Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes


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The tensions of small groups – being family and being on mission

This weekend my family and I are going on vacation. We’re going to pack ourselves into our Citroën C8 (which has about 1/8th of the packing space our Honda Odyssey had) and drive to London. It’s going to be great – time together, building memories, eating together, seeing the sights, doing Legoland! But at the same time, we are a family trying to follow after Jesus and he’s sending us out to show God’s love to people. How will we balance the tension of time together and doing the things that the King would have us do? I’ll let you know.

This is also the tension that small groups and home groups in the church face. Small groups are meant to be the new family unit of God – a place of safety, growing, honesty and even conflict. But they’re also meant to be the most basic unit to bring God’s light to dark places. Most groups do one much better than the other. Some are really great at helping anyone feel welcome and comfortable. Other groups are closed both to new members and serving other. Other groups go the other way and care for outsiders at the expense of insiders and members. None of these seem quite what God had in mind.

I will not give you a formula. Instead I want to put out these two values as tensions that each leader and small group must hold up.

You are the family of God

(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

You are on mission with God

 

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eatwhatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

 

Just like my family on vacation, if we want to be true to who we really are, we must do both. Be the family of God – restoring, growing, feeding, protecting and sharing; and be on mission with with God – reaching, loving, healing, touching and giving.

What else is at tension here? What are we called to that seem to war with each other for attention and time?


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How To Effectively Recruit Volunteers

Team Training for 17 June

It was the autumn of 2007, Christa and I were just newly settling into our new city and ministry after a summer of very intense and fun summer camp. We’d served with a great team who all loved the churches that they’d come from and since we were new to the city we wanted to find a church where we’d have some friends and find a place to get involved.

  • Week one we went to Gospel Church. The service was fine but as we waited in the very crowded foyer afterwards not a single person tried to figure out who we were.
  • Week two we went to a bigger Missionary church. This one was much more polished, had some good conversations and we even got a visitor package. But we left feeling neither excited nor disappointed.
  • Week three we tried Eastview. A growing church with a mission to yuppies living in the suburbs (we lived in the ‘hood’ (a poor neighbourhood) and served teenagers). The service was okay – same as everywhere really – but as we finished, Phil & Julie were sitting behind us and introduced themselves. Then they invited us to their home group that Thursday. We were blown away. When we showed up at home group and met some other folks who have been life long friends (and not just because of Facebook).

Fire hose

This relationship led to further invitations – to lunch after church, to serve on teams, to lead the youth worship band, to attend conferences. Each opportunity helping us to grow and helping us to serve our church effectively and well. Continue reading


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The Community We’re Building

I get really excited about Vineyard Brussels when I see the quality of people coming in to our church. People are encountering Jesus, making friends, getting healed and they’re scattering globally with testimonies that God is doing a good thing in Brussels. When I think of what’s at stake, we need the best people in the places where they can do the most good. I know that some of our needs are very urgent, God will help us.

Some of our best workers are right beside us, just waiting to be asked personally. Some need a friend more than a task – help people make some new friends. You’re not imposing on people to ask them to help – if you love this church, they will want to be part of making it great. Let’s show people that we really mean it when we say that here, “everyone can play.”

“If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”
Jim Collins

Building on Friendshipo

Quotes About Hiring People

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Get ready for Alpha in August, 3 Key Activities

It’s August, nearly the middle of the month, and in spite of waiting to move our family overseas, my mind goes into “Get Ready for Alpha” mode. I’m thinking of who I’d like to invite, who’d be on my team and anticipating the joy of seeing community form around seeking God and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

If you’re thinking of running Alpha this fall, here are 3 key activities that I’d do this month.

1. Gather the team: Continue reading


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Fear will never give us permission, we have to go past it.

Today as I talked with a friend about having a hard time hearing God’s voice of direction over the past few years, I couldn’t help but think that there was another way. I’m convinced that The Lord enjoys talking with his children and that often, when I can’t hear, there’s something blocking my ability hear.

I’m reminded too of Jackie Pullinger who would gather up a team and GO into Mainland China to do ministry every time she detected a drop in their power in the Spirit. It was on these trips that they’d see God increase their faith by demonstrating power in bringing salvation, signs and wonders. Then, when the team came home, they’d intentionally pass along their increased faith.

I’m a big believer in encouraging Jesus followers to Go on short term mission projects – even if they’re close to home – as a way to increase a sensitivity to the voice of God. There are mysterious connections between GOing on mission and hearing the voice of God. Not everything can be explained, but here are some of my observations:

Hearing God and GOing on mission

1. Jesus’ great commission was “GO, into all the earth.” Every command of God is linked to a blessing. Living in agreement with God allows the realities of His Kingdom to flow. When we obey His command to GO, we get to enjoy the benefits of being right where He wants us. Continue reading


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Is your church failing? Maybe it should fail a little more.

Not too long ago I asked a pastor friend of mine to give a talk on how to build good teams. We had a good outline and he used this to give a great talk on. What we walked away with (my partner Al and I) was a list of axioms that Jerven Weekes has at Rosewood Park Alliance in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Jerven’s axioms:
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1. We don’t strive for perfection, we strive for excellence.
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HTB Leadership Conference – Day One Takeaways

We are at the Royal Albert Hall for 2 days of leadership inspiration and a day of Alpha celebration. Here are some things I’ll hang on to from day one.

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Quotes from Archbishop Justin Welby

The moment of salvation is when we learned what Christ did for us, not what we do for Him.

“There were more people paid to be there than were there voluntarily. Which is not a good method of church growth, in case you’re considering it.”
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