Mobilizing the Church. Transforming the World.

Church Planting Does Not Guarantee Missional Focus

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New churches can become trapped in a routine of aimlessness and irrelevance just as easily as an existing church. 

This dynamic happens because every Christian leader has a mental model of church.  These mental models govern our behaviors, often on an unconscious level.  So while we talk the language of a new paradigm, we typically behave according to our old mental models which have been constructed over years in established churches. 

The power of these mental models cannot be over emphasized!

Quite frequently new ideas never get put into practice, or if they do, they do not sustain because they conflict with deeply held internal assumptions and images of how the world works.  These mental models determine not only how we make sense of the world, but how we take action (or fail to take action.)  They affect what we see.  Two people with different mental models can observe the same event and describe it differently, because they’ve looked at it through different “lenses” or different mental models.

Because of the influence of our mental models, every pastor and church leader (whether in a new or existing church) must be willing to prayerfully reflect on their governing assumptions and common practices.  The problems with mental models lie not in whether they are right or wrong.  The problems with mental models arise when they reside below the level of awareness.

The aim of Renovation is to help pastors and Christian leaders begin a dialogue about themselves, their churches, and their city.  It is to help them affirm one another around their mutual commitment to the purposes of God.  And it is to help them begin to explore existing mental models that might be limiting their impact in the world. 

We encourage you to reflect on assumption you may have held about:
  • Your church and your church’s role in the city
  • Other churches and other pastors in your city
  • The power of the gospel and its impact in the city and the world
  • Your responsibility and accountability to the purposes of God
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Spiritual Transformation in Orlando – Inspiring Video

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The Gospel Centered Life

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The leaders I am working with are captured by the vision of “every man, woman, and child having repeated opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel.” I share that vision. However, this past year I’ve been thinking more deeply about what the gospel is. I fear that my generation of baby boomers has tended to reduce the gospel to a verbal commitment or a prayer, missing the deep and rich implications of it. I have come to believe that we are not only saved by the gospel but we are sanctified by it as well.

A resource that has helped me is “The Gospel Centered Life” curriculum published by World Harvest Mission. I have also enjoyed working the larger study they published entitled “Gospel Transformation.” One more resource that has blessed me this year is Milton Vincent’s devotional book “A Gospel Primer for Christians.”

For any united city reaching effort to take root, I think we must be in agreement about the gospel. As we understand and apply the gospel more deeply we are truly able to become “partners in the gospel” as Paul writes about in Philippians 1:3.

Living and working with the great ministry leaders in Houston over the past 16 years has been an enriching educational experience for me. What brings transformation to a city? We have studied the work of George Otis and followed transformation stories from around the world. I have been deeply impacted by Tim Keller and the work that Redeemer Presbyterian Church is catalyzing in New York City. I’m very encouraged by what I see in cities like Austin, TX and Columbia, SC.

But what will it take for us to move to a new level? How can Christian leaders become more effective at engaging and impacting a city for Christ? I think it begins with a deep and passionate understanding of and appreciation for the gospel. That’s the good news. That’s the power of God released through us (Romans 1:16).

I close for now with this verse: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3)

What would it look like for us to embrace the gospel more deeply and more fully become partners in the gospel?
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Coming Back

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I have taken a break from my blog for a few months to think and reflect about where God is moving and what He wants my part in that to be. My heart and mind is being captured by the idea that the church can and should have much more of a transformational impact in the community, city, and world. That’s really nothing new, but I’m burdened by the ongoing conversations and activities that are suppose to lead to more transformation with seemingly minimal impact.

I want to start a conversation to hopefully take this to a deeper level. I do not want to criticize the church, the Bride of Christ. I want to uplift and encourage the church. I want to bless the church, and I want to empower the Body of Christ to dramatically increase their missional impact in the world. I hope you will follow and give me comments and feedback.
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