Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Unity also flows from listening

The last few days I've been talking about this principle: mission flows from listening.

My new friend here in Denver, Phil Koneman, sent me the following email that articulates a related principle: unity also flows from listening to God's voice. And, this unity, according to Jesus, is key to reaching the lost. It's in our CO2s that we first get to practice this principle.

Phil wrote...

"(Here's) a quote that applies to CO2 and seeking a corporate unity in hearing God’s voice so that we may reach the nations:

“The loss of intimacy with God invariably leads to the loss of unity among believers. Unity rests on the foundation of hearing God’s voice and following His present priorities for our lives. Jesus prayed for the unity of believers so that the world would know that the Father sent Jesus and loves the church (John 17:23). Without unity the church will never have credibility in the world or have power to fulfill its ministry.” Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit, p. 152.

What strikes me about this quote is the necessity of hearing God’s voice and following His leading to the unity of the church – CO2 is the most fundamental expression of unity!"

Thanks, Phil!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Barth Hotel (2)

Mission flows from listening (not strategic planning). See Jn. 5:19.

Hugh and Shawn checked with the manager of the Barth Hotel (see picture) and got a list of the needs of the residents. Then, they sent an email to the Denver Network letting them know what the Lord had directed them to do. They invited the people in the Network to ask the Lord if they were to join in. Here are some of the responses they received...

Hello Hugh: We will join you (me and my wife, Tanya) in blessing the residents at the Barth Hotel on Tuesday, December 29. We can bring socks, hot cocoa, hot cider, juice, or cookies. As we get closer to the event and you hear from others, let us know what to bring. In the meantime I’ll be on the lookout for tube socks – and I’ll begin baking cookies as well. -Phil

I am going to be out of town but I will pray for you all, and those you meet...Hugh, your obedience shows your love for the Lord..."I am proud of my son"~God -Brittani

Cool, it looks like a lot of things are getting taken already. We will bake 6 - 8 dozen cookies for the evening. Count my 78 year old mom in. Also we have one Domino game, Jan, Tina and Kalia

My church purchased 60 pairs of tube socks yesterday. If others have already purchased socks, then we can return some of them and get other items that are needed. Kara and I can also supply a CD player with a large mix of Christmas songs. I have approximately 90 Christmas songs that I can burn to a CD to make it easier than needing to switch CDs frequently. May we be humble vessels for the Lord, Nick

Natural, organic, spontaneous, unexhorted.

The new paradigm.


Monday, December 28, 2009

The Barth Hotel (1)

Mission flows from listening (not strategic planning). See Jn. 5:19.

Watch this progression...

1. Hugh Brandt heard the Lord direct him to do something to express love to the residents of the Barth Hotel in downtown Denver over the Christmas season. (This is an assisted living facility for senior citizens.)

2. Hugh shared this with one of his CO2 partners, Shawn Taylor. As they listened together, Shawn agreed that this was from the Lord. The manager of the Hotel was thrilled about their desire and suggested they could bring as many as 15 people and that December 29th would be a good day.

3. Hugh sent this email to the Denver Network: House Church Friends, After taking time to listen to the Lord, Shawn Taylor and I have organized an outreach event on Tuesday December 29th at 6pm for approximately 2 hours for about 15 of us. We have the opportunity to love and serve the residents of the Barth Hotel located in Lower Downtown. The Barth Hotel is an assisted living residence for approximately 20 women and 40 men all of whom are poor.

I'll share with you tomorrow some of the responses Hugh received.

The vision? We picture the day when there will be hundreds (thousands?) of "churches of two" listening to the Lord and moving out in mission as He directs.

Sometimes with two people.

Sometimes with fifteen.

Sometimes with thousands.

This is the new (old) paradigm of mission.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kent Smith (4): Tools

What are some tools that can help people better understand and engage the vibrant community life we have been considering?

Let me suggest three:

· Keep reading—and engaging with—"Stories From the Revolution". With your help we’ll continue to work to make this blog a steady source of practical and encouraging interaction with the growing community of people on this journey. I find it really helpful to have Feedblitz send me every new post. You can do the same by signing up in the right hand column here (on the site).

· Read Centered, the ebook I wrote with some friends as a brief introduction to this vibrant life. You can now get it in either the Kindle or DNL format here:

· Explore the resources at: We’ll continue to populate this site with great tools to help practitioners.

What if you feel called to join the Peace Bearers (ie, church planters) in bringing the Kingdom news to new pockets of people?

· Join A community of practice for church planters. Connect with over 500 people from around the world who are actively exploring life on mission with God. Discover people from your area who are on a similar journey.

· Consider apprenticing with a community-of-faith-in-training. This could be informal with people in your city or region who are already on this journey. For some a great option is to consider formal training, such as the program I direct at Abilene Christian University leading to a master’s degree in missions or ministry.

These are amazing days. What is possible now has never been so before. But as always, in the midst of this, God is at work to form his Bride and to establish his Kingdom among all peoples. And we have been invited to join him—each of us uniquely—in this great mission.

As you think about our mission and what tools are available either through our community or others, what needs to be done better? What else do you think would be helpful?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kent Smith (3): Conditions for Community Formation

What conditions are needed for vibrant families of Jesus to form? This is a big question—but a great place to look for answers is to notice what Jesus actually did and taught. Two factors he seemed to think were important are:

· People of Peace: God-prepared individuals and communities who are ready to receive the life of God. This just makes sense when you think about it. God initiates, God invites his Bride. No kidding—He will build His church. No kidding—apart from Him we can do nothing. When we go casting about for other options we are wasting time and effort.

· Kingdom Carriers, Peace Bearers: Little communities (especially pairs), who carry the vision, message, power and life of the Kingdom as they listen to and follow the King into his work.

This is what Jesus did. This is what he taught his disciples to do. And this was standard practice in life of the early church as vibrant (and flawed!) families of Jesus permeated the Roman Empire (see the map).

So—what do you think about this? In the final post in this series, I’ll suggest some tools that can help people wanting to better engage this life. For now, I’m wondering if these conditions seem as important/possible today as they did two millennia ago? Are there more important factors for multiplied, vibrant families of Jesus in our time?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kent Smith (2): Distributed Divine Energy

So, just what is a vibrant family of Jesus? I’d say: a communion of people whose lifestyles are so centered in God that each person is discovering and revealing God’s unique grace through their life. The result of all these grace-gifts working together is that the whole community is a beautiful embodiment of the life of Jesus in that place. Sure enough—the body of Christ, God with skin on.

Essential to this understanding is the unique and vital role every person in the community plays in forming vibrant families of Jesus. To borrow Paul’s language,

“From Christ the whole body is joined and held together . . . by means of the distributed divine energy of every single growing part of the body working to build up his body in love.” (Eph. 4:16)

I suspect many Christians have grown jaded, deeply doubtful that this can actually happen. But rather than give up on God’s dream wouldn’t a more realistic step be to reconsider the conditions under which such communities might form?

Here we are reminded again: if we think Jesus is God, we have to believe he is smart. I don’t suppose we’re going to find a better grasp on how this all works than what he actually did and showed his disciples to do. Luke 10 illustrates this beautifully.

In our next post, I’ll explore a bit of what those conditions are. But for now, what do you think? Is God’s dream a pipe dream? Is such a community even possible on earth? Have you ever seen the church actually functioning as a vibrant family of Jesus over time?

(JW: This is such an amazing concept! I've looked for a picture to help us visualize it but without success. If you've got a good one, send it to me and I'll add it to this post.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kent Smith (1): Incarnations of God

From Kent Smith:

Key Question: What would it take to see a vibrant family of Jesus in close reach—culturally and geographically—of every person on the planet?

Why is this question key? Because it can focus our attention on what has God’s attention: a Bride who, in her many-splendored beauty, is made up of representatives of all the peoples—every tongue, tribe and nation. This Bride alone has the capacity to reveal the fullness of God’s multifaceted wisdom, and to share intimate communion with God now and through the ages of eternity.

For this to happen, incarnations of God—communities that reveal Jesus with skin on—must come near in every people group on earth. Vibrant families of Jesus must spring up everywhere.

So, exactly what are these vibrant families of Jesus? In our next post I’ll unpack that idea some. Meanwhile, what do you think? Is this key question really key? From your perspective, why or why not?

Friday, December 18, 2009

A man who encourages me

Over the next few days, I going to send out a four short posts by Dr. Kent Smith. These posts are designed to help us think deeply about this idea of church as "a vibrant family of Jesus". But, today I want to tell you why Kent encourages me.

He encourages me because he is doing deep thinking and writing about the nature of church. You see, this house church "thing" is not just another new program or gimmick or fad. Rather, it represents a fundamental paradigm shift with deep theological roots. And, Kent, is one of the foremost thinkers in this area. He is a seminary professor. See And, he leads the most effective graduate level training program for church planters that I know of. See

But, more than all of that, Kent is a good friend. We connect every week on the phone and do SASHET together. We share our lives and pray together. So, I know that the things he writes about are not just theory for Kent. This is what he believes and what he lives.

So, take a close look at his posts over the next few days. Ask questions. Make comments. Jump in.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

John Eldredge on Listening for His Voice

John Eldredge has been a great help to me in learning to hear God's voice. Below is a quote from Wild at Heart. He goes into greater depth on the subject in Walking with God. -John

Revelation: Listening for His Voice 12/17/2009

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:12–13)

There’s more that Jesus wants to say to you, much more, and now that his Spirit resides in your heart, the conversation can continue. Many good people never hear God speak to them personally for the simple fact that they’ve never been told that he does. But he does—generously, intimately. “He who belongs to God hears what God says” (John 8:47).

The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice . . . I am the good shepherd. (John 10:2–4, 11)

You don’t just leave sheep to find their way in the world. They are famous for getting lost, being attacked by wild animals, falling into some pit, and that is why they must stay close to the shepherd, follow his voice. And no shepherd could be called good unless he personally guided his flock through danger. But that is precisely what he promises to do. He wants to speak to you; he wants to lead you to good pasture. Now, it doesn’t happen in an instant. Walking with God is a way of life. It’s something to be learned; our ability to hear God’s voice and discern his word to us grows over time. As Brother Lawrence said it, we “practice the presence of God.”

(Waking the Dead , 102–3)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CO2's spread to South Asia

Hugh Brandt and Desi Starr tell the amazing story of how the "church of two" concept has spread to Christian leaders in S. Asia.  (Names and locations are not mentioned for security reasons.)  

Monday, December 14, 2009

Five year old Emma hears God's voice

Desi and Rose Starr have been teaching their four young children how to hear God's voice.  Watch this short video for Desi's story of what they are doing and what Emma heard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I loved this story from Brittani Flory in Denver, CO. Notice that she found a word that exactly described where her heart was and then used that as a starting place for conversation with her Papa.


"The other day when I was checking in with God I was struggling to identify where I was at emotionally. I heard God say, “Get your feelings sheet” ( I have a sheet of several ‘feeling’ words that I use to broaden my feeling vocab and enrich my awareness). I thought to myself, “but God its all the way over there” (aprox 10 feet away on the couch).

I then realized how lazy this was and on the few steps to retrieve the sheet I shared my thoughts with God; “God, there are so many words on this sheet how am I going to know which one?” I heard God say, “trust me”. I sat down and just sort of let my eyes meander the sheet and they quickly came across the word “milquetoast” (I’ve used this sheet several times and have never even noticed this word)

milque·toast (mĭlk'tōst') n. One who has a meek, timid, unassertive nature.

Before I even looked up the definition I just pictured milk-toast. I have never used this word to describe my feelings nor have I even heard of it ( I don’t think I’ve ever used ‘nor’ either! But it works!). It was exactly how I was feeling! What I heard from God when I discovered this word was, “That’s it!” From that point on we were able to dialogue about this milquetoast feeling I was having, where it came from, what triggered it, and how it was transformed into a way to describe my heart (which is partly wanting to live a passionate life with God—very opposite of milquetoast).

This was so helpful! I’ve since asked for God’s help to identify emotions and He has both brought words to mind and asked me to walk 10ft. to the couch to get my feelings sheet…its been worth the trip every time."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CO2s and City Transformation

The house church leaders in Denver meet together each month. We have two goals when we gather - connecting with each other on a heart level and hearing what God wants to say to us.

At our last meeting on 11/13/09, after dinner our group of 25 broke up into smaller groups and did SASHET. Then, we spend time alone listening (ie, VIRKLER) to God about this questions: "What do you want to say to us about Denver?" After about twenty minutes, we shared what we had heard in our smaller groups and then with the whole group. Out of this corporate listening time emerged a very encouraging prophetic message which you can read here:

The point? The two basic disciplines of SASHET and VIRKLER are effective tools with two people (CO2), with a small group (house church) and with a city-wide group.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Teaching high school wrestlers to hear God's voice

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened..." Eph. 1:18

Once Coach Lowden understood how to "fix his eyes on Jesus", he began teaching the members of his wrestling team how to do it. Here's their story.

Your thoughts?