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October 2012

Posts from September 2012

The Feast Worldwide Dinner Party kicks off here

UPDATE: We just had our dinner and it was GREAT. Read about it here.


ORIGINAL POST: The creative people at Feast on Good, who I met in New York and have mentioned on the blog before, are hosting a worldwide dinner party for good on Friday Oct 5. And we are doing it with them by hosting a pizza party with a difference. Why not?

Feast worldwide dinner party

We happen to be in New Zealand right now so we thought we might as well KICK OFF the Worldwide Dinner Party here. Something to do with the International Date Line being right on our ass. 

Feast dinner party world map

There are various challenges each dinner party can choose. We have chosen the poverty challenge and my guest list includes people that are actively involved in social enterprise among the poor in the local area. 

Some of the resources to inspire the dinners are worth looking at. They pointed to one project that is turning church pews into beds for the homeless

SHOULD BE FUN! You could host a party also. Think about it.

Jesus Fresco Messed Up

Hey if you don't get the joke currently on September's banner, read the story of the Spanish lady who volunteered to "restore" a fresco of Jesus in a Spanish cathedral. Apparently 30,000 people have turned up to see "Behold the Monkey". It's a shame about the fresco, but it turned out to be a potential church growth technique. I wish as many would turn up to hear bad music . . .

Screen Shot 2012 09 24 at 3 12 25 PM

Related: Top 10 images of Jesus on Google.

8 Thoughts on Lasting Out, not Burning Out

Greater productivity in ministry comes from lasting out and not burning out. A mentor once told me, 

"In your first year, you can do NO WRONG.

In your second year, you can do NO RIGHT.

In your third year, either you or your critics WILL LEAVE.

In your fourth year, if you are still there, you can begin your real ministry."

This weekend I am speaking at a retreat for the Blueprint church. They asked me to speak about longevity and lasting out in ministry. 

Blueprint church

It's an important topic. Burnout rates among ministers are incredibly high. When i took my first job as pastor in a church, the Senior Pastor burned out within the year. Not my fault, by the way. But what's sad is that that the pastor I am talking about, who was hospitalized with the shakes and had already taken a 3 month leave, had taken over the job from the previous pastor who also burned out in much the same way. 

Here are my first thoughts on lasting out, not burning out. If you have others, please let me know in the comments below.

1. Be yourself. Find out what you love to do and do that. Align your gifts and passions with your ministry. Decades from now, you will probably still find joy in it

2. Minister out of who you are, not what you can do. Character based ministry will outlast accomplishment based ministry. If you accept a position, make sure they appreciate that who you are is more valuable than what you can do.

3. Know that the ministry is Gods, not yours. It is his prevenience that initiates lasting change and his grace that carries it through to completion. You are not as indispensable as you think.

4. Recognize God's favor as it presents itself to you because it can be a reliable pathway into a God-empowered, God-blessed ministry in which the yoke of Jesus is not heavy.

5. Preaching the gospel is a matter of receiving and passing on rather than reinventing and customizing. It's not the new twists you put on the message but the substance of it that is important. People can make it relevant themselves.

6. Install an on/off switch and use it. Its OK to be off, to be out of season, to take a break. 

7. Accept criticism. Embrace criticism. And learn to dismiss it when you need to. You cannot please everyone. Accept the fact that 10% of your people will be mad at you for something at any one time.

8. Avoid vanity metrics. They are not helpful to you and you will kill yourself trying to live up to them or get back to them when the chips are down.


Who was the mentor I quoted at the top of this post? Bro. Thom Wolf, who also stressed that the goal in spiritual warfare was standing firm. It appears three times in the Eph 6 passage. Spiritual warfare is not primarily about kicking butt, demolishing strongholds, and tearing down the works of the evil one. Its about standing, about remaining, about lasting out and emerging from the fire, ready for more service.

OK - your turn. How do you avoid burning out?

The world's fastest multiplying CPMs and a dead Kiwi theologian

I am talking about church planting movements that go viral and out of control, producing hundreds and thousands of lean startup churches and communities in a very short amount of time. Does that get your blood pumping? 

Last year was my first time in China, as well as my first time in Indonesia and a few other South East Asian countries. I learned a hecka lot. I met young people starting movements that have grown huge and expanded way beyond what anyone expected. I spent time with a movement that is seeing their hundreds of simple spiritual communities reproduce themselves into the fourth generation. One movement in a country I visited has tens of thousands of new communities all started quickly and with little resources.

In looking at movements like these, it is clear they have a simple pattern for ministry that is reproducible, even in an oral society. Perhaps it is because of the emphasis on oral communication that such success has occurred.

3 interesting things emerge:

1. Church planting movements that kick ass tend to have a simple oral pattern of teaching that is passed on from new believers to new believers and so on.

2. It is possible, and even probable, that a recognizable pattern of discipleship is recorded in the Scriptures and was utilized by the early church, enabling new believers to learn, remember, apply, and efficiently pass onto others the essential of the faith.

3. If such a pattern in the Scriptures exists, a New Zealand theologian wrote about it in the 1940's 

This is where I introduce you to the Most Rev. Philip Carrington (6 July 1892 - 3 October 1975). 

Philip carrington

Philip became Rector of Lincoln, on the South Island of New Zealand. His father, who was Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, must have been proud. Philip later moved to Canada, unfortunately ;-) where he slipped off the NZ radar but managed to do alright for himself, becoming Archbishop of Quebec, Metropolitan of Canada and the guy who renovated the Canadian Anglican lectionary. 

[Renovated is NOT the right word - no offense to Anglicans.]

During those years, he was gripped with the idea that the early church had a pattern of discipleship and teaching. 

"The history of my own country (New Zealand) up to about eight centuries ago depends upon the organized oral tradition of the Maori race, who had no writing at all. The Jewish Mishnah, as its name implies (it means 'repetition'), consists of such oral tradition; it was arranged and edited and written down a century or more after Mark wrote his Gospel. It is fortunate that the tradition of Jesus and his apostles was written down at once." Carrington, According to Mark, Introduction.

Carrington suggested that the oral tradition of Paul was something handed over to him and contained "rules or precepts for life, or walking (halakah) as the Rabbi's called it, as well as narrative (haggadah).

Continue reading "The world's fastest multiplying CPMs and a dead Kiwi theologian" »

Mr Mullet found guilty of hair-cutting attack

“The defendants invaded their homes, physically attacked these people and sheared them almost like animals”. Amish Sect Leader Guilty of Crimes, NYTimes

I thought this story was a joke but it turns out to be sadly true. New York Times puts it this way . . .

"Samuel Mullet Sr., the domineering leader of a renegade Amish sect, and 15 of his followers were convicted  on Thursday in Cleveland of federal conspiracy and hate crimes for a series of bizarre beard- and hair-cutting attacks last fall that spread fear through the Amish of eastern Ohio.        

Mr. Mullet, 66, the founder of a community near Bergholz, Ohio, and 15 followers, including six women, were tried for their roles in five separate attacks last fall, involving assaults on nine people whom Mr. Mullet had described as enemies. The jury, which had no Amish members, heard three weeks of testimony and deliberated more than four days before reaching a verdict at midday on Thursday.

Although Mr. Mullet did not directly participate, prosecutors labeled him the mastermind of the assaults, in which groups of his followers invaded the homes of victims, threw them down and sheared their beards and hair." LINK

Apparently some of the followers were also RELATIVES of Mr Mullet. Someone please tell Jeff Foxworthy because there is enough redneck joke material in there to launch the next tour.


If there are any Mullet fans out there, read my post and answer the question Did the Magi wear Mullets?


And its been 5 years since we talked about the First Amish Emerging Church. Do you remember that??

282026922 224130fb7a

Yes I know the Amish trial this month was embarrassing and sad but its just NOT MY FAULT that the guys name happened to be MR MULLET!

Mission of God Study Bible and Itinerant Ministry

The Mission of God Study Bible has just been released. It carries the missional theme and  . .  what I really love about it . .  it honors the memory of the Baptist missiologist Dr Francis DuBose who brought the word "missional" back into play with his 1983 book God Who Sends. [see the video I recorded of Dr DuBose shortly before his death] The Study Bible also has contributions from so many of my friends that I won't even start to name them. 

I was asked to contribute something on itinerancy that might share some light on Acts 12, when Saul and Barnabas are sent out.


Here's my bit which now appears on page 1153

Itinerant Ministry (Acts 12:2-3)


Maybe it’s not right, but I feel a slight pang of grief when I read the fate of Saul and Barnabas. Despite having a secure future as church leaders, they are sentenced by the church in Antioch to the downwardly mobile status of itinerant ministry. Doomed to wander the earth like Cain through places always foreign and rarely familiar, they will limp forward as borrowers and beggars, as strangers and sojourners, but never settlers.


MissionOfGod FNL CVR

An itinerant is a wanderer who travels from place to place without a home. Stereotypes are demeaning: drifters, hobos, vagrants, bums, squatters, tramps, and carnies. Some are neutral but few are positive. And yet there are people who have voluntarily embraced itinerancy for the purpose of the gospel, including circuit riders, pilgrims, mendicants and wandering monks. The worst examples of the latter were frowned on. Benedict called them ‘gyrovagues’ (lit. “those that wander in a circle) and Augustine called them ‘circumcelliones’ (lit. “those that prowl around the barns”).


However, despite the stigma of being homeless ragamuffins, it was often the wandering missionaries who enabled the church to accelerate its mission into new spheres: extraordinary itinerants including Jesuits, Franciscans, Methodist circuit-riders, tent-revivalists and the Celtic peregrine, who one writer described as “intrepid Irish adventurers”.


As an itinerant for most of my twenty-five years in mission service, I share both in the shame of this lowly disposition and the joy of freedom to travel wherever God is shining his light. I also have some perspective on why the Holy Spirit might have set such a precedent in Antioch.


Practically speaking, itinerancy is more effective in both cost and time, having no house to maintain or return to. Our apostolic efforts are not tempted by the idolatry of building our own empire because next week we will be somewhere else, serving another ministry project. But it’s more than that. 


As itinerants, our dependence on others for their participation with us in the gospel becomes a filter that leads us to the right people at the right time, as Jesus outlined in Luke 10.


We depend on God. We depend on God’s family. We even depend on the people we are sent to.


Like Abraham, we are told to go but not given a destination. We find ourselves in intimate company with the people of faith, who viewed the heavenly city as their real home. We have no house but we enjoy a hundred houses in this life and the benefits of a large and diverse spiritual family. 


We drink deeply of the sufferings of Christ who, having no place to lay his head, walked the same path we tread.


Strangely enough, recent years have seen a more positive spin added to the mobile lifestyle. Partly in response to globalization, and the necessity of competence in foreign cultures, many are eager to embrace new itinerant identities such as global nomads, couch surfers, existential migrants, and even families on the road.


Likewise, interest in itinerant ministry has intensified as a new generation discover a spirituality of the road and new forms of missional pilgrimage. 


Like Antioch, there are still young spiritual leaders of export quality being sent out on itinerant journeys that are initiated by God, modelled by Christ, led by the Spirit and given an enthusiastic thumbs-up by the church. 

Thoughts on that silly video

No I haven't seen the Innocence of Muslims video and I don't intend to watch it. The fallout is enough.

Here's some thoughts:

- Terry Jones should NOT have promoted or shown the movie. It shows the same lack of judgement that caused him to attempt a Koran burning 2 years ago - something that I felt was very very wrong. This is the reason I started Blog a Koran Day to help create some understanding.

Any chance we can send Dog the Bounty Hunter to serve up Pastor Terry's warrant and read a few Bible verses at the same time?

Dog the bounty hunter 

- The Coptic Christians from Egypt involved in the film have disgraced the Coptic Church, of which I now have some deep connections from my visit to Cairo last year. They should have known better. 

- ALSO, I agree with Brian McLaren that evangelical Christianity in USA has an issue with Islamophobia that it refuses to address. 

PLEASE READ MY POST called Random Thoughts on living with Muslims in which I outline some ways in which our family has learned to live with and among Muslims.

- Related: The Skinny on Egypt's Prayer Gathering

Cool Projects

Heres a shout out to my creative friends with cool projects worth supporting:

- DJ Kenny Mitchell released a new track called Don't Wait.

- Design geek Swiss Miss (hi Tina!) is building a resource base for the Creative Morning movement. 

Creative mornings

- Steve Lawson released an album called Invenzioni

- Charlie Peacock has 9 new songs he wants to give to you free. Charlie's first solo album in 13 years gets released Oct 2. Check out this video of Big River.

- Danny Stephens (The Waiting) successfully raised enough start-up capital to record a new album: Mysteriet. Expect it later this year.

UK men forgotten how to act like Gentlemen

Email newsletter this morning from Mark Hall, Director of Socked.

mark driscoll would like this


A recent study by, the black sock subscription service for discerning gentlemen, highlighted the distant lack of manners in today’s society.

  • 46% of men admitted to spitting in public
  • Only 40% of men held doors open for ladies on a regular basis
  • Only a shameful 4% of gentlemen claimed that they never swore in public.

Interesting. Of course I immediately forwarded the email to Mark Driscoll, who will be thrilled to hear that the British men are finally "manning up".

The email continued . ..'s five basic tips on how to be a gentleman

1. Look after your appearance

A gentleman would never wear odd socks; you should always take pride in your appearance when you go out in the world because that is a show of respect to the other people around you.

Screen Shot 2012 09 14 at 8 16 22 AM

2. To curse is to be rude

Swearing, as your mother will tell, you is a "no" in all circumstances. By cursing you are merely showing that you have a distinct lack of vocabulary and an inability to express your thoughts appropriately. Furthermore , others will only remember you for your crudeness and vulgarity.

3. Let others speak

Always be courteous and let others finish what they are saying before adding your comments. To break this rule is a sign of poor social skills and a distinct lack of etiquette to both the person talking and to those that are listening. If, however, you want to be seen as rude and egotistical you may do so by interrupting others.

Screen Shot 2012 09 14 at 9 10 32 AM

4. Do not spit

This should go without saying. However, our study shows that 46% of men do this subconsciously. Spitting is horrid habit and to witness it only leads to instant disgust. Do not spit in public under any circumstances unless you want to look like you were raised in a sewer.

5. There is no need to shout

When a person speaks loudly or shouts, it does nothing but to raise the stress levels among your current company and of those who are in close vicinity. It implies that you are rude, show no consideration to others around you and that you cannot reason with others, so you rely instead on brute force in order to get your point across. This will only draw negative attention towards you.

Back to Bali for Transform World

Today my official acceptance letter for the Transform World Global Challenges Summit came through. It will take place in Bali, November 6-9. Some of my good friends from Lausanne Congress will be there. Should be interesting.

Tiny acts transform the world

Yeah Bali! If you remember, we were in Bali the same time last year, spending time with young Indonesians who were coming out of destructive lifestyles to start a new life with God. We are still connected to them all and hope to catch up again with this growing network. You can read more about it at "A cooked and perverse generation and a room full of prostitutes".

Bali is a long way but there is a similar conference next month called Global Church Forum (Oct  16-18) hosted at Park Community Church in Chicago. I will be a long way from Chicago when it happens, which is a shame because many of my mission homies will be speaking there, but they have asked me if I would blog it from the online streams. Which I think I will do, at least some of it.