On January 19, 2007 one hundred and thirty-three church leaders in Houston, TX, signed a church planting manifesto committing to work together to develop a strategy for church planting to reach all people in their city.
The Manifesto concludes with:
Therefore, we, an assembly of church leaders in Houston on this nineteenth day of January, 2007, do sign this Manifesto in which we acknowledge our denominational and stylistic differences, but commit to working together to develop a strategy for church planting that will reach all the people (ethne) of our city.
So my question is, what would happen if the church in every city of the world, followed the example of Houston?
Houston, if you're out there, let us know how vision is unfolding.
The full text of the Manifesto is in the appendix of this document.
Two more outstanding resources from Leadership Network: Going Glocal: Externally Focused Churches Engage in both Global and Local Missions By Krista Petty
Have you heard the new buzz word in missions? Glocal: it's the combination of local and global missions into one. While the word glocalization has been around in business vernacular since the 1990s, churches are now adopting the term as well as the concept that what they do across the street and around can works together to grow the Kingdom of God.
Creating Strategic Alliances and Partnerships for Planting New Churches; Issues Involved in Sharing Information and Resources Toward Greater Evangelism By Sherri Brown
In Major cities across America, alliances and partnerships are being formed between churches to achieve the goal of evangelism. These partnerships can be as simple as two pastors working together in one community or a group of churches working together to transform a city. This paper addresses the reasons churches are forming, how they do it, and some of the advantages and challenges they have found.
Download them for free here.
I've reflected recently about God's activity in shaping a leader through the painful experience of being unravelled: the Wall. It's a recurring pattern in the lives of leaders who finish well.
The same pattern is clearly discerned in the birth and rebirth of Christian movements. God unmakes his people in order to reshape them.
The church in the West is going through such a time.
We tend to want to project our experience on the rest of the global Christian movement. I'm not convinced. We want to foist our doubt and confusion on the church of the Global South and they're not buying it.
How do we navigate such a time? We need to understand what is going on.
God is sovereign and he chooses the times and seasons for his people. Our call is to respond with faith and surrender.
To begin with we have the world as we know it. We know what the rules are. We know what works. We know what we should do. LIfe is predictable. The world makes sense.
Then come the losses. We lose our bearings. We lose our confidence. We lose our hope. The world becomes a confusing place. Doubt and despair enter in. We find ourselves in the wilderness with no way forward and no way back.
God is powerfully at work unravelling us so that he can reform us. But we don't know it. We just feel the terror and shame of our undoing.
The wilderness is the place of danger, devils and temptation. It is also the place of profound encounter with God where we return to the heart of our faith and prepare for the promised land.
There will be a new era. God is faithful. But there will be no resurrection without a cross. No new life without death.
According to one report the largest expulsion of foreign Christian missionaries since 1954 has been taking place in the lead up to the Bejing Olympics.
Up to 100 foreign Christian workers and missionaries were expelled since February.
Nobody knows exactly how many Christians there are in China - 50 million? 100 million? Bob Fu of the China Aid Association thinks the number may be even higher. He tells how:
The Director of China's State Administration of Religious Affairs, who is the highest Communist Party official in charge of all religious affairs, Mr Ye Xiaowen, in two closed-door meetings last year at Beijing University and in the China Academy of Social Sciences, claimed the number of Christians in China, including both the underground and the government-sanctioned churches, both Catholic and Protestant, has reached 130 million members.
No one doubts that despite state repression, despite limited resources, despite a lack of formal training institutions, despite the absence of complex organizational structures, the Church in China is strong and growing dramatically.
I wonder what they have that we don't?
I was in Tasmania last week. Spent some time with the good people at New Directions.
We debriefed their Natural Church Development profile. Celebrations all around. New Directions is one of the healthiest churches in Australia, and it shows.
I sat in their cafe and watched local high school students pass through on the way to mentoring and training in personal development.
I watched families from the community bring their children to celebrate their birthday parties in Kid's Paradise â€” choice of Pirate or Princess themes.
Thousands of people pass through every week.
I met with the leadership team. They love their church. I heard their stories of people coming to faith and growing in Christ.
With so much confusion about â€œWhat is the church?â€ and â€œWhat is mission?â€ and What is the gospel?â€œ, it was nice to be in a place where they just got on with being the church and doing mission and proclaiming the gospel.
And planting churches.
New Directions is one of those instant successes that has taken a decade or more of hard work and faith to pull off. Well done guys.
Every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss for the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made. Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got the pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception.
You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, What things are first? is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone.
To preserve civilization has been the great aim; the collapse of civilization, the great bugbear. Peace, a high standard of life, hygiene, transport, science and amusement - all these, which are what we usually mean by civilization, have been our ends. Perhaps it can't be preserved that way. Perhaps civilization will never be safe until we care for something else more than we care for it.
What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first, and only practical thing, is to set about finding out.
CS Lewis, God in the Dock