Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Coolness of the Western Church

Brother Yun, a fellow believer from China, thinks the western church is "cool," but he doesn't mean what we mean when we say that. Here's his read on us:

“On some occasions I’ve struggled while speaking in Western churches. There seems to be something missing that leaves me feeling terrible inside. Many meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God that we have in China.

“In the West many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don’t rise up and walk in Jesus’ name. In China we have no possessions to hold us down, so there’s nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord. The Chinese church is like Peter at the Beautiful Gate. When he saw the crippled beggar he said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!’ (Acts 3:6)” (Heavenly Man, 295)

Lord Jesus, may we learn to listen to you and forsake all we have that we might be your disciples! May we truly renounce the sparks of the world that we might know the flame of God!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Conference Fatigue

It's Wednesay morning, the third day of a three day conference. I have so appreciated being in the presence of those who are here, and I've learned many good things. But I have to be honest: I have conference fatigue. At some point, a person has to limit the flow of input and maximize the flow of output. It's not good to be a reservoir. It's much better to be a river. The emotional and spiritual health of a person is, in some sense, measured by their capacity to be a river.

Jesus was a river. I was really taken this morning by a line from John 5:30 where Jesus himself said, "I can do nothing on my own." This means that, even for Jesus, his resources originated upstream. He was completely dependent on God the Father. But the thing about Jesus is that when he did receive those resources from upstream, he didn't keep them to himself. He gave, and gave, and gave, and gave--to the extent that the resources received allowed it.

Burnout is not good, so I never weary of receiving from the Lord himself. I've often said about my days off and vacations that I need a break from the labor of ministry but I never need a break from Jesus. I love him. I love spending time with him. He is my life. All of my resources derive from him. When I tire of him I sign the deal that guarantees my burnout.

But I'm done with conferences for now. It's time for me to give to the extent that the resources invested in me allow. Thanks for praying for us. Please pray for us as we fly home.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On Developing Men for Ministry

I had the privilege of having lunch with Greg Kappas and Tom Wood, both of whom are very well known church planters, church planting mobilizers, and church planting coaches. They have coached pastors such as Mark Driscoll and Chan Kilgore, both of whom were just listed among the top twenty church planting churches in the nation.

Brothers & sisters, coming from where I have come from, I feel overwhelmingly privileged to be sitting in the presence of such men of God.

I told them a little bit about Glory of Christ and then just asked them to say anything they'd like to say to me. To bottom line what they said, they told me I ought to invest myself in the key men of the church and teach them to mentor others. They said that developing God-centered, humble leaders is the key to realizing a ministry vision.

This was so encouraging to me since developing men has been at the heart of our strategy from day one. You know me, I do not look down on women, I don't think women are second class Christians, I don't think women are less worthy than men or less important to God than men. But I do think that God has vested men with the responsibility of leadership and therefore I come to this conclusion: if the men of the church rise up, the church will rise up.

So, I feel humbled and encouraged because some of the best church planting leaders in the United States have told me that we are on the right track.

Please continue to pray for us.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Planting for the Glory of Christ

I am at a church planting conference in Orlando, Florida this week, and I feel so grateful to be here. There are twelve churches represented here, all of which are swimming in the pool of starting new churches and some of which are among the most productive church-planting-churches in the nation.

Probably the thing that is touching me most is how down-to-earth and humble and God-centered these brothers and sisters are. They are not "great men and women," they are men and women who have submitted themselves to a great God and they're seeing him do great things. Being around such people is both humbling and inspiring.

Please pray for us, that God will speak to us and touch us with the Holy Spirit while we're here. The bottom line of planting churches is that there are so many lost people who need to hear the gospel of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, who need to be touched by his great and gracious healing power. In other words, this conference is not about us. It's about the glory of Jesus. So, I do not shrink back from entreating your prayers.

More tomorrow.