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Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

Today I’m reflecting on my long journey in the ministry (32 years since my first gig as an Assistant pastor) and I’m struck with one thought. How lonely and sorrowful a trail it would have been without “a little help from my friends”! I’m writing today to an audience of church planters and missionaries, potential church planters, fellow pastors and all sorts of kingdom workers. Please indulge an old man’s remembrance and take from it what you will.

One of my all time favorite television productions is a series done by HBO a few years ago called “Band of Brothers“. Based on a book by historian Stephen Ambrose, it traces the path of E Company 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division all the way from their early training through the end of the 2nd World War. These were ordinary lads, many of them in their teens, from all around the States who were called upon to do great things. They heard the call. Together they made their way across Europe and they fought together, ate together, shared foxholes with one another, died together, and together they won the war. If you haven’t seen this series I highly recommend that you do.

The parallels to our work in the kingdom of God are very plain. From my first days in the ministry until now I have been blessed by the grace of God with colleagues (brothers and sisters) who very often have brought solace, encouragement, course correction and inspiration to my soul.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
(Pro 27:17)

The sheer workload of church planting, of pastoring a church, of leading a denomination, of faithfully exercising one’s gifts in whatever field it is to which we have been deployed is, for some, a temptation to become or remain isolated. We are under fire or preoccupied with good things and so we find ourselves in foxholes increasingly distanced from our band of brothers and sisters. Listen for a moment to a greybeard. Resist this temptation! Be intentional about cultivating and maintaining authentic friendship.

I’m not talking about cordial professional relationships even though with many that will be all that you can secure. Fair enough. With some you may go deeper in Christ. On some you may rely. In a few you can confide. Some will lay down covering fire, will pull you from the fire, will give their last… you get the idea. Get with them and form a band of brothers!

Here in Central Minnesota, we who contribute here (Planting Partners) are doing just that. Together we are engaged in a great cause. We want to plant churches that will transform their communities by winning many souls to Jesus! In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.

We are humbly readying ourselves to accept responsibility for our region. Maybe you feel an attraction for that kind of life. Lets do this thing!

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Every year we do our planters and their wives up. We have an awesome retreat at Cedar Valley Resort, I love this place.

 

This year our agenda looks like this: ’07 Agenda

This is one of my high points each year. I love hanging out and learning from these unusually gifted planters:

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Here is an important principle from Luke, the author of Acts. Because the Christian movement is of God, it cannot be overthrown. The principle is laid down by Gamaliel, and it is endorsed and supported by Luke throughout the book of Acts.

… keep away from these men and let them alone, [don't tase them, bros] for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,

(Act 5:38-39 ESV) [but they did tase them before letting them go, cf. v. 40ff.]

Notice how Luke supports this idea (dynamic growth serves as a kind of practical apologetic, i.e., as an evidence for the reliability of the message) throughout the book. See, e.g.,

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Act 2:41)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Act 2:46)

But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Act 4:4)

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Act 6:7)

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Act 9:31)

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. (Act 11:21)

(See also 11; 24, 14:1, 13:21, 16:5 and 19:20. I really recommend that you open these texts and consider them (I don’t have space and time to cite them all here)

Growth is normative. Stagnation and decline are not. They are symptoms of spiritual dysfunction. The church (the kingdom of our Lord) grows and grows.

Here is the significance of this principle for Planting Partners. By what mechanism does the church grow and grow? Throughout the history of the Christian movement the answer has been the same. Largely through the planting of churches!

Society and culture are dynamic realities that constantly shift and change. They are moving targets. Our message remains the same. Generations and demographic patterns are perpetually in a state of flux. What is called for is a massive army of passionate entrepreneurial leaders who will respond to the Spirit’s call and stake a claim in the Name of Christ on an emerging segment of the society/culture as it presents itself today and is likely to present itself tomorrow.

Those who do so may trace their roots to the apostolic Pioneers of Pentecost!

What is the significance of this post for pastors (like me) of existing churches? Read the principle articulated by Gamaliel once again and take it to heart. Pray for your local church planters and don’t be grumpy about their success! “You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:39)

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This beautiful poster from Emerging Grace speaks volumes to me about church planting. It expresses why we are passionate about creating communities of Christ followers. He takes us to places just like this to bring His healing touch. The caption is from Eugene Perterson’s translation of John.

Incarnational Living

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