Why do we do it the way we do it….

Though today the places we visit and the conditions we meet may be vastly different from those of the Scripture record, yet in principle the experience of the first apostles may well serve as a our example… Christianity has lost its original purity, and everything connected with it is in a false and confused state. Despite that fact, our work today is still the same as in the days of the early apostles – to found and build up local churches, the local expressions of the Body of Christ.

– Watchman Nee, “The Normal Christian Church Life” 1980.

 

Today if a man ventures to suggest that there may be something in the methods by which St. Paul attained such wonderful results worthy of our careful attention, and perhaps of our imitation, he is in danger of being accused of revolutionary tendencies… All I can say is, “This is the way of Christ and His apostles.” If any man answers, “That is out of date,” or “Times have changed” … I can only repeat, “This is the way of Christ and His apostles,” and leave him to face that issue.

– Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: “St. Paul’s or Ours?” 1962.

The above quotes came from the first chapter of Frank Viola’s latest book, “Finding Organic Church“. In this first chapter Frank writes,

To my mind, it’s a profound mistake to ignore what we find in the book of Acts concerning the manner in which Christian communities were birthed in the first century.

From there, He walks through the four models of planting churches found in the book of Acts. Any serious missional student, church planter, missionary, Pastor, seminary student, Christian, should read this book for the first chapter alone.

Thanx!

My Books

Okay, this is my list of influential books that I would like to pass on to my friends. I have not included a link for each book, but I am sure you can find each of these on Amazon.com if you can’t come to my house and pick them up. I look forward to passing these on in the hopes that they will impact your life and thinking as they have my own.

Title   Author(s)   Type
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus   Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg   Alternative/Simple
Roaring Lambs   Bob Briner   Alternative/Simple
A Generous Orthodoxy   Brian McLaren   Alternative/Simple
More Ready Than You Realize   Brian McLaren   Alternative/Simple
The Emerging Church   Dan Kimball   Alternative/Simple
The Monkey and the Fish   Dave Gibbons   Alternative/Simple
Church Planting Movements   David Garrison   Alternative/Simple
unChristian   David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons   Alternative/Simple
Searching for God Knows What   Donald Miller   Alternative/Simple
Soul Cravings    Erwin Rahael McManus   Alternative/Simple
Seeker Small Groups   Garry Poole   Alternative/Simple
Letters from a Skeptic   Gregory Boyd   Alternative/Simple
Corinthian Elders   Jack Fortenberry   Alternative/Simple
Rethinking the Church   James E. White   Alternative/Simple
Jim & Casper Go to Church   Jim Henderson & Matt Casper   Alternative/Simple
Future Church   Jim L. Wilson   Alternative/Simple
Wide Open Spaces   Jim Palmer   Alternative/Simple
Captivating   John & Stasi Eldredge   Alternative/Simple
Wild at Heart   John Eldredge   Alternative/Simple
Waking the Dead   John Eldredge   Alternative/Simple
Walking With God   John Eldredge   Alternative/Simple
Organic Community   Joseph Myers   Alternative/Simple
Revolution in World Missions   K. P. Yohannan   Alternative/Simple
Confessions of a Reformission Rev.   Mark Driscoll     Alternative/Simple
Vintage Jesus   Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears   Alternative/Simple
Search & Rescue   Neil Cole    Alternative/Simple
Organic Leadership   Neil Cole    Alternative/Simple
Velvet Elvis   Rob Bell   Alternative/Simple
The Irresistable Revolution   Shane Claiborne   Alternative/Simple
The New Conspirators   Tom Sine   Alternative/Simple
The Rabbit and the Elephant   Tony & Felicity Dale   Alternative/Simple
Houses That Change the World   Wolfgang Simson   Alternative/Simple
Re-Jesus   Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch   Alternative/Simple
Pagan Christianity?   Frank Viola & George Barna   Alternative/Simple
Reimagining Church   Frank Viola     Alternative/Simple
The Untold Story of the New Testament Church   Frank Viola   Alternative/Simple
Paul’s Idea of Community   Robert J. Banks   Alternative/Simple
Revolution     George Barna   Alternative/Simple
The Total Money Makeover   Dave Ramsey   Business/Finance
Cashflow Quadrant   Robert Kiyosaki   Business/Finance
Good to Great   Jim Collins   Business/Finance
Coached by Jesus   Alan Nelson   Christian Life
The Best Question Ever   Andy Stanley   Christian Life
Jesus, The One an Only   Beth Moore   Christian Life
Lifetime Guarantee   Bill Gillham   Christian Life
Mere Christianity   C.S. Lewis   Christian Life
Being the Body   Charles Coleson & Ellen Vaughn   Christian Life
How Now Shall We Live   Charles Coleson & Nancy Pearcey   Christian Life
Finding Peace   Charles Stanley   Christian Life
Christianity: The Faith That Makes Sense   Dennis McCallum   Christian Life
Happiness is a Choice   Frank Minirth and Paul Meier   Christian Life
Experiencing God   Henry Blackaby   Christian Life
Created to Be God’s Friend   Henry Blackaby   Christian Life
Fresh Power   Jim Cymbala   Christian Life
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire   Jim Cymbala   Christian Life
Fresh Faith   Jim Cymbala   Christian Life
An Appointment with the King   Joel Comiskey   Christian Life
The Lie: Evolution   Ken Ham   Christian Life
In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day   Mark Batterson   Christian Life
One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven   Mark Cahill   Christian Life
The Jesus I Never Knew   Philip Yancey   Christian Life
What’s So Amazing About Grace?   Philip Yancey   Christian Life
Life On Fire   Ronnie Floyd   Christian Life
Grace Land   Steve McVey   Christian Life
Grace Walk   Steve McVey   Christian Life
Grace Rules   Steve McVey   Christian Life
Free at Last   Tony Evans   Christian Life
Life on the Edge   James Dobson   Family Life
Bringing Up Boys   James Dobson   Family Life
The Love List   Les and Leslie Parrott   Family Life
Point Man   Steve Farrar   Family Life
His Needs Here Needs   Willard Harley   Family Life
7 Practices of Effective Ministry   Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones   Ministry Help
The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry   Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson   Ministry Help
Building a Church of Small Groups   Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson   Ministry Help
The 7 Laws of the Learner   Bruce Wilkinson   Ministry Help
Spiritual Leadership   Henry & Richard Blackaby   Ministry Help
The Word for the Wise   Henry Brandt & Kerry Skinner   Ministry Help
Developing the Leader Within You    John C. Maxwell   Ministry Help
The 21 Indisputable Qualities of a Leader   John C. Maxwell   Ministry Help
The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict   Josh McDowell   Ministry Help
Prison Ministry   Lennie Spitale   Ministry Help
When Prisoners Return   Pat Nolan   Ministry Help
The Purpose Driven Church   Rick Warren   Ministry Help
The Bridger Generation   Thom S. Rainer   Ministry Help
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched   Thom S. Rainer   Ministry Help
High Expectations   Thom S. Rainer   Ministry Help
Breakout Churches   Thom S. Rainer   Ministry Help
Simple Church   Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger   Ministry Help
Bruchko   Bruce Olson   Narative
Finney On Revival   V. Raymond Edman   Narative
Bowling Alone   Robert Putnam   Sociology
The End of Poverty   Jeffrey D. Sachs   World Economics
A Framework for Understanding Poverty   Ruby Payne   World Economics

Mental Defragmentation…

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I have been getting adjusted to Facebook and Twitter. They will not replace my blogging, but I have enjoyed getting in touch with folks I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Though, a few I could have done without.

Anyway, I just want to unload my mind now:

  • I hate computers. It seems like I have faced computer difficulties around every corner this summer.
  • I love what we do for a living. I have enjoyed the summer to chill out and get ready for what we hope to be a VERY productive and busy Fall.
  • I can’t wait to see our new website for All Star Fundraising. We have a final logo, and should have the site up within the next month.
  • I love simple church. I love our friends we do life with. These folks challenge me and encourage me. See some pics here.
  • Kacey and I are getting ready for trip to Orlando, FL, to meet Frank Viola next week. Should be a great time to hang out and meet new people.
  • I am supposed to have a conversation today with a guy who emailed me from Memphis a couple of days ago regarding a network of folks in Memphis who are interested in simple church.
  • Kacey and I are praying about starting a new church. We believe it’s close.
  • Some friends of ours are about to make some huge changes that will effect us in a big way. Good changes we believe. Can’t share too much yet.
  • We are trying to help another new church get started on the other side of the city.
  • The CrossLifewebsite will be going through some major changes over the next several months. It will become way less of a “church” website, and more of a network training portal for simple/organic church. We aren’t really sure what that means yet other than the fact we believe this is what God wants us to do with it at this time.

Finally, I have been reading a lot this summer. I will be reviewing some books, but for now, I will just list them:

  • “The Monkey and the Fish” by Dave Gibbons
  • “The Rabbit and the Elephant” by Tony and Felicity Dale
  • “The Stewardship of the Mystery” by T. Austin Sparks
  • “God’s Spiritual House” by T. Austin Sparks
  • “Prophetic Ministry” by T. Austin Sparks

I am currently reading and very much enjoying “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee.

That’s about it for now. I am still planning on getting on a blog “schedule” for posting book reviews, meditations, website reviews, and random stuff. Just haven’t figured it out yet…

Thanx!

Blog Circuit Interview with Frank Viola…

I have been excited about this interview for several weeks now. From Eternity To Here was one of the most profound and Christocentric books I have ever read. I reviewed the book here. Below are a couple of questions I asked Frank regarding his books and his ministry. Then, you will find lots of “link love” for the book, and a full list of all the blogs participating todays blog circuit. Enjoy!

How do you personally handle criticisms about your philosophy, especially from within the ranks of Christianity?

I’ve really not had any real criticism on my book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE. Quite the contrary. It’s been received extremely well by some of the top leaders in the Body of Christ today, from every denomination. Many pastors are using the book with their congregations with the free discussion guide. Sunday schools are using it as well, along with Bible colleges and small groups, house churches, and missional churches. We’ve been rather overwhelmed by the huge response and the great reception it’s had among Christians everywhere. It’s a trans-denominational book, I think.

I’ve received some criticism in response to my and George Barna’s book PAGAN CHRISTIANITY. If someone has read the book and is actually interacting with the actual arguments that we make in the book (opposed to constructing straw-man arguments or ad hominems), I listen and take it into consideration. The rest I don’t pay attention to. To my mind, if someone criticizes someone else’s work without reading it carefully or without interacting with what the work actually says, it’s not worth taking seriously. On the other hand, constructive criticism given in a spirit of humility and love I esteem highly.

I realize everyone is very different, but I wander, can you give a “list” of possible “steps” one may go through along the journey from institutionalism into authentic, organic church life?

FROM ETERNITY TO HERE doesn’t address church practice, form, or traditions. It deals rather with the big, sweeping epic of God’s grand mission and eternal purpose. To my mind, unless a group of believers understands and adjusts their lives corporately to God’s ageless purpose, it really doesn’t matter if they have a so-called “Biblical” form of church.

I know a good number of Christians who are part of house churches, simple churches, missional churches, and emerging churches, and they have no grasp of the eternal purpose at all. Consequently, I feel that such groups miss the beating heart of God. So to my mind, the critical issue … the starting point … is not structure, form, or shape. It’s rather the receiving of a revelation of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.

Once that happens, then each existing church and individual Christian will want to answer the question: Does my church match the eternal purpose of God? Is it standing for that purpose or is it hindering it? In what ways is it fulfilling it and in what ways is it detracting from it? These are large questions. My next book, the final book in the series, explores it in detail.

I’m not sure about my readers, but I am excited about how Father is using Frank and many others to ignite passion and exploration into the deep riches of Christ. The status quo is not longer sufficient. It is time to ask tough questions and search out the answers. Does my church match the eternal pupose of God?

————————

OTHER BLOGS PARTICIPATING IN THE “FROM ETERNITY TO HERE” BLOG CIRCUIT

Today (June 9th), the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola’s new bestselling book “From Eternity to Here” (David C. Cook, 2009). The book just hit the May CBA Bestseller List. Some are posting Q & A with Frank; others are posting full reviews of the book. To read more reviews and order a copy at a 33% discount, go to Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Here-Rediscovering-Ageless-Purpose/dp/1434768708/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233609867&sr=1-4

For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website: http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org

Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:

——————————–

Out of Ur – http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2009/05/viola.html

Shapevine – http://www.shapevine.com/ (June newsletter)

Brian Eberly – http://www.brianeberly.com/

DashHouse.com – http://www.DashHouse.com/

Greg Boyd – http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/

Vision Advance – http://vision2advance.blogspot.com/

David Flowers – http://ddflowers.wordpress.com/

Kingdom Grace – http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/

Captain’s Blog – http://www.captainestes.blogspot.com/

Christine Sine – http://godspace.wordpress.com/

Darin Hufford – The Free Believers Network – http://www.freebelievers.com/

Zoecarnate – http://zoecarnate.wordpress.com/

Church Planting Novice – http://www.churchplantingnovice.wordpress.com/

Staying Focused – http://kimmartinezstayingfocused.wordpress.com/

Take Your Vitamin Z – http://www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/

Jeff Goins – http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/

Bunny Trails – http://bunny-trails.blogspot.com/

Matt Cleaver – http://mattcleaver.com/

Jason T. Berggren – http://blog.jasonberggren.com/

Simple Church – http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/

Emerging from Montana – http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/

Parable Life – http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com/

Oikos Australia – http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/

West Coast Witness – http://www.westcoastwitness.com/

Keith Giles – http://www.keith.giles.com/

Consuming Worship — http://www.consumingworship.org/

Tasha Via – http://www.tashavia.blogspot.com/

Andrew Courtright – http://www.andrewcourtright.blogspot.com/

ShowMeTheMooneys! – http://www.showmethemooneys.com/

Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer – http://leavingsalem.wordpress.com/ 

Jason Coker – pastoralia.missionaltribe.org 

From Knowledge to Wisdom – http://isthistheway.typepad.com/

Home Brewed Christianity – http://www.homebrewedchristianity.com

Dispossessed – http://kblog.kevinjbowman.com/

Dandelion Seeds – http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.homeschoolblogger.com%2FDandelionseeds&h=c2d85ac2c4c1ec9a2360ae786e941445

David Brodsky’s Blog- “Flip the tape Deck” – http://flipthetapedeck.blogspot.com/

Chaordic Journey – https://jeffrhodes.wordpress.com/

Renee Martin – http://www.reneemartinmusic.com/profiles/blog/list

Bob Kuhn – http://organicchurchnola.wordpress.com/

Living with Freaks: http://www.livingwithfreaks.com/

Real Worship – http://therealworshipleader.com/

Fervent Worship – http://ferventworship.blogspot.com/

Julie Ferwerda Blog – http://www.julieferwerda.com/http://www.onemillionarrows.com/

What’s With Christina?! – http://w2christina.blogspot.com/

Irreligious Canuck – http://www.irreligiouscanuck.com/

This day on the journey – http://guychmieleski.blogspot.com/

Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity – http://liveandmove.blogspot.com/

Spiritual Journey With God – http://www.elvineve.blogspot.com/

Dries Conje – http://www.echurch.co.za/ / http://www.thejesusfeed.com/ / http://www.bookdisciple.com/.

Journey with Others – http://journeywithothers.blogspot.com/

On Now to the Third Level – http://www.080808onnowto.blogspot.com/

Christine Moers – http://www.welcometomybrain.net/

Breaking Point – http://marybethstockdale.wordpress.com/

Hand to the Plough – http://www.handtotheplough.com.au/

Jon Reid – http://jonreid.blogs.com/oneanother/welcome-pilgrim.html

Weblight – http://www.blog.worldwidewebservices.se/

D. L. Webster – http://gzmproductions.com/dlwebster

Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life – wholeheartedlife.blogspot.com

I hope you have benefited from this blog circuit. Be sure to leave a comment!

Thanx!

Blog Circuit….

Be sure to stop by tomorrow and take part in a 58 blogger blog circuit promoting Frank Viola’s phenomenal new book, “From Eternity to Here”. If you haven’t read any of Frank’s books, or heard him speak, you’ll find some great resources. I have had the opportunity to ask Frank a couple of questions, and have read all of his current books. Kacey and I will also be traveling to Orlando next month to meet him and take part in a conference with many others who are pioneers in the organic church movement.

I think you’ll agree that this book retells the greatest story ever told in the history of universe. You can check out my review here.

Thanx!

The Rabbit and the Elephant….

Yesterday, I received my copy for review of, “The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small is the New Big for Today’s Church”. I look forward to reading and reviewing it. I have met and spoken several times with Tony and Felicity Dale. They certainly have a passion for Jesus and a simple expression for His Church.

I have also had the privilege of participating in several of their breakout sessions at the CMA Conferencein Los Angeles, CA, over the past three years. Their stories are compelling and inspiring. Their life work has been richly blessed by Father. They have also been instrumental in starting a website for social networking among those involved or interested in the ideas and practice of simple church: www.simplechurch.com.

Editorial Reviews:

Back Cover:

What does faith in Jesus have in common with rabbits and elephants?

If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in three years you may have one baby elephant. But when you put two rabbits together for the same amount of time. . . .

Using this simple analogy, church planters Tony and Felicity Dale and acclaimed researcher George Barna bring a big message to God’s church. How could we change the world if our Christian faith began multiplying at a rapid pace—through a way of life that is explosive and transformational? It happened once before, in the early days of the church; what will it take to bring us to that point of urgency and determination again?

The Rabbit and the Elephant offers keys to twenty-first-century evangelism: leveraging the power of the small—and taking the gospel to where the pain is and where the people are. And as God uses us to channel Jesus’ love into a hurting, desperate world, we’ll see his church grow beyond anything we could have imagined.

Front Flap:

What would it take to spark new life into the church?

Today’s Western culture is indifferent to church and Christians. Yet the early church existed in far harsher conditions—and it thrived. Much like a new litter of rabbits, the infant faith quickly grew and spread. And the result was a world transformed.

In The Rabbit and the Elephant, Drs. Tony and Felicity Dale (Simply Church) and George Barna (Revolution) say that the same thing is happening today. As Christians, we are the church—whether we meet in office buildings, college dorm rooms, coffee shops, factories, or homes—and the Holy Spirit uses us to expand that church to the far reaches of the globe. By practicing “simple church,” we’ll find that a small gathering of friends loving Jesus together and reaching out to the community around them can help us to be the church, the way God intended.

The rabbit and the elephant. Something small and something big. Find out what lessons they hold for you, for the body of Christ, and for the future of church as we know it.

If you decide to purchase the book, be sure to buy it from Amazon!!

Thanx!

Jesus, Interrupted (Final Review)…

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) sent me through riveting emotions. At times, I could feel anger and hostility rise in an effort to defend. In other moments, I felt a deep compassion for Mr. Ehrman. Then, there were the occasions I found myself nodding in agreement. I have always made it a point to read books that challenge my thinking, and this book certainly did. I learned nothing new, but I did gain some interesting insights for my journey.

I think the book can be summed up with the opening and closing pages from which Ehrman sets forth the fact that he is an Evangelical-Christian-turned-Agnostic. He argues several times that his conclusions regarding historical, textual criticism have nothing to do with his agnostic beliefs, but his views on Scripture certainly give him the framework to believe whatever is convenient. So, it is not so much a book of data interpretation as it is a philosophical diatribe specifically directed at conservative, evangelical Christianity.

It seems to me that while Ehrman presents his data clearly and with a significant degree of literary prowess, his conclusions often just don’t make much sense. For example:

He builds his critical argument that both the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke were forgeries penned years after the Gospel according to Mark. The reason they must be forgeries, of course, is that both Matthew and Mark would have been too illiterate to write such sophisticated prose. Further, the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark to copy some of their stories. A serious problem naturally arises when we find several stories in both Matthew and Luke that are not found in Mark. How could this be? From where did these stories come? Scholars simply “invent” an unknown text by an unknown author at an unknown time. Why does this need to be done? Because, Matthew and Luke were forgeries, and the deceptive authors used Mark as their basis; yet they have different stories, so there must be another source. Does this seem somewhat circular? But that’s not it! On page 158, Ehrman actually quotes from this never-before-seen text known as “Q”! The passage he quotes is found in both Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark, so it MUST be from Q, therefore by the authority of sheer speculation, a text is created right out of a scholar’s imagination. Fascinating!

I could go on and on describing the house of cards that Ehrman builds. In one chapter he refers to his conclusions as “possible,” “probable,” or “likely” while restating the same idea in the next chapter as fact in order to build yet another “possible” conclusion. To be honest, and fair, it seems as though Ehrman has more faith than most Christians!

With all this being said, I must state my final evaluation. In the opening pages of the book, Ehrman describes his relationship with Evangelical Christianity as a mental assent to propositional ideas. He was very devoted to memorizing and learning facts. However, he never talks about a personal relationship with the person of Jesus. That may be due to his current agnostic position, but it is, nonetheless, missing from his story line. I believe this is the most telling truth in all the book. And like Ehrman’s own background, many, many “Christians” in the West have a vibrant relationship with a set of doctrines, creeds, traditions, and ideologies, yet never enter into the fullness of what it means to be in Christ. This, in my opinion, is why many students enter classes much like that of Mr. Ehrman in their respective colleges, and exit with total indifference to the Bible and Christianity. We must understand, Christianity is by far the least likely idea to be true in all of historical, textual, critical research and study. That is what makes faith all the more important. A “Christian” set of facts, figures, data, and propositions, while important, are not what is necessary for Christianity to be real. It is our personal relationship with Jesus.

READ MORE GREAT REVIEWS HERE!!

Thanx!