Both male and female

Floyd McClung has reached out to the women God brought across his path and championed them in their callings. For more than 20 years, he and his wife, Sally, have discipled women who are now making a difference in the nations. Floyd contributed a chapter to The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church. Here’s a quote from the chapter.

To be clear, I believe leaders can be both male and female. Obviously the church body is comprised of both genders. And certainly, martyrs have been both male and female. Missionaries are both male and female.

But it is important to be more specific, lest we overlook the obvious: both women and men have impacted nations for God because both genders are called by God and both are given leadership gifts.

I believe leadership in the church is not meant to be gender-specific because, at its core, leadership is about service. It is not about an office or position. Leaders don’t serve in order to be leaders; they serve because that’s what leaders do. Leaders serve. Period. When we abandon a hierarchical, worldly view of leadership and consider it from this perspective, we can see that both woman and men can, and already do, use their gifts to serve–that is, lead.

The church worldwide has been shaped, led , and taught by both men and women– starting in the home, and moving into every sphere of church and public life.

SwanJacketfinal

Do simple/organic churches need a “covering”?

Here’s the idea: everyone needs covering–a kind of spiritual protection against the storms of life. If someone moves out from under covering, (as in leaving a particular church, or more specifically a particular leader), they somehow become vulnerable to demonic attack and are likely to end up with all kinds of problems. House churches are especially vulnerable because they don’t have any kind of covering–no one who has spiritual authority over them. Their people don’t answer to anyone.

Covering

I’ve come across a number of people who have been told this by their pastor or spiritual leader when they have brought up the idea of leaving a particular church. When they’ve taken the plunge and moved away from that church, others, who used to be their friends, have even been forbidden to have contact with them in case they are “contaminated.”

I believe this is spiritual abuse.

The idea of covering is totally non-Scriptural! The only reference to covering in this way in the Bible is the story of Ruth and Boaz where Ruth asks Boaz to extend the borders of his garment over her. It’s very far-fetched to apply this to church leadership.

As Frank Viola says, I think in Reimagining Church, it is extraordinary that when Paul writes to the people in Corinth addressing a serious moral problem in the church, he does not ask the leadership of the church to deal with it. One would have expected him to ask the elders to handle the situation. Instead, he addresses the whole body and anticipates they will deal with the problem.

We quite often get asked, “Who is your spiritual covering?” Our response: “Jesus is the authority to whom the church answers! We can all hear him and respond to his call on our lives.” If the Lord calls others to leave us, we give them our blessing and send them on their way. We’ve found that you cannot outgive God.

What do you think

Contested territory

Some time ago, I watched a fascinating video by Lance Wallnau called Piercing the Veil. Here’s what I understand to be his basic concept.

“Once you reach critical mass on a revelation, everyone gets access easily to what was once contested territory.”

Up until recently, the idea of women co-laboring alongside men equally has been contested territory. Strategic authority in the church, has, with notable exceptions, been the domain of men. I believe God is bringing fresh revelation to the Scriptures whereby they can, with integrity, be interpreted in such a way that women are not relegated to following men, but under the direction of the Holy Spirit, can initiate and lead Kingdom ventures. God”s gifts to his people are not based on gender. And, like the parable of the talents, whoever uses their gifts wisely will be given more responsibility.

When I was in medical school, only around 10 percent of the students in my year were women. Being a physician was thought to be a male profession. In one short generation, that has changed, and now in the UK, more than 50 percent of medical students are women. 

I always hesitate to use the word “leadership” in these posts, because it can be so easily misinterpreted. Leadership is about servanthood and going lower; it’s not about hierarchy. But God does entrust certain people with more influence. I believe that God is changing the perception that church “leadership” has to be male. He’s doing it by giving fresh revelation on the Scriptures (just as he has done throughout history–for example, with the understanding that salvation is by faith and cannot be earned.) We are fast approaching that critical mass, the tipping point where it’s generally accepted that women are valued and equal co-workers in the Kingdom. And we can all gain access to what was once contested territory.

7 shifts towards organic

Many churches are looking to become increasingly relevant to the society around them by shifting to a more organic form of church.

DandelionPhoto credit: Michael | Ruiz (Creative Commons)

Here are some of the shifts toward organic:

  1. We're moving from being building and event focused to lifestyle and family focused. Church is no longer an event to go to or a building to assemble in. We may meet together, but church is more like a family. You don't go to family; you are family. It's based on relationship and lifestyle. 
  2. Church is missional rather than attractional. We're looking to make disciples rather than converts.
  3. We no longer need specially trained people to do all the work of ministry. Ordinary people are fully equipped to minister. The clergy/laity distinction is becoming less and less relevant. 
  4. Churches are expected to multiply out–to reproduce–rather than getting larger.
  5. Jesus is head of his church and ordinary people can be trusted to hear the Holy Spirit. 
  6. Our times together are becoming simpler and therefore reproducible. Everyone participates in what goes on.
  7. Leadership is servanthood.

What others can you think of?

Power tools for church planting

This is a break in my series on Luke 10.  I will get back to this passage in the next post!  


Power tools 2

When we first moved to this country, we had no means of making an income. (No one wanted to employ two unlicensed physicians).  So we became involved in a business that taught us a lot about American culture.  We also learned some very positive principles, many of which had their basis in Scripture. One of the things emphasized to us was the importance of tools. The value of tools is that they make a job easier.  You can hammer in a nail using a rock, but it is much easier to use a hammer.  Even more useful are power tools.  

The National House Church conference is a tool. You can start a simple/organic/house church without reading the books or meeting others who have already done it.  But it is a whole lot easier if you can learn some principles from their experience and avoid some of the mistakes they made!  At the conference there is plenty of opportunity to talk with people who've been on the journey for a while, as well as different breakout sessions devoted to various helpful topics–for example, a couple who transitioned their legacy (traditional) church into a network of house churches will share the principles that guided their journey.  

Here's a brief descriptio of the conference which will take place over the Labor Day weekend:

According to recent Pew Foundation Research, 7% of American Christians now identify a house church as their primary expression of church.  This is exciting news but it also points to a significant problem. An increasing number of believers are now meeting in homes but they are bringing with them leadership patterns from their traditional church background.  The result?  Burned out and confused leaders and struggling house churches.

The 2010 National House Church Conference will be addressing just this problem at several levels.

  • Wayne Jacobson will be helping us think through what it looks like when you really believe that following God is a 24/7 description of walking with Him.
  • Our breakout times will explore everything from basics of house church life to understanding the transition process for pastors from traditional setting.
  • Tim Bach will be talking to us about iconcity, the adventure that God has him and others engaged in as they seek to bring transformation to a small town in Oregon. Tim and other members of the team spent time in various Christian bands, including Petra. From “I’m with the band” to helping homeless kids – it’s quite a story!
  • The House2House board/team will be exploring with us the role of transformational leadership teams to help provide infrastructure to fresh moves of the Holy Spirit.  Infrastructure is generally not seen, not noticed, but vital to the functioning of society. Godly, servant leadership is like this!

Why not bring a group of you from your church?  Details can be found here.