Church Reduction 101…..

“As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes saw, “There is a time to break down, and a time to build up…a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” And the second Reformation, if it comes, will be distinguished from the first by the fact that it is a time of reticence, of stripping down, of traveling light. The church will go through its baggage and discover how much it can better do without, alike in doctrine and in organization.”

– John A.T. Robinson, as quoted by Frank Viola in “Finding Organic Church”.

Authenticity, Organic Expression….

True Christianity has no earthly boss, bosses, or layers of bureaucratic leadership. Rather, it has one, heavenly Head Who is made manifest corporately through the Word and the Spirit as each part functions as a body. This corporate identity of the Head, which is none other than the very person of Christ, is made manifest not with ceremonies, traditions, forms, models, services, buildings, programs, structures, rules, regulations, rites, creeds, star performers, or well-crafted speeches, but, rather, through self-sacrificing, obedient love. This is the essence of God, of His Christ, and of His Bride.

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?

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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:

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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!

A Great Quote…

I had to share my absolute favorite quote from Neil Cole’s most recent book, “Organic Leadership“.

I wonder if God likes getting the credit for all the crap we do.

This quote comes from a section where Cole is writing about the sin of self-preservation. This is the sin we see when churches, organizations, ministries, etc. died long ago, but are being kept alive artificially with man’s systems, institutions, and organizations. When I was young in the ministry, I visited MANY churches such as this, and I still know of some that continue to hold on to a “life” that is but a distant memory now.

Sometimes, actually often, things need to die in order to live. After all, Jesus did say, “Truly, truly I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:24-25, NASB)

In fact, CrossLife, actually had to die last year in order for us to finally begin seeing the life we always dreamed of. Once we decided to “die”, we began seeing a new life that has not stopped. In fact, it even multiplying! I am excited to see what Father will do in the future with our “dead” stuff.

I would rather see God get credit for the great things He does rather than the second-hand crap, we can do!

Thanx!

Interesting Comparison…

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2008/fall/11.34.html?start=1

The link above is to an article written for Leadership Journal. It is a must read for any serious missiological student. This article is a joint interview between Neil Cole and Ed Young, Jr. It’s about a 15 minute read.

I would love to hear from any who actually read the article. What do you think? Which approach to missionality is closer to Scripture? Which is more practical? Which is more reproducible? Which is more focused on Jesus?

Frankly, I think this article reflects a tremendous shift in Western missiology.