I’ve been reluctant to admit it too publicly, but I’ve been exploring a personality typing system called the Enneagram. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It divides people into nine basic types and identifies the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of each one.
There are other systems, of course. You may have heard of Myers-Briggs; Taylor-Johnson; StrengthsFinder; DiSC Assessment—the list is lengthy. Seems like everybody is at least a little curious to know about themselves. Just why do I do what I do? That question could be unhealthy if it causes me to become self-absorbed and self-centered. On the other hand, to be self-aware isn’t such a bad thing. John Calvin, in his Institutesproposed that “without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God” and then went on to suggest that the converse was also true. The point being that when kept in balance, self-knowledge is probably a good thing. It keeps me from operating on impulse without knowing why.
I was talking to a friend of mine at the gym this morning. I don’t know how we got around to talking technology. I think it was my complaint that a favorite prayer walk of mine had been fitted with security cameras. Anyhow, one thing led to another and we began reflecting on the internet and the essential part it plays in our daily life. We remarked that if something ever happened to this essential infrastructure, we’d all be “hurtin’ fer certain. ” We ended our conversation reflecting on what has been called TEOTWAWKI, “the end of the world as we know it.” Continue reading A Sound Investment Opportunity→
First, a lament: Where have I been on our website for, lo, these many weeks — dare I say, months? Ugghhh. What a slacker. What a slug! Ah, me!
OK, that’s done. I am suitably self-chastened. Now, down to some business.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately. If you’re interested in what’s been passing under my curious eyeballs, you can click “What Dan’s Been Reading” under the “Reading” tab on the toolbar. Actually, the list isn’t truly up to date, but I’m adding to the list as I remember where I’ve been.
Presently, l’m reading The Aqua Church, by Len Sweet. The following quote caught my attention:
If community is that which is created by shared experiences, communities of faith are built from the sound up. Sharing the same mission, eating the same food, and singing the same melodies result in the experience of community.
Sweet, Leonard. AquaChurch 2.0: Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (p. 151). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
This is a simple way of describing the life of a relational church. I often advise people who want to build a church family to eat together and make singing a priority. Singing together calls a group of people to speak the same truths — the exact same truths — together at the same time. It is a community declaration of purpose. Far from a perfunctory component of a gathering, it is a needed opportunity to strengthen foundations and shore up the walls of faith.
One critical aspect for correctly interpreting scripture is to accurately assess and identify the hearers of the message. It makes a difference when we discover the audience. When we stand back and take a look at Jesus’ ministry to the multitudes, we find that He healed them, brought about spiritual deliverances, fed, and taught them. They gathered around Him, often traveling from distant villages, for what they would receive. Their poverty, illnesses and deep oppression sent them looking for a savior….to remedy their earthly needs. They sought One who had the reputation as a Sign Giver. ‘Please…..work just one more sign in our midst’. At the end of the day, He healed, delivered, fed and taught…but He did not entrust Himself to them (John 2:24). The multitudes came for what they would GAIN. Continue reading Are You a Multitude?→
In 1990 Dan and I began a journey of faith that would take us away from church as we knew it—to another way of living in Christ together. For the last 24 years we have experienced our spiritual journey with a smaller group of covenant friends. We started church gatherings called The Summit Fellowships, after experiencing a life altering gathering called a ‘Prayer Summit’. A prayer summit is a multiple day gathering of Christians (often leaders), under the leadership of the Holy Spirit—learning to listen together for His leadership of the Church. I was profoundly changed. Dan was forever changed. We wanted the kind of life that we experienced during those four days together to continue after we returned home.
I have been a follower of Jesus for the last 42 years. My greatest joys have been experienced with the Church along with my greatest lament. It has been the longing of my heart to see the Body of Christ come to maturity. Over the years I have pursued so many initiatives for Bible study in order to see believers mature. Seven years ago the Lord interrupted all of my previous patterns and began to grace me with a picture of what He had in mind. The result is something called the Sonship Study. It has developed from many of the elements we learned at prayer summits that produced such intimacy in prayer. What could happen if those same elements were introduced to our learning in community? And how might this way of learning be passed along relationally—rather than as information?
A closer look at Jesus, particularly from the Book of Hebrews, focused me on the lessons He came and modeled for us of what it looks like to be restored to our intended identity of Sonship (living life in the Son and as a son) and the assignment given (the Great Commission) to turn around and pass it on.
Something incredible began to happen … something that we call ‘The Church of the Heart‘. There are marvelous stories from all of this, but a couple in particular stand out. In Medellin Colombia about 2 ½ years ago. I shared the first year of the Sonship study there with about 20 pastoral leaders. A woman named Magdelena heard and in turn, shared with her husband. They were associate pastors in a traditional congregation. They chose to leave—and using the Sonship study, they began to plant a home church with ALL unbelievers. All came to Christ—and one of those couples took the material and planted another church among unbelievers. They all came to Christ and another couple was raised up and planted a church. This continues. Within a year and a half, four generations of gatherings(all unbelievers) have come to Christ and are maturing in their faith and calling, gathering relationally and passing what they have received on to others relationally.
I also shared this with a chaplain in Wisconsin, who ministers in a large county jail. She introduced it in both the men and women’s pods. Within 3 weeks a majority of the women had responded to Christ. (The entire story can be found on our blog).
We are watching multiplication take place and in ways that move past where we might attend church on a Sunday. These Churches of the Heart are multiplying under His Name and not just our local Church title. Since Sonship is passed on relationally—it has moved past my ability to keep track of all the unfolding. There is so much to share and be grateful for.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
Once again Honest Abe shows his wisdom. Power, the ability to do or act, can be a dangerous commodity, particularly in a church congregation. I have observed many times over the years how people gravitate to little pockets of power within the church. There is something attractive about a prominent office that empowers its holder to exert control over others. These little territories — Sunday school, worship, elders board, even maintaining the building — are often jealously guarded and ruthlessly administered.
Lincoln is right. A position of power is a great revealer of character. Anyone who occupies such positions in the church must do their work as Jesus demonstrated: with a basin and towel, kneeling at the feet of the people.