guayas, with 3.3 million people, is the largest province in Ecuador. The province is divided into 25 cantones (counties). By far the largest counties are Guayaquil and Durán with 67% of the total provincial population.

Most of the attention over the past 50 years has centered on outreach to the two largest counties of Guayaquil and Durán, accounting for most of the evangelical presence in the province.

In the remaining 23 counties (population 1.09 million) there is an unknown, but considerably lower percentage of evangelical Christians and churches.

The “Guayas Cantones for Christ” project seeks to focus prayer, investigation, training, evangelism, discipleship, and church planting on the remaining unreached/under-reached counties of Guayas province.

The project entails at least two churches partnering together to establish reproducing churches in each of the remaining 23 cantones. One of the two churches will be a local national church. The other will be a Stateside/international partner church or missions outreach team.

Together, the national church and their international partners, will adopt and engage one of the under-reached counties. They will collaborate and work together to come up with a viable strategy for reaching their adopted county for Christ. More than likely this would be a 2-3 year commitment by both partnering churches.

The definition of “reached” is planting a minimum of three networking churches in the canton. Most likely these will be “simple churches” or “house churches.”

Simple/house churches are N.T. churches without all the extras that typify modern churches today (buildings and property, paid staff, etc.) The following documents help describe what we are talking about.

What do we mean by ‘simple church?’
What kind of churches are we planting overseas?
Simple churches need simple plans
Church planting lessons learned along the way
Simple church interviews

Interested? Any churches or missions teams reading this post that would prayerfully consider partnering with us in this project, please contact us through the email address found in our profile (top right-hand side bar.)

Reaching Guayas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a bigger task than we can possibly handle by ourselves. WE NEED HELP from those willing to come and take responsibility for reaching an entire county for Christ. Is this something God might be touching you to come do?

Monday, May 11

Things I wonder about

If there really is only One Body of Christ, why do we persist in separating ourselves from one another and clinging to our denominational distinctives?

Why don't we ever hear any sermons on 1 Corinthians 12:28ff "And in 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..."?

Related to the above question, 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?

Who are the Ephesian 4:11 apostles, prophets, and evangelists amongst us? Can you name any apostles, prophets, evangelists in your church today? What happened to these folks? Have their roles been absorbed by the pastor-teachers in our midst? If so, is this what the Holy Spirit intended?

Were Paul's epistles written to individual local house churches in Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. or were they written to ALL of the Church in each of these cities (house churches-plural?)

Why doesn't Paul ever address his letters to the pastor or leadership of the churches like we do today when contacting churches?

Where in the Bible do we get the idea that listening to a prepared sermon is an essential part of believers gatherings?

Why do we delay baptizing new believers when every instance recorded in the Book of Acts indicates immediate baptism upon profession of faith?

How small can a church be and still be a church? Does the Bible say anything about how big is too big for a church to be?

What is a church? When does a group become a church? What is the Scriptural support for your answer?

Where in the Bible does it refer to believers as members of a local church?

Can believers be part of more than one local church at the same time? (eg. a member at FBC-Dallas, Faith Bible Church, and Misión Evangélica Sión all at the same time) Why or why not?

Does a seminary education help or hinder those seeking to multiply new church starts?

What happened to celebrating the Lord's Supper as a meal? When did we begin substituting the Lord's SUPPER (meal) for a tiny cracker and sip of grape juice?

Where do we get the idea of paid/salaried pastors and church staff when 1 Corinthians 9 is clearly referring to itinerant apostolic workers?

Along these same lines where do we get the idea that "double honor" in 1 Timothy 5:17 for elders refers to a monthly salary and benefits package?

Why do we program our gatherings into hour-long meetings rather than allowing the Head of the Church (Jesus) to lead and move among us as He desires?

Just wondering...

Saturday, May 9

Sobering video on world demographics

The following video has captivated my thoughts now for several days. With than more than 4.7 million YouTube views a lot of people like myself are beginning to understand just how powerful immigration can be to a culture after only a few years. What do you think are the implications of this immigration for global missions?

Wednesday, May 6

When can we be a church?

When Mónica called saying she and her husband needed an urgent meeting, my heart sank. Usually when someone calls for a private meeting, there is some problem that has arisen and we are the ones they come to for help. Both are new believers who have grown tremendously in the Lord. I dreaded hearing whatever it was that had happened.

Geovanny (our team leader) and I met with Mónica and Medardo. Both of us were expecting the worse. After the initial small talk, they got down to why they had called the meeting.

Mónica voiced their concern, "When can we be a church?"

As hard as it was for me to think this was the real issue at hand, and not something else, I went along and began a series of questions...

"How many believers gather together with you?"

Medardo answered, "Usually between 10 and 15, but only seven have been baptized so far this year (2009). The rest are waiting until we can coordinate a time when we can all get down to the river."

"How often do you gather together. Once, twice a week?"

"We meet every evening Tuesday-Sunday from about 7:00pm till people get tired and go home," answered Mónica. "They are just so excited and eager to learn and share. We tried suggesting getting together only 3-4 times a week, but that didn't go over very well with the group."

"You're telling me that six evenings a week you meet there in your home?"

"Oh no, we rotate between three different houses. Ours and in the homes of two other families who recently gave their hearts to the Lord and are being discipled."

Out of curiosity, I couldn't help but ask, "if you are meeting Tuesday to Sunday, why don't you go ahead and meet on Monday evenings as well?"

"Oh no, brother Guido, that's the day we have our team meeting. We told everyone they were welcome to meet on Mondays, but that we wouldn't be there."


I continued, "How many of those days are spent praying?"

"Tuesday evenings are dedicated entirely to prayer. We pray for all our lost family members, we pray for our country, we pray for each others problems, we pray..."

They went on to tell me all the things they are praying for and fully expecting God to answer.

I then asked the first question that caused them to lower their heads and break eye contact, "have you been able yet to start any other new groups?"

Mónica seemed embarrassed, but answered, "only two. What with my husband's working, and my own family responsibilities, we just haven't had any more time."

"Where are these groups meeting?" I asked.

"On Wednesday afternoons we go to Sergio Toral where we are discipling some new believers, and Sunday afternoons we have a group meeting in Bastion. We know that's not a lot, but we are praying the Lord for a third new group."

"What has been the greatest joy for you?"

"Seeing lives transformed, and people hungry to learn more about God."

"What has been the hardest part for you?" (thinking surely it must be the nightly gatherings and the impact upon their family life)

"The hardest part is our feeling of inadequacy in that all the new believers are coming to us with their questions and problems and we don't know what to do except pray for them. Their lives are so messed up. They look to us for answers since we are the ones who know the most about the Bible. We wish we knew God's Word better than we do so that we could help them more."

At that point we stopped and Geovanny and I talked with them for several minutes about allowing the Holy Spirit to be the One to guide them and that loving their new brothers and sisters in Christ by just being there with them was something the Lord would use for his glory.

After a few minutes, Mónica interrupted and asked again, "so when can we be a church?"


At that, they smiled and we talked about putting together a celebration where several of the other house churches would be invited for a time of praise and thanksgiving. They liked that idea, and Mónica began talking about what food might be good to prepare for this special occasion.

As I drove home after the meeting, I couldn't help but reflect on the DNA that had been injected into them from the beginning by another team member, Marlene, who led them to the Lord a little over a year ago. Marlene modeled and lived the message she preached to them, sacrificing herself for them as she discipled them faithfully for nearly a year. She taught and modeled for them the very life in Christ they were now modeling for those they were leading!

No one has ever told them Christians only gather on Sunday mornings for church.

No one ever told them churches less than a year old cannot start 2-3 new churches themselves.

No one ever told them they needed more than the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in order to lead three different house churches--all of which came to the Lord through their personal witness.

No one told them that to be church you have to have all this "stuff."

They are just doing it, trusting the Lord as they go along. And the Lord is blessing!

Geovanny, who accompanied me during the above meeting with Medardo and Mónica, shares his own similar experience with How 29 believers became 110 believers starting 5 new house churches--and all in less than a year!