Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Periscope Up

I've been too swamped to post here recently and I apologize for the radio silence.

Here's what's up with me these days:

*Just preached on Sunday at Soul Survivor Church about "The Gospel of the Kingdom". You can download it for free over at ITunes under their Soul Survivor Church podcast. (Just search by my name and you'll find it).

*Our house church this Thursday night will meet in our dear sister Mary Anne's room at the Royale Health Center as she struggles with brain cancer.

*Dinner this Friday with another set of house church leaders in Yorba Linda to see where this whole "OC House Church" network thang might be going.

*Preparing to teach the very first "House Church 101" class at Triangle Square this Saturday morning. Can't wait to meet the people God has brought to this and encourage them.

*This Sunday morning will by my first trial-by-fire at The Mission as I practice restraint and sit at the back of the room while others lead. Can't wait.

*Sunday night the men of the Mission get together to pray and encourage one another. We all need it.

*My article "Exploitation or Empowerment" is now up over at www.TheOoze.com. Enjoy!

More later...


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Missional House Church Network" Seminar - MP3's

You can download to all four sessions







Last Sunday I visited a House Church training conference in Lake Forest and had a chance to share some of what God has been teaching us lately. It was an excellent day and I was honored to make connections with others in Orange County who are being called into House Church. Pray for the good people of Vineyard Community Mission Network and their pastor Bill Faris, as they take their first steps towards becoming a house church network and wade a bit deeper into this movement.

In the evening I went to Huntington Beach to share God's heart for the poor with another house church group started by Ken Eastburn of The Well. They were challenged and have decided to spend the week in prayer about what God would call them to do about poverty in Orange County and next Sunday evening they will gather again to discuss their next steps. Pray for them as they try to listen to God's voice concerning the poor in their community.

Our first HOUSE CHURCH 101 class will be on Saturday, Oct. 4th at T-Square from 10am to 11:30am. Please pray that we can get the word out about this free class to those who are feeling God's call to "be the Church" in this way.

I've already had several lunch meetings and random encounters with people who are interested in house church so I do feel that God has His hands on this. I just want to be obedient to what He's calling me to do.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


"House Church 101"
Saturday, October 4th
10am to 11:30am
at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa, CA

- Registration Now Open

Join us at Triangle Square on Saturday, Oct. 4th for this opportunity to learn more about the House Church experience and how you can start your own house church, or join an existing one, here in Orange County, California.

For more info and to register for this FREE event, please visit

Pray For House Church Planters Around the Globe

Over the last several months I have received email from over half a dozen people who are feeling called, in one way or the other, to step out into the great unknown and start a house church.

Some are currently pastors of traditional churches, others are worship leaders who support their family through the use of their gifts in traditional church, others are humble people who just know they can't continue to identify themselves as "Church-goers" rather than as "Followers of Jesus" and who yearn to BE the Church as God has called them to be.

Please pray for these men, and their families, as they seek God's direction in this:

*Mark W. - Indianapolis
*Mark M. - Kentucky
*Jonathan - Santa Ana, CA
*Justin - Costa Mesa, CA
*Roger - Virginia
*Nolan - Philipines
*Charles - New Mexico

I've begun praying for these men on a daily basis and my hope is that I can encourage them as they move forward.

If you decide to pray for them today, please post a comment below and let them know you're praying for them too.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Painful Truth

Last Saturday evening I met with some of the leaders in our house church about how we should respond to the growth of our group to 27 people. After a series of questions it became clear that if my wife and I left the group it would die. No one would continue to meet this way or operate as a house church if we weren't there to hold it together. That was very hard for me to hear, but it's helped me to see where we need to change and adapt.

So, from now on I will not be facilitating our group. Instead each person will take a turn each week at leading our discussion, offering communion, directing our worship, etc. I will sit in the back of the room and observe and only contribute as needed.

This is something I honestly should have started to do after our first year together, but it needs to be done in order to train everyone on how to contribute more and take the reins from my hands and place them in the hands of our people.

Because of last week's post I felt I needed to correct some of my previous assumptions about how our house church operates.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Makes Me An Expert?

A few weeks ago I set up a little online survey to get feedback from my [Subversive Underground] subscribers. The responses have been great, so far. But there was one that really hit me harder than all the rest and I wanted to respond here since I don't have the email address or the name of the person who made the comment.

Here's the comment:
"What makes you the house church/church renewal/church reform/new wineskins guru of the day? Some of us have been trying to do this for 30 years, with little results or encouragement; Yet we aren't considered a voice worth listening to; certainly not gurus. why is that? -- a discouraged leader"

My first response is that I don't consider myself a guru or even necessarily a "voice worth listening to". My hope is to share some of what I'm learning with others and encourage people who feel the same way.

The discouragement in this person's comment is palpable. I wish I could reach out and hug this person, or bless them in some tangible way. Mostly because I know that he or she is not alone in this feeling. There are many, many people who don't experience the thrill of house church. Many friends of mine here in the OC and online have shared their stories of failed attempts to find others who want to fellowship this way. I know men who have struggled for years to plant a house church that will last longer than a few months or years without fizzling out.

Just today I sent an email to a brother in Christ who had questions about leading a house church and wondered about his own ability to make it work. Here's a little of what I shared with him:

I think the main thing to take away from the discussion is that it's not about you. It's about allowing the Holy Spirit to be in charge and taking your hands off the wheel.

Our house church is coming up on 3 years now and it is thriving and growing (almost too fast) and it has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME! Nothing. At. All.

I don't bring dynamic teaching every week (no one does). I am not the attraction here. People are coming to "be the Church" and this is a safe place for them to discover how to do that.

So, leadership is a loaded topic and I feel like it's more about just being who you are and allowing everyone else to be who God has made them to be...warts and all.

Being a good facilitator is my only contribution, and I still need more on-the-job training in that actually. Learning to listen, learning to allow questions to hang out there and dangle, learning to keep our dialog on track, and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit are the main things I do every week. It's not about being agressive or taking charge. It's actually more about being passive and letting God take charge (which is much more difficult and takes a lot more courage and strength than assuming power, believe me).

I'd encourage you to pray for God to build a church in your home that is exactly what He wants. Pray for God to do something so awesome in this church, in these people, that no man would dare take any credit for it. Then step back and watch God do exactly that. At least, that's what He did in my case.

So, if you're struggling to get your house church off the ground, or if you're feeling less than adequate for the task at hand let me tell you --You're not alone.

We're all weak and the sooner we admit that to one another the better. I'm just as screwed up as the next guy...that's why I need Jesus. That's why we all need Him.

This one goes out to all the wonderful children of God out there who long for a house church where everyone loves as Jesus commanded and has yet to taste the fullness of that.

Please don't give up. Please continue to walk out the calling that God has given you to "be the Church" where you are. Even if you do it alone, with your own family, sitting on the living room floor with a Bible open and a few out of tune, accapella hymns. Keep the faith, my friends.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Proof That Being A Christian Doesn't Make You A Follower Of Jesus

I had lunch yesterday with a good friend, Bob Sears. He presented me with a copy of his new book, "Gold, Silver and Precious Stones". Last night I sat down to read it and was arrested by the following paragraph:

"In 2008, Kenya shocked the world with its violent ethnic conflicts that produced a wave of house burnings and hundreds of thousands of refugees. Stories filled the news of machete-wielding men hacking their neighbors to death for belonging to a different tribe. How could such atrocities occur in a country where over 80% of the population claims to be Christian? Faustin Ntamushobora, who survived the Rwandan genocide and now works to reconcile tribal factions suggested this answer: “African’s are converting to Christianity, but they’re not being taught how to live it. These people are churchgoers, but they’re not disciples of Jesus Christ.” (from “The Biolan”, Spring ’08, p.20)."

Do we really need any more proof that making converts isn't good enough? We were commanded by our Lord to "Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to do everything I have commanded".

Can we start making disciples now?


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My New Hero: W. Carl Ketcherside

Much thanks to my friend Lionel for showing me this link and quote from author W. Carl Ketcherside.

This quote is taken from Chapter 1 of his marvelous book, "The Royal Priesthood" published in 1956.

"Every child of God is a priest! Every man and woman who is a Christian has entered "the priesthood." The only high priest in God's system today is in heaven. That is the theme of this book. It is just that simple. If the Bible teaches that, this book is in harmony with the will of God; if the Bible authorizes a special priesthood composed of a clerical class, in this age, then this book is wrong in its presentation, and its author must stand condemned as one who opposes the plan of God.

"I have no intent or desire to defend modern religious institutions, nor to champion the societies which have been spawned in the fertile brains of fallible men. It is my firm conviction that the community of saints planted by the holy apostles in the first generation of the Christian era constituted the divine pattern for the entire dispensation. My humble efforts will be bent, not toward the refinement, amendment, or reformation of any existing sect, but toward restoration of the primitive "colony of heaven" as representing God's ideal to which we must conform if we would meet his approval.

"No careful student of the early congregation of believers can fail to be impressed with the simplicity of its worship and functioning. Imbued with a fervent zeal, motivated by a common purpose, possessed of a deep love for each other, "all the believers kept together" and "among all those who had embraced the faith there was but one heart and one soul" (Acts 2:44; 5:82). In such a company each felt under compulsion of spirit to do all he could to edify his fellows. None served for gain. Those who had personal property and real estate sold their possessions and distributed to all who had need; no one thought of threatening the needy with eternal destruction if they did not support a privileged class.

"In the original church of God there was no distinction between clergy and laity. God's clergy (portion or lot) consisted of God's laity (people). Every member of the "laity" was a member of "the clergy" and vice versa. Every person in the divine arrangement was a minister of God. One "entered the ministry" by coming into the Christ. The holy and unblemished church can never be restored until those who love the Lord recapture in the fullest sense the picture of a "priesthood of all believers" free from the taint of a special caste.

"The religious world in general has lost the pattern of the corporate worship of the original community of baptized believers. The early church gathered around a table; the modern church sits before a pulpit. The Lord placed the table in the church so it could remember its debt to him; the clergy placed the pulpit in the church to bring it in debt to them. In the early church they all spoke one by one; today all the speaking is done by one. Then the spirit was kindled; now it is quenched. Then they claimed to love each other and talked about Jesus; now they claim to love Jesus and talk about each other. In those days all exerted an effort to exhort; now all must be exhorted to exert an effort.

"The primitive disciples did not ask the world to come and get the gospel, they took it to them. They gathered to eat the Lord's Supper, then scattered to preach the Word. Wherever there was a Christian and a sinner, there was a gospel meeting. They announced the glad tidings to masters and mistresses, friends and neighbors. They did it simply but fervently. They told about Jesus, his death and resurrection. They testified of their faith in him. They preached him in chariots along the road, in prison cells, by river brinks, in private homes, in hulls and in synagogues. The whole earth was their auditorium, the thing at hand their pulpit.

"Much of the irreverence, formality and cold ritual of these days is the result of a loss of significance of a priesthood of all believers. The sense of individual relationship to God with its attendant responsibilities has disappeared in the modern sectarian strife for supremacy of party. To restore the primitive community of saints a great reformation of thought is essential. This book has been written to help the good and honest heart properly evaluate our present status in the light of God's revelation."
You can read the entire book for free