What is sequentialism and why does it prevent multiplication?

David Garrison, in his book "Church Planting Movements" (which I thoroughly recommend) talks about the deadly sins of church planting.  One of these is sequentialism.  So what is this, and why is it so "deadly"?

Sequentialism is the idea that things have to be done in order.  First we do this, then we do that.  One of the common mistakes that existing Christians make when starting an organic/house church is this.  They decide that the first thing they are going to do is develop community.  When they have done that, they will think about reaching out to the world around them.

The result of this kind of thinking?

  • Once some community has formed, they start to run into problems, so they don't feel they can add other people.  
  • The fellowship becomes so deep and meaningful that they really don't want to interrupt it by adding others.  
  • Even if they start adding others with the intention of splitting into two when they get too large, (probably the slowest way to multiply), often it has taken a gifted leader to get them to that size and no one feels qualified to do something similar.

No, if you want to see multiplication, do things simultaneously.  Just as soldiers in battle develop a camaraderie that nothing else is likely to equal, when Christians join together in a task, their fellowship deepens.  If we want to see our communities reached for Christ, let's deliberately reach out right from the start.

7 benefits of citizenship in the Kingdom

In the last post I looked at what it means for us to be citizens of a kingdom.  We are there to serve the King and do his bidding.  But we serve a loving and merciful King!  Recently I did an extensive study through the NT to see what the good news of the Kingdom is.  Here's a brief summary of the benefits we have by being in the Kingdom:

1.  Our sins are forgiven:

 If we
believe, turn (repent) from our sins and are baptized, we will be forgiven.

 This brings us peace with God. 

2. We've become a new creation

 His laws are now written on our hearts so we don't live by a rule book but by his divine nature inside us.

3.  Healing and
deliverance:

Jesus announced the good news of the
Kingdom to the poor and demonstrated it by healing every
kind of sickness and illness.  He had authority over every demon. We have authority
over all the power of the enemy when we use the name of Jesus. We can see the captives set free.  
The Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by
God's power!

4.  We have eternal life:

Jesus died on the cross, so that everyone
who believes in him will have eternal lifeā€”in fact, has already passed from death to life.  One day we will have resurrected, spiritual bodies, full of power. 

5.  The Holy
Spirit fills and empowers us:

The Holy
Spirit will never leave us but lives within us.  He  teaches us and leads us into all truth and testifies of Jesus.  He will convict the world.  He brings glory to Jesus

6.  We have a relationship
with God:

God is our Father and we are his sons and
daughters.  We are adopted into His
family.  Eternal life
is knowing God and Jesus. We are now friends of Jesus rather than
servants.

7. Relationship with others:

As his body, we are family together

Now all of that is Good News!!

A democratic Kingdom? Not!

Continuing thoughts on the Gospel of the Kingdom:

American flag

  

We are blessed to live in a democracy — or to be more specific, here in the States, a constitutional republic. It is "government of the people by the people and for the people" (Abraham Lincoln). The people have the power. As society changes, so do its laws, because there are no absolutes.

The United Kingdom, where I am from, is a constitutional monarchy. The government is a democracy and the Queen is its figurehead

Because we live in a democracy, when the Bible talks about the Kingdom, we have no real frame of reference to understand it.

A kingdom is ruled by a king. In an absolute monarchy, the king has undivided rule and complete sovereignty–supreme authority over his people.  He decrees how the people live, is responsible for the governing laws.  He is not subject to the will of the people; their responsibility is to serve him. 

The good news of the kingdom is that we have a king who has made a way for us to enter his kingdom. But is being ruled by a king good news? It all depends on the character of the King!

In the next post, we will look at what our king has chosen to do for us.

The Santa Claus Gospel

This is a continuation of the series, "Ways to see more harvest."

Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom.  What do we preach? Santa Claus 

I often think that we preach a Santa Claus gospel. We portray God to those who don't yet know him as some kind of divine genie who is there to give us an easy life.  "Invite Jesus into your life and he will give you peace and joy."   "You can know your sins are forgiven and you will go to heaven." "Raise your hand and Jesus will come into your life." We give the impression that God will answer all our prayers in just the way we want, that health and wealth and happiness will follow a decision to commit to him.

There is a grain of truth to much of this, but it is far from being the whole story.  So what is the Gospel of the Kingdom? The blessings are even more than portrayed above, but there is another side to it too.  Our side.  Our responsibilities as members and ambassadors for the Kingdom.

What do you think is the Gospel of the Kingdom?

Core competencies: Recognizing a ripe harvest field

Ripe harvest field

What makes a ripe harvest field? Many of us are living in comfortable suburban homes, and we assume that our neighborhoods will make a great harvest field. But we may be trying to reap a harvest in the wrong places.  Jesus gave some indication of what makes a ripe harvest. For example, he said:

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…" (Luke 4:18)

Where will we find these people? They are much more likely to be found in the low-income housing projects than amongst the wealthy. They are more likely to be found in AA groups than in success seminars. In our neighborhoods, where is the couple going through a divorce? How about the family going through bankruptcy? Do you know people who are hurting?

Others who are often open to the message of the Kingdom include New Agers, young people, those living on the streets, or in half-way houses, refugees etc.

Jesus also said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Where will we find people who know they are "sinners"?

Obviously we need to be open to wherever the Holy Spirit is leading us, but as a general rule, we are more likely to find hungry people in places where we are not necessarily comfortable.  As Neil Cole says, we need to learn to sit in the smoking section."

Another thought: No farmer would consider trying to harvest a field where no seed had been sown. What does it look like to sow seed? Hint. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God (Luke 8:11).




 

15 reasons why we don’t see harvest

Harvest
 

Here are some reasons why we may not see the kind of harvest we long for:

  1. We are so involved with other believers we do not have time for friendship with those who do not yet know Jesus.
  2. We are fearful of being "contaminated" by too much contact with the world. 
  3. Lack of the "apostolic mission" part of simple church DNA.
  4. Lack of prayer for the harvest.
  5. Lack of training.
  6. We do not "go and make disciples."
  7. We are fishing in the wrong place, or to change metaphors, we are seeking to reap a harvest where either the fields are not yet ripe or little/no seed has been sown.
  8. We invite people to come to our church.
  9. When someone becomes a Christian, we extract them from their community to join ours.
  10. We fail to work through a "person of peace."
  11. We are not preaching the gospel of the kingdom
  12. Lack of the supernatural.
  13. Sequentialism
  14. We do not train the new believer to pass on his story and what he is learning to his friends.
  15. We scatter rather than gather.

 Some of these topics will be covered more fully in future posts. 

Can you think of any other reasons why  we are not seeing harvest? Let us know!