Archives For Outflow

outward-focusedHave you noticed that the U.S. Church tends to go through trends every now and then? Books are written, conferences are held, programs come and go and the voices of experts in these areas rise to prominence.

When these trends flow, we are naturally excited about the possibility of these manifesting around us, We dream about what it would be like to walk in that reality right now, but the dream world and the real world aren’t one and same.

When there was a lot of hoopla about worship, I helped a church that was doing “Contemporary” worship but failed to connect with their community around them in Pasadena. They were baffled that they weren’t connecting with younger families, even through there was no shortage of those around them.

But I discovered that their worship song rotation included a number of Gaither Band songs. I like the Gaithers as much as the next person. I even have a song or two of theirs in my iTunes collection, but to call their songs contemporary is big stretch.

Currently the trend moving through the Church is a return to the importance of outreach, and I couldn’t be more enthused! As I see it, this is the core of any other practice. Jesus modeled outwardness above all else. Again the question boils down to “Are we really pulling off outreach, or are we just excited about the importance of it? Is it a goal we celebrate at conferences, or is it a current reality?”

What are we to do? Let’s live differently, strategically and begin to walk it out. As the motto of this site goes, “Making the dangerous doable.” Let’s move toward some dangerous but doable stuff together.

How do we pull that off? That’s a longer discussion than we can have today, and that’s exactly what this site is about. We will have scads of discussions here down the road, but today let’s kick it off with a couple of practical assignments.

  1. Commit to the work it will take. I’m lazy by nature, and I’m in good company. When we are lazy it is easy to fall prey to living in a fantasy world. Do what it takes to sweat. As the Army saying goes, “No one ever drown in sweat.”
  2. Resist the temptation to advertise until you’ve practiced it. If you are like me it’s tough to resist plugging a book you like even before you’ve finished reading it. If you are a visionary you’ve probably pulled that one off a time or two. It’s good to be enthused, just hold on to your hat until you have finished it. When you begin to reach out keep it on the quiet side at first. Don’t wave the flag more than your experience can support. Do outreach with a handful of others and as you learn and have fun, then begin to spontaneously share your stories one on one before you broadcast them to the entire congregation.
  3. Start small Great things have small beginnings. That’s biblical and that’s the pattern of church history. Small starts are not the mark of failure by any means, rather they are usually the mark of assembling a runway for God’s Spirit to land with his presence in a big way.

 

The quickening

October 4, 2011 — Leave a comment

The Scriptures use the word Quickening to refer to the living presence of the Holy Spirit in Believers – and the Apostles Creed (“he shall come to judge the Quick and the dead.”) To be Quickened is to be enlivened with the touch of the Spirit. This is exciting. We can actually walk through in a living sense of the presence of God. True, sometimes we feel little or none of the Spirit upon us, at least that’s true for me. At other times there is a strong sense of the Spirit on us (tactile response). The question to is this: Are you willing to allow God to make you aware of his quickening today? If you are he will re-ignite the quickening in short order.

You are quickened whether you feel anything today or not. He wants you to know his likes and dislikes, not mentally only but through a vital, dynamic connection with his Spirit. He has assignments for you to accomplish today that require your quickening. Walk in his quickened presence and go change everything.

The senior leader is the primary mentor… who guides the way in all things related to evangelism. A local church will rarely grow beyond the skill and passion level of her pastor. As that person does, so does the church, for better and for worse. Most of the time, not surprisingly, the pastor of the local church is not naturally gifted at evangelism. He is usually more introverted and oriented toward speaking and teaching gifts. He would rather spend time studying than out with people trying to lead them to salvation. That’s okay. God can take a person like that and bring about exciting change. Remember this important principle: as a pastor changes so changes the local church.
To the degree the senior leader owns his responsibility in leading the way for evangelism God will be able to break through and do something significant. Until the senior leader owns this role little will happen.

Do the work

July 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

It’s all about doing the work, not talking about the work.

Leaders aren’t leaders until they lead.

Writers aren’t writers until they write.

Worship leaders are so until they bring others into worship.

Evangelists are only evangelists when they evangelize. Connect with the Lost.

Don’t just talk. Do the work. Start today.

It is God’s nature to lead his people in ministry. He is large. He is in charge. Our nature is to seek to take control from God. Thus there is a natural conflict.
If we hope to function effectively in evangelism we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
In our desire to see people come to Christ we can grow impatient and step out of alignment with God. It is easy to grow dull of hearing and simply become disinterested in listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice in ministry. I have met numbers of veteran evangelism leaders who poo-poo the idea of being led by the Holy Spirit in outreach because they grew impatient long ago on asking God in connecting with outreach. They usually see such notions as excuses for not doing outreach. I disagree.
Instead of hearing from the Spirit we trade for inferior voices. We grow accustomed to our voice and those of our friends or Board members. Those voices consistently drown out the Gentle Voice that leads. Those other voices are easy to discern. They push. They sometimes threaten with the withholding of favor or hope or capacity. God’s voice, even when he brings correction, brings hope and passion. He speaks in the proactive perspective. “Move forward! Take that risk! Do that outreach! Pray that prayer.” He gives us encouragement and specific instruction.
There is nothing wrong with your current outreach setting that a decent conversation with God will not improve greatly. Start with a prolonged time of listening to Big God.

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