Seedbed Gathering, connecting, and resourcing the people of God to sow for a great awakening. Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:46:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Threshing Floor Podcast 071: Power, Fear, and Women in Ministry (with Peg Hutchins and Marilyn Elliott) Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:01:00 +0000

What happens when the fabulous three meet up with the tremendous two?

Episode 71 of The Threshing Floor.

At the 2016 New Room Conference, our hosts gather around the microphones of two of our favorite people. We fired up the mics and let the Holy Spirit roll. What happened was a fascinating conversation about ministry.

We talked about many different things, including;

  • The role of power and Christlikeness.
  • The role of power and women in ministry.
  • How we are called to sociological imagination.
  • What it means to not use power for the self, but for others.
  • The role of race and privilege.
  • Being a good neighbor.
  • The role of power in healing ministry and relationships
  • Listening first to what Jesus says.
  • Fear.
  • How do we act around fear.
  • When we become a poor servant rather than something awesome.
  • Performance.
  • When we have a crisis in the gap.
  • Learning that ourself is enough.
  • Healing and the true self.
  • Listening loosely.
  • Why “God using us” is janky.
  • How we distort the image of God in our language of call.
  • The temptation of performance.
  • Not taking yourself too seriously.
  • What’s more powerful than giving your own power away.

We also want to congratulate the winner of our Isaiah Epic of Eden giveaway!

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Church Leader Podcast (Episode 8): Budgeting Cuts Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:00:51 +0000 This week we sat down Ryan Stigile from The Unstuck Group to talk about budget cuts.

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Learning to See: Or What Drawing Class Taught Me About Ministry Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:00:31 +0000 In the first ever drawing class that I took in college, the first thing my professor allowed us to draw was boxes, on the floor, all laid parallel to one another. Take a roomful of Drawing 1 students, and you have a mixed bag of kids looking for an easy A, kids who actually want to learn art, and then the kids who are “artists” because they like the whole “dark and brooding” image that some people have about artists. It was fun to watch some of the more image-conscious first-year students squirm at having to do something so dull. There are several purposes for this exercise.

First, it helps the students learn some basic rules about perspective, distance, scale, and how objects exist in space. Like learning scales in music, or learning how to dribble in basketball, these are fundamentals which come to bear in everything that anyone creates in a work of art.

Second, it helps students learn to use their eyes. No matter the reasons that people took Drawing 1, if they had not learned some of these foundational lessons prior to the class, then everyone drew the boxes incorrectly. More interesting, is that everyone would draw them incorrectly the same way. The edges on the far top edge and the bottom edge always, always, would break away from one another rather than converge towards one another as they went back into the distance.

It has stayed with me all these years how similarly incorrect everyone’s perceptions would be in those first weeks of drawing classes. The problem is that people immediately begin drawing what they think a box on the ground looks like, rather than actually looking at what is in front of them and drawing that.

They are responding to what they think they see, not to what they are actually looking at.

The metaphor is not very subtle, is it?

How often do we do the same thing?

More often than not, our failure to learn how to see people results in us drawing them incorrectly. We end up with a warped and twisted view of reality – a reality that does not actually exist in the first place. As Christians – in fact, as people – it is important that we learn how to see. Now more than ever, we must take the time to look at the people around us and see them as they are, not how we expect them to be.

When I begin a new piece of artwork, an implicit decision is made: this subject is worthy of creative response. If it is worthy of my response, then it deserves the respect for me to learn it inside and out so that I might see it for what it is.

If there is a ministry, a group of people, or a single person who we find worthy of the effort to bring them the Gospel, then they must be accorded the respect to meet them on their own terms, in their own world, and gather an accurate picture of what their world is and how they live and breathe within it.

As ministers, whether in the pulpit, in worship, or in the mission field, we must learn to see so that we can engage those whom we serve. We cannot possibly meet the needs of people whom we have failed to understand. We cannot proclaim the Word to people, we cannot lead people in worship, we cannot bring healing and hope to people, if we have not bothered to learn how they exist in the world they inhabit.

It is only in that understanding that we can be free to respond in new and creative ways to help bring joy to people in sorrow; hope to people in despair; or light to people in darkness. Every great artist who breaks with tradition does so having taken time to learn the rules inside and out, to study the world and sharpen his eyes, so that when he sits down to create a new piece, he knows exactly what he is responding to, and how best to imbue it with new life.

If we are ever to use our talents to bring life into the world, then we must take a lesson from Drawing 1; Every wonderful creation begins with learning how to see.

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Examining a Church Plant’s Missiological Make Up Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Editor’s Note:
For a wider view of these issues from a prioritism point of view, see Christopher R. Little’s articles, “The Case for Prioritism: Part 1” and “The Case for Prioritism: Part 2,” from The Great Commission Research Journal 7:2 and 8:1.

Churches are missional organizations and communities. Church plants, at times, hold the missiological nature of the organization or community to be even more centric than established churches. Further, church plants, especially in their beginning phases, do not have clearly embedded missional organizational values because there is little-to-no shared history, organizational memory, or established missiological narratives. While there might be aspirational values that are captured on paper and even taught and reinforced, the church plant values are still being formed in the hearts and minds of its people. As a result, it is part of the church planter’s role to be aware of their own personal missiological make up that will be imparted to the church plant and to help the church plant navigate her emerging missiological make up. Further, it is likely that people drawn to the missiological nature of church plants will be enthusiastic about mission, without being aware of their own missiological tradition or philosophy. Their passion may unnecessarily emphasize missiological differences and provide undo strain on the plant and its members. With this in mind, here are two main missiological approaches, presented in broad strokes. Having a working knowledge of these two broad categories can help church planters to become self-aware in their missiological identity, facilitate the missiological identity of the church plant, and ease undo stress in the church plant.


Prioritism affirms that the primary mission of the church is spiritual transformation. Alienation from God is the main problem that the church must address. To simplify, if the human person a make up of body and spirit, the primary work of the church is to the spirit. Prioritism does not deny the importance of working for social justice and alleviating poverty and other physical suffering, but that the prior problem and underlying cause of such challenges is spiritual brokenness. By focusing on announcing that a person can have a restored relationship God through Jesus Christ, the church will have ongoing impact on other sociological issues. People who hold to prioritist missiology, even unaware, might emphasize evangelistic preaching, outreach events that draw people to the church building or special services, and evangelism through tracts and personal witness. Some representatives of prioritism would include Don McGavran, David Hesselgrave, Carl Henry, Billy Graham, and John Piper.


Holism, on the other hand, emphasizes that the church is meant to reflect the Kingdom not primarily in word, but in deed. Holism prioritizes feeding the hungry, housing the exposed, loving the broken, healing for the mentally and physically sick and wounded, and belonging for the outsider and alien. Mission is not specific about a certain kind of good works, but includes a vast array of good works, all of which may reflect the Kingdom of God. If the human person is understood as a complex being of body and spirit (or as an ensouled body), then one cannot minister to the body without ministering to the spirit—and vice versa. People holding to a holist missiology might emphasize compassion ministries to the poor, outreach events that symbolize the good news (such as giving away school backpacks at a local center rather than the church building), and evangelism through spontaneous conversation. Some representatives of holism would include C. Réne Padilla, Ron Sider, Gary Haugen, Richard Stearns, and Chris Wright.


Obviously these are two different approaches to mission. By emphasizing the differences, there might be strong tensions; by emphasizing the priority of Christ, there might be weak tensions. The differences between mission philosophy may be deep, including theological and anthropological disagreements. The differences may also be shallow, simply rooted in one’s prior experience or even personality. Undoubtedly, churches, church members, and their leaders (including church plants and planters) who are passionate about mission will skew in one direction or the other. Church planters must be aware of basic differences to discover their own missiological make up, to help their plants navigate tensions, and to ease unnecessary conflicts among the congregation or leadership.

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Sermon Series: Ancient Creed, Living Faith Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:45:00 +0000 Every Sunday in churches around the world Christians gather and recite in unison the Apostles’ Creed, but, do they understand what they’re saying? Do they connect these ancient statements of faith to their daily lives? Do our beliefs translate into discernible life transformation?

I believe that in 1492 Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. I believe this is factually true. However, I don’t think there’s much to believe IN about it. One might believe that a particular political party is best at leading the nation forward. This type of belief may be more on par with the kinds of beliefs we confess when we say the creed, but these key Christian doctrines are even deeper. They shape our identity and worldview. They speak to what truly function as first things in our lives. Merely reciting a memorized set of theological prepositions, however, can devolve into empty rhetoric and simplistic devotion.

To enliven our engagement with the Apostles’ Creed I have designed a sermon series outlining the basic principles found in the Creed, and life application of these fundamental theological facts. The title of the series is “Ancient Creed – Living Faith.” I wanted to connect these ancient statements of belief with our contemporary lives in such a way as to rejuvenate and deepen our faith journey. For the sermon series I used the ecumenical version of the Apostles’ Creed, although we generally rotate between several statements of faith, including it and the traditional version.

Week 1: I Believe in the Relator God

Scriptures: Genesis 1:1; Luke 15:11-32

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth;

We have two angles from which to view God that jump out of this opening phrase: Creator and Father. Both ways of expressing God’s personhood emphasize the relational nature of God. God creates, not because he must, but because he desires to love. He creates simply by exerting his will, revealing his all-powerful nature. We also acknowledge God as Father, the first person of the Holy Trinity. This creed exhibits a trinitarian structure. Jesus reveals the love of the Father in the wonderfully familiar story of the Prodigal Father. I refer to it as the Prodigal Father because “prodigal” implies “extravagantly wasteful,” and God extravagantly lavishes his forgiveness and love on those who are lost in order to restore them to their proper place in his family. God is a God who reaches out and calls us into relationship with himself.

Week 2: I Believe in the Messiah

Scriptures: Psalm 2; Galatians 4:4-5

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.

Some people think “Christ” functions like a last name for Jesus, like Jesus Gonzalez, but Christ is not a name; it’s a title from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” One of the temptations when focusing on the beliefs found in the Apostles’ Creed is to forget about the Hebrew Scriptures and the fact that Jesus came as the fulfillment of the mission of God, beginning with Abraham. Psalm 2 offers a vision of the Jewish Messiah ruling over not only the Promised Land but the whole world. The coming of the Messiah serves as a pivotal moment in the history of the world when the one true King is revealed. As the Messiah’s called-out people we are united in him, building for his kingdom through our faithful obedience.

Week 3: I Believe in the Victory of God

Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:1-28; Psalm 110:1

On the third day he rose again, he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Jesus may have appeared defeated because of the cross, yet the Father reversed the curse of the tree by raising Jesus out of the tomb. This sermon examines every part of this section of the creed as it breaks down into a nice outline: I have a risen Lord because Jesus rose from the dead. I have a reigning King because Jesus ascended into heaven. I have righteous Judge because Jesus is coming again to judge. Because he is coming again, I need to be about the King’s business.

Week 4: I Believe in the Presence of God

Scriptures: John 14:6; Luke 24:49

I believe in the Holy Spirit.

Many Christians are practical “binitarians.” We have a basic understanding of God the Father and God the Son, but our devotional and practical often neglect the person of God the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that we experience God, firsthand. The Holy Spirit comforts, convinces, converts, consecrates, and calls. Every step of the way we respond either by being drawn closer to God and his Kingdom purposes, or by neglecting his gracious presence. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live out our mission.

Week 5: I Believe This Involves Me

Scriptures: Romans 12:5

I believe in the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Each of these last phrases of the creed has a common connection: the individual follower of Jesus. A Christian is touched by and included in each of these. The church is the gathering of those called out by Jesus to be his people. Every Christian is referred to as a saint and because we’re in communion with Christ, we’re in communion with all saints of all times and places. We are each offered the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to living into the fullness of the new creation through the resurrection of our bodies. God’s age of redemption and renewal, “life in the age,” the literal translation of the Greek zoe aiōnon, is the ultimate goal of God’s plan.

This five-week series based on the Apostles’ Creed could easily be expanded. Each and every phrase could be expanded into its own sermon. Hopefully, the thoughts above will serve as a springboard for your prayer, preparation, and creativity to develop a series that will help your congregation connect the dots between this ancient creed and a vital faith for today.

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The Fundamental Fundamentals of Discipleship to Jesus Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:00:48 +0000

September 29, 2016

Matthew 22:23-33

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.


Here we go again. Today’s convoluted test from the Sadducees feels to me like something between a law professor’s hypothetical and, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” One thing is for sure. I wouldn’t want to be the eighth husband of a woman who had buried the prior seven. ;0)

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead and they were attempting to present an impossible scenario that would all but disprove it. They should have known Jesus had the Ace of Spades.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Defense rests.

I think there’s a word in this that needs broader amplification and application. You saw it.

“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

He brings us back to the two fundamental fundamentals of discipleship: The Word of God and the Spirit of God. Do we know the Scriptures? Do we know the power of God? There is a real sense that unless we “know” both we know neither. And let’s be clear. This is not a knowing built from amassing knowledge (as helpful as good biblical knowledge can be). It is a knowing that comes out of an abiding relationship.

If we do not know the Scriptures or the power of God we can be confident that we are in error.


Lord Jesus, thank you for saying things so clearly. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for becoming that Word in the form of a human being. Thank you for the Holy Spirit and for giving us the perfect demonstration of what it looks like when a human being lives by the Word and the Spirit. Disciple us. Yes, bring our discipleship to you into a new frame; into a depth and simplicity that is arresting and compelling. We ask this in your name and for the sake of the World you love. Amen.


1. So how about you? Do you know the Scriptures? How about the power of God?

2. How are you growing in your “knowing” of the Scriptures and the power of God?

3. What would taking a significant next step look like for you in these matters?


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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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HRC: Hillary Clinton versus John Wesley? Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:29:50 +0000 Surprise! John Wesley is mentioned several times in this 450-page book. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, not once.

The book is HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (New York: Broadway Books / Random House, 2014, 2015). The book covers Hillary Clinton’s life and political career from the time she lost the Democratic Presidential nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, through her four years as Secretary of State, and then the lead-up to her 2016 Presidential bid. The reason Trump and Sanders are absent from the book is that it was published before either entered the race. In my view, this adds a certain strength and balance to the authors’ reporting and analysis.

imagesThe authors seem fair, with no apparent axes to grind. They are tough on Hillary at times, for instance when they speak of the political atmosphere of “Hillaryland” and “Clintonworld.” But they also have many neutral and some positive things to say. The book is based mostly on hundreds of interviews with people involved in the events reported, characters who themselves represent a broad spectrum of Hillary opinions. This gives the book balance and a sense of immediacy.

So overall the book is a fair-minded. Critical, but not unkind; reasonably balanced, certainly not vicious, as so much political stuff is these days. The authors point out Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses but also her strengths and skills. Several key passages reveal, I believe, where Hillary’s heart is.

One fascinating aspect of the book is the story of the gradual shift in the Obama–Hillary relationship from being outspoken rivals, to colleagues in the Obama Administration, to growing mutual respect, and finally to warm friendship. Though this book is preeminently about politics, it repeatedly reminds us that politics has its human side.

Much of the book deals with Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, during which time her national approval rating reached the 70% range. Secretary Clinton drew effectively on her past experience in the rarified atmosphere of Washington DC politics. Within the Obama administration, she bolstered the relative influence of State in relation to other departments and won grudging respect. The authors report,

“Usually the people she deal with, from low-level staff aides in her own building all the way up to the president of the United States, walked away with newfound respect for her. Often they found themselves liking her more with each interaction . . . . [S]he proved herself to be the ultimate politician, a strategic power player whose hard work, command of politics and policy, and deft calculation produced more admiration than animosity.”

An official who worked closely with Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave the authors this appraisal of Secretary Clinton: Working with Hillary, “you sort of begrudgingly begin to respect her, then you outright respect her and her incredible work ethic.” Eventually “you actually like this person, and she’s charming and she’s funny and she’s interesting and she’s inquisitive and she’s engaging.”

Wesleyan Roots?

The authors of HRC have no particular interest in religion or the Christian faith. So I found it especially interesting that (drawing on their interviews) they comment several times on Hillary’s Methodist roots. For example:

“The way Hillary mourns [tragedies], friends say, is to pour her emotion into healing and fixing, an approach deeply rooted in the teachings of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. That’s what she did when she returned from the Congo, even though she was supposed to have some downtime. She reached out to a wide circle of friends, aides, and spiritual advisers to see what could be done for the women of the refugee camps. ‘She was so mortified by what she heard, she was e-mailing everybody while she was on vacation,’ said one State Department source.”

Another source, whom the authors describe as a “longtime friend” of Hillary’s, said, “She has something more driving her than just power. She has a very strong moral compass that she leans into.” The friend adds, “I think if you had any length of conversation with her as a Methodist, and talked to her about her faith, she would be very insightful.”

Another interviewee commented on Hillary’s reaction when she and the President met returning soldiers’ coffins at Andrews Air Force Base and talked with soldiers’ families. “I did not see her tear up,” the source said. “I just saw her feel it. The face of ‘I’m here.’ I think a bit of it is her Methodist roots and her belief in the Lord and her faith, and then it’s this kind of ‘What am I here to do? I’m here to be that person.’ She believes in service to country and government, and part of her role is that—being that compassionate person” who brings some comfort and conveys the nation’s recognition and grief.

Those who know Hillary well say that she feels “called to public service by a higher power, as expressed in her devotions to the service-oriented Wesleyan faith.” Hillary herself said in an interview, “Look, I do have what I’ve called the responsibility gene. I do believe strongly in public service, and I do have, through my religious upbringing and my faith, a sense of obligation because I’ve been give so much.”

Hillary added, “I really have never lived my life thinking I knew what was going to happen next. I really try to—I mean, it is very John Wesleyan, believe me. I really try to just do the best I can every day, because who knows what’s going to happen next?” Devoting her life to public service, she says, “[I] just feel like every day I’m being true to my values and I’m contributing in some way, and maybe trying to do some good.”

Obviously this is not most Americans’ public perception. Much of the public views Hillary as defensive, secretive, probably duplicitous, hardheaded and hardhearted. Friends who know her tell a different tale. Speaking of the wrenching stories Hillary heard while talking with abused Congolese women, a friend said Hillary “hears these stories, not just with her head and her intellect—stuff goes through her heart.”

Tom Nides, one of Secretary Clinton’s aides, described Hillary in the wake of the Benghazi crisis and its aftermath: “She has this rare ability to be compassionate but also get stuff done. She’s a really good executive. I saw it in real time, and she handled a real crisis.” Secretary Clinton, Nides said, “wasn’t mechanical, screaming at people, but she was emotional, she was firm in getting facts and getting the issues resolved.”

Incidentally, the authors report a 2013 dinner event in Chicago where Hillary met Malala Yousafzai, still recovering from being shot by the Pakistani Taliban a year earlier. “Clinton got the biggest nudge to enter the [Presidential] race from Malala,” the book reports. Malala is quoted as saying that “even in America, people are waiting for a woman president.”


Naturally the whole Benghazi affair gets a lot of attention in the book. The authors report the same thing all the multimillion dollar Congressional and other investigations showed: The tragedy should not have happened, and with more foresight might have been prevented. But Secretary Clinton was not herself involved in any of the key decisions. These were made by State Department officials well below her in the structure of the large department. Still, she publicly took responsibility.

In the wake of Benghazi and then Secretary Clinton’s strategic involvement in Burma and unfolding developments in Israel and Gaza, the authors make this summary assessment: “For all her strategic planning, Hillary is often at her best and most decisive when faced with an emerging crisis.”

Despite the Benghazi debacle, the authors believe Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State should be viewed positively. One undersecretary at State put it this way: “Secretary Clinton reintroduced America to the world, and they liked what they saw. They wanted to be a part of it.” The authors add, “There’s certainly evidence to suggest that the world approved more of American leadership during Clinton’s tenure than it did in the years before she took over at State”—whether or not Hillary deserves the credit for that.

Hillary’s Enemies

The authors discuss Hillary’s last year as Secretary of State and the health crisis after she fell and suffered a concussion. They note, “after Hillary’s fall, the old anti-Clinton conspiracy machine really kicked into high gear.” Having myself followed the Clintons’ political careers for nearly a quarter-century, I know what they mean. Years ago I read The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, by investigative journalists Joe Conason and Gene Lyons (2000). I have long known of the sustained multimillion-dollar campaign by political enemies to discredit both Clintons in any way possible, without regard to ethics or truth. If I believed even a quarter of what Hillary’s enemies say, I wouldn’t consider her worthy of the U.S. Presidency. But I don’t believe it.

Hillary and Bill have been their own worst enemies, obviously. We need make no excuses. But neither should we believe the rampant media stories, rumors, and conspiracy theories being circulated by political operatives with unlimited dollars but no scruples.

In Sum

HRC is well worth reading, whatever your politics. It is a good counterpoint both to the noxiously anti-Hillary books and online trash and to the pro-Hillary propaganda. The Hillary Clinton portrayed here is consistent with what I’ve read and heard previously over the years.

The authors do a pretty good job of describing Hillary Clinton’s political views and policy positions. They note her conviction that government, business, and non-government organizations (NGOs) should work together for the common good. That it is the role of government to catalyze such cooperation. And that government’s primary concern beyond the basics of public order and national security is to be the advocate and defender of the poor, the victimized, and the public generally, not of privileged special interests. This concern is of course biblical.

I generally liked the book, despite the fact that the authors occasionally include crude language. I thought this unnecessary, though in most cases this comes from their quoted sources.

The often caustic political columnist Maureen Dowd has several times used this remark by a Clinton White House aide: “Hillary, though a Methodist, thinks of herself as an Episcopal bishop who deserves to live at the level of her wealthy parishioners, in return for devoting her life to God and good works.” Whether the remark is fair or not, it does echo the public perception paradox of a person who has both served the public and given the appearance (unfortunately common in many influential public figures and high-profile religious leaders) that she is entitled to live and function according to her own set of rules.

The Hillary Clinton pictured in HRC is immensely talented, smart, hardworking, experienced, knowledgeable, and informed. Certainly she is capable of being President of the United States, more so than any other current candidate. She is, I suppose, as flawed as John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and most other capable U.S. Presidents. Whether she can persuade a winnable majority of U.S. citizens that she is the best choice to be the next President will become evident in a few weeks.

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Christians Should Read the Apocrypha Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:30:44 +0000

Many Christians refer to the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments as the “silent years.” In today’s Seven Minute Seminary, Caleb Friedeman suggests that this is a mistake. On the contrary, a lot was happening in that period (read more in our article, “What Happened Between the Old and New Testaments.“) and the story of God’s people continued as the birth of their Messiah was expected with mounting anticipation.

Many stories found in the Apocrypha help illuminate and explain key New Testament concepts, both in the Gospels and beyond. It proves a valuable exercise for Christians to read this extra-canonical group of historical treatises.

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Preparation & Proclamation (Episode 18) Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:00:31 +0000 This week we sat down with Jessica LaGrone to talk about how preparation leads to proclamation.

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The First Steps Denominational Leaders Should Take to Support Church Planters Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:00:21 +0000 “Let’s get our job done and go home.” This mantra still rings in my ears and resonates with my heart. Detroit church planter Mick Veach finished his presentation about his recent church multiplication story at our Wesleyan General Conference in June with these words. It was at this same gathering when I was elected to become a denominational leader as the Executive Director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship of the The Wesleyan Church. As I prayerfully consider the responsibility of the great task of church multiplication, I am optimistic. There seems to be great anticipation for what is possible when we all unite, prayerfully focused on the goal of reaching our world with the transforming hope and holiness of Jesus Christ. I believe we are in a divine moment, poised for greater effectiveness. Church multiplication must be at the point of the spear if this greatness is going to unfold. Unity will be our motive as well as in our conversations if effectiveness is going to happen.

Imagine the Kingdom impact if a denomination fully embraced the God-given call of the risk-taking entrepreneur and, in turn, the risk-taking entrepreneur were to embrace the God-given call of the denomination. Nevertheless, in a relational dynamic such as this, I believe the denomination must take the first steps. In this blog, I want to give you three ways that denominations can instigate relationships with risk-taking Kingdom laborers.

1. Show Respect.

As with any relationship, the first step is respect. Respect is contagious. I imagine endless potential if denominational leadership unreservedly embraced the church planters, the sending churches, and the pastors who break the mold while reaching more people. Respect occurs through validating, celebrating, and providing financial support. Understanding and appreciating the temperament of a person with an apostolic, prophetic, or evangelistic call is invaluable.

When I read about the strong and out-of-the-ordinary nature of John the Baptist, it makes me shudder to think how denominational leaders may be similar to the ruling power of his day. Thankfully, John accomplished his kingdom assignment and he prepared the way for the Lord Jesus. However, it cost him his life, literally. God help us! In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul lists several of the roles and gifts that God appoints and gives (apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, etc.). The chapter closes as an introduction to Chapter 13, what we call the “love chapter,” with these words, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” I imagine God speaking to denominational leaders saying, “Over all these multipliers, put on love and respect.”

2. Favor Movement over Model

A second step that can be taken is to favor movement over model. Multiplication is the single most effective way to reach new people, and therefore, the mandate. Some church planting models have come and gone. Some have popped up in pockets around the country and are gaining traction. Other models are on the horizon. As we have observed the multiplication efforts over the last several decades, it seems evident that denominational leaders would do well to champion movement over model and give the freedom of choosing the model to the local leaders. The local leaders are both the senders and the sent ones. They need the freedom to contextualize.

3. Broaden Your Church Planter Profile

Finally, we are poised for greater effectiveness when we embrace an “all hands on deck” approach to recruiting and training planters. This begins by cultivating a clear strategy of a wide planter profile. I envision a day when I can walk into a Starbucks and not so easily profile who the pastors and church planters are! Imagine how much more multiplication could occur if we eliminated the narrowly defined scope of who we assume God is calling to be multipliers.

What if we did away with the notion that you are too old if you are past your forties or too young if you are in your twenties. My husband, Karl, and I were 31 and 25 when were sent into a tiny church plant with 19 people. Of course, it was a hard way to begin a ministry. We felt over our heads at times. But, the church grew. Leaders were developed. Many were sent out. I look back now and cannot believe how young we were. Today, I have to remind myself intentionally that “too young” is usually my own prejudice. What if we welcomed every minority group with arms wide open? What if we included women, who make up half of the church? These traditional groups are often not even on our radar and are an untapped reservoir of potential for turning our efforts into a movement.

In conclusion, there are some places where church multiplication will occur without, instead of, or even in spite of denominational involvement, and sometimes, for good reason. However, greater effectiveness can occur when everyone joins forces. It is more involved than what is mentioned in these few paragraphs. It’s not a simple proposition. It may be harder to increase our joint efforts, yet worth it. All parties will need to do their part. My call today is for the denominational leadership to take the first step. I’m stepping out myself. “Let’s get our job done and go home.”

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