A big thanks to the Antioch volunteers who helped out at The Pillsbury Elementary Carnival last week! Check out some of the action below.
A big thanks to the Antioch volunteers who helped out at The Pillsbury Elementary Carnival last week! Check out some of the action below.
We recently finished an 8 week sermon series called The Gospel at Work. David Lindeman, one of our members, conducted interviews with a variety of our Antioch family and put together these videos as introductions to each sermon. Check out all eight videos below. And a big thanks to David for all his hard work!
—Antioch Community Church
Andy O’Rourke was recently interviewed by Transform Minnesota for their Urban Church Planting Q & A series.
For our Urban Church Planting Q & A series, we interview pioneer church planters who, having firmly planted churches in urban areas of the Twin Cities, look back and share their wisdom and reflections. Here we interview Andy O’Rourke, lead pastor of Antioch Community Church in Northeast Minneapolis. Antioch Community Church is also affiliated with the Acts 29 Network Upper Midwest Region. Antioch Community Church is the second church Andy has planted.
1. Why is urban church planting in the Twin Cities important?
I’m part of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), which historically over the past few decades has not experienced significant success in urban church planting. However, urban church planting in Minneapolis and St. Paul must be a high priority in the years ahead…
—Antioch Community Church
Highlights from the Antioch Community Church 2014 fall retreat.
Thanks to Dan Madsen for taking the time to put together a great video!
Repentance and forgiveness have an essential role in the Christian life. Unfortunately, these two topics are often neglected, misunderstood and misapplied in the lives of many followers of Jesus.
Repentance is not only a one-time event that occurs at conversion when a person believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is also a turning from sin that must characterize the entire pattern of the lifelong journey of a disciple . Failing to repent before God and harboring sin can lead to all types of problems, spiritual and physical .
Having been forgiven such a debt of sin before God, we are “on the hook” to forgive others who have sinned against us . Our own experience of the grace of God should cause us to overflow with grace, mercy and forgiveness toward others around us.
Of the many issues surrounding repentance and forgiveness, a couple practical comments are helpful in order to live these disciplines out. First, most people do not know how to ask another person for forgiveness or extend forgiveness. This is astounding, but true. For example, in a situation involving conflict resolution, most believers will need to be coached and guided in this area. In asking a person for forgiveness, they will need to be taught to say something like, “I’m sorry for doing _________, and for how it hurt you ________. Will you please forgive me?” In extending forgiveness, people will need to be taught to respond by saying something like, “Yes, I forgive you for _________.” Most adults have never seen this modeled or practiced it themselves. Ken Sande, in his book The Peacemaker, has an excellent section on what forgiveness looks like practically in our relationships with others .
Second, we must remember that forgiveness is both an event and a process. A person must choose to forgive. There is a point in time where one releases the power to hold an offense against another person. They choose to say, “I forgive you.” That is the initial event of forgiveness. However, the feelings of anger, bitterness, or even the consequences of sin, may continue well into the future. The person who has said “I forgive” will need to continue to say “I forgive,” while bringing the situation before God. This is the ongoing existential or experiential side of forgiveness. To encourage a person to “forgiven and forget” is neither biblical, nor possible. For example, a hurtful word that I have forgiven in the past may come into my mind in the present and cause me to become angry or discouraged. I must bring those feelings before God, trusting his grace and power to not “keep a record of wrongs”  in living out authentic Christlike love.
 1 Jn 1:9; Lk 11:4
Gospel Men is an annual one-day conference in Minneapolis that exists to challenge men of all ages to seek out radical gospel transformation in their lives and in the lives of their fellow brothers.
The Gospel Men Conference was held on March 1, 2014
—Antioch Community Church
This past weekend was my church’s 5th annual Fall Retreat up at Camp Shamineau. Even though it rained most of Saturday, we had a great time. We spent most of our time playing games, climbing around the high ropes course, eating way too much food and staying up too late, but we also talked about where the Lord is leading Antioch this coming year.
Our theme was “Internally Strong, Externally Focused”. On Saturday morning Andy shared from John 17:20-23, where Jesus prays for the unity of future believers so that the world may know. The whole purpose of having strong community is to be a vehicle for the gospel into the world. To only have community with no mission would be like having a Maserati that never leaves the garage. If you got a brand new car, you wouldn’t invite people over to come sit in the garage; you would drive it around! So too we want to grow this year in using our community for the purpose of gospel mission in our neighborhood and world.
Sunday morning we spent some time worshipping and sharing what the Lord was doing in our lives, and what we wanted to see him do going forward. I was so impressed with my Antioch family. Even in a group of about 75 people, it felt incredibly intimate. Each person who shared was open and vulnerable about God’s hand in their lives and hearts. And on top of that, just about everyone shared something from Scripture that was currently convicting them and causing them to change something in their lives. As I listened to each person, I was overwhelmed by the maturity and humility our people have with handling the Word and their willingness to be led by it. I felt how I imagine a parent feels when they see their kids doing things they’ve been telling them about for years. Antioch really is growing up! *tear*
So as we look ahead to what the Lord wants to do in and through us this year, my prayer is that the solid community life we have at Antioch would not just be among ourselves, but would be externally focused on mission to those who still need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. May our hearts be overwhelmed with the reality of the lost, my our feet be quick to run to the aid of those who need Him most, and may we together as a family carry the transforming power of Jesus everywhere we find ourselves.
Amen. Now let’s get to work.
A major theme for us this year at Antioch is “multiplication.” We want to continue to multiply Community Groups as well as leaders. We want to multiply ways to engage the city around us with the love of Jesus and the good news of his gospel. Multiplication is part of living out the mission Jesus gave his church to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:16-20). We also are working to multiply a new church this fall. We’re convinced starting new churches is the overflow of a culture of healthy multiplication at every level.
But, where does our passion for multiplication come from biblically? The Bible is a unified story, with an unfolding storyline of MULTIPLICATION. The brief survey of biblical passages below illustrates how central multiplying is to the purposes of God.
The first command to humanity is a mandate focused on MULTIPLICATION.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
“Be fruitful and multiply” is more than having babies! It involved reflecting the image and glory of God throughout creation as God’s representatives.
God’s promise to Abraham was a promise of MULTIPLICATION.
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,
God gave his law to Israel that they might MULTIPLY in the promised land.
3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to MULTIPLY followers among all nations and peoples, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The early church MULTIPLIED as they worshiped God and enjoyed the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Paul told his disciple Timothy to MULTIPLY leaders who will MULTIPLY leaders.
2 Timothy 2:1-2
2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Revelation envisions a diverse MULTITUDE of people who have been redeemed through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
These prayers come from Pastor Matt Chandler and are ones that we as Elders pray over Antioch and Christ’s Church. Use these prayers to guide your time in prayer.
Every once in awhile we put together a newsletter to catch you up to date on what’s been going on in NE Minneapols. Take a minute to enjoy these stories of God’s faithfulness. We are really excited about what God is doing around here!
I wanted to write a quick response to the day: There were two things that I noticed today. Many prayer needs and discussions were based on 1) life direction and seeking the Lord for the “next step” and 2) glorifying God at work or in work. This is very normal for anyone of any age to ask these questions. As you are praying through direction, there are a couple of truths that God gives us in his word. The first truth is that God has already given us a life direction as he states in 1 Peter 4:11-12 “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Our life direction is to bring glory to God. That takes a lot of weight off of our shoulders because there are so many ways we can glorify God in our daily activities and work! The second truth that we need to see is a bit of a loaded phrase: “We work from our salvation not for our salvation.” At surface level this means that since we are saved in Christ, we are free to pursue work (almost any work) knowing that our salvation is secure and we are free to bring Him glory in our job. Under the surface this also means that God did not setup a works based faith. No matter if we are looking for a job, or trying to “work” for our salvation by reading the Bible enough or doing good things, we are already saved as believers. Again, this takes weight off of our shoulders that we can be working at a coffee shop or studying in school and we are doing exactly what God wants from us. In everything we can glorify God and love others! Pray about that this week, and in the name of Christ, where all blessing is found, be joyful!
I came across this tremendous quote today from Charles H. Spurgeon. It is a great reminder church’s messy, yet essential, mission.
“Churches are not made that men of ready speech may stand up on Sundays and talk, and so win daily bread from their admirers. No, there is another end and aim for this. These places of worship are not built that you may sit comfortably and hear something that shall make you pass away your Sundays with pleasure. A church which does not exist to do good in the slums, and dens, and kennels of the city, is a church that has no reason to justify its longer existing. A church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight with evil, to destroy error, to put down falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor, to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness, is a church that has no right to be. Not for yourself, O church, do you exist, any more than Christ existed for Himself. His glory was that He laid aside His glory, and the glory of the church is when she lays aside he respectability and her dignity, and counts it to be her glory to gather together the outcasts, and her highest honor to seek amid the foulest mire the priceless jewels for which Jesus shed His blood. To rescue souls from hell and lead to God, to hope, to heaven, this is her heavenly occupation. O that the church would always feel this!” (Spurgeon, Christ’s Words from the Cross, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1986, p. 24-25).
A huge piece of the survival story of the early church was a radical integration of property and resources. Without such, the church would have crumbled beneath the persecution and social alienation that came from being a religious minority in 1st-century Palestine.
While the threats to viability differ today in 21st-century America, the power that money has to fragment or integrate the church is just as profound.
Christian generosity is grounded in Jesus’ very real, very profound act of the unmerited giving of himself on the cross for a rebellious and broken humanity. This is true.
Generosity is a familial trait
It is this familial bond which beckons the church to a radical integration of property and resources.
Consider the lengths to which you would go to provide for your brother, daughter, or mother in distress. For family, there are few things we would not gladly go into debt for. Because families are characterized by love (in a perfect world).
The Apostle John draws particular attention to this issue of need within the missional family of God, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 Jn 3:17).
For the sake of love for your brothers and sisters in the family of God, be generous towards them.
It was a missional achievement of the Holy Spirit, “the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own” (Acts 4:32). Just as Christ prayed, “that they may be one, even as we [Father] are one” (Jn. 17:22), so the Holy Spirit brought it about.
It was also a missional achievement for the church. A shining moment in church history is recounted in Acts 2:45-47,
“they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Who wouldn’t want to go to that church? This was a rarity, even in their context, to receive such generosity (let alone give it!). No group can easily say of itself, “there was not a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34).
Recently, this discussion came up in the community group my wife and I are a part of. One of the people there told us about a friend whose car had died and had no money to tow it, let alone get a replacement car. I was ecstatic to see that by the end of the night, our family (as we call ourselves) had forked up over $300 for this friend-of-a-friend. While meager by some standards, this is a perfect example of the role of money in the missional family of God.
by Jordan Mogck
[Reposted from Jordan Mogck’s blog, an ACC Community Group leader.]
Every family has rhythms. The family of God — Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Church — have rhythms no less. The family rhythms below are practices which flow out of who we are as members of the family of God.
Eat| part 1
Celebrate| part 2
Storying| part 3
Listen| part 4
Bless| part 5
Expand| part 6
[from the familia Dei blog by our own Jordan Mogck]
*re-post from the Resurgence…
Idols are sneaky. They tip toe past our brains, set up shop in a corner of our heart, and begin to grow. Most of the time we don’t even notice because we’ve fallen in love with the idol—it’s become part of what drives us and makes us (momentarily) happy.
11 diagnostic questions that David Powlison asks to find people’s idols.
Growing up in a little southern Baptist church in the foothills of the Appalachians, my sermon diet consisted of hell fire and brimstone and plenty of references to tithing with the right intentions. It wasn’t until college that I realized the opposite side of the giving pendulum was possible. As a sophomore in college I began to feel the money crunch begin. By that time my parents were far away and I was living the peanut butter sandwich days that make great stories of sacrifice and perseverance for your kids later on. As a junior in college I came out of the world of undeclared majors and excitedly began my studies in missions. Needless to say, this was my first time being on the requesting side of the offering plate. Class after class I began to see how scary, difficult, yet detrimental giving was to the body of believers and the kingdom. As a senior I was faced with the challenge of living what I declared as truth in my papers and exams when I joined a small committee of mission-minded people whose purpose was to convince other ramen-eating, entertainment-minded peers the worship and purpose of giving to the kingdom. Now as an adult with a grown-up job and bills to match, I have come to realize the importance of church-family supportive giving.
Those are life experiences. Now here’s my doctrine (please stay with me on this one). Deep down I don’t fully believe that God is sovereign in ownership, that my worship and heart are tied to and expressed by my money, and that increased wealth is an opportunity to increase my giving and not my standard of living. If I did, my spending would be different. As it stands, my life is a disconnect between my belief and my actions. I can tell I believe it a little because I have excels and graphs galore that show my financial Utopia of balance and savings. I’ve also been a model 10% giver from an early age (when you have a southern Baptist preacher staring down at you as the plate goes around you better believe I was a giver). It’s the actual acts of expenditures and choices that shows my true idea of Who I’m worshiping and what I am willing to worship with.
I’ll admit, when Pastor Andy began preaching on tithing I sat back and gave a pretty big sigh. Finally, something I’m doing right! I don’t have to worry about conviction on this point. I’ve given my allotted amount and can sit back and relax. A pretty hypocritical thought coming from the girl who used to stare down college students every Friday during chapel in an effort to convey the importance of giving more than you think you can. Needless to say, after a few sermons from Pastor Andy and a couple more self-inflicted stewardship sermons from Pastor Mark Driscoll, I got over the idea that I was safe on this topic. So, here’s my thought based off of those sermons and the truth I find in scripture. If I truly believe that it’s not my money and that even the smallest action based on that thought is an act of ripping God off (Malachi 3:8-10), I would be living a lot differently. Now here’s the kicker; If I really wanted to lay down all my pretenses of viewing the church, my church, as a hotel rather than a home I would do everything I could to take care of it. I would invest in my home, take care of it, try to save in other areas so I could help maintain it. I would begin to view that 10% as a floor to work off of rather than a restricting ceiling.
It would change my lifestyle in ways that I can’t even imagine. You know what that means? Creativity! Do you realize how creative Christianity can be? I have limited myself far too long to the mundane weekly coffee drink rather than the opportunity to increase my giving.
All right, back to my college days. Remember that group I mentioned before? The mission zealots who stare down broke college students? Well we had the epiphany that maybe we just needed to show by example how even ramen-eating, thrift store shopping college students can free up some cash to give to missions. Funny we didn’t pick up on the Jesus-like example before, but oh well. Then the fun began. Each of us thought through something we could give up for a month in order to give more to missions. One person gave up pop, someone else coffee, another person upped the ante and decided to hand-wash all her clothes in an effort to save on laundry-mats.
I’m an adult now with all the wisdom and privileges associated with that so why am I not as creative in my saving? I love this church. I’m not kidding when I tell you I absolutely love this church. That love inspires me to see it survive and grow and become all that it can be: all that God has planned for it to be. So, dear reader, here is what I am going to do about it. I’m going to start truly believing and truly living that I am a steward, that this church is my home, and that I can do more. I can create a budget that consists of more than a spreadsheet (FYI Mint.com is amazing by the way) and actually make it a lifestyle. I can stick to that budget, not in a legalistic sense, but with the knowledge that there is something better than one cup of coffee or those new boots I like (sorry guys, but the manly analogies are going to be lacking in this paragraph). I can brainstorm with other people, make sure those close to me keep me accountable. I can live as if I believe the scriptures!
God is so worth the effort and the sacrifice, and this church is not my Holiday Inn Express. I plan on sticking around for a while and that means investment. So, let the brainstorming begin. Thanks for reading to the end. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some budgeting to do.
Lydia is a member of ACC and serves in a variety of behind the scenes capacities, and we greatly appreciate her. Thanks for sharing, Lydia!
A couple weeks ago at Antioch we explored the topic of “fasting” from Matthew 6:16-18. Fasting is a neglected spiritual discipline among many followers of Jesus, including myself. In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney defines fasting as “…a Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.” In the Bible, fasting is almost always connected with prayer. Some potential occasions or purposes for fasting may include:
1) A weapon in the spiritual battle against sin
2) A regular health check-up for your soul
3) To pursue a greater hunger to know God and delight in him
4) To express repentance and return to God
5) For strength and perseverance in the midst of a trial, hardship, or crisis
6) To aid in the frequency and fervency of a specific prayer need
7) To advance God’s gospel and kingdom purposes
8) For guidance for a specific decision, task, or direction
This year as a church family we are setting aside the FIRST TUESDAY each month for a voluntary “Antioch Day of Prayer and Fasting.” Among other areas one might pray for personally during those first Tuesdays, I challenged us to spend time in focused prayer concerning three specific areas:
1) Pray for significant gospel transformation in the lives of Antioch people.
2) Pray for tangible demonstrations of the gospel of Jesus in our city.
3) Pray for new people to become followers of Jesus and kingdom workers for the gospel.
I encourage you to join with us in crying out to the Lord through prayer and fasting this year! Whether it is for one meal or the entire day, let’s fast and pray together, expecting God to answer in great ways for his glory and our joy.
Yesterday at church, we had a great time of worship led by one of our fantastic worship leaders. The first song we sang was “Blessed” by Darlene Zschech and Reuben Morgan. It starts like this:
Blessed are those who dwell in your house
They are ever praising you
Blessed are those whose strength is in You
Whose hearts are set on our God
We will go from strength to strength
Until we see you face to face
That last line struck me when I realized I wasn’t sure what I was singing. What does “strength to strength” mean? I began searching my handy ESV study bible and found that the lyrics to this song are taken from Psalm 84, which is about the people of Israel going to the temple to worship the Lord. You should really read the whole thing for yourself, but the key verses are four through seven:
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
As the Israelites are on this journey to the temple, the Lord gives them more and more strength so they can come and worship him. I wanted to see where else this kind of language showed up in Scripture, so I followed the cross references to 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t really see the connection, but both of these passages are about the process of coming to Christ. We don’t just get transformed once in our lives, but we are “being transformed” while we see the glory of the Lord. Through our lives, as we look to Jesus, we start to look more and more like him in increasing degrees of glory. Being a Christian is not just about saying a prayer once, but about becoming more like Jesus. Yes, we need to come to Christ and be forgiven of our sins once and for all, but the process of living out our new lives takes, well, a lifetime.
The Israelites couldn’t store up enough strength for the trip to Jerusalem before they left; they needed to keep getting renewed along the way. In the same way, we cannot try to live the Christian life on “stored strength”, but on the ever increasing strength that Christ provides along the way. So if you’re feeling weak or like the journey is just too hard, look to Jesus. Someday we will worship Him face to face, but until then let Him transform you and He will give you strength upon strength to keep going.
We are currently going through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount on Sunday mornings at Antioch. A couple weeks ago I preached a sermon from Matthew 5:27-30 entitled “Fighting for Purity.” In the message, I mentioned a list of verses that have been helpful to me personally on various aspects of purity. Here you go!
Thought (Philippians 4:8; Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 10:5)
Heart (Proverbs 4:23; Luke 6:45; Matthew 9:4)
Body (2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:3,7; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 6:18-20; Galatians 5:24; Romans 13:14)
Actions (2 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Timothy 4:12; Colossians 3:17)
Speech (Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:4; Matthew 12:36-37)
Sight (Matthew 5:27-28; Matthew 6:22; Job 31:1)
In February Andy preached through the book of Jonah entitled “Jonah: God’s Heart for the Lost”. You can hear his sermons by downloading the podcast.
We had a fun chance to incorporate multiple forms of creative worship in this series. One of our attendees Brett is skilled with computer graphics and created a 30 second video to introduce each sermon. You can see the video below. One part humor, one part summary, the video got a great response from the congregation, and was a great expression of worship for him to create.
Another young woman Kristina has a wonderful ability to memorize and recite Scripture. During the four-week series, she recited one more chapter than the week before. The last week she recited all four chapters. It was an inspiring and humbling realization that the rest us need to put a higher priority on memorizing Scripture. Our Community Groups are memorizing verses together, and we are excited to get other people involved in the memorization and proclamation of Scripture.
Registration is now open!! Go to www.fightclubmn.com to reserve your spot for this upcoming men’s event. The cost for the day is only $25.
Fight Club 2010: Minneapolis is a one-day Acts 29 Network regional conference in Minneapolis, MN that exists to rally and challenge men of all ages to fight for radical gospel transformation in their lives. This event will feature both local and national speakers. We pray that God will use Fight Club 2010 to help raise up a generation of men who will make a massive impact in the world for Jesus and his kingdom. Register now and join us from 9am – 5pm on May 1st!
Here’s a short video about “wise stewardship” that a couple guys from Antioch put together. Check it out!
There are a couple excellent books by Randy Alcorn that I’m using during preparation for our current preaching series at Antioch entitled “God, Stewardship, & Giving.” The first book is The Treasure Principle. This is a great introduction to an eternal perspective on money and possessions. It’s very practical and best of all, very short! Our Community Groups are going through this book in conjunction with Sunday’s sermons. The second resource from Alcorn that I would highly recommend is called Money, Possessions, and Eternity. This is a longer, more thorough treatment of the topic. It goes into great detail regarding many of the questions one might have. Also, Alcorn does a great job interacting with key biblical passages.
By now everyone has seen the disaster left behind by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. With hundreds of thousands of survivors in desperate need of help, many are asking “who will help the church?” This tragedy is an opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to shine and for the gospel to have a tremendous impact!
Mark Driscoll (Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle) and James MacDonald (Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago area) recently launched a non-profit organization named “Churches Helping Churches” to come to the aid of the Church in Haiti. The global body of Christ has a responsibility to live out the Apostle Paul’s words from Galatians 6:10: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Visit www.churcheshelpingchurches.com for more information on this new organization and how you can give to the cause of Christ in Haiti.
Tonight I’m sharing with the launch team of a nearby church plant. They asked me to talk about pitfalls, things to avoid, and lessons learned in the last two churches that I’ve helped to start. It’s been interesting to reflect upon this. Even though I haven’t been in the game that long, 8 years of church planting has given me plenty of mistakes to learn from! Surely the list could be longer, but here are some lessons I’ve learned from the church planting battle…
1) Work at raising up leaders from the start, especially Elders. Church planting is exhausting, back-breaking work. You’re initial servants and leaders will grow tired eventually. If you don’t have some sort of process to identify, develop, and deploy new leaders it will come back to bite you. Four or five years into the church plant, you’ll realize that you have a leadership vacuum and you’ll be in big trouble. Elders are the most important leaders to raise up. These are the godly, qualified men that God has designed to spiritually shepherd his people (cf. 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1).
2) Plan to multiply or you won’t. This is true on the level of small groups or church planting. Most churches that don’t plant in the first 5 years of their existence never will. You must have a strategy for reproducing even before you think you’re ready to expand.
3) Deal with sin, conflict, and relational issues as soon as possible in a biblical and Christlike manner. Sweeping hard issues under the rug doesn’t work. They tend to fester and grow there, and eventually emerge as ravenous beasts in the church. As hard as it can be to tackle things head-on as a leader, this is far better than ignoring issues are putting them off. The health of Christ’s church is at stake. Unresolved issues can kill a young church.
4) “Success” in ministry is less from the right models, strategies, and tactics and more due to prayer, the power of God’s word, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Planning and forms are not bad, but there is just no substitute for the spiritual resources God has given his people.
5) When it comes to programs and ministries, less is more. Especially in the first years of a new church (if ever!), you cannot be all things to all people. Too many programs will spread you thin, drain the energy of your people, and distract a church from the mission of reaching lost people with the gospel. A young church should do a few things and do them well. Leave the programmatic smorgasbord to the big box churches. Your best commodity is relationships.
6) You must be both internally and externally focused. This balance must be tenaciously fought for. Outreach to lost people must flow out of authentic community where the gospel is being lived out and proclaimed. On the one hand, you must avoid becoming an ingrown Christian club. On the other hand, you must avoid becoming so focused exclusively on outreach that the people already in the church shrivel up and die on the vine.
This weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving with a Sunday evening service of worship and sharing what the Lord has done this year. Many people had stories of God’s faithfulness and provision, and it was a great time of worship together. Here are some of the things we as a church are thankful for in the past year:
This is just a small taste of the amazing things that have happened this year. We look forward to another awesome year of serving the Lord in NE Minneapolis.
In conjunction with our fall sermon series (“Transformed by the Cross”), I’m reading an excellent book by Mark Driscoll entitled, Death by Love: Letters from the Cross. In chapter 4, Driscoll unpacks the essence of “religion.”
1) Religion says that God will not love me until I obey his rules enough to earn his love.
2) Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people.
3) Religion is about what you do.
4) Religion is about getting from God.
5) Religion sees hardship as unloving punishment rather than sanctifying discipline.
6) Religion is about you.
7) Religion focuses almost entirely on the external, visible life of a person and overlooks the internal, invisible life of the heart where motives lie. How one appears on the outside before people is far more important to the religious person than how one appears on the inside before God.
8) Because religion is about what we do, the end result is that we lack assurance regarding our standing before God.
9) Religion simply does not work, because it results in either pride or despair depending on if we think we have done well or poorly in earning our salvation through moral conduct and religious devotion.
10) Religion pursues righteousness through self-righteous means.
Living a good religious life is very different from living a life that is empowered by the gospel. Religion has never and will never save anyone, only Jesus does. The gospel is about living in the reality of what Jesus DID, not what we DO.
“Strong. Army Strong.” That’s the latest tagline for the U.S. Army. You’ve probably seen it in a recent advertisement. At Antioch Community Church we’re also committed to raising up an army. We envision an army of young men and women who are bold, courageous, trained, equipped, humble, and sold out to King Jesus. These soldiers are “Jesus Strong.” We want to raise up leaders that are armed for a spiritual war and will do serious damage in this world for the kingdom of God.
My personal passion involves raising up and developing young men for leadership. If you want to win a war you need good men, and you need a lot of them. One of the great leaders of the Old Testament is a man named Joshua. In Joshua 1:1-9, the Lord gives instructions to Joshua (Moses’ successor) on how to be successful in Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan. These instructions involve Joshua’s character as a leader and his dependance upon God.
What sort of leader was Joshua to be? God tells him to be a man of action. He was to “arise” and “go.” Joshua was also to be a man of strength. Three times he is commanded to “be strong!” Israel’s leader was to be a man of courage. He was not to be “dismayed” or be “afraid.” Joshua was to be a man of God’s word. This involved speaking the truth, meditating on the truth, and living out the truth. God made this clear in 1:8 where he says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Finally, Joshua was commanded to be a leader who is assured of God’s continued presence. This was the bottom line. The Lord’s mighty presence in the mission was the guarantee for success.
We need more men like Joshua today. Young men who are “Jesus strong” and willing to attempt bold and courageous things for God. Men who will take risks for the mission of spreading the gospel among lost people. Men of character who are devoted to the advancement of God’s kingdom. Men who are willing to go to war for the fame of Jesus’ name.
God, raise up an army of young men like that.
Last weekend I had the chance to speak to a group of women in leadership at an E. Free Church here in the cities. We had everyone from the 79 year old woman who has been serving her entire life, and still has more fire in her than some of my own peers, to the 27 year old who recently took on a position of leadership for the first time. The only similarities among them were that they all loved Jesus and they all had a heart to serve the women around them.
I was invited to come and talk to them about mentoring. To be honest, I didn’t really know what I could tell these women that they didn’t already know. When I first arrived, I asked the leader of the event how old the youngest attender was. Come to find out, I was the youngest one there! I really was the odd one out when it came to life experience and history in ministry. But truth is truth regardless of how old the voice, right? Whatever else, I wanted these women to feel encouraged and leave with a renewed perspective of why they do what they do.
The biggest thing we discussed was what redefining our idea of mentoring. Most people have a top-down model in their heads. A person seeking mentoring has little experience and wants to become a better person, so they seek out a mentor who is older, wiser, and has time to focus on them and their issues. This idea is rather rigid and really self-centered, if you think about it. Visually, this looks like two people sitting across from one another at a coffee shop having a conversation about life. This is not a bad thing, but mentoring is about so much more than just coffee and conversation.
The alternative is a constellation of mentors (stealing vocabulary from Cadre Ministries…thanks guys!), where I am being poured into by mentors but I am also pouring into the lives of others around me (peers) and following me (disciples). In order to pour into someone’s life (or put more accurately, to overflow into someone’s life) we must be a part of their life. Not just sitting at coffee shops, but working, serving, playing together. This is so much more how Jesus did it–he took his disciples everywhere! They watched him lead, teach, care, and rebuke. Then he sent them out to try it themselves.
If every believer was overflowing what the Lord was doing in their life, truly sharing life, with those around them, the kingdom of hell would have a lot more to fear.
Whenever I hear “constellation” I think of Daniel 12:3 which, speaking of the last days when the dead will rise, says, “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” The light of millions of stars could shine Jesus into the darkest crevices of people’s hearts.
Mentoring is not for the purpose of making individual people stronger, smarter, or feel better about themselves. It is about building them up to build up the Kingdom of God. The Church is not a school, or a philosophical idea in which we help students iron out the rough spots in their thinking; it is a place where we ought to be equipping warriors with the weapons they need for the battle! This spiritual life is a battle, and not one of us can fight it alone. We need as many warriors as there are stars in the universe!
Whenever I start to wonder if this is all worth it–all the time put into an individual who walks away, all the energy put into developing a group that ends up turning on you–I remember that this is what Christ has called us for and has promised to be with us to the end. “Go and Make Disciples.” Until He returns I can do no less.
Women’s Mobilizer, ACC
Finally, the countdown is over. We’ve officially launched as a new church! This past Sunday, October 19th, was our first public worship service as Antioch Community Church. It was a great time of celebration together as we marveled at God’s faithfulness. Our first worship service is the culmination of a two year personal journey, and it’s also the beginning of an exciting journey into the months and years ahead. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for this new church in NE Minneapolis. We are very grateful for your partnership in Jesus’ kingdom work. Keep praying! There is much work to be done for the gospel.
Our mission at Antioch Community Church is to “ignite a movement of the gospel.” Recently, our Core Team from ACC had the privilege to interact with a leader from one of the largest church planting movements in South Asia. Since 1972, nearly 7,000 churches have been planted in one of the most unreached areas of the globe. Here are some insights on the subject of church planting movements…
Common Elements of Church Planting Movements
1) Presence of committed and visionary leadership
2) Abundant and intelligent preaching of the gospel
3) Strong presence of prayer
4) High level of trust in God
5) Intense commitment to suffer for the gospel
6) Continuous and intentional training of leaders (apprentice model)
7) Focused on planting reproducing churches
8) Contextualization of the gospel
9) Utilizes indigenous people to reach their own people groups
10) Intense focus on Scripture
11) Presence of signs and wonders
Elements that KILL Church Planting Movements
1) Perception of foreign (non-native or outside) control
2) Extra-biblical requirements placed on followers of Christ
3) Loss of cultural identity
4) Loss of moral standards
5) Too much administration…or a lack of administration
6) Lack of resources
7) Lack of stabilizing elements