Guerrilla Warfare and the Church

It doesn’t impress people when I tell them I am a pastor. It doesn’t impress people when I tell them I have a position at the local church. It doesn’t impress people when I can give proper exegetical, hermeneutical or theological analysis of the scriptures. Frankly, I don’t think it impresses people when they find out I’m a christian. Why? I believe we have ruined the true identification of what it means to be Christian. Christianity has become like an overbearing sour lemon drop (unless your into that sorta thing). Which is why the standard approach to sharing the gospel doesn’t work anymore. That is, informing people that they are sinful and in need of a savior and inviting them to church.

People aren’t interested in church anymore because that’s where money hungry preachers are. That’s where hypocritical church-goers are. That is where gossiping housewives are. That is where legalistic elders are. That is is where drama-heavy youth groups are. Church is off-limits because limits to sinning is off. Sinning is actually overlooked as long as it benefits the establishment.

Picture if you will. The British have lined up on one side of the field. The Colonists are lined up on the opposite side of the field. Each army have their muskets in hand and the eight-pounders are lined behind the infantry. The calvary is off to the side and the officers are on a hilltop overseeing the battlefield while the fife and drum corps are nearby to give signal.

The signal is given to commence!

The infantry line up within yards of one another. The British take first shot creating a hole in the left side of the wall of Colonists. As the British reload, the Colonists take their first shot. And on and on they go taking turns hoping that their respectful Minié ball found its target. In the end, thousands of soldiers are slaughtered in the name of war.

But what really won the war? It wasn’t their weapons. It wasn’t their fortitude. It was their approach. It was their guerrilla warfare.

The Colonists did not mass in front of the British but chose to sneak around and fire behind trees and stone walls. One of the greatest accounts of guerrilla warfare is Washington crossing the Delaware. On Christmas, of all days, while the Hessian army was celebrating, Washington crossed the half-frozen Delaware at night (who’d have thunk) and attacked with vengeance by the break of light the next morning while the Hessian army still lay sleeping in their tents half groggy from their celebration. They didn’t expect such a thing to happen because, as the British would say, it wasn’t gentlemanly to fight with such incivility.

Now let’s apply said analogy (bear with me). The Colonists are the Christians and the British are those who haven’t accepted the message of Christ; call them what you will; unsaved, sinners, Non-Christians, unbelievers, unchurched. They both march on the battlefield of life and take shots trying to overcome the other.

The real problem is that both sides are lined up with no protection, nothing standing in between them for cover. They are in the open air slinging their form of ammunition hoping it will knock the enemy off its feet. The Christians hail their scriptures. Those who don’t know Christ sling their cynicism.

The Christians consider their enemy are those who don’t show up on Sunday morning. Vice-versa, those who don’t know Christ know their enemy by those who do go to church (and show up at Golden Corral in a three-piece suit on a blistering Summer day, being rude to the waitress and loud because the whole church decided to show up with the exception of Aunt Faye who left church early because her roast was burning and the preacher was being long-winded). But I digress.

Those who don’t know Christ run or create a defense mechanism when approached by the Christian. The Christian rebuttals in anger and disgust because the one who doesn’t know Christ won’t just “get it and believe, and go to church, and get baptized, and sing the songs and quit cussing, drinking and smoking and stay home on Saturday nights.” So the fight continues without end.

But what won the war for the colonists can win the war for the Christians.

Guerrilla warfare.

What if church (as we know it with four songs, offering, announcements and preaching) was not the goal? What if telling (showing if need be) them about Christ and when the time comes, that is when the Holy Spirit sees fit to begin a change in their lives, we join the effort to make them disciples were the end goal? By infiltrating the enemy, it means going where they are, being with them and exemplifying Jesus in the midst. Not condemning. Not judging. Not pointing fingers. Not thumping them with bible. But being amongst them and showing them the life of Christ and how beneficial it can be to the human soul. What if we asked people to belong in community of believers before believing what the community believes? Disciples are made in the trenches of life, not the pews of the church.

I do believe we can make a greater impact in this war on Hell when we take a guerrilla warfare approach and infiltrate the enemy’s lifestyle and invite them to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). That means work with them, eat with them, play with them, live life with them and invite them, not to church, but to experience Jesus.

I’m just trying to find a more concrete way for people to experience Jesus and not a service on Sunday morning, for them to experience a life change instead of a schedule change. I am just convinced this is the way, guerrilla warfare.

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Half Heart

This Sunday at Village Church, we will be talking about Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. His wisdom didn’t keep him from following God with his whole heart and it teaches us how we should watch our steps. When it seems we’re doing right, we still have to hold it up to the lens of God’s word and determine if it truly is.

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Shifting the Paradigm of Outreach

Outreach can be defined as any event that gathers the churched with the unchurched for the sole purpose of meeting a need. In my experience, outreach has always been a way for churches to meet the unchurched or dechurched and invite them to church. This is not a harmful motive because the gospel is preached when the people of God meet together. The gospel is experienced when the people of God gather. However it typically has an ulterior motive, that is baiting people for church attendance.

My experience has shown that outreach is more focused on the numbers game rather than being Jesus to one another. What I mean by that is Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV). Three times in two verses Jesus said “Love one another.”

Notice the motive is love and not church growth. I know it may seem forced to say that church growth is not fulfilling the command of love but what I’m trying to say is the ultimate motive to loving others is because Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19). Most outreaches are focused first with church growth then love. It’s backwards.

What if we had a paradigm shift?

What if we first focused on loving others by serving others just as Jesus served us. What if we viewed outreach in the sense that we are meeting needs for the sole purpose of meeting needs because that’s what Jesus would do. Instead of even having an ounce of thought in our heart that outreach might inform someone of our church, our gatherings, our worship, or our preaching, what if we focused primarily on feeding the ones who are hungry, loving the unloved, meeting tangible needs, and being an encouragement to the hurting?

We can shift this paradigm by seeing people as God sees them and not as business sees them. God sees people as His creation who need one another for maturity and not as a business who needs others for profitable gain. It is possible to do outreach with one motive, love.

What if we literally threw out the thought that if we reach out to someone (in love) we could get another church attender. What if we seriously considered helping someone, serve someone or give to someone for the sole purpose of seeing them become successful and blessed? I can’t possible believe Jesus would want it any other way.

Recently, here in southern Tennessee, we had ice storms that caused a lot of power outages and electric crews were out for many hours at a time to repair everyone’s electricity. That is their job. I heard testimonies from linemen’s families that they may have gotten four hours of sleep a day during a week of cold hard winter. They risked their lives to find electric lines down and repair them.

A Facebook page was set up to show our appreciation by providing them a lunch and to simply show our gratitude. It’s not a Christian event. It simply is people gathering to give a pat on the back and to thank men for their hard work. We could easily say that was your job. However, the encouragement and blessing to provide them with a small token of gratification does more than we could possibly imagine.

The Church should be doing the same thing. Reaching out to love on people simply because we are to love them. We were never called to build churches. We were called to love God and love others by sharing the gospel and make disciples. It really is that simple.

We can shift the outreach paradigm. We MUST shift the outreach paradigm and quit offering a bait and switch.

 

Building Community Through Effective Discipleship

 

 

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This is more effective 

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The Struggle Is Real To Do Church

Since being back in the Marshall County area, we have been visiting different churches to worship with all of our friends as well as remembering the culture in which we left. We have been touching base with those we had done ministry with and those who we touched with our ministry before we left. It has been really good for us to worship with those we love as well as worshiping in the community we will be doing ministry in.

With that being said, we have been asked numerous times if we were just visiting or if we were making the church we were visiting that Sunday our church home. It is hard to let down our friends by telling them we are just visiting. But I love telling them we did not come back just to come back. We came back to do ministry so we are planting our own church. It is too hard to explain what missional communities are without some misunderstanding so I tread lightly in the words I use because when I say church, I don’t mean their context of church.

The struggle is too real to do just that, though. It would be too easy to rent a place out, pass out flyers, make phone calls, create Facebook events so we could do “church.” I could plan a sermon, call up a musician friend, set up chairs, and sing four songs, pass the plate, speak for 30 minutes, shake babies and kiss hands as they walk out and feel good that we held a great church service.

But I wouldn’t feel good at all.

Our intention is not to continue being part of the monster that makes Christian consumerism. We want to make disciples. We feel that creating an atmosphere for someone to come in to a place and hide among the people and walk out unchanged would be doing the gospel a disservice.

When I explain that we intend on creating a new expression (for this community) of church, I usually get positive feedback but when I explain it is high accountability then I get pushback. No one wants to be confronted or challenged. Western Christianity has created a problem God never intended.

It would be too easy to keep with the status quo. Instead, I choose to live in the community, be in the community, work with the community. I choose to wait for God to lead me to those He has been preparing. I choose to be slow and not rush into wanting to create a biblical community just because I can.

That’s the hard part because planting a church in today’s culture means immediacy in doing something. It can feel, when done right, that nothing is being done at all when that is far from the truth. Building relationships take time. Creating a missional culture takes time. Doing it right takes time.

Building A New Life, Rhythms, and Ministry

There has been an extremely warm welcome from just about everyone we have met here in Lewisburg. “It’s nice to have you back,” “We are glad you are back,” and much more pleasantries. We have definitely learned that we have been missed here in Lewisburg.

I have had the opportunity to meet with a few local pastors and share our vision of church with many more in the narrow time we have been back. I have been encouraged by everyone with the belief that we are supported and the local pastors I have met with are tremendously excited about our vision.

Two days ago, I applied for a male counselor position at the In His Image Pregnancy Resource Center. I decided to swing in to see Mrs. Shirley and hear her heart and vision for the pregnancy center. Thankful for her spending two hours with me without an appointment. By the time we were done, I had a tour of the building, knowledge of the work they do plus some information on its financial backing and board support. She is very excited to have another male counselor helping. I would make a third one. I personally know one of the other male counselors so I am looking forward to training with him and helping men who are unsure what fatherhood may look like.

Yesterday, I went through substitute teacher training. A part-time job substituting will work great while I spend the next few years working on my Bachelors in Divinity (B.Div.). To tell you the truth, it freaks me out to go back to the schools I attended and be a target for disrespectful kids and paper wads. But, in order to make a difference, you have to go where a difference is needed. I should begin work by next week.

It is still weird waking up to a rooster crowing. Carrie and I have spent the last six years living in the middle of a bustling town. Sirens were heard each day, sometimes twice a day. Neighbors no more than six feet away and the back yard neighbor able to see right in to your house. Sitting by the fire on cool nights with the neighbors took literally twenty steps. Speaking over the fence to your neighbor or watching practically every move they made with their children in the yard was an everyday occurrence.

Living in the country will take some getting used to again. We’re not strangers to it but we have been removed from it for some time. I absolutely love hearing the rooster and looking out my window to see the hillside of trees. I walk out my door and I hear the bumbling creek just on the other side of the road. If it had rained recently, it sounds like a gushing water fall. Just yesterday, I had to help my brother-in-law with the cows for a split second. It is a life that not only love but respect.

I’m beginning to create rhythms. These rhythms help me meet people so that I can see where God is moving, find people who accept our mission, and are looking for God’s tangible presence. Most of these rhythms have stemmed from me trying to find wi-fi in this town which is almost an impossibility. McDonald’s and the library have given me the best opportunity.

I had a talk with a local pastor who reminded and encouraged me that building His church is a slow process. It is too easy to want to see progress immediately however we understand that lives are not like microwaved food. Ministry takes time. I’m thankful for those who understand our vision and do not want to discourage us. I have already found a few pastors who are willing to work with us. That is encouraging.

Continue to pray for us as well as the many “small” churches around. Cumulatively, small churches can make a large difference!

Moving Day: Closing the Chapter on Clarksville Tennessee

On November 7th, 2008, Carrie and I signed the papers on our house, went to the house and packed everything we owned in a large uHaul and drove off to start a new chapter of our life in Clarksville, Tn. We weren’t prepared for what we would experience; biggER town, new jobs, friends from all over the world, near church shutdown, a newborn kid, a tattoo, becoming a pastor and a full-time college student. So many “new” things we experienced in the six years being here.

I must admit, I’m not a big fan of Clarksville. I’m a small town boy. Ok, for those who think Clarksville is small, think smaller. No smaller than that. Clarksville was definitely a culture shock for me. However, I do not think I would change a thing if I could. I do believe my wife and I came out on the other side better than we went in. I know this because folks back home have told us we have changed and for the better so it seemed. Folks here have seen huge growth in us since we moved as well. So Clarksville, in all its intricacies, have changed us for the better.

Today we are moving back. We are taking on a new adventure with a renewed vigor. As I type this the boxes are packed, the walls are empty and I am about to go pick up the moving truck. A few friends will be joining us in the parade of boxes. I think back to the night when men from the church were standing at our door waiting on us to arrive so they could usher our belongings into our rental house.

I can’t possibly sum up my emotions or feelings as we prepare to close this chapter and begin a new one. We leave with so many good memories and a few I’d rather not remember, so many new friends I hope to keep in contact with and occasionally see. I can only hope that when Carrie and I drive off there will be some, who years from now, will say they were good people, they made a difference, their legacy has lived on long after they have left this town. 

I know that we will take the love, experiences, memories, and lessons we have learned here back so that we can do some serious damage to the kingdom of Hell. Moving is not a form of leaving but more a form of continuing our work in the Kingdom of God. Everything we have learned and experienced will be utilized to make disciples wherever we go. I’m sure some of our experiences have fell on stony or thorny ground but for the most part, our hearts have been fertile and accepting of the seed that has been planted so that we can continue making an eternal difference in other’s lives.

So this is not a goodbye. This is a celebration to keep it going. The beauty of one day being face to face with God is we will meet again “in the sweet by and by on that beautiful shore.” Remembers that we are not only co-laborers with Jesus but with one another. As we continue eternal work back home, I encourage you (especially if you’re in Clarksville) to continue steadfast preaching and teaching the gospel. Share your faith with others, don’t back down to the spiritual bullies and live a life that is worthy of the gospel.

It’s been real and at times it’s been fun. But now it’s time to move on. If only I can find my keys. I think they got packed up!