It’s time to leave the safety of the shore

A few years ago, I had the privilege of training a church in India in the principles of church planting. One of the activities we did was to listen to the Lord on behalf of the church. What was he saying to them as a body of believers? They were a wonderful group of people and the Lord spoke clearly. Yesterday, I had an email from them asking me to write some words for their anniversary and reminding me of a vision I had for them while I was there.


The picture I had seemed relevant beyond just their situation.


Here’s what I wrote for them:


“I remember when I was with you that I had a picture of boats docked by the shore. The wind (of the Spirit) was blowing, but the boats had not yet put out to sea. A boat in the harbor cannot catch fish. Until it trims its sails and moves out of the safety and shelter of the shoreline, a sailing boat is land bound and cannot live up to its potential of being like a live creature, responding to every gust of wind and to the direction of the one at the helm.


It’s time! It’s time to hoist your sails. You’ve had plenty of time to get everything ready and bring in provisions for the voyage. You are as ready now as you’ll ever be. The wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing. So experience the adventure and exhilaration of setting sail under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  As you sail under the direction of the Master Helmsman, you will be challenged by the risks of the unknown, and you will learn to rely on the One who will not fail you.


Jesus is not safe or tame, but he is good. As you follow him into the deep, your boat will produce a wake that other boats will follow. As others see your walk of faith, they will desire that same voyage of exploration that you are experiencing.


Go for it!”


Sailing boat

 Photo Credit: Tim Green aka atoach via Compfight cc

Are you on the map?

One of commonest emails I get is this: I live in ____, and I’m looking for a more organic expression of church. Can you help me?


If I’m aware of simple/organic/house churches in their area, it’s a pleasure to refer them, but often I don’t know anyone. (It’s not that house churches aren’t there–they just tend to fly under the radar. If only there were a map…)


I’ve recently been sent information on a new simple/organic/house church tool. Put out by the Adventists, here’s what they say:


The Simple Church Global Network has recently launched a free house church registry to help, connect and serve house churches around the world.  Once registered, your location will show up on the global map  and you will receive practical and proven resources to help you and your house church.


Features include practical resources, training, and coaching.


All of this is free. Serving and strengthening house churches is the goal.


Here’s the link: They are obviously in the early stages of populating the map. Check it out.


Are you on the map?

Are you going to the CBE conference?

One of my driving passions concerns the importance of men and women co-laboring together as equals in the body of Christ. I’ve compiled a book on the topic and written extensively about it here on my blog.

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is an organization that has uncompromisingly espoused these same principles. I’ve long admired their work and from time to time have considered attending one of their conferences.

When notification of their next conference at the end of July came across my desk a few weeks ago, I felt the Lord prompting me. Now’s the time! So I signed up. If any of you are going to be there, I’d love to meet you! Please get in touch and let’s get together.

Here’s some information on the conference.

CBE conference



Simple Grace

One of Tony’s and my greatest current challenges concerns an elderly parent. She’s been a wonderful woman of God, greatly used by the Lord around the world. But dementia has done more than robbed her of her memory. It has shrunk her world, stolen her dignity and changed her personality. It’s been hard to watch.

Amy Grant, (the singer) faced similar issues with both her parents. I recently was asked to review the new monthly devotional magazine, Simple Grace, and was blessed to find an article by her describing how she coped with her situation. With simplicity, grace, and humility, she described her walk with Jesus as she dealt with her parents’ Alzheimer’s disease.

Simple Grace is a little bit like Guideposts–short, inspirational articles on how God has worked in people’s daily lives. The main part of the magazine is a daily devotional, along the lines of  GOD CALLING in that each devotional takes on the voice of Jesus speaking directly to you. It’s not profound theology, but it’s encouraging and inspirational. I believe Jesus will use this little magazine in the lives of many.

Simple Grace

Life in Community: Geneva Two by Russell Smith

In the late 70s and 80s, Tony and I lived in community. We didn’t all live under the same roof, but many families lived in a very small area of the East End of London, which at that time was 92 percent government housing. They were amazing days. We shared meals, tools, at times, cars. You couldn’t walk more than a few hundred yards from our home without meeting another believer. For years, I cooked for about 10 extra people every evening, never knowing who would show up for dinner.

Of course, it had its problems. Personalities clashed. People disagreed. Because of the area we lived in, people had problems of every description. If you’ve seen the PBS series, “Call the Midwife” you will understand some of the issues we faced. We were there 20 years after the TV program takes place, but many of the conditions were still the same. The area has since become gentrified. Back then, God was at work. Over the years, many of Tony’s patients became believers, and we had so many home groups in the area that it was usually possible to find someone who lived within a street or two who could follow them up. Because of the demographics, we saw miracle after miracle as people became believers, were healed and set free. It was also extremely demanding and stressful.

It was with great interest, therefore, that I read Russell Smith’s new book Geneva Two: A Parable of Christian Community and Calling. It is superbly written, and takes a fascinating approach to the subject as a fictional reporter interviews different members of the community. As each person speaks, a composite picture of the community develops with all its warts and flaws as well as its blessings. The settings, conversations and character sketches show the different personalities well.

I’m not sure whether Russell has ever lived in community–he is Senior Pastor of a Presbyterian church. The picture he paints in Geneva Two is unlike the communities I’ve lived in–it feels somewhat unrealistic, but this is probably because of the different culture. However, this is a thought-provoking book that highlights the value of community.

Geneva Two



Does “brothers” mean men only? Guest post by Gary Shogren

Gary Shogren and his wife are missionaries in Costa Rica and professors in a Bible College and Seminary.  Gary  is an expert in the Greek New Testament with a PhD from Aberdeen University. He has written an exegetical commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Recently, Gary sent me a post on the NIV 2011 edition of the Bible and how it has been vilified as an inaccurate translation, especially when it comes to the English pronouns “he” and “she.” He wrote another excellent guest post on a similar topic here. Below is a nugget from his latest post:

Is it an error to translate masculine gender pronouns as generic English pronouns? Not necessarily, and all English translations do so at one time or another, even the King James Version. Here is what we encounter in the Greek New Testament; I will be taking my examples from 1 Corinthians:

  1. Masculine gender words that refer to men. The NIV 2011 translates them as “he”, “him” or “man” in English. For example, 1 Cor 7:18 – “Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised.” Only male circumcision is in view, so he’s talking about men, not women.
  2. Feminine gender words that refer to women. The NIV 2011 translates them as “she” or “her” in English. For example, 1 Cor 7:4 – “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband;” 7:13 – “if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.” What we see in Group 1 and Group 2 is proof that the NIV 2011 is not some “unisex” Bible. Women are women, men are men, and (Group 3) people are people.
  3. Masculine gender words that, in context, refer to men and women or both. The NIV 2011 tries to translate them literally into English, that is, making them refer to men and women, boys and girls, without restricting the reference to “man = adult male”. In today’s English, “man” refers to a male, and an adult; the original Greek includes people of both sexes and all ages, for example “if anyone is in Christ”, 2 Cor 5:17. As Mark Strauss, editor of the NIV 2011 states, “A simple definition of a gender-inclusive translation is a translation that seeks to avoid masculine terminology when the original author was referring to members of both sexes.

All the controversy over gender neutrality in the NIV 2011 has to do with Group 3. Every single English Bible version in use today employs “gender neutral translation” to some extent. That includes the ESV, the NASB and yes, the original King James Version, see below. In other words, the difference between the KJV, ESV and the NIV 2011 is a relative difference of degree, not an absolute difference in translation philosophy.

1 Cor 1:10. See also 1:11; 1:26; 2:1; 3:1; 4:6; 5:11; 6:8; 7:15; 7:24; 7:29. Here and in many other verses in the New Testament, Paul address the Christians as “brothers and sisters” rather than just “brothers” or “brethren”. One website insists that this is silly, since everyone knows that the term “brothers” includes women. But is this so? When someone asks me, “Do you have any brothers?” a proper answer might be, “Brothers? Yes, I have one brother.” I would not say, “Brothers? Yes, I have a sister.” It’s as simple as that: “brothers” no longer includes “sisters”, as it did in English centuries ago.

Exegetical Commentary by Gary Shogren

Teamwork and house churches: Guest post by John White

I am hugely blessed  (and definitely humbled) whenever I hear that something I’ve written has made a difference in the life of another person. John White is a good friend. We’ve known him and his wife, Tamela, for almost 15 years. I have been watching what the Lord is doing through Lk10, the organization that he runs, with keen interest, and love the impact that it’s having on house churches around the world. It’s a privilege to partner with them in working for the Kingdom.  Here’s what John writes:

Teamwork in house church ministry
Over the last 15 years, I’ve watched as the Lord has used Felicity (and Tony) to introduce the concept of house church (church as a small intimate family of faith) to literally thousands of people around the world.  This has occurred through teaching at dozens of conferences and, perhaps even more broadly, through writing (books, blogs).  What an impact she has had for the Kingdom!
It’s been our privilege recently in the LK10 Community to team up with Felicity to provide follow-up for some of those she has initially touched.  Specifically, our mission at LK10 has two parts.  First, to provide ongoing “how to” training (see our Church 101 Course).  Second, to provide ongoing relational support and encouragement for house church leaders (see our Leader 101 Course).  (For more information about these two Courses, see our website at )
Here are some recent examples of how Felicity’s ministry and LK10 compliment each other…
  • Liv in Norway.  “I found a link (to LK10) in Felicity Dale’s blog… (Writing to LK10)  We want to grow as a “house church”, but are not sure how.”
  • Marie in Australia.  (I found LK10) through Felicity Dale’s blog…  I love the way Father God’s timing is so perfect.  I am very pleased to be able to be involved in the LK10 community.  Thanks for your support!”  (Marie is just beginning Church 101.)
  • Bob and Barb in Germany.  “We “stumbled upon” LK10 while looking at the Dale’s website… When I found your website (LK10), I felt that a relationship with the Lk10 community could be very encouraging and beneficial to us. Barb and I look forward to taking the Church 101 course.”  Several months after the initial contact with Bob and Barb, they told their story here.
I am so grateful for the many ways we have been able to team up with Felicity (and Tony) over the last 15 years including the current way our ministries are meshing together.

For such a time as this

For some time, I have wondered why the Lord has placed an emphasis on small groups meeting in homes. (According to a survey by the Pew Forum in 2009, nine percent of Protestants in the USA “hold services” in  homes.)

In other nations, the rise of house churches is often in response to persecution. But here? In Christian America?

Esther was married to King Ahasuerus (probably King Xerxes I) “for such a time as this.” She saved her people.

As I survey the Christian landscape, and look at what is going on politically, I wonder if the Lord has been behind the simple/organic/housechurch movement “for such a time as this.” It would only take one act of Congress, for example, removing the tax exempt status of churches, for some building-based churches to find themselves fighting for survival.  Or what would be the impact of a couple of terrorist attacks in church buildings? Or some strategically planned law-suits aimed against Evangelical convictions?

Thankfully, God knows the end from the beginning.




Photo credit JovanStojan (Creative Commons)



The place of women in the Temple (and why that’s not true any longer!)

In his book,  The New Covenant, Bob Emery dramatizes the story of the New Testament through the eyes of the apostle, John. It contains many fascinating insights–ideas I had not seen before in my reading of the New Testament many of which I found myself researching and coming to an “Aha!” moment.

Here’s one of Bob’s insights into the Temple and the role of women (used with permission). Remember, this is John speaking:

“Now, as we are here in the outer court, look at this dirt upon which we stand. Strictly speaking, the outer court is not part of the temple, for anyone may enter here, except menstruating women. Its dirt is not sacred. But consider the soil on other side of the wall. That is thought to be holy dirt!

“And beyond that there are fourteen steps leading up to the court of the women, where there is another wall. There the ground is even more holy, because any ritually cleansed Jew, man or woman, can enter there.

“But beyond that are another twelve steps, and another wall, leading to the court of Israel—male Israel, that is. There the ground is even holier still.

“And further and higher yet are another five steps, and another wall, leading to the court of the priests where the sacrifices are performed,   and the stones upon which the Levitical priests walk. These stones are considered even more holy!

“All of this—the hierarchy, the subtlety, and the image it all projects—reinforces the height of false religion. The Gentiles are the farthest away from God. They are the dogs. Where their feet walk is unholy ground. A step up from the Gentiles are women. Fourteen steps, to be precise! And on higher ground yet are men, because they are closer to God. But the average person is still not holy enough, because higher on the rung, and closer to God, are the priests. And above the priests is the high priest, who alone can enter the holy ground of the Holiest of All.

“Does not all that this temple projects corrupt the minds of all the people, so that in fact they believe that this is the manner in which God views all humankind? The sin of it all! The utter blasphemy and stench that rises from this beautiful, so-called monument to God!”

The inspiration of the words Paul had written to the Ephesians about God breaking down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile was becoming clearer to me by the second! Yes, God did want to destroy this temple of stone. He must be at the limits of his patience, I thought, not to have come in judgment already. How anxious he must be to erase this last remaining vestige of the barriers and walls that stand between Gentile and Jew, man and woman, priest and pauper!

Never had it been so clear to me: what Jesus did at the cross was to bring into existence a new creation in which there are no denigrating distinctions. In this new species—the invisible head in heaven joined with his visible body on earth—there is no one holier than another, no one of higher rank than another before God. What Jesus paid for by his precious blood was to make all of his people one by his Spirit and to replace the enmity, the barriers, and the divisions with the unity, peace, and love found only in him.

Wailing wall and Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Photo Credit: ThisParticularGreg via Compfight cc

The Wailing Wall is considered to be the remains of the Western Wall of Herod’s Temple

What are we thinking?

I came across a shocking statistic earlier today.

According to the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (2012), the cost per baptism globally is $762,000!

What are we thinking?

I’m sure these figures include seminaries, buildings, training pastors etc., but sometimes I wonder, is this why Jesus died?

I know you cannot put a figure on the salvation of a soul, but surely there is a more cost-effective model (think simple churches meeting in homes with no specially trained leaders…)