Monday, August 29, 2011

Colorado House Church Moves to Uganda

How do house churches become more missional?

Not by trying to be more missional.  Not by exhorting people to be missional.  Not by developing great missional strategies and programs.

Instead, they focus on listening to Jesus.  Individuals and churches that listen deeply to Jesus do amazing missional things!  Roland Allen said it this way, "For centuries, the (early) Christian Church (which knew how to listen!) continued to expand by its own inherent grace, and threw up an unceasing supply of missionaries without any direct exhortation."  The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, p. 6.

Here's an amazing story from Lee Price about one of the RiverChurches (a network of house churches on the Western Slope of Colorado ) that literally "followed Jesus to Uganda" as a result of listening to Him.  To learn more about this remarkable group go to

The Foundations Course.  Want to learn to listen to God like this?  (You don't have to go to Uganda...  unless He tells you to!)  This fall, LK10 will be offering The Foundations Course, a six week experience designed to teach the spiritual values and practices necessary for this kind of this kind intimate conversational relationship with Jesus.  The Course involves weekly learning assignments, group conversations with your cohort and individual coaching.  More information on this in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Lone Ranger and Tonto considering a CO2

Last weekend, Desi Starr and I were in New Castle, Colorado leading a Regional LK10 Conference.  On Sunday morning, Desi and I had breakfast with Lee Price (who leads the RiverChurches Network on the Western Slope of Colorado) at the New Castle Diner.  Throughout the Diner there were life-sized cutout figures of well known TV and movie personalities.  John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, etc.

Right behind our booth stood The Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Hey, I'm so old that I grew up watching these guys on TV every week.  I couldn't resist interviewing them.  (You can see Desi and Lee in the background.)

CO2?  This is a "church of two".  This is a simple but profound concept that was central to the ministry of Jesus but which has been largely overlooked by today's traditional church.  This tongue-in-cheek interview actually demonstrates how simple church planting becomes when you understand the CO2 concept.  For more on CO2, see the right column of this blog.

Hi Yo Silver!

(If you have no idea who the Lone Ranger is, check out the second video below.)

The Foundations Course.  Want to learn more about CO2?  This fall, LK10 will be offering The Foundations Course, a six week experience designed to teach the spiritual values and practices that make up a "church of two".  The Course involves weekly learning assignments, group conversations with your cohort and individual coaching.  More information on this in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Church planting: 18 months or 1 day?

Back in the late 1980's I planted a "traditional" church.  What a difficult and laborious process!  It took about 18 months and involved many hours spent in demographic studies, committee meetings, budgeting process, locating a facility, developing a worship team and a children's ministry, gaining approval of my denomination, etc.

I decided that I never wanted to go through that again.

The way churches were planted/birthed in the New Testament was infinitely simpler.  This was one of the themes we developed at the Regional LK10 Conference last weekend in New Castle, CO.  New Castle is located on the Western Slope of Colorado about three hours (depending on traffic!) west of Denver.  Desi Starr and myself led the Conference for Lee Price who has developed a network of churches called the River Churches.

In the video below, Lee and Desi talk about the simplicity of planting churches and about the two churches that were started as a result of the Conference.

The Foundations Course.  Want to learn more about this kind of New Testament church life?  This fall, LK10 will be offering The Foundations Course, a six week experience designed to teach the spiritual values and practices necessary for this kind of this kind of life.  The Course involves weekly learning assignments, group conversations with your cohort and individual coaching.  More information on this in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What John Wesley missed: family = church

250 years ago, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, glimpsed the simple but powerful concept that "family = church".

"In his sermon "Of the Church", Wesley said the church is, in the proper sense, "a congregation, or body of people, united together in the service of God."  Even two or three united in Christ's name, or a Christian family, may therefore be called a church."  Snyder, The Radical Wesley and Patterns for Church Renewal, p. 73.

Although Wesley saw this truth, as far as we know, he never implemented it.  Wesley was hugely gifted at developing a system of starting and overseeing small, house church-like small groups called "classes".  By 1798, seven years after Wesley's death, there were 101,712 members in these groups.  As powerful as this movement was, it began to erode over time.  Today, the class concept is largely unknown in the Methodist church and, in some cases, is actually opposed.

Contrast Wesley's strategy with a talk given by Dr. John Patrick with this title:  "Why There Are No Hittites on the Streets of New York".  The Hittites were a world super power 2500 years ago but today they have disappeared from the face of the earth.  On the other hand, the Jewish culture continues to thrive after 2500 years in spite of terrible persecution.  Why?

Dr. Patrick makes that case that the Jews have endured because the home was the center of their spiritual life.  The temple could be destroyed.  The synagogues could be destroyed.  But, as long as there was one Jewish family, that spiritual heritage would survive.  The Jews have survived and often thrived because they obeyed God's direction to make the home the center of spiritual life.  (Dt. 6:5-9)

The early church, which was thoroughly Jewish, followed this same pattern.  When a new church was birthed, it was always in the context of a household and a family. And, that church functioned like an extended spiritual family.  "A house church could only be established if a well-functioning family existed."  Gehring, House Church and Mission, p. 240.

How might the Methodist Movement turned out differently if John Wesley had followed through on his insight that a Christian family could be considered a church?  If he had taught each Christian household how to function like his "class" groups (ie, house churches)?

And, will the current house church movement recapture this foundational divine definition?

Family = church = family.

For more on this subject, see

Thursday, August 11, 2011

John Wesley's mother births a church

John Wesley (1703 - 1791) is known as the founder of the Methodist movement which transformed the England of his day and then spread around the world.  At the heart of that movement were small groups that are similar to the house churches of today.  But, where did John learn about the value of small, family-like expressions of the church?

No doubt, John was deeply influenced by his mother, Susannah.  While his father, Samuel, saw the value of smaller groups (called "religious societies" in his day), it was his mother who actually lived this out.  This amazing women had 19 children, nine of whom died in infancy.  Here's the story of how she started a "church" (although that term wouldn't have been used in her day for what she started).

What Samuel Wesley only dreamed and talked of doing, however, his remarkable wife Susannah carried out, at least in a measure.  Samuel Wesley often traveled to London on church and political business, leaving Susannah and the large family alone at Epworth.  In early 1712 (John would have been about 9 years old), while Samuel was on a prolonged absence, Susannah began a small meeting in the parsonage.  As she related in letters to her husband, the meeting grew out of the family devotional time Susannah held on Sunday evenings with her children.  A few neighbors asked to attend, then others, so that the group soon grew from about thirty persons to over 200.  At these gatherings Mrs. Wesley would read a sermon, pray and talk with the people who came.

This new venture caused a stir in Epworth and some friction between Susannah and her husband.  Samuel liked the theory but not the practice.  He objected to these home meetings because they were led by a woman, might cause him some embarrassment and would be seen by some as a "conventicle," a private, separatist religious gathering."  Snyder, The Radical Wesley:  Patterns for Church Renewal, p. 16-17.

Two observations about this story...

1.  The healthiest house churches generally form around one or more "spiritual parents".  A spiritual parent is a person who is an "elder" as to maturity (ie, a spiritual grown up).  And, they have the heart to care for spiritual "children".  (By "children", I'm not talking about physical age.)  Susannah is a great example of a "spiritual mom".  See John 14:9, 1 Cor. 4:15, 1 Thes. 2:7, 11.

2.  No doubt, most New Testament house churches also started from family devotions.  In the Jewish culture, the home (not the synagogue) was always seen as the center of spiritual life.  Family devotions (the Shabbat Meal) occurred on Friday evenings.  The core group was mom and dad and the kids.  (Family = church).  Into this family community, friends and neighbors were invited and the house churches grew.  A high value for the LK10 community is expressed in this statement:  The marriage, and then the family, is the first and most foundation expression of church.

For more on Susannah, who is called "the Mother of the Methodist Movement", see

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"God became the keynote speaker".

Three years ago Marty Reiswig was a skeptic.

He was a devoted follower of Jesus.  In fact, he spoke to youth groups all over the country.  But, he was skeptical about God speaking to him on a regular, daily basis.  Maybe God would speak once in a long while about the big issues - who to marry, etc.  But, not as a part of daily life.  We have the Bible, what else do we need?

But, things have changed in Marty's life.  He has come to experience an intimate, daily,  conversational relationship with Jesus.  And, he's teaching this to teens.  Below, he reports on a youth camp where he spoke this summer.  He helped 200 Jr. Hi and Sr. Hi students learn how to hear God's voice.  He reports, "I had this strong thought/sense that I was to let God be the main speaker - all the students would listen to him and share what they heard."

Before you read what happened with the teens, watch this short video where Marty describes some of his journey. (What if this is supposed to be the normative Christian experience?)

Here's Marty's report about how God became the keynote speaker...

For the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to be the speaker at some teen camps. Each one is unique, challenging, and exciting. At almost every camp God moves on young people’s hearts, brings them to repentance and salvation, and teaches all of us something. This year was very different. God became the speaker.
I took a few teens from CCWC to the CO/NE camp. The first night was filled with God’s compassion for those caught in sin. He freed us. The second night I felt like God wanted me to switch things up and teach on hearing God’s voice and then take a few minutes at the end to let kids pray and listen for God to speak. Reports came pouring in that night and the next day about what God was saying to students and adult leaders alike. The third night I taught about growing deep roots in Him and allowing God to produce his fruit in your life, but I felt like there was something incredibly special coming for the last night.I couldn’t put my finger on it, though.
As adults, we came together in prayer unlike I’ve ever seen before and begged God to show us what we were supposed to do. Should preach one of the messages that I brought? Should we have a worship night? Should we get in groups and pray? We sought Him with everything we had.
As the worship was blasting wonderfully, I went to the back soundboard and joined a few men in prayer about what I was to do. I had this strong thought/sense that I was to let God be the main speaker – all the students would listen to him and share what they heard. I immediately suppressed it. You simply don’t do that with 200 Jr. and Sr. high students. Not with your reputation on the line. There’s too much that can go wrong. Just then, one of my prayer partners said he believed God had already told me what to do. So we proceeded.
I’ve never experienced anything like it. Two hundred students sat in absolute silence for twelve minutes listening to the Spirit of God. Then I asked anyone who heard something meant for the group, not just for them, to stand and share one at a time. And for the next 45 minutes, student after student stood to share. Confession, prayer, scriptures, encouragement. My favorite was students praying for other students. God became the keynote speaker.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Five ways to listen better

At the heart of the LK10 Community is a deep commitment to take seriously Jesus' teaching about the Holy Spirit.  In Jn. 16:13, Jesus explains that "He (the Spirit of truth) will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears..."

The point here is that the Spirit is not just a vague presence.  He is a person and HE SPEAKS.  This is Jesus' teaching!  And, the obvious implication is that the most important skill we need to develop is that of listening to Him (and obeying).  HE SPEAKS.  WE LISTEN.  Everything else flows from that... family, church, mission, etc.

Chris Jefferies (England), recently sent me a video of a TED presentation by Julian Treasure called "Five ways to listen better".  As you watch this, think about how it applies to listening to the Spirit.

Here are a few of Chris's comments about the video...

According to Julian, hearing is something that our ears do pretty much autonomously, but listening requires intent, focus, and deliberate attention. But Jesus says that even though we listen (pay attention) we still may not hear (understand in depth). He says there are those who pay attention and hear the words but the spiritual meaning eludes them.

..Physical reality always points to a spiritual reality; that's why Yahshua spoke so often in parables. Understanding the physical truth can help us grasp the parallel spiritual truth. The need to pay attention to physical sounds points to the notion that we also need to pay attention to spiritual 'sounds'.  We need to listen intentionally to the Spirit of Christ in the same way we listen to the words of the people we meet. The Spirit is a still, small voice. We have to pay close attention to him.

..We are losing our listening - The church has substantially lost the ability to listen spiritually. Many believers are not even aware that listening is possible, others have no idea how to go about it.

To read all of Chris' comments go to:

Ways to connect...

*I'll be leading a seminar (on listening to God!) at the National House Church Conference.  Love to see you there!   September 2-4 in Jacksonville, FL.

*Along with Desi Starr, I'll be leading a one day training on the western slope (New Castle) of Colorado.  Love to have you join us!  Contact Lee Price for more information.

*LK10 Online classes starting in September.  More information on this soon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The clip below is for a truly frightening movie starring  Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon.  As you watch it, consider that epidemics or contagions can be either negative and destructive or positive and constructive.

Con-ta-gion.  From contagio (Latin) meaning to touch.  1.  the spreading of disease from one individual to another by direct or indirect contact... 5.  the spreading of an emotion, idea, custom, etc. from person to person until many are affected.

Here are two of my favorite books that bear on this topic...

Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, develops this idea.  "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do."

Roland Allen in The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church and the Causes Which Hinder It.  Without using "virus" or "contagion", he is saying something similar about the expansion of the early church.  

"This then is what I mean by spontaneous expansion.  I mean the expansion which follows the unexhorted and unorganized activity of individual members of the Church explaining to others the Gospel which they have found for themselves;  I mean the expansion which follows the irresistible attaction of the Christian Church for men who see its ordered life, and are drawn to it by desire to discover the secret of a life which the instinctively desire to share; I mean also the expansion of the Church by the addition of new churches.  

I know not how it may appear to others, but to me this unexhorted, unorganized, spontaneous expansion has a charm far beyond that of our modern highly organized missions."  p. 7

What Allen disliked in his day, almost a hundred years ago, is even more prevalent in the American church today.  We seek to fulfill the Great Commission through organization and exhortation.  We create programs, develop marketing plans, build buildings and organizational structures, recruit huge budgets to pay for it all.  The result?  The church in America continues to decline.  See recent research by the Barna Group.

The alternative?  We need to return to the dynamic of the New Testament Church.  A new/old paradigm.  We need to  learn to nurture that which is simple and spontaneous and organic and viral.  We need to learn to join God in what He is doing rather than trying to "make it happen" ourselves.  We need a benevolent Gospel contagion in our day.  "And, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."  Acts 2:47

This is exactly the focus of the LK10 Community.  We are a "community of practice" that is learning together how to join Jesus in birthing churches that are both transformational and viral.  In other words, a Gospel contagion.

Join us.