Thursday, January 31

Conversational prayer

Over the years of working with house/simple churches one of the most meaningful segments of our gatherings are the prayer times. We train church planters to practice several different ways of praying. One of these ways is conversational prayer.

Acknowledge God’s presence in the group. Praise and adoration is always good to help focus the group on communicating with the Lord.

Pray short prayers of one, two or three sentences.

Pray about one subject, idea or person at a time until everyone has shared as much and as often as prompted by the Spirit.

Be reluctant to change the subject as you would in any conversation until everyone is finished with it.

Times of silence can give the timid and the thoughtful time to contribute.

The more the conversation with God is passed around the group the deeper the intimacy grows. In time a small group becomes totally unified and purely transparent.

Watch God’s love flow freely, lives transform and answers to prayer abound.

Tuesday, January 29

10 reasons for sending out workers in pairs*

1. Travelling in groups of two or more was Jesus’ and the apostles’ consistent practice. To avoid working alone is patently biblical. There are at least three levels of authority for what churches and missions practice: 1) the commands of the New Testament, 2) practices of the New Testament that were not commanded, and 3) church traditions that were neither commanded nor practiced in the NT. Christians historically have preferred to adopt apostolic practices except when those offend local culture or cause more harm than good.

2. There is more power from God when two agree together in prayer. Jesus promised, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matt. 18:19). Since evangelistic outreach into non-Christian regions faces continual opposition from the devil and evil persons, workers can benefit from concerted prayer. Two or more who go together can pray together.

3. Two workers can usually bring more spiritual gifts into play than can one. Since gospel workers have as their objective to evangelize families and plant churches in the homes of receptive folks, they will be better equipped to do so by the gifts of the Holy Spirit in each one of them. God promises to give to churches apostles,prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers who can equip those churches (Eph. 4:11-12).

4. One worker may have teaching gifts and another, other practical gifts. Fulfilling both the Great commandment to love God and neighbour and Jesus’ Supreme command to make disciples, dual workers can use both speaking gifts and serving gifts (1 Pet 4:11). The two ‘Great’ commands (‘Great Commandment’ and ‘Great Commission’) are like the two wings of a bird. Working together, the bird flies with confidence. If the feathers of either wing are clipped, it only goes in circles, as do church bodies that fail to balance the two ‘Great’ commands. Ministries that serve both the spiritual and physical dimensions of local communities normally prove more effective at both than does a ministry that ‘specializes’ in one or the other.

5. Two workers can experience the Presence of Jesus in their midst. Two workers can be more certain of the “voice” of the Holy Spirit leading their activities and granting them insight. As soon as the two have led a third to faith in Jesus, they already qualify as a nuclear church in which Jesus dwells (Matt. 18:20). This promise of Jesus makes worship and Body life a reality from the earliest days of a church plant and provides a model for the reproduction of new cells and congregations.

6. Dual workers serve as reliable witnesses to the outcomes of their work. When the Apostle Peter went to the home of Cornelius in Caesarea, he took along with him six brothers from Joppa who served as witness to the unexpected outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon non-Jewish believers (Acts 10:45; ll:12). Reliable testimonials can encourage others and confirm outcomes. In some cases, workers can better defend each other in cases of false accusation as well as in courts of law, discouraging wanton attacks against a worker who goes out alone.

7. A pair of workers can encourage each other keep each other accountable. Lonely and frightened gospel workers can easily fall prey to their fears and to various kinds of temptations, whereas a pair of workers can more easily resist incitement to sin and can reason together about obstacles to their work (2 Cor. 7:6). While it can happen that co-workers come to a glad parting of ways, it is more usual that they remain encouraged by each others companionship. In our experience as mentors of church planters, most serious failures, both moral and strategic, have occurred while workers were travelling alone or during the fatigue that follows ‘mountain top’ ministry, such as Elijah’s suicidal depression after his triumph on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18-19).

8. When one worker trains another, they will often go out together for a time. Neither Jesus nor his apostles made it a practice to work alone; they both normally chose coworkers who were less experienced than themselves, because they saw in their apprentices a potential to become effective workers (Acts 16:1-3). In Acts 13, it is reported that the Holy Spirit sent out Barnabas, the more experienced, and Saul. Later, Saul, called Paul, became the more prominent. Travelling with less experienced workers is a key component of mentoring.

9. When one worker is detained at a place, the other can go or return where needed. Because Paul had taken co-workers with him to most localities, he was later able to leave one at a place or send one where they were recognised (1 Tim. 1:3; Tit. 1:5; Col. 1:7). An independent worker can easily die, become disabled or be detained, leaving earlier contacts undeveloped.

10. A pair of workers appears more serious and important to sceptical communities. Whereas an individual can be taken as a marginal babbler (Acts 17:18), two may gain a hearing. Local communities will look upon a pair of workers as representatives of a community or an organization, when a single worker may be mistaken for a fool.

* The above material for sending out workers in pairs comes from Galen Currah and George Patterson's MentorNet #38, entitled, "HE SENT THEM OUT TWO BY TWO." For similar materials check out their website at and

Saturday, January 26

Mi sueño para el Ecuador es ver a:

1--cada creyente haciendo discípulos
2--cada casa potencialmente una iglesia, y
3--cada templo un centro de preparación y una casa de oración 24/7

¿Cómo transformar este sueño en realidad?

1--reducir a un mínimo el número de cultos en las iglesias (los cultos no producen discípulos)
2--capacitar a cada creyente para ser un discípulo que hace discípulos
3--empoderar, enviar, apoyar y bendecir los esfuerzos de cada discípulo al salir a hacer discípulos en cada rincón de las ciudades, los cantones, pueblos, recintos, provincias, y hasta lo último de la tierra

¿Cómo empezar?

Todo empieza con mi oración personal, "heme aquí; envíeme a mi, Señor."  No esperaré a que otros lo hagan, yo lo haré comenzando ahora mismo orando a Dios para que me dé dos almas con quienes puedo comenzar a trabajar.

Con dos otras personas formo un "Grupo de Tres"* ganándoles para Cristo y discipulándoles. Seríamos tres personas creyentes.

Los dos nuevos discípulos siguen mi ejemplo y cada uno de nosotros buscamos ganar y discipular a dos personas más. Con esto seríamos seis personas.

Las seis también buscan ganar/discipular a dos personas más. Ya seríamos doce personas en nuestra nueva comunidad Cristiana.

En un año yo personalmente me responsabilizo de ganar y discipular a seis personas en total. Y estas seis imitan mi ejemplo y hacen lo mismo durante el lapso de un año.

Si de los supuestos 2-millones de creyentes existentes en el Ecuador, solamente 100.000 de ellos (el 5%)  se unieran a esta visión, a fines de año seríamos 1.200.000 nuevos discípulos (100.000 x 12).

¿De dónde van a salir los recursos para tantas nuevas iglesias?

Dios ya ha provisto de esta necesidad de tener un sitio donde reunirnos, ¡las casas de los mismos creyentes!

Trabajando de esta forma, a fines del segundo año seríamos 14.200.000 discípulos (todo el Ecuador) y estaríamos en buen camino para lanzar este inmenso ejercito hacia las naciones.

Si la idea es tan sencilla, ¿por qué no lo hacemos? ¿Qué nos está deteniendo?

Para que esta visión sea una realidad, tenemos que hacerla prioridad #1 no solamente en cada una de nuestras iglesias, sino como un reto personal de obediencia a nuestro Señor. Todo lo que distrae de cumplir la misión encomendada por Jesús en la Gran Comisión tiene que ser puesto a un lado. Tenemos que ser celosos por ver el cumplimiento de la Gran Comisión y todo este proceso comienza con mi obediencia personal.

La meta no es crecer la iglesia local con unos cuantos bautizos por año. La meta es cumplir la Gran Comisión de llevar el evangelio de Cristo a todas las naciones.

Nuestros líderes tienen que entender que su rol principal no es predicar mensajes o cumplir con el programa de la iglesia, sino de hacer lo que Pablo exhorta en Efesios 4 de capacitar a todos los santos en su congregación para que ellos cumplan la obra del ministerio encomendada por Jesús hace 2000 años.
Y El [Jesús] dio a algunos el ser apóstoles, a otros profetas, a otros evangelistas, a otros pastores y maestros, a fin de capacitar a los santos para la obra del ministerio, para la edificación del cuerpo de Cristo; hasta que todos lleguemos a la unidad de la fe y del conocimiento pleno del Hijo de Dios, a la condición de un hombre maduro, a la medida de la estatura de la plenitud de Cristo. O sea, el fin de Cristo al haberse encomendado un cargo de liderazgo en la iglesia es para un fin específico: CAPACITAR A LOS SANTOS PARA LA OBRA DEL MINISTERIO. Cuando el pueblo de Dios--los santos--son preparados y soltados a los campos de la mies, vamos a ver la cosecha de almas más grande de la historia.

¿Quieres unirte a esta visión? No es mia, es el mandato dado por Cristo en la Gran Comisión hace 2000 años.  Ya es tiempo de dejar atrás las excusas.  ¡Hagámosla realidad hoy!

* Materiales y taller de capacitación de dos horas disponible para aprender cómo mobilizar a toda la iglesia en hacer discípulos.

Wednesday, January 23

How do you answer all those tough theological questions?

One of the recurring themes for me as a missionary has been to mediate, or interpret the age old question Pilate made to Jesus, "What is truth?"

Hardly a week goes by that some theological issue, or church practice isn't brought to our attention in hopes we will side with their Biblical viewpoint, rather than the opposing viewpoint.

Some of the more recent issues to come our way: reformed theology in churches, women's roles in ministry, demonic oppression and how to deal with it, is there such a thing as "hearing God" speak outside of what we find in the Bible, are apostles/prophets valid roles today, can women be ordained, can house churches really be legitimate expressions of NT churches, the role of government in telling churches what they can do or not do, can believers be demon possessed (a really BIG issue here), what practices in Pentecostal churches cross the line making them cultish, G-12 practices, what does the Bible say is the "right way" to worship, appropriate evangelism practices, what is biblical discipleship, can a church leader continue in their responsibilities if separated from their spouse, can a person be a practicing Catholic and still a Christian, can a person be a Christian and agree with the theology of certain TV evangelists, etc.

Is there such a thing as absolute truth on all the above matters? Is there a clear black or white answer to every Biblical question?

For me, truth might be likened to a house.

We start by getting to know the house by entering through the main door into the foyer. Here we admire the prints on the walls, hang our coat on the rack, and wipe our feet on the door mat.

Just about the time we think we have figured out the house based on our experience and observations of the foyer, our host leads us into the living room. There we discover even more wonders as we sit in the soft chairs, walk on the plush carpet, and admire the flower arrangements on the coffee table and mantel.

With our visit to the living room we are even more sure we know and understand what the house is all about. We begin to tell our friends about all we have seen and experienced based on the foyer and living room.

One of our friends mentions liking the fried chicken and mashed potatoes he had enjoyed in the dining room.

Fried chicken? Mashed potatoes? Dining room?!?! For one not yet introduced to the dining room and kitchen areas of the house, this sounds suspect from our foyer/living room point of view.

I begin to deny the "truth" of my friends fried chicken experience. I lovingly try to correct him in his error and restore him to the FULL TRUTH as was revealed to me in the foyer and living room parts of the house.

While maybe a flawed illustration of how we understand truth, it does reveal how many of us interpret truth based upon our experience of a portion of the whole.

Back some 25 or so years ago, as a new missionary to Guayaquil, a national friend invited a bunch of us over for a Sunday evening parillada (Bar-B-Que). I was horrified and disappointed that the invitation was for a Sunday evening at 7:00pm. Why? That, of course, was the same time as the Sunday evening church service. What would God think of us having a parillada when we all should be sitting in church? Sunday was the Lord's Day, not a day for parilladas and partying with friends.

I remember sitting in church that Sunday evening totally convinced that I was right and my worldly brothers were wrong for going ahead with the parillada. I had understood the truth of church through my limited exposure as something I had learned in the "foyer." Since the kitchen, patio, and Bar-b-que grill portions had not yet been revealed to me, I was quite certain that my paradigm of church was right, and that my unspiritual brothers were quite immature in their worldly ways. It was up to me to correct their "dining room theology" with my "foyer theology".

Isn't truth an ever-deepening revelation as we allow the Lord to lead us further into his "house of truth?" Just when we think we have finally discovered the truth of one of God's mysteries, He leads us through a new door into another room of the house, revealing yet more wonders which add to our understanding of that truth.

It seems to me a lot of arguing and divisiveness--especially amongst fellow believers--is that we argue our case for truth out of our limited exposure to only a portion of the whole truth. Those who have journeyed through only the foyer and living room think those enjoying fried chicken in the dining room are way out of bounds.

But could it be that the riches of Christ Jesus, the author of all truth, go so much deeper than most of us have experienced to date?

What do your think?

Tuesday, January 22

Is there a better way to impact the world for Jesus?

On January 21, the United States celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. MLK is remembered for his famous "I Have A Dream" speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. August 28, 1963, a stirring reminder that will long live in the hearts of all Americans.

But there is another dream that also inspires me by Dale Losch at where the author asks, Is there a better way to impact the world for Jesus? And goes on to share his own,

"I Have A Dream"...

I dream of a world where disciple-making is a reality and not just an ideal; where disciples make disciples who make diciples and unleash the explosive power of spiritual multiplication.

I dream of a world where all believers embrace their individual calls and all professions are employed in the cause to disciple the nations; where cross-cultural disciple-makers from secular professions outnumber vocational Christain workers 100 to 1.

I dream of a world where the church is defined as a group of fervent followers on mission to extend the Kingdom of God rather than as buildings, programs, and numbers of Christians.

I dream of a world where the good news of Jesus impacts not just a person's eternity, but all of life here and now.

I dream of a world where every city on earth has a vibrant community of reproducing disciple-makers who will infuse all of society like yeast permeates dough.

And I dream of a world where to be a Christian is to be known as a lover of God, of people, and of life.

In short, I dream of disciple-makers from all professions bringing God's love to life in the world's least-reached marketplaces...

It is first and foremost a dream of unleashing the power of real disciple-making. It is based on the conviction that this is exactly what Jesus told us to do, and if we will do it, the Great Commission will be completed in our lifetime.

Sunday, January 20

How sincere believers can read the same Bible and yet come to such differing understandings of Scripture

I have always found it intriguing how Christians reading the same Bible can come up with such a wide variety of beliefs and practices about the church. Recently I stumbled upon a very simple explanation of how such a wide variety of beliefs can exist within the Body of Christ through reading Father Zachary J. Hayes explanation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory where he points out that our understanding of the church and church practice hinges upon our overarching view of Scripture itself:
"While the Protestant viewpoint looks for a pure form of doctrine at the beginning of Christian history and sees any deviation from that pure form as a corruption, the Catholic viewpoint sees the beginning more like a seed planted in history. It is the nature of a seed to grow and develop...

Catholic theologians have been inclined to think of the church as a community that grows through history like a living organism. The idea of a seed and the plant emerging from the seed became common metaphors to express this sense of growth. Like a seed, the revelation of God germinates in the ground of history and of human cultures and gives rise to a plant. While this plant is intrinsically related to the seed, it still looks quite different from the original seed, just as an oak tree looks very different from the acorn from which it grew...

In terms of doctrine, this has come to mean that, while the Scriptures have a normative and irreplaceable role to play in the faith life of the church, nevertheless, we ought not to expect any one-to-one relationship between the formultations of the Scriptures and the later formulations of church doctrines..."
--Father Zachary J. Hayes
Wow! If Scripture is merely the initial "seed" from which the plant--the church--matures and grows; then yes, we can have all kinds of beliefs, traditions, and church practices.

But is Scripture meant to be only the initial seed? Is God's Word meant to be only the starting point? Where in Scripture, itself, is the church referred to using a seed metaphor?

This might not seem like a big deal, but to me the seed metaphor has enormous implications. If Scripture is just the starting point where the "seed" begins its journey evolving into a more developed state, then truly everybody is right in ascerting their viewpoint of what has evolved as being "the truth." Indeed each seed will develop into a different plant. Isn't this what we have done with the church? Church is what we want it to be, not what what Scripture says it is. Acts and the Epistles are not blueprints, but are understood as "seeds" that sprout and grow into something different than what we find in the pages of the New Testament.

I believe it is not only the Catholics who have misunderstood the church, her doctrines and practices as deriving themselves from Scripture seeds, but Protestants and Evangelicals as well. All of us tend to justify what it is we believe (or want to believe) by copying/pasting favorite proof texts about the church and making them fit our current ecclesiology.

We have taken the seed found in the Bible, sowed it into the soil of history, nurtured and watered it down through the ages, and think what we have today is an improvement over what Jesus and the apostles left for us. After all, why gather in a simple home to stimulate one another to love and good works, when we can meet in multi-million dollar complexes complete with state-of-the-art technology and artificial waterfalls cascading in the foyer?

So, what is your view of Scripture? Is it a starting point meant to evolve into something else? Or is the intent to give us a more prescriptive set of commands and instructions on how to best make disciples, plant churches, etc.? Or, maybe, something in between?

Thursday, January 17

Church planting: Jesus way or our way?

In Luke 10, Jesus sets out clear, step-by-step instructions for the 70 disciples to obey in reaching out to "every town and place where He was about to go." If Jesus trained, taught, and instructed his disciples in what they should do, why do we think 2000 years later our ways are an improvement on his way?

Jesus instructed his disciples, "PRAY to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest..." (10:2)

We have improved upon this instruction by, 1) substituting 'praying to the Lord of the Harvest' for TALKING about the need for praying, 2) forget about praying, what needs to be done is massive recruitment--get out there and do what has to be done to get people involved, mobilize the masses into training seminars at the largest convention centers in town and invite in the biggest names that will draw the crowds.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "now GO, I'm sending you out like lambs among wolves..." (10:3)

We have improved upon Jesus' words by substituting His command to go for something much more convenient for us: COME! Come to our church...meeting...revival...youth group...evangelistic crusade...ladies brunch...sports event...spiritual emphasis...Bible study...etc. Going out to where the lost are and entering their world is always a lot messier than sitting around hoping and praying they will somehow come to us and whatever event we have planned for them. While I can give a couple of hours for an event at church, I certainly don't have the same couple of hours to go out of my way into the scary unknown. I might be seen associating myself with non-desirables in places not known as appropriate Christian hang-outs.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "DON'T CARRY a money-bag, travelling bag, or sandals..." (10:4)

Since we have never really understood exactly what Jesus was trying to say with this obscure command, we have simply ignored it and done just the opposite. We believe it is not possible to do the Lord's work unless we have a large money bag, and having all the necessary implements in our travelling bag for the journey (cars, land, building, salaries, literature, support packages, furnishings, sounds system, musical instruments, laptop, PowerPoint, video projector, etc.) And certainly let's not forget the importance of the having the latest fashion in sandals and attire and other necessary personal implements for the task. Afterall, we want to make a good impression on those we are trying to reach!

Jesus instructed his disciples, "DON'T GREET ANYONE along the road..." (10:4)

Jesus obviously didn't understand the importance of greetings in our present day cultures. How is one ever to gain access into "their world" unless we spend a lot of time greeting and building relationships? So, once again we seek to improve (ignore) another outdated command of our Lord and actually spend enormous chunks of time and plan whole evangelistic strategies that never get beyond anything other than "greeting" and nurturing a few relationships. We do ladies teas, let's meet the neighbors, go to ball games together, find someone to drink coffee with, etc. While all these may be good activities, the problem is that we seldom move beyond the "greeting stage" to the remaining instructions of Christ as given in Luke 10:1-9. We tend to lose focus when we stop and greet folks unless we are in tune with the whole strategic process that Christ was teaching. Jesus knows how easily we are distracted, so He warns us upfront to not greet anyone, or do anything else that will distract us from the important mission we are on.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "SAY 'PEACE to this household' and if a son of peace is there your peace will rest on him..." (10:5)

Modern consensus agrees that 'saying peace to this household' is a waste of time. The best way to win a community, town, or city is to get out there in vast numbers and knock on as many doors as possible. When they open the door, invite them to your church, and maybe even preach the Gospel and let them know this might be the very last chance they will ever have for salvation. If they refuse, leave them a Gospel tract, and a bunch of literature from your church and be sure to pray for them before leaving.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "REMAIN IN THE SAME HOUSE, eating and drinking what they offer..." (10:7)

Remain in the same house? Just that one house? You've got to be kidding! The more houses you visit, the more contacts you will have, the greater the number of positive results. You wouldn't want to dare risk everything on just one household. There is a high chance things will not work out and then you will be left with nothing. Plus, what's the big deal with wasting time by eating and drinking with people? Does eating and drinking accomplish anything of eternal value? Don't think so...

Jesus instructed his disciples, "EAT THE THINGS set before you..." (10:8)

It's like Jesus foreknew we would have trouble with understanding the importance of the eating/drinking part, so He said it TWICE to make sure we would get it. But the fact is we have yet to grasp the importance of eating and drinking with people BEFORE trying to proclaim the 'Good News" to them. What's important is getting down to business and sharing the Gospel with lost folks. We eat and drink with our fellow Christians, not with pagans!

Jesus instructed his disciples, "HEAL THE SICK who are there..." (10:9)

Well this one is easy to ignore because we all know that only the Pentecostals and the Charismatics are the ones into the healing stuff. We certainly can side-step this sticky one. We wouldn't want to actually involve ourselves in any controversial issues like healing the sick (might lose our jobs over it!) After all, most of us are cessationists and no longer believe these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are valid today. We have the Bible and that's all we need. So, basically we are off the hook on this one. Next...

Jesus instructed his disciples, "TELL THEM, 'The kingdom of God has come near you..." (10:9)

Well FINALLY Jesus gets around to telling us to do what really matters--the 'main thing'-- which is declaring, preaching, teaching the Gospel message of the Kingdom to these lost people. Let's just cut to the chase and skip all the other stuff. It is time to get down to the important business of witnessing and sharing the Gospel. We are free to skip over the parts of Jesus instructions we don't like or understand. Wasn't his main thrust obviously this last point? We will certainly try to obey this part, but the rest is up for debate and interpretation--in other words, not much of importance in all those instructions preceding this final one.

Is it any wonder that after 2000 years we still haven't finished the task given us by Christ? We think we have a better way of doing things. We have the new, improved version, and yet continuously scratch our heads and wonder why things aren't working out the way they are supposed to?

Monday, January 14

What to do with a billion $ - by Wolfgang Simson

Blueprint of a contemporary Kingdom expense sheet

If we define the Kingdom of God as the domain of God’s uncontested rule, then no amount of human ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurship and connectedness can substitute the core issue: how would Jesus spend his money that is on our accounts if we would not contest it?

Kingdom principles are, in their original Hebrew, pre-secularized and pre-democratized form, ethical absolutes that Jesus the King both modeled and taught. The economic principles of the Kingdom are no exception and demonstrate that there are two radically different and opposed sets of economic systems: Kingdom economics, and the economics of Babylon.

The validity of Kingdom economic principles are, in addition to this, compounded by the historical fact that the early church as recorded in the New Testament lived by those principles without intervention or rebuke from the King-which he would have surely done if they were off the mark, setting a false example for those that follow in the course of history. Historic progress and cultural or political change does not replace eternal Kingdom values-it simply requires a wise and culturally relevant re‐application of unchangeable financial principles in today’s world. As in any Kingdom, there are values and specific issues that requireprioritization . This is why the following list follows Kingdom order:

ONE) Orphans and widows in the Kingdom.

Principle: Family first. We must demonstrate supernatural and practical love and mercy (diaconia) towards our own poor – or we dare not call ourselves a family. As long as some of our own family members need to crawl whimpering, cold and hungry into a street corner or are unprotected and lost, any lofty idea, vision or investment plan becomes cruel (see 1 John). The most vulnerable citizens of the Kingdom are widows and orphans. We are required to “do good to everyone, first and foremost to those in the family of believers” (Gal 6:10; see also John 13:2 and Gal 2:10).

Application: 25% of our billion, $250 m, goes to uncared for widows and orphans, especially family members of those killed for their faith in countries like Indonesia, India, Central-Asia or China. Simply organizing people into orphanages is neither Kingdom policy nor would it be enough: God wants his most vulnerable children adopted (clothed, fed and socially integrated).

TWO) Spiritual mothers and fathers.

Principle: Those who have become mature trainers, coaches and equippers of others are in other words, spiritual parents, and therefore “workers worth their pay” (Luke 10:7; 1 Cor. 9, Matt. 20 etc.). People who fully invest themselves in parenting and equipping others (Eph. 4:11‐13), just like Jesus from age 30 onwards, have no time to do both business and parenting-with the exception of Paul’s brief time as a tentmaker or in an apostolic start-up phase. Paul uses strong language in 1 Cor 9:14 and speaks of a not a suggestion but a command of Jesus that “those who preach the gospel shall live from the gospel.” The key group in expanding the Kingdom of God are, reflecting biblical priorities, not evangelists, but “apostles and prophets”. The church in Philippi raised a substantial and liberating sum for the needy apostle Paul who, lacking support from a church that should support him, had no other choice than to “make tents” for a limited time (Acts 18:1 ‐5; Phil4:15) which vitally limited his explosive apostolic potential.

Application: 40%, $ 400m that go towards a strategic financial First Aid and global re-instatement project, particularly for apostles and prophets. Reason: most pastors and teachers (theologians) today are salaried, while most healthy “apostles and prophets”, the research & development wing of the Kingdom, are, in most countries, unpaid at the fringes or even outside the radar of the traditional church for many centuries. This has created a backlog of thousands of unpaid (apostolic and prophetic) workers James 5 style, and if the mobilizers of others are themselves tied down, standstill is inevitable.

THREE) Apostolic projects and Kingdom initiatives.

Principle: Paul arranged a financial collection for the aging grandmother churchof Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:3); the apostolic council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) needed someone to pay for the chicken; logistical challenges required money for trips.

Application: 25% or $ 250 m. The key area of Kingdom advancement today are areas long and painfully overlooked by a non-apostolic church: the creation of models or Kingdom outposts that demonstrate the superiority of the Kingdom in areas like family, education, culture (technology, nutrition, sports, arts, media etc), business & finance as well as politics. Here we need to fund inventors, pioneers and Kingdom entrepreneurs and their initiatives, as they develop Kingdom solution for the worlds problems.

FOUR) The outside poor.

Principle: Diaconia to those outside the church. Giving to the poor who were outside the Kingdom was not compulsory, but voluntary (Mark 14:7: “…and if you want, you can help them anytime”), a very wise emphasis forgiving-priorities by Jesus himself. Otherwise the never ending and screaming need of the poverty of this world would completely sap the entire budget of the church in no time-and leave not budget for any self-preservation or advance strategies.

Application: 10% or $ 100 m. In light of many government and transnational initiatives like UNICEF, plus 10.000’s of NGOs with asocial and philanthropic funding focus-as well as initiatives like Bill Gates’ “billionaires give half their kingdom club”, the MicahChallenge or the Copenhagen Consensus, 100 or 200m of additional Christian money will not swing the pendulum much at this point. Poverty has other roots than a lack of money. This is why social charity towards the outside poor is, kin typical upside Kingdom fashion-at the end, not the beginning, of our list.

(For more on this see Wolfgang Simson: The Starfish Manifesto, downloadable at

Thursday, January 10

Simple giving for simple churches

When Malachi 3:10 "storehouse tithing" ceases to be the standard for how much and where we give, many are left wondering:

--to whom then should I give?
--how much should I give?
--when is the right time to give?

In simple churches, simple giving is based upon Jesus' own words and teaching on the subject of giving:

"Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

...and further clarified by Paul's admonitions:

"I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

In trying to adhere to these principles, a rule of thumb for me is to align my giving with what I believe are the three overarching commands of Jesus Christ as given to his followers:

1) love God
2) love others
3) make disciples

So if I am in doubt about the who, what, when, where, and how much, I simply ask myself these questions: is this money a way to express my love for God?  Is this a way to love others?  Will this giving help make disciples?

If the answer is yes, give.
If the answer is no, don't.

As for how much ...I find Paul's words liberating in that whatever I purpose in my heart becomes the "how much" I should be giving.

I respect those who by conviction believe the whole tithe should be given to their local church because that is what they have purposed in their heart.  I can think of a lot of good reasons why many would choose to do so. Where I have the problem is when the tithing is done out of thinking (fear?) they must do so, or be in disobedience to Malachi 3:10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."

If we insist on Malachi 3:10 as binding upon New Testament believers, it stands we should follow through and take our "whole tithe" to the temple in Jerusalem--not to our local churches. Since the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and yet to be rebuilt, it is quite a jump in Biblical interpretation/application to say we must now take the "whole tithe" (10%) to our local church where we are members.

We are not Jews under the Law of Moses. Romans 3:19 says, "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law..." 

and Galatians 5:4, "you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."

If we are trying to be justified by the Law, then we must keep the WHOLE Law, not just the parts we like: "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law...because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes all the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:19-20)

My point in the above is not to start a theological debate, but to simply state, we are not under the Law of Moses. When Christ rose from the dead, he established a New Covenant. We are under this new dispensation. The new takes the place of the old. Paul spends considerable time in his letters to the Romans and Galatians clarifying these truths for us.

If in doubt as to who/what/when/where/how much to give, ask the Holy Spirit. It really is just that simple!

Sunday, January 6

More favorite missions quotes

"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." -William Carey

"The Indian is making an amazing discovery, namely that Christianity and Jesus are not the same--that they may have Jesus without the system that has been built up around Him in the West." -E. Stanley Jones

"Christians don't tell lies, they just go to church and sing them." -A.W. Tozer

"It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home." -J. Hudson Taylor

"If God calls you to be a missionary, don't stoop to be a king." -Charles H. Spurgeon

"We talk of the second coming, half the world has never heard of the first." -Oswald J. Smith

"If every Christian is already considered a missionary, then all can stay put where they are, and nobody needs to get up and go anywhere to preach the gospel. But if our only concern is to witness where we are, how will people in unevangelized areas ever hear the gospel? The present uneven distribution of Christians and opportunities to hear the gospel of Christ will continue on unchanged." -C. Gordon Olson

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't." -John Piper

"We who have Christ's eternal life need to throw away our own lives." -George Verwer

"Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of Hell." -C.T. Studd

"'Not called!' did you say? Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face -- whose mercy you have professed to obey -- and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world." -William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

"When I get to China, I will have no claim on any one for anything. My claim will be alone in God and I must learn before I leave England to move men through God by prayer alone" -J. Hudson Taylor

"The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity." -Mike Stachura

"Someone asked, ʻWill the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?' It is more a question with me whether we--who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not--can be saved." -Charles Spurgeon

"I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God; first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done." -Hudson Taylor

"The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed." -Hudson Taylor

"Sympathy is no substitute for action." -David Livingstone

"It is the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole gospel to the whole world." -Charles H. Spurgeon

“Facebook proves the very fact that is it a lie that ʻwe do not have enough timeʼ to be gathered for prayer in the name of world missions.” -Unknown

The Chinese have a proverb: If two men feed a horse, it will lose weight; if two men keep a boat, it will soon leak. What is everybodys job is nobodys job. If every Christian is a missionary, missionary work is bound to suffer. It is correct to say that every Christian is, or should be, a witness. It is not correct to say that every Christian is a missionary. -J. Herbert Kane

Many of the above quotes were found at World Christian Quotes, Assembled and Adapted by Mark Struck. 

Friday, January 4

Mega to Mini-Church-Part 2 of 2 (Victor Choudhrie)

Continuing with Victor Choudhrie's, "Mega Church To Mini Church: 25 Steps to Transit from Being Barren to a Millionaire of Souls" are steps eleven to twenty-five.

11.Drive the change- Start with your family. Your real marriage is to the Lord. The husband-wife-children relationship is just an earthly model to see how you make it work. If you can’t make it work, you may not be invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb. Sons and daughters - honor your mother and father, if you want to live long. The Hebrew word kabad and the Greek word time’for ‘honor’ means ‘making rich’ or even ‘money paid’. Providing for your aging parents’ ranks higher than paying Korban to your church. Tithing is neither a part of the Ten Commandments, nor a requirement in the New Testament but taking care of parents is in both. Fathers – improve your relationship score with your children, lest the Lord smite the earth with a curse. He is now preparing a new generation of reformers with new values, concepts and vision to drive the change, to restore the Body which is grossly disfigured and marred by centuries of extra-biblical additions and accretions, into the original Bride without spots, wrinkles and blemishes.
12. Know your identity in Christ: You are an ambassador of Christ, the highest ranking representative of the government of God, wherever you are posted. You are a royal-priest­, made so by the blood of the Lamb. Dismantle the ‘Reverend’culture and breach the preacher-creature divide. Like Melchizedek, the royal-priest of Jerusalem (City of Peace), who served bread and wine, took a tithe and blessed Abraham, bring godly governance to your city. Catch the vision of cloning and saturating the city with royal-priests, and run with that vision. Remember every royal priest is authorized to offer the sanctified lost people as mincha (bloodless sacrifice), baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper. God is not looking for shepherds who just take care of his sheep but entrepreneurs who multiply his sheep.
13. Paul’s passion was to conduct a saturation blitz of the gospel, where Christ had not been named, not just with words but with mighty signs and deeds. What is your passion? Challenge purposeless churches to enunciate a clear vision and to lay out a road map to translate that vision into action plans and set goals to ‘do greater things than these’. For supernatural harvest, minimize motivational pep talks and maximize supernatural healing and deliverance...Armed with maps, stats and the Great Commission, go 2x2 treasure hunting, find “the person of peace”, heal the sick, cast out demons and then teach them the divine arithmetic of discipling just one soul every month, and very soon, you will have a thousand souls in your savings account.
14. Most church going Christians are deluded into thinking that they are believers. To be a believer you have to carry signs (evidence, proof) of a believer? – “And these signs shall follow a believer; he shall cast out demons…and pray for the sick and they will be healed.” But a believer will not make it to heaven, if he fails to disciple the delivered. Yeshua did not ask you to make believers, but to make disciples. Unglue from the pews all those lukewarm Churchians who sit, soak and stagnate, and send them to heal the sick, raise the dead, tread on snakes and scorpions (expel demons), bind the ‘strongman’, plunder his possessions, demolish the gates of Hell, and make disciples.
15. Resurrect from being a dead organization to a living organism. Missions is too important to be left to extra-biblical professionals with cosmetic titles like Director, Chairman and CEO etc. Replace “Reverend culture” with five-fold ministry-gifted Elders of either gender, like apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. The primary function of the church is to equip the saints, stagnating on the pews, for the works of the ministry (offering mincha), resulting in growth and multiplication of the Body.
16. Stop despising the barefoot apostles: The religious mega-stars of yesteryears were focused on revival and churching the un-churched. In spite of mega claims, they made little dent in the global spiritual landscape. In the last couple of decades, the non-literate story tellers belonging to the oral tradition grassroots level workers, who were focused on “conversion movement” have emerged as global players in changing the religious canvass, especially the 10/40 Window countries. It is the shift from superstars to the common man/women, as the real drivers of the missions, that is changing the spiritual profile of the globe. To reach the ends of the earth, maximize every cell church, Sunday school, bible school, prayer cell, youth and women’s fellowships, cottage meeting and indeed every Christian household into full-fledged, authentic churches.
17. Filter out non-performing goats that come only for hatching (baby baptisms), matching (weddings) and dispatching (funerals). Replace them with sheep that take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick and prisoners. Culling i.e. getting rid of the non-productive sheep and donating them as free gift to the nearest Pentecostal church, will greatly improve your standing in the local Pastor’s Fellowship. Culling is an integral dynamics of the ‘best practices’ of sheep rearing, so that the shepherd can focus and invest on the most productive sheep...As the dominance and the power of the clergy diminishes and the effectiveness of the empowered believers increases, the kingdom goes ballistic.
18. Simplify disciple making. Invite a couple of truth-seekers for a meal where the main dish is- The Lamb. Redefine authentic church as “the household of God” with a mission; wherever two or three, eat, meet, gossip the gospel, and multiply. Like Paul try reasoning first, if that does not work, then try persuading and if that fails, try disputing and when push comes to shove, perform a notable miracle that they cannot deny...Mini-church is the most cost effective strategy for reaching the ends of the earth by saving one household at a time. The architecture of an organic “household of God” is radically different from an organized church. It not only looks different but also her functional dynamics are entirely different.
19. Re-baptize seminaries, which are the Trees of the knowledge of good and evil and sanctify them as The Great Commission training centers. Be the Tree of life, wherever you are planted, and bring forth abundant new fruit, even your leaves should be for the healing of the nations. Share the whole wisdom of God from house to house, and set up an unstoppable momentum of multi-generational discipleship chain. Be they delinquent Christians or defiant devotees of other faiths, sound doctrine is not scholarly sermons from the pulpit, but the ability to convince, convict, convert and bring the recalcitrant to repentance.
20. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and to guard it. Significantly the Hebrew word Avodah for work can also be translated worship. Adam was to worship God through his work in the garden while guarding it from demonic attack. God took an accountability walk every evening to see how Adam was doing...Paul, Aquila and Pricilla, Cornelius, the Jailor, Lydia, Phoebe and many others continued to work in their professions and also transformed their workplaces. The same infallible and Holy God, in His wisdom has placed you, a fallible sinner, among other sinners, to worship Him through your redemptive work.
21. Remove the chapel, the chaplain, the pulpit, the collection box and the Sunday service and the church will still be there because you are the walking and talking mobile temple of the living God. Reorient your personal paradigm. Recognize ‘Hi, Hello,’ happy clappy Sunday Service as your ‘secondary, optional church’, a fig leaf skirt that is only a temporary solution. Your business, workplace or home, wherever you spend most of your time, is your ‘Primary nuclear church’. It matters little whether you are the CEO, or the janitor or the kitchen queen; you are a full-time work-place minister and accountable. Salvation is free but discipleship is costly. Salvation restores your relationship with the Father but discipleship restores you in the image of God by becoming a blessing to others. Salvation is not enough, for you are saved to save others.
22. Offer Mincha and then Pray. God said, my house shall be a house of sacrifice and I will meet with you and speak with you at the altar where continuous sacrifice is made...Yeshua said, “My house is a house of prayer for all nations” which means all nations will come there to be prayed for healing and deliverance and then discipled all the way into the Kingdom...A church that does not send you out to ‘raise your holy hands to pray everywhere’and optimize you to walk tall and make Christ ‘high and lifted up’ in your city, is not worth going to for you are not just a lay member of a fragmented denomination but a value added discipler of nations.
23. Most good missionaries practice bad missiology because they come from highly literate societies heavily preloaded with their church culture and traditions which they try to impose on others who find them offensive. They must change hearts and delete all that is demonic but should do no violence to their food habits, dress code and culture, including their worship style, just because they are different. Do not hurriedly church a new believer into an institutional church, where he will be lectured to but not discipled. Yeshua did not call us to be church-goers but cross-bearers and disciple-makers. Sadly 99.9 percent Christians do not have a clue, on how to share their faith even with their best friends, forget about leading someone of other faith to Christ and by some fluke if that happens, then they do not know how to make him a disciple, simply because they themselves have never been discipled. Find a coach who is loaded with lasting fruit, to take you out for practice sessions in the harvest field.
24. Are you Rapture ready? Do not wait ‘till death do us part’, rather do whatever it takes to precipitate Rapture by bringing Christ back on earth in your own generation. Re-set your priorities to preach Christ where He has not been named. Any place where Christ is not high and lifted up, including your workplace, home or neighborhood is dragon land. You are a candle with the potential to kindle thousands of candles and obliterate darkness from those who sit in darkness and in the shadows death. For this you do not have to go to church from Sunday to Sunday nor work from paycheck to paycheck. You are chosen and “ordained” to bring lasting fruit.
25. Adopt a ‘completion mindset’. Evaluate your ministry by the Great Commission as its mandate, with the numbers of disciples made, baptized, equipped and sent out as the benchmark. Like our Lord, focus on a few to reach many. Aim to become a millionaire of souls. And why not? After all, you believe in a great and awesome God for whom nothing is impossible. At the very least, like Peter, shoot for 3000 baptisms every Pentecost. Or like Paul, plant a multiplying micro-church every day, till you can claim, “There are no more places left here for me to fully preach the gospel.’ The minimum standard to qualify as a follower of Yeshua is, that like your Master, equip twelve disciples who have the confidence and the competence to turn their world upside, wherever they are placed. If you are not connected with your world, then you are disconnected with your God for He has placed you there to write Acts 29.
l-my wife Linda, c-Bindu Choudhrie, r-me (Guy)
at the Antioch Gathering in October 2009

Thursday, January 3

Mega to Mini-Church-Part 1 of 2 (Victor Choudhrie)

A few months ago, Victor Choudhrie emailed me a MS-Word copy of his "Mega Church To Mini Church: 25 Steps to Transit from Being Barren to a Millionaire of Souls." This document outlines key steps in how their team and network of house churches was able to baptize well over 1,000,000 people in a single year (2010). Some of what Victor shares may not resonate well with someone entrenched in contemporary traditional church values and methods, but anyone baptizing a million people in a single year certainly has my attention--can you think of anybody else in history who has even come close to this kind of fruitful ministry?

What follows are the first ten of his twenty-five steps:

1. Shift from church culture to kingdom culture. Yeshua came preaching the Kingdom and commanded us to preach the gospel of the Kingdom in all the world. The church is only a vehicle for advancing the Kingdom, demonstrated by transformed communities. If it is not advancing the Kingdom wherever its members are scattered in the city, among the lost, then it is preaching “another gospel.”
2. Move from corporatized and capitalized temples to gathering in simple organic ‘houses of peace’, which are New Testament based, kingdom oriented, customizable, effective, productive and free. ‘God does not dwell in temples made with human hands’; rather He dwells in human hearts. You are the mobile walking and talking temples of the living God, with a maximum of organism and a minimum of organization.
3. Phase out programmed Sunday ‘services’ while actualizing informal, small interactive gatherings. The Bride of Christ must have intimacy with her Lord every day, not only for a couple of hours a week, lest she become unfaithful...Every Christian home must be the center of vibrant spirituality and the church exists to restore that reality and not replace it. If Christian families and their churches understood and implemented this simple concept, the ends of the earth would be reached in no time at all.
4. Replace legalistic tithing with extravagant sharing. Tithe was never cash but always “food” to be eaten; the firstling of animals, corn, first fruits, wine and oil etc. Even if you came from a long distance, you still had to buy an animal at the local cattle market as gold or silver coins could not be offered at the altar for atonement. In today’s economy, gifts and offerings can be in cash or kind, but must be offered at the apostles’ feet for the apostolic agenda of the church and not for constructing buildings or other extra-biblical programs. Tithe is now “Breaking bread from house to house” and eaten with gladness of heart to multiply Messiah, the bread of life that came down from heaven.
5. Demythologize wafer-and-sip sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and instead promote breaking of bread with simple Agape meals (love feasts) from house to house, that believers take with glad hearts, ‘and the Lord added to His numbers daily’. The Lord served roast lamb, bitter herb, bread and wine, not in a synagogue but ‘in a house’ for the Last Supper...The greatest sin of the church is to keep you blind and ignorant about your authority, rights, privileges and responsibilities as a priest to your family and a royal priest to the nations, thus degrading you into a non-functional Christian.
6. Replace professional music with speaking to each other in psalms and spiritual songs, making melody in your hearts; “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The church is a discipling hub and not a singing club...On The Pentecost, the birthday of the church, worship took place in a house and not the temple, with the Sword (Word of God by Peter); the Fire (Holy Spirit) and three thousand souls offered up as a living Sacrifice...Worship in truth and spirit is no longer confined to the temple but anyplace, where you make disciples.
7. Shift from being a spectator-oriented church to an interactive, participatory, gender-neutral prophetic church, where everyone can share a psalm, a doctrine, a revelation, a tongue, a testimony, a dream or a vision. Like Yeshua, find Samaritan women and demonized Gadarenes, detoxicate and dispatch them as workplace apostles (sent ones) from day one. The dragon is now driving the world by default because 99.9 percent of sincere Christians are sincerely incompetent to disciple anyone in their work places. Maximize ordinary believers into champion spiritual warfare warriors using their gifts and talents to dethrone the enemy off the dragon land and populate it with the saints of the Most High God.
8. Your Lord did not preach from the same pulpit twice. Why should you? Especially as 300,000 people die every day worldwide, most of them into Christless eternity. Yeshua came to seek and to save the lost. Are you proactively seeking and saving the lost? If not, why not; when there are tens of millions that have yet to hear the gospel for the first time? After three months of fruitless exhortations in the synagogue, Paul shifted into the hall of Tyrannous in the market place, put on his working apron, crafted tents to earn his living, as he taught his twelve Ephesian disciples, as well as his clients, the itinerant nomads, and all Asia heard the gospel.
9. Do not appoint Elders who do not have the tools to convict peoples of other faiths in their tool boxes, nor send theologians with academic tags as missionaries for they know not how to make disciples. They are trained to be aquarium keepers but God is looking for those who multiply their fishes. It is not the content of the sermon but its practical application that creates the movement. Just like fishing, discipling is a skill. Yeshua said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Being a follower of Christ (faithful member of a church) is not enough; you must become a prolific fisher of men.
10. Empower Women - Mary of Magdala, a redeemed sinner, was the first apostle (sent one) to the apostles. Priscilla, Phoebe, Lydia, Apphia, Nympha and host of other women were apostles, prophets, teachers and house church facilitators. Paul never asked women (gune) to keep their mouths shut, he only asked wives (gune) not to embarrass their husbands (aner) in public but to ask them questions at home. He encouraged everyone, men and women to share psalms, teachings, revelations, testimonies and prophesy.” Yeshua’s blood removes the curse of Eve.