5- Gather communities

092-Pioneering Movements in the West (2) Jeff Sundell

Jeff Sundell

Jeff Sundell

Jeff Sundell on Pioneering Movements in a Western setting. This is the second of a two-part update he gave via Skype to the NoPlaceLeft conference in Sydney.

Jeff's two previous updates:

Keeping it simple

Indonesia Church

Paul and Joy Hattaway write,

Recently a big Christian “think tank” contacted many mission organizations, including us, because they desired to clearly define what a ‘church’ is. We saw some of the responses from others. Their answers were so complicated it left us tied up in knots! Words were used that required a dictionary to find their meaning. When it came time for us to respond, we decided not to waste words. Instead, we simply sent them this picture.

I love it.

Four Fields Troubleshooting: 4. Church Formation

Four Fields  church formation

We’re looking at how to troubleshoot each of the Four Fields of a church planting movement.

Field 4: Key Questions

  • Are the ordinances (Baptism and Lord’s Supper) in place in new churches?
  • Are local leaders stepping forward? Being empowered?

Reproducing Discipleship truths/Vision casting:

Church planting is the reset button in the Kingdom of God. When a church functions rightly, everything needed for accountability, resourcing, vision and encouragement for sending is built into each generation – Acts 2:38-47; 13:1-5.

In Field 1, start with the end in mind of church formation. Church is not the place you go, it is who we are. Help people understand “what is church?” Help people be church. Help people identify and covet together as church. Weekly, coach people through the nine elements of a healthy church.

Everyone has to be part of two churches for multiplication to occur.

Don’t allow outside teachers who are not familiar with multiplication principles and practices to lead the group; protect new believers from wolves.

Define leadership qualification with Scripture (1 Tim 3; Titus 1), don’t let our preferences define leaders.

Early on, you may need to share leadership/gifts among networks of small “acorn" churches until leadership is raised up in local churches (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Diagnostic Questions: 9 Key Elements of Healthy Church (Acts 2:38-47).

  • Are people sharing the Gospel?
  • Are others coming to faith?
  • Are people being baptized?
  • Are we meeting regularly?
  • Are we studying the Word of God?
  • Are we praying regularly?
  • Have we taken the Lord’s Supper together?
  • Are we worshiping together?
  • Are we giving sacrificially?
  • Has this group committed and coveted together to be a church?
  • Have we identified caring, committed leaders?

To find out more about the Four Fields download Nathan’s training material and listen in to my interviews with Nathan in South Asia and Jeff Sundell and Friends.

Next: Troubleshooting Reproducing Leadership

Four Fields Troubleshooting: 4. Church Formation

Four Fields  church formation

We’re looking at how to troubleshoot each of the Four Fields of a church planting movement.

Field 4: Key Questions

  • Are the ordinances (Baptism and Lord’s Supper) in place in new churches?
  • Are local leaders stepping forward? Being empowered?

Reproducing Discipleship truths/Vision casting:

Church planting is the reset button in the Kingdom of God. When a church functions rightly, everything needed for accountability, resourcing, vision and encouragement for sending is built into each generation – Acts 2:38-47; 13:1-5.

In Field 1, start with the end in mind of church formation. Church is not the place you go, it is who we are. Help people understand “what is church?” Help people be church. Help people identify and covet together as church. Weekly, coach people through the nine elements of a healthy church.

Everyone has to be part of two churches for multiplication to occur.

Don’t allow outside teachers who are not familiar with multiplication principles and practices to lead the group; protect new believers from wolves.

Define leadership qualification with Scripture (1 Tim 3; Titus 1), don’t let our preferences define leaders.

Early on, you may need to share leadership/gifts among networks of small “acorn" churches until leadership is raised up in local churches (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Diagnostic Questions: 9 Key Elements of Healthy Church (Acts 2:38-47).

  • Are people sharing the Gospel?
  • Are others coming to faith?
  • Are people being baptized?
  • Are we meeting regularly?
  • Are we studying the Word of God?
  • Are we praying regularly?
  • Have we taken the Lord’s Supper together?
  • Are we worshiping together?
  • Are we giving sacrificially?
  • Has this group committed and coveted together to be a church?
  • Have we identified caring, committed leaders?

To find out more about the Four Fields download Nathan’s training material and listen in to my interviews with Nathan in South Asia and Jeff Sundell and Friends.

Next: Troubleshooting Reproducing Leadership

Helping groups become churches

Church wordcloud 

Here is a word cloud of the terms that Luke uses in Acts to describe the followers of Jesus. The larger the word, the more often it is used.

Notice the variety of terms, each rich in their meaning. Notice the rare use of the term "Christian". You can hardly see it.

The three most common words are Disciples, Brothers and Sisters, and Church. The terms and their meaning are important, but even more important is the reality they represent.

For Luke, and the rest of the New Testament you can't be a disciple of Jesus without being in the community of his people. You can call that community whatever is helpful, but it must function as God's people.

Just as connecting with people is incomplete without sharing the gospel. Just as sharing the gospel is incomplete without training disciples. So discipleship is incomplete without gathering communities that become "church" (or whatever term you use).

Practically how do you help groups of new disciples become church?

Here's some wisdom from Steve Smith

  1. Know what you are trying to achieve: a clear definition of when a group becomes a church.
  2. From the beginning when you start a training group, model the parts of church life.
  3. Make sure you have a specific lesson or lessons on church and its ordinances in your early discipleship.
  4. Use church health mapping to help a group evaluate if they have all the elements of church life.

Keep reading….

045-Forming churches with new disciples - Jeff Sundell

How do we help new disciples form healthy churches? Jeff Sundell discusses church formation at a Community of Practice held in Sydney, April 2013. Apologies for the audio quality.

3. The local church

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. Acts 13:1-4

Acts 13 reveals how missionary work was supported by the local church.

Paul and Barnabas were released by the church at Antioch to the work that the Holy Spirit had called them. The church became the base to which they returned and reported, but the church did not run their mission. As Schnabel make clear,

The church in Antioch was not the “sending church” of Paul; Barnabas and Saul were commissioned and sent by the Holy Spirit (vv 2, 4). Barnabas has ten years of missionary experience before he left Antioch for Cyprus, and Paul had nearly fifteen years of missionary experience before they evangelized on Cyprus.

It was neither the church in Jerusalem or the church in Antioch that decided on the details of the missionary work of Barnabas and Paul in the cities of Cyprus. The two missionaries evidently made the relevant decisions regarding the cities in which they would proclaim the gospel, and presumably regarding John Mark as an assistant.

This was partnership not control.

Assignment: Read through Acts 13-21 and identify how new churches were formed, how they were strengthened, and became partners with mobile missionaries in the spread of the gospel.

Tomorrow: Geographical movement.