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Free novel by Steve Smith, author of T4T

I have been very challenged and inspired by the book, T4T over recent weeks. It encapsulates the principles of rapid disciple-making movements in an easy to read and apply format.

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The main author, Steve Smith, has just finished a book, The Final Assault: A Novel about Finishing the Task that covers these same principles. He is offering it free for this week only. Obviously I haven't yet had a chance to read it, but it comes highly recommended by people I trust, and I wanted to let the readers of my blog have the opportunity for a free copy. Here is part of an email I received:

CPM Training Colleagues!

See my note below about a novel I have self-published to help us mobilize believers & churches effectively. The book ties in well to the sacrifice, faith and reproducible ways we need for CPMs. For this week only anyone can download it for free. 

Can you guys help me by sending this to any trainers and colleagues worldwide? Feel free to send to your training networks.  Feel free to send this to your personnel and prayer networks. 

Together may we see His kingdom come!

Steve Smith – Singapore 

As an attempt to mobilize the worldwide church to finish the task, I have finally published a novel that has been 18 years in the making from my USA church planting/pastoring days to my Strategy Coordinator for an unreached people group days to my CPM trainer days to my current role in Southeast Asia. Its goal is to provide a fast-paced, inspiring, readable alternative to average believers and pastors that might not read a normal book on missions.

STORYLINE:

This novel follows multiple intertwined story lines revolving around a small church pastor in Los Angeles who gets captivated by the ancient mission of the church to finish the task of engaging all people groups with the gospel. With the finish line in sight, this group begins to rally Christians around the world by their dedication and wartime mindset to join them in final assault on the enemy’s ground. 

Their goal is to be the in the last generation that welcomes the return of Christ. Swirling around this dedicated, growing band are the events that Revelation describes will assault the kingdom before the end. The novel follows a captivating, realistic (yet fantastic) story line of the enemy and his mechanisms to attempt to thwart this final run for the finish line.  The book finishes in a glorious climax that makes the sacrifices more than worth it. 

The novel incorporates faith-filling and practical pieces that will inspire believers and churches in HOW to get involved in the task seriously, how to plant reproducing churches and even how to tie it into current best practices. 

As the church becomes sufficiently mobilized around the world and walks in great devotion to the Lord and His Commission, we CAN finish the task. Help us spread the word! 

LIMITED-TIME OFFER:

Since I am self-publishing this on Kindle (not hardcopy), I have been able to price this very cheaply to put it in as many hands as possible, including a limited-time free offer. There are multiple ways people can get this onto their Kindle or Kindle Reader (almost any computer, pad or smartphone can download Kindle Reader for free):

·        Purchase it on Amazon for just $2.99

o    http://www.amazon.com/The-Final-Assault-Finishing-ebook/dp/B007RMTJSI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1333765079&sr=1-1

§  (To get a free Kindle reader for almost any platform, go to the following website: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771)

·        Amazon Prime members can borrow it for free for the next 90 days

·        Special 5-day offer – From approximately April 10-14, 2012 (Pacific Standard Time) anyone can download this book for FREE from Amazon (see website above) on their Kindle. Please let as many people as possible know about this. I would like to request that downloaders post a review on Amazon if possible. 

PLEASE PUT A REVIEW ON AMAZON

I would like to ask your help in not only reading the book but placing a review on the Amazon website. This will help us get the word out as we try to mobilize the church worldwide. 

PLEASE SEND THIS TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE

I would like to ask you to forward this email to as many people as possible, especially church and mission leaders to distribute to their email networks. Let’s get the word out so that the church may be built up and equipped for its calling. 

Thanks for your help! 

Steve Smith

 

Multiplication tools: the story

Picture 1
Ying Kai in the book, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, shares how he taught a group of 30 impoverished farmers how to tell their stories, and then encouraged them to share their stories with at least 5 people during the coming week. The next week they shared reports of what had gone on. Eleven people had shared their story, but one farmer had led 11 people to the Lord. As they continued telling their stories and then training those they led to the Lord to also share their own stories, things began to multiply. Within a few months, more than 12,000 people had been baptized and 908 small churches had formed. Now, 10 short years later, there have been more than 1.7 million baptisms as a result of his training, which is based around a person's ability to tell their story.

In the New Testament, there are four accounts of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. There is the actual story in Acts 9, but on three other occasions, Paul tells his story, twice to persuade others about Jesus (Acts 22, Acts 26, Galatians 1). On each occasion he uses the same three part format for his story.

  1. What his life was like before he became a follower of Jesus
  2. How Jesus met him
  3. How his life changed since then

Telling our story in just a few minutes is a skill we should all have as a tool. It's worth spending the time it takes to develop this. It's also good to have several stories that might fit different situations, for example, a time Jesus healed you, a time he provided financially, a time he met your emotional need. 

Suggested activity: In your group, get everyone to write down a brief version of the story of how they became a follower of Jesus. (If the person has been a believer all their lives, then a story of when their faith became more real to them). Let them practice reading it aloud several times (all together). Then break down into pairs and each person tell their story to their partner without using their notes. The other person is to check that they are not using Christianese, and to suggest ways that parts of the story might be made more interesting–for example, cutting our unnecessary detail, or adding more to a relevant section. 

Encourage everyone to share their stories with others during the week.

 

A rock or a hammer? Tools for church multiplication

In a carpentry project, it is possible to use a rock to bang in a nail, but it's much easier to use a hammer–a tool designed for the purpose. 

Hammer

Photo credit: herzogbr (Creative Commons)

There are movements around the world that are seeing literally millions of people becoming disciples of Jesus. Much of what they do is very similar to the things we do in many of the simple/organic churches in this country. But there are a few things that the average simple church here is not doing. Some of these may be key to seeing multiplication.

Next week, I plan to start a series of posts that look at some of the proven tools for effective disciple making and church multiplication.

 

Do you need some help on the simple/organic journey?

Every year, the Board of House2House (a ministry providing resources for simple/organic/house churches that Tony and I helped to found in 2000) spends a few days together seeking the Lord.  We want to know his emphasis for us over the coming year. Because we have a philosophy that we would rather stop something than continue without the presence of the Holy Spirit, we ask the same question:

"Lord, do you want us to continue, or is our work done? Is there someone doing it better? Should we stop the ministry?"

This January, the question seemed more pressing than usual because simple/organic church has become mainstream here in this country and there are many great resources available. 

What we sensed the Lord say to us is this: there is a continuum of churches across the nation, from more traditional at one end to simple/organic at the other. The Lord is shifting many churches (both house and traditional), denominations and missions towards the more organic end of the spectrum.

House2House is to help in this shift.

Katies-bio
In order to accomplish this, we have decided to make coaching available for people who would like help and encouragement along the journey. The Board has initially asked Katie Driver, an experienced coach who has done much to encourage the simple/organic movement in her region, if she would be willing to take on that responsibility. Katie has over 27 years of missional experience, training and igniting people in their unique design and calling. She has started many diverse, simple, organic and missional fellowships over the last 15 years and has also worked extensively through legacy churches to encourage simple, organic and missional expressions of church life. She is a trainer and coach for CMAresources’ Greenhouse, and is on the board for House2House.  

Obviously, coaching could address a number of different situations, but within the House2House context we anticipate the following people/groups may benefit:

 

  • You feel alone in your simple, organic church journey and would like some encouragement.
  • You're  in a legacy church that desires to become more organic and missional.
  • Your simple church has lost its energy and sense of purpose. You've reached a barrier and don’t know how to push through.
  • You'd like to start a simple, organic church but don’t know where to begin.
  • You long to be missional but struggle in reaching the people around you with the good news of Jesus Christ but lack the skills.

 If you are interested, check out the coaching section of the House2House website

 

 

When it doesn’t matter who gets the credit: a story

While I was in the UK two weeks ago, a not-yet-Christian came to the church that meets in our home. She is friends with some of the students who attend regularly.  Apparently it was a very ordinary time. But at the end she was asked, "Would you like to give your life to Jesus?" 

"Yes," was her reply.

She very simply surrendered her life to Jesus, and was overcome with the peace and joy that only the Lord can give. Tony suggested that the students baptize her in their group that meets at the university.

Yesterday I heard the other half of the story.

I was at a Greenhouse, and met the student minister from one of the local churches. He shared that one of the students from his group had spent much of that day sharing about the Lord with this girl before she gave her heart to Jesus. Not only that, two of her friends had subsequently become Christians within his student ministry.

We rejoiced together at what the Lord is doing. We especially rejoiced at the fact that God's Kingdom is more important than either of our groups–that God is the one to get all the glory.

There are actually four groups involved in what went on.

  1. Student CPX, who trained some of the students who come to the church that meets in our home.  These students have started 
  2. a simple/organic church that is multiplying at a local university
  3. The local cell church with a student ministry
  4. The church that meets in our home

It reminds me of a passage in 1 Corinthians:

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. (I Corinthians 3:6-9)

What might happen if we build the Lord's house (the Kingdom) in preference to our own luxurious homes (our own churches) (Haggai 1)? What might happen in our cities if nobody minds who gets the credit? What might happen if a nameless, faceless generation allows God to get all the glory? 

Maybe, just maybe, we would see the move of God we all long for.

How our standard poodle was witness to my failure

Winston H. Churchill is the full name of our standard poodle. (Winston Churchill obviously stems from our British heritage. The middle initial, "H," stands for Houdini which we added after he twice escaped from a wire kennel, leaving the door bolted behind him. No, don't ask!)

Winston before
Winston: before grooming

One of the advantages of a standard poodle is that they do not shed. The disadvantage is that they need grooming. Let me explain what Winston and his dreadlocks have to do with God's Kingdom and church planting.

Six months ago I would have struggled to find the books of Haggai and Zechariah; now my Bible falls open to those pages. God has been speaking clearly and specifically to Tony and me from these books about many of the things we are involved in: our personal lives, the direction our business should take, what is going on with the simple/organic/house church movement. 

To understand these books, it helps to know a little of the history. The first waves of the Children of Israel have returned from 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Led by Zerubbabel the Governor, and Jeshua the High Priest, they lay the foundations of the Temple in an attempt to rebuild Solomon's Temple, destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar invaded. But the local people (not Israelites, but others who have been relocated to their land) conspire to stop the work. For almost 20 years, the rebuilding of the Temple is abandoned. In the meantime, the Israelites settle back into their various towns and villages to rebuild their own houses.

Enter the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. They prophecy to the leaders and to the people telling them that many of the challenges they face, from financial difficulties to crop failures to drought, stem from the fact that they have neglected to rebuild God's temple. When Haggai and Zechariah prophecy the promise of God's presence and blessing  (I am with you, says the Lord (Haggai 1:13)), it is enough to galvanize Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the Israelites back into action. Within four short years the Temple is completed.

The church in our nation  is in rapid, overall decline.  Christianity is fast becoming outdated and outmoded. It's time for us to rebuild the Temple. I'm not referring to physical bricks and mortar here, but to the Kingdom, God's spiritual temple built with spiritual stones. These spiritual stones are people, followers of Jesus (1Peter 2:5).

The Lord has been convicting me over recent days through the book of Haggai and through T4T teaching that I need to be more vocal about my faith. How will we ever see a move of God here if no seed of the Kingdom is sown? If I preach the importance of speaking about our faith, then I must live it too.

As I looked at my day early yesterday morning, the one occasion I was likely to get to chat with a non-believer was when I took Winston for his end-of-winter hair cut. I determined I was going to find an opportunity to share my spiritual story with the lady who grooms him.

I failed. Completely. Someone else was in the store and I chickened out!  (Yes, I know. It's all about listening to the Lord and speaking to those he tells us to talk to.) 

God help me!

Winston after
Winston: after grooming

 

Fast multiplication: principles behind an abundant harvest

No farmer would expect to reap a harvest of wheat in a field where he had not sown seed.

Seed

Photo credit: CIMMYT (Creative Commons)

Why do we believers expect to reap a harvest of souls where we haven't sown spiritual seed?

There are similar principles of multiplication behind both physical and spiritual reaping and sowing. If we expect to see people become followers of Jesus without sowing the seed of the Kingdom, we are deluding ourselves.

What does this look like? According to Luke 8:11, the seed of the Kingdom is the word of God. In Matthew 13:38, the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom.

While at the Verge conference, I had the opportunity to attend some T4T training with Ying Kai. The T4Tmovement has seen more than 1.7 million baptisms and 150,000 new churches start since 2001.

What is the difference between what they see there compared to what we see in the West? They sow seed. Not just the occasional seed here or there. They sow abundantly.

The foundation behind their training is that each new believer is trained to share the good news of Jesus in simple ways right from the day they become a disciple. And not just once or twice. Each person is encouraged to share their personal story as a bridge to the Gospel, five times per week. 

Is it surprising that they reap a big harvest?

 

Slow multiplication or fast multiplication? Your choice.

When it comes to multiplying simple/organic churches, your pattern of multiplication will determine whether you multiply quickly or slowly.

DollsPhoto credit: archer10 (Dennis) Busy (Creative Commons)

Many people assume that the way to multiply a simple/organic church is to add new people to the church that meets in your home until it has outgrown your living room. Those who become believers, or Christians who want to join you, are assimilated into your existing fellowship. At the point at which the group becomes too large, you split it into two. 

This is the slow way to multiply.

If you prefer to multiply more quickly, then start new groups around new followers of Jesus or new people who want to join you. Some of these will become churches.

Someone becomes a disciple?  Ask them to bring together a few of their friends to explore spirituality. Help them to share their story with others. Teach them how to share the good news. Work with them and their oikos. You will soon find yourself with a group of new believers. An existing Christian finds your church? Let them know you'd like to help them work with their friends and family in their neighborhood, not yours. This is the quick way to multiply.

The faster multiplication pattern is likely to be more messy and more time consuming. It will involve people in more than just attending weekly gatherings. But it is far more effective in terms of Kingdom growth.

If you want to see your existing group excited about this and on board with what you are doing, it is important to cast vision, otherwise people will resent the disruption of a family/place where they are comfortable. The Lord did this for our group by giving us a clear picture of an orchard of apple trees. Now, whenever a new group starts, we are all excited to see the fulfillment of what the Lord has already shown us.

 

 

What might it look like when big and small work together?

Rabbit and elephant
Photo credit: brendan.wood (Creative Commons)

The rabbit and the elephant have very different strengths. Different sized churches do too.

Rabbit sized churches:

  • Can penetrate into every nook and cranny of society reaching people who would never darken the door of a church building
  • Have the potential to multiply rapidly along relationship lines
  • Foster community and every member participation

Elephant sized churches:

  • Are highly visible
  • Can produce larger-scale events 
  • Have many resources of both people and finance

Many larger churches are adopting simple/organic principles when it comes to reaching out into their communities with the good news of the Gospel. They actively encourage their members who are more entrepreneurial in terms of church planting to start new groups outside the four walls of the building. These"second tracks" (often called missional communities) are effectively simple churches with a missional emphasis. Often there is no expectation that these groups will feed new disciples into the main church.

It seems that God is working these principles right across the denominational lines. What can we do to support and involve with each other? Are there ways in which those of us who have been involved in simple/organic practices for many years, can stand together with the churches who are beginning to explore these areas?

What might happen in our cities if no one is seeking to get the credit?

Ten positive signs of God at work in the church

God is at work across the nations, and I see many positive signs that he is at work here in the West too. Here's a little of what I see going on currently (in no particular order of priority):
  1. People understand the importance of listening to God and doing what he says.  The prayer movement and 24/7 prayer has an impact.
  2. Many churches are becoming more missional rather than attractional. Luke 10 principles are being applied by many across the church spectrum. Legacy churches are starting missional communities. Simple/organic churches are using these principles to produce daughter and grand-daughter churches.
  3. Churches are engaging in their communities with a resultant impact for the Kingdom.
  4. We've rediscovered some of the principles that result in multiplication rather than addition at every level. Simplicity and reproducibility are key.
  5. Discipleship that reproduces more disciples (rather than conversion) is of increasing value. 
  6. There's a blurring of distinctives between groups of people–charismatic/non-charismatic, organic/legacy, clergy/laity.
  7. Women have an increasingly equal and valued role.
  8. Legacy churches and simple/organic churches are working together with a focus on the Kingdom of God. Who knows what might happen if nobody minds who gets the credit.
  9. The separation of sacred and secular is waning. Ordinary work and its potential to be of impact for the Kingdom is valued. Church is happening in the workplace.
  10. God is working in supernatural ways; we are seeing miracles, healings and deliverances.
  11. God is raising up apostolic and prophetic leaders who serve from the foundations rather than rule from the rooftops. He is giving them his strategies and plans for their areas.
  12. We recognize that God is working in other parts of the world  and we're willing to learn from other nations.

What am I missing?

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