A little over a year ago, a small group of people began meeting in an apartment in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago with the dream of helping this community become all that it can be. They couldn’t help but notice that Chicago is filled with hurried, worried and busy people. In an effort to give their neighbors some encouragement and hope one of them got an idea for #chalktheblock. The idea is now spreading all over Chicagoland and is something that everyone can participate in. In this video, Rich Gorman tells the story of how it all got started.
The weekend started on Saturday morning with hundreds of leaders cramming into the Yellow Box for a spirited Leadership Community to celebrate the commissioning of Rich & Dori Gorman and our COMMUNITY-Edgewater team. The photo above is our lead team praying for the Gormans and our elders praying and annointing the volunteer team from the Edgewater neighborhood that lead our new COMMUNITY campus there. When Jon Ferguson asked Dori, "What was your greatest fear?" With a laugh Dori said, "My greatest fear was that no one would want to help us start this new site." With more than 20 leaders surrounding the Gormans on the stage during the commissioning, that fear was definitely not realized. This was a great moment as our leaders prayed and celebrated together the beginning of our twelth COMMUNITY location.
Then on Sunday morning at 10:30 am those prayers were answered as a friends and neighbors from Edgewater filled the theater of Swift Elementary School. The photo above shows a diverse crowd standing and worshipping together.
With each new site we start there are new learnings and one of the key insights we've gained from this new site is the priority of being a church both "in" and "for" the community. For the last year the Gorman's and others bulit relationships with Swift Elementary School, Eco-Andersonville, Peterson Garden Project, Organization of the Northeast, Care For Real and Alderman Harry Osterman's office. Each of those partnerships are strategic in helping us reach, restore and reproduce God's dream for this neighborhood. And it was so good to have each of those partnerships present for the first service and join us in this celebration.
I got this in the mail from Zondervan this week. Whenever they issue a new printing of a book you write they send you a new copy of your book along with a note of congratulations. This time the note said,"A copy of the 6th printing of your book, Exponential is enclosed." Wow, I'm extraordinarly grateful that this book Jon and I published just 2 years ago is already in in it's 6th printing. Exponential simply tells the story of how Jon, myself and some friends were able through God's power to start a reproducing church movement while explaining how you can do it too! If you haven't got a copy, you can order it HERE.
One of the highlights of the 2012 Exponential Conference for me was the opportunity to interivew the Bill & Lynne Hybels family. When we made the request that we interview the Hybels family I thought it would be good, but I underestimated just how good. Bill, Lynne, Todd and Shauna each talk with great candor about the good, the bad and how to not just survive but thrive as a family. I would love for every church planter who has a family to listen to this interview. There is so much to learn. As an aside I also found it interesting that after we finished the interview Bill told me, "Dave, this is a first for our family. We have never been on stage together before." They should do it more often. Watch the whole interview, you won't regret it.
"I've never been to your church, but I love your church." This was what COMMUNITY Campus Pastor Shawn Williams heard while getting his hair cut. The conversation started when the women cutting his hair asked Shawn what he did for a living. He said, "I'm a pastor at the Yellow Box." As soon as he said that she responded, "My neighbors are a part of that church. In fact, I've recently gone through a divorce and it's been really tough being a single mom. But my neighbors who go to your church have been a big help getting me through it. They've assisted me with carpooling; they've brought me meals and they've even helped me with small home improvement projects." Then she looked at Shawn and said, "I've never been to your church, but I love your church." I don't know your definition of a missional church, but stories like that tell me a church is doing it!
Many people wearing the badge of missional experts have said that missional and mega are incompatible; a church like COMMUNITY can't grow to be a large church AND exist for something outside of itself. Unfortunately, many times they have been exactly right. But for the last 24 months COMMUNITY has been in a transition to fulfill the dream of mobilizing every person in our large and growing church for mission. Last April myself and Alan Hirsch published our plan for transitioning a church for missional engagement in our book, On The Verge. The On The Verge transition lays out the following three moves for a church who wants to become missional:
After 24 months of working through these three moves at COMMUNITY and gaining missional momentum we had a breakthrough last weekend. We asked all our small groups to work through a 6-week process of determining their mission. Some of the groups would be "1-mission groups" and others would be "Multiple mission groups." Last weekend we had about 1400 students and adults and 140 small groups stand on our stages and say out loud their mission, be annointed, prayed for and commissioned by the leadership of our church. The pic to your right is just one of our celebration services where groups filled the stage and made a public commitment to the mission of Jesus. More than 70% of our people are in small groups and 73% of our groups participated in the commissioning service this weekend. To you that might be a lot of numbers, but to me it is a sign that a very large church is clearly mobilizing large numbers of people for difference-making mission.
No, we are not done! Far from it. We have a long way to go. We have to sustain the missional momentum that we are now experiencing. But one thing I am increasingly convinced of is this: the large church can be used as a platform for energizing and mobilizing large numbers of people for missional engagement. In my own opionion, mega AND mission - it can be done!
As we begin to have small groups, teams, and individuals engage more in the Jesus Mission in a personal way than ever before, as expected, we are learning a lot. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin to get "on mission" that others are learning:
Be patient -- I know we get excited to get started, but remember to be patient as well. Sometimes it takes longer than expected to discover our group's mission, or to hear back from an organization we hope to partner with, or to "listen" to what the needs of people/our community are. God doesn't call us to move at a certain speed--just to be faithful and obedient. Don't give up; keep pursuing it.
Be relational -- There are lots of great ways to serve our communities (donating items, doing cleaning days for them, etc.). These are important, and we do pretty well at these as a church. But remember that now we are pushing each other beyond these to begin serving in ways that require us to interact with people (including those not like us!) and build relationships with them. Does your group's/team's mission allow for that?
Small is Big -- Sometimes we think of "being on mission" as needing to be something big/flashy enough to write a book about (like starting a non-profit, etc.), but remember that often engaging on mission with God begins with simply serving our neighbors and co-workers in tangible ways. The people in our lives who are far from God don't always need "big" things--they just need someone in their lives who is willing to listen to them, eat with them, pray for them, find ways to serve them, and share their story with them. These "small" things can actually be BIG ways to bring Jesus to people!
As we take new steps of faith we've never taken before, we'll continue to learn a LOT as we go. So let's keep sharing and collaborating. Leave a comment of things you are learning from your experiences.
(This post was written by and posted with the permission of Carter Moss the Small Groups Champion at COMMUNITY)
Who wants to be Sifted? I know it doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? When we first picked the Sifted theme for the Exponential 2012 Conference, I wasn’t a big fan. I’m more of a big picture and positive sort of guy so thinking about being sifted made me cringe a little. As we continued to develop this theme, I began to realize this is exactly what we need to be talking about. God allows us to be “sifted” (Luke 22:31-32) through trials and temptations to grow us as followers and leaders. How we respond as church leaders not only shapes who we become, but also those who we lead because we reproduce who we are.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32) Satan wants to sift (destroy) us because we are disciples and because we are making disciples. But God is allowing us to be sifted so that – as the chaff is separated from sifted wheat – the sin can be removed from our lives (the seeds), resulting in a great harvest. The sifting process develops us into the type of disciples that God wants to reproduce.
The big ideas for each of the main stage sessions are as follows:
Session #1: Sifted
God will use the trials and temptations in our lives as a “sifting” process to grow us as leaders. To make the most of this requires that we do the “hard work”, “home work” and “heart work” necessary to become the followers of Jesus that God wants us to be. As church leaders this becomes even more important because how we respond will be reproduced by others.
Session #2: Calling
The trials and temptations that come during times of “sifting” will cause us to doubt and want to give up on our calling. It is during those times of defeat and loss that we must not quit or give up knowing that we have been called by God to lead his church and that how we respond will be reproduced by others in regards to their own calling.
Session #3: Purity
The temptation of sin is in direct opposition to the holiness and mission of God and is part of the “sifting” process. By God’s grace the resistance of sin and the redemption of our sin can result in a stronger relationship with God and therefore more mature disciples and better leadership. How we respond to sins temptation is important not only in our own lives but also others because how we respond will be reproduced in the lives of others.
Session #4: Relationships
The “sifting” process not only impacts us but also the relationships that we value the most: our family and friends. It is during those times that we must be devoted to our commitments and the hard work of reconciliation not only for the good of our own relationships but also knowing that how we respond will be reproduced by others in their relationships.
Session #5: Movement
God will use the trials and temptations in our lives as “sifting” process to grow us as disciples of Jesus and as leaders of His church. How we respond not only shapes who we become, but also all who follow us. For there to be a movement of reproducing churches that will accomplish the mission of Jesus there must first be leaders who are living lives worthy of being reproduced.
I am now super pumped about the Sifted theme and know there is a ton at stake in creating a reproducing church movement. We reproduce who we are; so as we reproduce (plant more churches, missional communities and campuses) we want to reproduce healthy churches that continue to reproduce.
As President of the 2012 Expoential Conference I recently had the opportunity to interview Wayne Cordeiro about the big idea of his new book, Sifted. You should definitely give this podcast a listen as Wayne speaks very candidly about some of the struggles and pain of ministry and how God got him through it and taught him much needed lessons. Wayne will be leading a main session and his book will be a featured book at this years Exponential Conference. Check it out by ciicking HERE.
In the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt plays the part of the Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. While most of the baseball old timers and scouts had a set of stats they used to look for young prospects, Billy Beane understood that the only stat that mattered was runs scored. Through statistical analysis he changed the game of baseball forever and was credited with indirectly bringing a championship to the Boston Red Sox for the first time in 85 years. In much the same way churches should not confuse a variety of different stats like attendance and offering with the one stat that matters most. Jesus explained the one thing that matters most: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19,20) If making disciples is what matters most; how do you keep track of disciple-making? How does a church know if they are doing a good job at making disciples? I'd like to invite you to leave your comments and thoughts about how you would define a disciple of Jesus. I'm particularly interested in how you would define a disciple in a way that is measureable. So, what stats do you think should matter to a church?
Ever feel overwhelmed by so many needs and so much injustice in the world that you end up paralyzed and do very little? I was feeling that way and Dr. Soong-Chan Rah gave me some insight in how to respond when there are so many causes and so little time. I was at a special gathering planned by CCDA and World Relief to inform leaders like myself about the need for immigration reform. Sitting with me were Troy Jackson and Kirsten Strand, two good friends and leaders who have a great understanding about restorative justice issues. In the middle of this gathering I began to feel convicted about the need to give clear Biblical teaching and take a stand on this issue. But at the same time I also felt like this was one more justice issue I was being challenged to champion. The list keeps growing: immigration, education, home ownership, homelessness, hunger, environmental/green issues, women's rights/leadership, pro-life, human trafficking, racism, etc. Feeling overwhelmed I confided in Troy and Kirsten, "There are so many injustice issues I feel convicted about, but it also can be overwhelming. So how do I decide which issues to invest my time?" Troy advised me, "See that guy sitting across the table, that is Soong-Chan Rah of North Park University. He has planted a church, pastored a church and has written & taught on issues of restorative justice, you need to ask him for some coaching." So, I did exactly that. I set up an appointment with Dr. Rah and here are some of my take-aways from that conversation:
The Bible speaks very clearly on so many injustices that are taking place everyday. Sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing is not acceptable. So take the advice I got from Dr. Rah and prioritize by asking "who is my neighbor?" and act on what is good for the Kingdom and not you!
"What an amazing event!" That was my reaction this morning as my family and I helped out at two of our four 2011 Gift Marts. In this interview you will hear from Kirsten Strand, Community 4:12 Director who along with some friends started this Gift Mart 9 years ago. The first Gift Mart had about 100 volunteers and 800 toys donated and we gave back to the school about $800. And this year at just our two Aurora Gift Marts we will have more than 1000 volunteers, 8000 toys donated and give back to the schools about $10,000. Those numbers will increase dramatically when we get the totals from our other two Gift Marts in Joliet and Chicago. But perhaps the most impressive number to me is that we have apprenticed several other churches and there are now 15 Gift Marts across the country making this kind of impact in thier community.
When is the last time you asked God for a miracle? For the month of Decemeber at COMMUNITY we have been in a series titled, Christmas Miracles where we have dared to ask God to do what only he can do in our lives and the lives of those close to us. As an encouragement to ask big check out this story sent to me by Lane Hunter. Lane is on medical disability. Doctors told him he should have died years ago. Lane experiences excruciating pain every single day but it doesn't stop him in reaching out through email to many of his corporate business friends and acquaintances and asking God for a miracle. With his permission, I’m sharing with you the e-mail he sent me yesterday: "A man who used to work for me on the east coast was recently let go from his job, it was a shock to him after 28 years to be told he was out of a job and there would be no severance. He and I have been emailing back and forth since my disability. We have often talked about our faith, but he never took the step of faith; something always came up. When he let me know he was fired I told him to take it to God in prayer and if that did not feel like it was working, he should pray out loud, “God's will be done.” He took my name as a reference and interviewed at a few companies, the interviews went well but he was up against other people and it was close to the holidays. They told him they would call him on Monday morning. He did not get a call. Yesterday he was in the car driving and suddenly started praying out loud, “God your will be done.” Ten minutes later he received a job offer. He accepted. I told Mark that he should share his story with others and that he must remember that he was taken care of by God, and should now ask what can he do to serve God and others. I believe this was a Christmas miracle happening to a man who was 54 years old and afraid of losing everything after a lifetime of hard work. Not every story ends like this, but this is one I felt like I should share." Are you asking God for something big this Christmas. Why not. He does the miraculous.
My good friend Bob Bouwer was having lunch with the campus pastor of COMMUNITY a couple weeks ago when he said, "Everyday at the top of my journal I write these three letters: E (emotional), P (physical) and S (spiritual) and then give myself a 1-10 rating." He went on to explain how this daily routine of rigorous self-evaluation helps keep him in a healthy place.
As I heard Bob talk I was inspired to do the same; but to use a tool that is a regular part of our coaching of leaders at COMMUNITY and explained on page 120 of Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement. We refer to this tool as "checking your RPM'S." This tool is based on Luke 2:52 that says, "Jesus grew in wisdom (mental) and stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and men (relational)." So for the last week on a daily bais I have put at the top of my journal these four letters: R (relational), P (physicial), M (mental) and S (spiritual) and given myself a 1-10 rating. I am already convinced that using this tool on a daily basis, rather than just during coaching sessions may be one of the most powerful self-leadership tools around. I would strongly encourage you to try it for yourself. Let me briefly explain each of these and give you a few questions to ask in your own daily self-evaluation.
RELATIONAL: Our relational world typically includes the people with whom we interact on a regular basis: our immediate family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and small group members. Here are some questions you can ask yourself.
PHYSICAL: Our physical well-being is often the most overlooked aspect of a leaders life. Yet diet, exercise, sleep, and rest are all vital to our ability to lead effectively. If we are serious about developing as a whole person, we have to take seriously our physical well-being. Here are some good questions to ask:
MENTAL: Another often-overlooked aspect is the development of our minds. In order for us to stay sharp and be a lifelong learners, we need to be challenged. Here are some questions we can ask to see if we are developing mentally:
SPIRITUAL: It is also imperative that we discover and act on whatever it is that helps us grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus. Here are some questions we can ask to see how we are developing spiritually:
The longer I am in leadership the more I am convinced that the most important leadership we can offer is self-leadership. Use this tool everyday and lead yourself!
Great stuff from Tim Keller and other church planters on Acts 1:8, church planting and reproducing. This video was originally shown at one of our Exponential Conferences a few years ago. A couple of my favorite lines from Keller are when he says, "Church planting should be a part of every church...and as normal as every other ministry" and then he ends with, "If you can plant a church, you should."
Over the last 18 months at COMMUNITY we have made strategic moves in order to mobilize all (yes, we mean ALL) our people for mission. Part of that process has been to clearly articulate in a simple way our mission and how we will carry it out. The mission is "helping people find thier way back to God" and the way we will accomplish it is throug the 3 R's. What is below is the script from a voice over I did for a video to explain in a concise way the Jesus mission at COMMUNITY.
MISSION: At COMMUNITY we have accepted the mission of Jesus and simply say it like this: "helping people find their way back to God." This mission is made up of three tasks:
REACH. First, we must reach people far from God. The Western Church is observing a dramatic shift from a Christian culture to a post-Christian one. It is now suggested that 60% of the people we want to reach will never enter the doors of our current forms of church. If that is true, we then need to allow our imaginations to be profoundly shaped by the biblical notion that God is sending us as He sent Himself in Jesus. Matthew 28 says to "Go!" and we are challenging ourselves to be the church who will reach people who are far from God.
RESTORE. We must also restore God's dream for the world. A common perception among pre-Christians is that Christ-followers talk about poverty and justice issues, but that we don't do much to address those issues. But Jesus expects us to change that perception. "He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free." (Luke 4:17-18) It is our mission to be a people who restore God's dream for the world.
REPRODUCE. We must then reproduce the mission in others. If we are called to go to "Jerusalem...Judea...Samaria... and to the ends of the earth," we have to find a new way of counting that results in rapid reproduction and exponential growth. This new math counts on you and your friends to start a missional church movement. Every movement starts with one person. When you and your friends follow the biblical example to become apprentices of Jesus, (2 Timothy 2:2) the result can be the beginning of a missional church movement. Through these apprenticeships, we will reproduce the mission in others.
That’s the Jesus Mission. Now go.
Time Magazine compiled a list of the 10 best commencement addresses ever. This list included speeches by Winston Churchill (Harrow College, 1941); John F. Kennedy (American University, 1963) and even Steve Jobs (Stanford, 2005). Also on the list was Stephen Colbert (yes, that Stephen Colbert!) and his 2006 commencement address at little Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Colbert, who Knox had just awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, closed his address with a challenge about the power of saying, "Yes": "When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City, there was really only one rule ... When you improvise a scene with no script ... you have to accept what the other improviser initiates ... Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say yes. And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say yes back. Now will saying yes get you in trouble at times? Will saying yes lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don't be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. Yes is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes."
You may or may not like Colbert’s politics, but either way if you want to lead your church toward mission, you’d better listen to his words of wisdom and lead with a "Yes!" The one thing every leader possesses that every follower needs to engage in mission is permission. And permission always comes in the form of a "Yes." Leaders, if you want to see missional engagement in your churches and ultimately a movement, you must lead with a "Yes" to your people's creative ideas. If your followers can’t get permission from you, then they may never be engaged in the mission. The great temptation is to respond with questions of how. But questions of how need to wait. If we respond with “How could you do that?” we immediately begin to sow seeds of doubt by responding to the individual’s vision with a question about strategy. If we ask, “How much would that cost?” we are responding to their vision with a question of tactics. The questions about “how” will come later on, but the reflex of an innovative leader needs to be "Yes."
(This is an excerpt from my new book with Alan Hirsch, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church.)
For more on "Yes" check out the following:
Ever been around someone who has to be the focus of attention? And do you remember what it feels like being around that person? It feels like the person is needy and something is lacking so he/she is grabbing all the attention they can to compensate for something that is lacking.
Ever been that person who has to have all the attention focused on you? Remember the feeling? You feel empty and selfish. It's a self-serving experience to make sure you are the focal point.
In the wisdom literature of the Bible it reminds warns us, "Don't call attention to yourself, let others do that for you." (Proverbs 27:2) If we live a life that is constantly pointing to others, people will notice and be attracted to us. Who doesn't want to be around a person that let's them be the center of attention.
One of the great paradox of life is this: focus your life's attention on others and the attention of others will be drawn to you.