Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shaun King discovers "Jesus Calling"

In my last two posts, I've told the story of Shaun and Rai King leaving the church they started in Atlanta.  This story seems important to me because I believe it is the story of an increasing number of the leaders of traditional churches.  Over and over, we keep hearing leaders say something like, "I still love Jesus but church is killing me.  There has got to be a better way!"

I happen to check out Shaun's most recent blog post (9/17) and was quite surprised and delighted to seethat he was talking about a book he just discovered called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. This is significant because I believe that this book unexpectedly holds the key to the "better way" of doing church that Shaun and Rai and many others are longing for.

Here's what Shaun wrote about the book...

Last week my wife bought herself a daily devotional entitled, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence.  The lady at the bookstore swore by it.  She said it had changed her life and the lives of more customers than any book they sold.  Within two days my wife was completely hooked.  We've been in a real transitional season of our lives and she said it was helping her in amazing ways.

So... I decided to try it myself.  I generally hate daily devotionals.  Not this one.  It's profound.  It cuts right to the chase.  It's written as if it is Jesus speaking to you and it's not the slightest bit cheesy.  Each day has verses and a simple lesson and I'm telling you it changes my day.

The author of Jesus Calling is Sarah Young.  Here's what she writes in the Introduction (xii) about how the book came about...

I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication:  I did all the talking.  I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.  Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.  I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.  I felt awkward the first time I tried this, but I received a message.  It was short, biblical, and appropriate.  It addressed topics that were current in my life:  trust, fear, and closeness to God.  I responded by writing in my prayer journal.  My journaling had changed from monologue to dialogue.

...This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline. 

Stay with me now as I "connect the dots".

  • When an individual begins the practice of listen to the Lord, prayer changes from monologue to dialogue and amazing things happen.  As Sarah says, "This has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline.
  • When a group (ie, a house church) begins the practice of listening to the Lord, amazing things happen.
Here's the simple but powerful tool that changes everything.  We teach individuals in a house church to take a piece of paper and write this question:  Jesus, what do you want to say to this church today?  Then, we send everyone off for 20-30 minutes to listen to Jesus about that question and write what they hear.  When people come back, they simple share what they have written down.  And, what happens?
  • Church flows from listening
  • Community flows from listening
  • Bible study flows from listening
  • Worship flows from listening
  • Prayer flows from listening
  • Intimacy flows from listening
  • Mission flows from listening
  • Changed lives flow from listening
We've been doing this for several years and I can tell you that it really works!  Jesus really is the Head of the church and He brings the agenda every week.  And, that changes everything!  I'm convinced that this is the "better way" that Shaun and Rai and so many others are longing for.

Equipping people/churches in this "better way" is the mission of the LK10 Community.  To learn more, go to


For more on the biblical basis for thinking this way about church and mission, go here...

and here...   

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Senior Pastor's wife weighs in

A couple of days ago, I told you the story of Shaun King stepping down on September 1st as the senior leader of Courageous Church in Atlanta.  Shaun resigned not because of a scandal but because he was worn out and disillusioned from trying to transition his church from "the big Sunday morning event" to small missional communities.  Read the whole story here:

Now, here is Rai King's (Shaun's wife) take on what happened.  All I've done is take sections from her own blog (the link to this is at the bottom).  It's a little longer than most of my posts but what she writes is so gut-level honest that I couldn't cut it back any more.  (I like this lady!  I hope I get to meet her some day)  I think you will find this to be compelling reading.

I wonder how many other pastors' wives might write something similar if they had the freedom to "tell it like it is"?

Here are Rai King's own words...

"I have never loved leading this church.  Ever.  I didn’t want to plant it and have had just a hand full of days since planting it that I felt like it was worth it.  Shaun, however, has loved this church with his whole heart from the moment he conceived it. Before one person set foot in anything called Courageous Church, he dreamed about it, prayed for it, and worked around the clock for months getting it off the ground.  He contacted church planting organizations and sought their financial support. He went through their assessment centers, filled out their paperwork, went to their meetings, emailed their leaders.

...Shaun thought that if people witnessed courageous leadership, and listened to edgy, courageous teaching, they’d be inspired to get out and be the hands and feet of Christ themselves and provide life changing power and solutions to a dying and hurting world….Um, FAIL!  (JW:  You mean great teaching/preaching doesn't result in genuine disciples???)

...So 2 years into it, after 300+ sermons, who knows how many songs, people coming, people going, stressful lead team meetings, raising money from outside sources because the people who attended the church didn’t actually give enough to support the church, Shaun got frustrated, a few leaders got tired and left, and Jinean got sick of being the only “crazy” person in the room and started serving God on her own in Mexico.

...Thus Shaun had a vision for “the shift”…as it has come to be known.  After searching the scriptures and seeing Christ’s ministry for what it really was we decided we no longer wanted to participate in the spectator sport we Christians call CHURCH.  So we said, "let’s stop meeting every Sunday.  Let’s instead, meet in small groups in each other’s homes.  Let’s share a meal and learn how to be true disciples of Christ.  Let’s all serve together.  Let’s have each small group belong to a cause group that addresses a need in our city."  (JW:  Sounds a lot like the house churches of the New Testament!)

We talked about it, met about it, argued about it, preached about it, sang about it, and read books about it for months.  And for the most part, people were buying it.  As a matter of fact, the month before the shift, when Shaun was preaching the "hows" and "whys" of what were about to do was our highest attendance and our highest offering in all of 2011.  We thought that meant people were actually ready to be radical and courageous.  4 months later, it’s clear that what that meant was that people love HEARING about being radical and courageous.

(This is where Shaun explained that when they actually implemented "the shift" all hell broke loose.  Within 3 months, 85% of the church was clamoring to go back to the Sunday "experience".)

...I thought the problem was that we weren’t organized enough.  Maybe people weren’t serving because we’re not organized.  So this summer we went into super churchy, extra responsible, grown-up church mode.  But after months of church meetings, and the ridiculous antics of electing a board, and forming ministry teams, we’re the most organized we’ve ever been, and STILL, no one shows up to "the cause" group meetings and outreach initiatives.

...Am I frustrated?  CLEARLY!  Am I overstating the irrelevance of the Sunday morning song and dance?  Probably.  Did people come to Christ and renew their relationship with God because of what Courageous Church did for so long on Sunday mornings?  Absolutely!  But, then what?  Glad we baptized you, glad we helped you believe in church again and feel all warm and fuzzy about your creator, but I’m sorry we failed to actually make the vast majority of you into disciples.

...We’re leaving because we will not go back to the stress and relative lack of actual disciple making of the every Sunday model.  Sunday morning has its place.  I too missed the gatherings, but I will never again participate in a model that replaces the real work of Christ with the mundanity of 2 songs and a feel good sermon.

...I actually feel I owe Shaun and apology.  For so long I have put all of the church’s problems off on him as a leader.  I complained that he wasn’t organized enough.  So time and time again he devised and implemented strategies to make the church better organized.  Then I complained that he didn’t spend enough time on his sermons.  So he’d hunker down and study more and preach more well thought out sermons.

...The truth of the matter is, Shaun is simply exhausted.  Pastoring people has been 10 times better than my best hopes and 100 times worse than my worst nightmares.  Unless you’ve done it, you will NEVER understand it.  It looks one way from the outside looking in, but trust me, you don’t know the half.  

Pastors are the sickest, loneliest, most depressed people in church.  (JW:  Wow!  Read that last sentence again.  What is it about the way we have done church that produces those results in the lives of many pastors?)  That’s why they have affairs, that’s why they die at the age of 42 from heart attacks and drug over doses.  That’s why every time you turn on the TV there’s a new scandal, and a fresh news story about the latest greatest to fall from grace.  Taking criticism day in and day out from people who swear up and down they know better is exhausting.  Having people leave for stupid, selfish reasons is exhausting.  The divorce rate for pastors is among the highest of any other group in the country.  Shaun and I have decided we’d like that to not be our story. 

...To close, I want to be clear that Shaun and I haven’t given up on “church.”  We’re just finished with church as usual.  There must be churches out there getting it right.  Evidenced not by how big and cool they are, but by the fact that they’re actually making disciples who are recapturing the world for Christ."

My response:  I believe Rai is telling a story that hundreds (maybe thousands) of pastors and their spouses could tell.  I was a pastor in traditional churches for 25 years and its a story I know well.  Having been in the house church world now for many years, we have learned something of what's necessary to grow churches that "actually make disciples" and that don't burn out leaders.  

If you are interested in learning more, check this out:

John White

To read Rai King's entire blog, go here:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Foundations Course

Over the last 15-20 years, many in the LK10 Community have been on a journey with the Lord to learn how to tap into the New Wine necessary for the New Wineskins (house churches).  In other words, how does a house church actually become a "vibrant family of Jesus"?

In the LK10 Foundations Courses, we make available to you what we have learned from the Lord through years of practice.  This Course is an opportunity for you to learn simple but powerful practical practices and tools for walking with the Spirit as an individual and as a community.  The goal of the Course is not just to learn theory but to become practitioners.

To learn more about the Foundations Course, watch this short video and then read the information at the bottom of the page.

Course Description...

Each Foundation Course takes place in the context of a small "learning community" (6 to 12 people) called a cohort.  The Course lasts for six weeks.  Here are the key elements...

1.  Weekly learning assignments.  Articles to read and videos to watch that explain "foundational" practices and the Biblical basis.
2.  CO2 (Church of Two).  This might be a married couple or two men or two women.  For six weeks, you will practice key rhythms daily with this one other person.  Our conviction is that the CO2 is the basic building block of all larger expressions of church.  We are following Jesus' model of putting people in pairs (Mt. 10) and sending them out together.  For more information on the CO2, see the CO2 video and flyer in the right column of this site.
3.  Online Forum (Facebook Group, etc).  Regular posting to a forum where you discuss insights, comments, experiences, questions with the rest of your cohort.
4.  Individual Coaching Appointments with the leader of your cohort.  At least two one-on-one sessions during the Course.  We want you to experience the value of this kind of coaching.
5.  Conference calls with your cohort.  At least two calls with your cohort during the Course to share comments, experiences and questions with the rest of your cohort.

Want to know more about the values and practices of LK10 Community?  In the right column of this blog, see the many posts under "Topics".  Questions about the Foundations Course?  Contact John White at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mega church pastor: "We are completely off base with what discipleship means"

Shaun King stepped down on September 1st.

Shaun resigned from the church in Atlanta that he started three years ago.    Called "Courageous Church", it was, in Shaun's words, a "super cool Sunday worship-service-centered church with 700 people".  A mixed race congregation, it was seen as one of the cutting edge churches in the city.  Highly "successful"!

Leonard Sweet, scholar and author, called Shaun, "One of the most dynamic, entrepreneurial, creative and passionate leaders on the American scene today."  How could this guy possibly fail?  What would cause him to throw up his hands and give up?

Shaun stepped down not because of any scandal but because he was disillusioned and burned out.  He had followed the advice of church planting experts on how to develop an exciting, growing church by focusing on a dynamic Sunday morning "experience".  He writes, "I sold my soul for church attendance in our first week and I could never quite get it back."

Over time Shaun came to understand that "the overwhelming percentage of our time, energy, skills, budget and creativity were spent preparing for Sunday morning services, getting people to our Sunday services and getting them to volunteer for our Sunday morning services."  Then, Shaun made a big "mistake".  He tried to change all of this.  He tried to create a discipleship oriented church where the "time, energy, skills, budget and creativity" went primarily into caring for people and meeting needs in the city.  And, since he was the senior leader, he could make this work.  Right?

Shaun planned to move the whole congregation into small missional groups with one large meeting each month.  He worked with his leaders to develop the new structure.  He preached a whole sermon series on the new vision.  (Preaching changes people.  Right?) He reports that, as long as he was preaching about it, the people loved it.

But, once the "shift" took place, in his words, "all hell broke loose".  Three months later, 85% of the congregation wanted to go back to the "super cool worship-service-centered church".  Four months later, Shaun stepped down as the lead pastor.  Here's his evaluation...

"What I am saying is that church attendance, Sunday morning services, sermon-listening (or even sermon preaching), song-singing, hand-clapping, amen-saying and all the other things that "Christ-ians" have lifted up so high look so little like Christ himself that I am utterly convinced that we are completely off base with what discipleship means.  Considering all of this, I think I have given up on church as I knew it.  Big buildings. Hugh crowds.  Few disciples.  I'm not with it.  It's inefficient and just doesn't feel right with my soul.  This is not a rejection of big buildings or huge crowds, but an indictment on how few disciples are being made in the process of it all.  A better way has to exist."

Well, Shaun, welcome to the growing number of traditional church leaders (perhaps 1500 a month by some estimates) who are coming to the same conclusion.  That is, that the building-centered, Sunday big worship-service-centered "experience" (one mega church here in Denver calls this "the big magic") is a great way to entertain people but an inefficient way to make disciples.  Not only that, but it takes a terrible toll on the pastors and on their families.  (In my next post, I'll tell you what Shaun's wife wrote about this whole experience.  I'm telling you... this lady shoots straight!)

And, yes, Shaun a better way does exist.

What might that "better way" be?

Here's what Shaun's wife, Rai, had to say:

For more on Shaun's story:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why the missional movement will fail (2)

In my last post, I passed on to you the startling critique of the missional church movement by Mike Breen, one of the leaders of that movement.  "We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea how to be with the King."  See the entire post here:

This made me think of a comment by Lesslie Newbigin (theologian, author and missionary in India) in his Foreword to a biography of Roland Allen.

"Missionary thinking is still pervaded by Pelagianism.  Mission is conceived as a task, rather than as a gift, an over-spill, and an explosion of joy."  (Pelagius was a fourth century British monk who believed that salvation could be achieved entirely through human effort.)

Newbigin goes on to say...

At the center of (Roland) Allen's message was the conviction that the Holy Spirit is the active agent in the Christian mission.  For him Pentecost was the key for the understanding of mission.  Allen could write about the "Spontaneous Expansion of the Church" because he saw it, not as a human enterprise, but as a divine activity.  To understand that, is to be delivered from the anxieties, the burdens and the sense of guilt which so often forms the atmosphere of discussion about mission."  Roland Allen:  Pioneer, Priest, and Prophet, xiii.  (See photo of Allen.)

If Allen is correct (and I think he is), the reason that the Church is not more missional is not for lack of knowledge and exhortation about mission.  Rather, it is because individuals and churches do not know how to have an intimate, conversational relationship with the Holy Spirit (the "active agent" of mission).  Or, as Mike Breen writes, they have "little to no idea of how to be with the King".

Get people genuinely and deeply connected to the Holy Spirit and mission will be, as Allen would say, the spontaneous and natural result.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why the missional movement will fail (1)

In this post, I want to share with you a bombshell blog post on 9/12/11 by Mike Breen who is one of the leaders of what is called "the missional church movement".

First, let's define the term.  Here's what Alan Hirsh, another leader of the movement, writes...

"Missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself, and organizes its life around, its real purpose of being an agent of God’s mission to the world. In other words, the church’s true and authentic organizing principle is mission. When the church is in mission, it is the true church. The church itself is not only a product of that mission but is obligated and destined to extend it by whatever means possible. The mission of God flows directly through every believer and every community of faith that adheres to Jesus. To obstruct this is to block God’s purposes in and through his people."  The Forgotten Ways, p. 82.

Now, here's part of what Mike Breen writes in his recent blog post about the missional movement...

"It’s time we start being brutally honest about the missional movement that has emerged in the last 10-15 years: Chances are better than not it’s going to fail.
That may seem cynical, but I’m being realistic. There is a reason so many movements in the Western church have failed in the past century: They are a car without an engine. A missional church or a missional community or a missional small group is the new car that everyone is talking about right now, but no matter how beautiful or shiny the vehicle, without an engine, it won’t go anywhere.
...We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea how to be with the King.

...Many church leaders unknowingly replace the transcendent vitality of a life with God for the ego satisfaction they derive from a life for God.

This is the crux of it: The reason the missional movement may fail is because most people/communities in the Western church are pretty bad at making disciples. Without a plan for making disciples (and a plan that works), any missional thing you launch will be completely unsustainable."


This is what we here at LK10 have been saying for some time.  The focus on mission is well-intentioned but misguided.  In Scripture, mission is not the focus.  (Think about it.  How many times is the Great Commission repeated in the Epistles?)  The church's "organizing principle" was never meant to be mission.

It's about learning to be with the King!

The church's focus and "organizing principle" is meant to be an intimate, conversational, love relationship with Jesus.  The Biblical metaphor is the Bride (ie, the church) who is passionate about her Bridegroom.  (Eph. 5:22-33)  Mission is the spontaneous by-product of that relationship.  (We have lots of evidence that this is, indeed, the case!)
Here at LK10 we articulate our "plan for making disciples" in nine words.  "Listen, obey and teach others to do the same."
Want to know more about our "plan"?  Stay tuned for information about our Foundations Class coming soon.

To read Mike Breen's entire post go here:

Monday, September 12, 2011

A tool for deepening relationships in families and churches

Maree Watson has been leading a LK10 Apprenticeship (called the Foundations Course this fall) in Australia.  In the video below, Maree interviews two members of the Course, Sharon and Annette, about a simple tool (called SASHET) that they have learned.  Around the world, God is using SASHET to deepen relationships in marriages and in house churches.  In the video, you will see the enthusiasm that these ladies have for what God is doing.

Interested in learning some of these practical house church tools?  Registration for the next Foundations Courses will open in the next week.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How do you find "people of peace"?

One year ago, I interviewed Maree Watson from Australia at the National House Church Conference.  Maree shared how she found a "person of peace" who became her CO2 (church of two) partner.  See the video below.
Since that time, Maree has become a LK10 Coach and has just finished leading a Foundations Course (previously called The Apprenticeship) where she is teaching others become practitioners of CO2 rhythms.  She also regularly prays the prayer in Lk 10:2b which, we believe, is our part in finding "people of peace".  See below for a recent story where Maree was surprised to find an answer to her prayer right beside here in an Organic Market.

For more on the "10:2b Prayer", see the posts collected here:

This is a photo of my new friends at the Organic Market where I have a stall on Sundays. After 18 months spending most Sunday mornings at my stall where I sell my shampoo and ask God to show me people of peace and pray for the harvest of mostly hippy, health conscience, new age types, my last Sunday before heading off on holidays was an overwhelming experience of PREVENIENCE.  ("Prevenience" means "before" as in God is at work in each situation before we show up.)

To my great surprise my regular neighbour "the coffee tent" was not there but instead a group of harvest workers come to offer Jesus as an alternative to the fortune tellers ,tarot, and crystal ball readers. These guys were low key and covertly offering dream interpretation and spiritual encounters and healing.

I witnessed some of the regular characters agreeing to be prayed for after being listened to and loved. God in action right in front of my eyes! I joined them in prayer and was blessed by a healing word from the Lord. The leader thanked me for preparing the way for them and for ushering them in, I felt like I was passing on a baton for the next season. 

I know now first hand the power of praying LK102b. Oh yeah, Mark, the smiley Man in the photo, wondered if I knew of any courses that were good for establishing small groups, the Lord has told him to prepare for a big harvest in his area!!! Just so happens I do. Praise God!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Methodist House Churches?

I've just returned from the National House Church Conference in Jacksonville, FL.  It was a wonderful time with 180 participants, 80% of whom had never attended the Conference before.  One observation is that the Lord is increasingly drawing people in traditional churches (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) to consider house churches.  The brief interview below with Rev. Nicole Reilley, a Methodist pastor from the LA area, is one of many examples of this encouraging development.

To all of these brave pioneers who are moving towards the house church model, I feel the Lord wants me to ask a question again that I posed in a post a few weeks ago.  Did John Wesley, who was an amazing house church planter in his day, make a fundamental mistake?  And, if he did, will we make the same mistake?  To see my take on Wesley's "fundamental mistake", see this post

Why did Wesley make this major "mistake"?  This link probably explains the reason: