“We cannot go back!” Two or three times in the last week people have told me, “I could not go back to doing church like we did it before!” What do they mean? For many, church has become too complex. It is exhausting. It needs professionals to control it – and huge funding to sustain it. It has become something people go to – with a few performers and many non-participatory observers!
But change is taking place. Five hundred years ago God gave His Word (the Bible) back to the people. Today He is moving to give the church back to the people. Growing numbers of the disillusioned and de-churched have decided that they are not going to drop out of church (and lose their relationship with God) simply because church no longer represents what Jesus or Paul spoke of in the New Testament.
It is a journey and there is a lot of experimentation. But, for them church is becoming life – rather than simply going to a place. It is participation – sharing the journey of life with others (at work, in the home, in the community) and serving. It is using what God has blessed them with (faith, life, love, giftedness, abilities, kindness, hospitality, etc) for the benefit of others. It is the reversal of normal life – for it is a conscious choice to put aside the hierarchies of status, rights and control to follow the example of Jesus in seeking the good of others through sacrifice. It is becoming part of the neighborhood – like Jesus who “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (Jn 1:14 – The Message) It is experiencing God through the indwelling presence of Jesus through His Spirit! The journey of life is worship to God – and worship events are times to reflect, praise, read God’s Word, meditate, relax, visit, eat together, encourage, experience community and share in conversations about God’s grace!
This is simple church – where the stories of people’s lives are important, every person is a valued disciple, leadership is the shared responsibility of the “body” of believers, encouragement and faith sharing is the experience of life, prayer is conversation with God, the Bible is simply read and applied to life – and God is real and experienced! It is reproducible – and can be multiplied on through the homes and families of others.
In this NEWS there are stories of simple church – and an introduction to Operation Global Rain. This will be a vital resource for simple church is a spiritual journey. Share your comments and experiences.
What could your plant do to release people and families to become a multiplication movement? If disillusioned with church – is it time to do something radical, even New Testament?
Be courageous for God,
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 15 March 07
News stories, resources, websites & equipping – including:
Keeping Church Simple – at Het Middelpunt!
Community asks Council to Allow Church Plant to Stay!
Mirrabooka Church Plant – Challenges!
The X-preszo X-perience!
Can God Raise Up a Faithful People Among Christians?
Operation Global Rain – participate in a prophetic movement!
Keeping Church Simple – at Het Middelpunt! Middlepoint in Purmerend (Netherlands) thrives on its small groups – and has enlarged their circle of friends immensely. Some of their activities have been –
Gals’ Club started by Erica and her daughter Nadine (then 11). Unchurched girlfriends join two believing teenage girls in fun, prayer, Bible watching (DVD) and talks.
Game Parties organised by Melvin (14). Friends bring their computer games and their parent’s TV’s – and, spend the night gaming against one another. Up to 30 youths turn up and make friends.
The Weekend. Last year 53 friends and parents of friends attended a weekend away with lots of fun, but also spiritual dimensions.
Worship Nights. Every second month a community worship service gives the opportunity for people who don’t know God to experience Him – and share their prayer requests.
Once a month they spend a “Sabbath” (rest day – Saturday) morning together as the core team for breakfast, study and prayer.
Two weeks later they have a creative afternoon worship time – open to all.
Check out more at http://middelpunt.blogspot.com (for those with the gift of tongues!).
Community asks Council to Allow Church Plant to Stay! I met Andrew Clark in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania about a year ago. Responding to the desperate needs of a community devastated by floods, Andrew established a major ADRA relief and aid centre in a shopping mall – providing food, clothing and furniture. Now, looking for a home for their new church plant they have moved into a community called Carnegie. “The local government had reservations on letting us in; however, we knew God wanted us there,” says Andrew. They asked their community friends to join them for a 3 ½ hour meeting to persuade the local government to let them occupy their new building. Andrew writes, “Our council is used to seeing 10-20 people in attendance during a meeting, we had hundreds!” You can check out http://youtube.com/watch?v=htzzdAHs4co to see a six minute summary of what happened. You will see NO church people except for Andrew – and even the movie was produced by a postmodern community friend. Andrew exclaims, “God rocks!”
Mirrabooka Church Plant – Challenges! Many church planters will be able to identify with John Horvath – reporting from Wanneroo in Western Australia after their “first day”! “The doors of the hall we had rented for our community program were locked – and the “key holder” was at the airport,” John reports. “He’d forgotten that we had booked the hall for 8.30am. But eventually – at 10am – he arrived, very apologetic!” A growing group was waiting under the shade of the entrance area – praying and singing. (And, John won’t tell you this – but give him a guitar and he can sing! He wouldn’t need a microphone – the whole of the city would have been able to hear his singing!) John says, “Despite the rough start, the day went well, with 56 children and 52 adults enjoying the singing, stories, crafts and food.” And, because so many of the children are under the age of 18 years, the City of Wanneroo council waived the rental fees on the hall! John says, “Praise God! And a big thank you to the core team who are totally committed, enthusiastic and organized. Rossie Jackson made her maiden voyage – driving the 20 seater-bus to bring children to the activities. 65% of the crowd was made up of community friends!
The X-preszo X-perience! The X-preszo church plant (in Rotterdam East in the Netherlands) is based around small groups in their communities, a monthly BBQ party and playground trips for families – and friendship. Renate (one of the core team) calls it “school yard evangelism” – as she often invites other mums over for a cuppa and their chats always lead to faith. Many are in great need of practical help with finances, conflicts and relationships. Several mothers were baptised last year – and the group is planning another baptism. On the second and last Saturday X-preszo holds a full-on experiential worship event called X-perience – with 60-70 people in attendance. For more – go to http://www.x-preszo.nl/ (especially if you can read Dutch)!
Can God Raise Up a Faithful People Among Christians? A friend who works in Muslim communities tells of the spiritual growth of thousands in those communities. These believers in Isa (Jesus as their Saviour) see it as their duty to share their faith with their fellow Muslims, and to also evangelize Christians and bring them to a saving faith. Recently a group of these believers came back to their leaders in frustration – saying they had met one group of Christians in another part of the country who believed as they did from God’s Holy Books! The only problem was they refused to become Muslims – even though they had an understanding of all of the teachings of the Injeel (Gospel). They were in a quandary: How could they reach these Christian people for Allah so that they could be saved? One of the believers then asked, "Is it possible that Allah is also working among the Christians to prepare a faithful people to meet Him?”
Operation Global Rain – participate in a prophetic movement! It started in central California when a few churches decided to hold a 10-day prayer event – after the experience of the believers in Acts 2. There were no key-note speakers, but rather a group of disciples pleading for nothing else but an outpouring of the “latter rain” of the Holy Spirit. Each evening between 7 and 8 pm the people met to read scriptures privately about the Holy Spirit’s anointing and then prayed – sometimes silently, in groups of two or three or as a congregation! Though done at separate times, the churches all experienced revival. Animosity was laid aside and a true spirit of unity, repentance and mission took hold of the members. The idea then came about: What if the all the churches in the state – or the world – were to petition God at the same time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
You will also find a page at dedicated to Operation Global Rain. This is a grassroots movement. Spread the idea to friends, by email or SMS. One website draws attention to the fact that “The early rain was poured out on all that were praying for it. But that was only a total of about 120, who were all in one location, Jerusalem. Now, what if people around the globe were praying for the outpouring of the latter rain? If God were to be so gracious as to answer, where would that rain fall? Where would that Spirit descend? Would it not lighten the entire globe with its glory? Is this not what has been prophesied to happen according to Revelation 18:1-4?” There will be a Special Week of Prayer from 27 June – 7 July 2007.
RESOURCES, WEBSITES & EQUIPPING EVENTS –
Natural Church Development announces –
Color Your World Campaign (May 07) – 'calling out the artists of life': Involve your team in this five-week journey in relating the essence of Natural Church Development to your heads, hands and hearts. Use the daily readings, themed worship services and small group meetings – and discover a fuller picture of God. Be encouraged to reflect the colors of His love to the world. Click here to find out more.
NCD Australia National Conference (19-20 October 07) – 'more and better churches… naturally': Christian A. Schwarz will be at The C2 Connection Centre in Sydney, Australia. Put this in your diaries now.
Tent-making Opportunity for Church Planters: Steve Addison from Church Resource Ministries (CRM-Australia) has put us in touch with James Layton – who offers the possibility of tent-making for church planters. You can contact James by writing to [email protected] – to explore the options.
Faith House Project: Check out Samir`s new project at http://samirselmanovic.typepad.com/.
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS
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