Monday, April 28, 2008

Presbyterians Seeking Purpose Driven Ministry Conference – Post #2.

God is moving mightily all around the world; God’s people (and church) are hindering that movement in North America and Western Europe.

Dan Southerland (our main speaker) identified the four major movements of God in the world today. Some churches focus on one or two of these areas, smart churches stand where these mighty streams converge.

  • The cell church movement: Call them small groups. Call them life groups. Call them house churches. Call them anything you like, the point is that people will not stay in a church where they have not formed close relationships—others of said that “you must grow smaller in order to grow bigger.”
  • The contemporary worship movement: For the first time in the history of the church there is a single style of music that unites Christians around the globe. Hillsong comes out with a new worship cd and within a month those songs are being sung on six continents in thousands upon thousands of churches.
  • The seeker movement: Dan shared a concept called “disconnected” – people are disconnected from God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The seeker movement recognizes that people are disconnected from God and intentionally tries to connect people to God. The purpose of Dan’s church is helping disconnected people move to the next level in their relationship with Jesus.
  • The church planting movement: Denominations do a CRAPPY (my word, not Dan’s) job of planting churches. I have had many conversations with a former denominational staffer person concerning church planting and redevelopment. Very, very few of the PCUSA’s new church developments have succeeded in growing to an average of 200 people in worship each week. The PCUSA plants very few churches. If we want to grow (in terms of numbers) then we must plant new churches. There are at least three or four areas in my part of the Presbytery that should have a Presbyterian church. Our Presbytery doesn’t have the $$$--the new church development $$$ were spent on remodeling the Presbytery Office (they are being repaid to the new church development account at the rate of $10,000/year and it will take about 12 years to repay the money). Local churches need to birth new churches. That is the only way it is going to work. Dan’s church was formed in 2005 with about five people. They now worship well over a thousand AND have planted five or six churches (I can’t remember whether it is five or six—I am getting too old).

Traditional denominations/churches don’t like these four movements of God. Traditional denominations/churches hope and pray for the days of old. Traditional denominations/churches are uncomfortable with these movements of God—the movements don’t fit their worldview.

How do these four movements of God fit into the Purpose Driven model? The Purpose Driven model identifies its five purposes from the Great Commandment and the Great Commission: worship, fellowship (connecting), discipleship, ministry & mission/evangelism. The first three rivers of God’s action (cell church, contemporary music, seeker sensitive) fit nicely within the local congregation in the Purpose Driven model of ministry. Church planting should be the next step for Purpose Driven church in their effort to reach the disconnected.

Dan defined “maturity” as, “the ability to choose purpose over preference.” Dan prefers traditional hymns, music and worship. So do the older folks at his church (Next Level Church). However, they intentionally set aside personal preferences in worship style so that they can reach people who are disconnected from God. His older folk want their grandchildren to know Christ—and that traditional worship styles do not connect with their grandchildren.

SO… how does all of this apply to Evergreen Presbyterian Church and your church, too, for that matter?

We have just completed our four week Faith in Act!on campaign. We average just over 100 people is worship each week. We had about 85% of our church is small groups for the past four weeks! The people in those small groups (and in worship) were encouraged to look outside the walls of our church to see people who are disconnected from Christ and people who are in need. Each week the participants reported back to their groups the ways in which the Holy Spirit directed them to help people (that is being seeker driven). We cancelled our regular worship services this past weekend so that we could go out and serve our community and the world. We had about 83% of congregation show up to serve our community and world yesterday. The people that we served were absolutely BLOWN AWAY with what we were doing!! A reporter from a local paper was so amazed at what was going on that he was with our group for almost 2.5 hours! He visited every work site and interviewed our workers. He thought that we must have 500+ people at our church in order to have that many people out working in the community. He could not believe the actual size of our church. Looking outward—not looking inward, it’s called seeker sensitive. Our worship is already leaning heavily in the contemporary direction, so there as no major change here—well, that isn’t quite true. During the month we used DVDs for many of our “Moments for Mission” spots. We also switched to our new software for controlling our graphic projections during worship—it is way cool!

For the last month Evergreen Presbyterian Church has truly lived as a Purpose Driven Presbyterian congregation. We were living out most of the four major streams of God’s action in today’s world. WAY COOL!


At 12:59 PM , Blogger islandpreacha said...

Pastor Lance - I really appreciate where you are going with this. I was just at the National New Church confrence in Orlando which focused on the dna of reproducing churches. based on what I learned: 1) our presbyteries/denomination are way, way behind the curve on chruch planting (discouraging) 2) like you said, church planting needs to start in congregations. Yet how many of our congregations have it as one of their primary values to plant new churches? most are offended if they were asked to tithe members/money to the competition. So, both discouraging and encouraging because of the hope and vision of what can be as congregations put the lost first.

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