29 April 2009

Where have all the Fathers gone? Long time passing...

My friend James Graham spoke at Globe's IGM last night on SPIRITUAL PARENTING and DISCIPLE-MAKINGIt was a powerful time!

He said:

WE HAVE A CHOICE – WE CAN BE A MANAGER OR WE CAN BE A PARENT.   There are certain promises a spiritual parent makes. WE HAVE A CHOICE

    • Focus on performance
    • Focus on behavior
    • No emotional connection.
    • No permanent investment.
    • No true transparency.
  • OR WE CAN BE A PARENT, saying and demonstrating.
    • You can trust me
    • I'll believe the best about you.
    • I'll be there for you.
    • I'll share my life with you.
    • I'll tell you the truth.

So, the world (and the Church!) cries out for some really savvy, loving, forgiving, kind and compassionate DISCIPLE-MAKERS who see themselves as true spiritual fathers and mothers!

It's not about control but true growth and wholeness!


28 April 2009

Apostle to the Cage Fighters...

I continue a dialogue with Eric, the Apostle to the Cage Fighters... He said earlier:

"...I would trust my life and the life of my family to my tribe before I let the church anywhere near them! Why? The tribe holds loyalty as a virtue above all else. And I know that if I was gone and something happened on my farm, it would be the fighters not the church that would come to help my wife and kids."

He writes me here again...

Hey Glenn,

Just to prove my point…

Got a call a couple of days ago from a promoter in another state. He offered me the fight of a life time for a little guy like me (not to mention it will pay for my next two mission trips).

I signed the contract and several of my church friends are upset with me about it being in a casino. After a conversation with a church friend that one of my unbelieving fighter friends was in on, I was down. The conversation went like this:

Church friend: "God would not approve of you fighting or being in a casino."

Fighter friend’s response: "I have seen Eric in many different situations and he is always talking about Jesus. I think – knowing the people that will be there that night – it is the very place Eric needs to be."

You see it was the tribe that protected me. I am slowly winning these guys. We now spend about 15 minutes reading about the battles in the Old Testament before practice. That is a huge step.

By the way please pray for me on the 12th of June. If I win it means nearly a half years salary in one night…

Whatta ya gonna do with people like this? (smile)

27 April 2009

Pray for me and my job...

I know my job. Well, sorta.

I know that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m not just influenced by Him. I don’t think he was a just a great guy who did cool miracles a long time ago. I don’t think he’s a great philosopher or teacher. He is God. In the flesh with a body. God.

And I follow him. Intentionally.

I follow – attempt to understand, internalize and live out – his teaching, his lifestyle, his commands and his mission. I want to be like Jesus in everything I do. As much as a middle-aged white American born in the South, educated publicly through the ‘60’s can be, I want to live like Jesus. As much as someone who was not born of a virgin or announced by angels can, I want to follow Jesus and live like him.

This is not just some idealistic try-as-hard-as-you-can-and-fail kinda thing. Following Jesus is made possible because he has supernaturally and mysteriously put his spirit – the Holy Spirit – in me. And he lives in me 24/7/365. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just show up on Sunday at 11. Or when I invite him. Or in my worship time.  He’s resident in me. In fact I’m his home as an individual and we – as the church – corporately are his temple.

And I listen to Jesus’ internal voice through the Spirit and I follow him. And I’m imperfect both in the hearing and in the following, but I am committed to both. Fearfully and completely committed to both.

His call on my life is to train others to do the same. As I follow Jesus supernaturally by his Spirit, I train and coach others to do so too.

My job is to shape others to follow him in his mission worldwide and to assist leaders and churches in re-missioning!

Re-missioning is the act of moving the Church back into the Mission of God. And what is the mission of God, the missio dei?

The mission of God is about redeeming creation, not just sending a select few to eternal bliss. The mission of God is about people living out their refection of God Himself in character, love, mercy and grace. The missio dei is to redeem men and women so profoundly that they seek justice for others and give mercy liberally, resulting in all creation singing and rejoicing at its arrival!

Chris Wright says, “Fundamentally, our mission… means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.” (The Mission of God, p.23)

So where have we been if not on the missio dei? Here are some ideas… we’ve been:

    • Chasing revival…
    • Caught up in personalities…
    • Angry that the North American culture has changed…
    • Reading the Bible with a cut-and-paste mentality…
    • Putting “missions” into an open-once-a-year closet…
    • Looking for political answers from political parties to life/spiritual questions…
    • Trivializing cross-cultural missions by making it something done by youth groups and carpenters…
    • Subtly believing that the leadership model of GM is better than the leadership model of Jesus…
    • Talking about “relationship” but meaning something else…
    • Wondering why we can’t attract more people…
    • Forgetting that the message is The King and the Kingdom not heaven…
    • Believing that bigger is better…
    • Singing prom songs to Jesus and forgetting that true love is about action more than hand-raising…
    • Forgetting that the “world” acts like the “world” because it is the “world”…

The greatness of a church is not determined by how many people attend, but by how many are sent! Re-missioning is not simply rejoicing about how many people attend our ministry, but how many people we have equipped for ministry.

Re-missioning causes us to reconsider that it’s not how many people minister inside the church (staff, etc.), but how many minister outside the church in their own unique “mission field.” Sometimes, we’ve been about helping people become more whole themselves – and that is not wrong – but re-missioning is about helping people bring more wholeness to their world. (i.e. justice, healing, relief)

We are the sent people of God, on a mission with him. We’re not angry; we’re not looking for a fight; we’re not afraid. We are on mission with God. He’s active in the world. And we are supposed to be with him in that mission.

We are gathered to send and sent to gather.

I know my job. Help me O Lord to find a way to live it out!  In my own life and then somehow to develop it in the life of others.

Pray for me!

24 April 2009

Oswald Chambers speaks truth...

I've read My Utmost for His Highest on and off for 30+ years.  Somehow Oswald Chambers (DeLynn Hoover calls him Ozzy!) seems to nail it - on the right day, at the right time.

Give a look:


"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you." Luke 10:20

As Christian workers, worldliness is not our snare, sin is not our snare, but spiritual wantoning is, viz.: taking the pattern and print of the religious age we live in, making eyes at spiritual success. Never court anything other than the approval of God, go "without the camp, bearing His reproach." Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have the commercial view - so many souls saved and sanctified, thank God, now it is all right. Our work begins where God's grace has laid the foundation; we are not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God's sovereign grace; our work as His disciples is to disciple lives until they are wholly yielded to God. One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and that will be God's witness to us as workers. God brings us to a standard of life by His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that standard in others.

Unless the worker lives a life hidden with Christ in God, he is apt to become an irritating dictator instead of an indwelling disciple. Many of us are dictators, we dictate to people and to meetings. Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced it with an "IF," never with an emphatic assertion - "You must." Discipleship carries an option with it.

23 April 2009

Answering Terry & Mary

Terry & Mary, here goes...
The difficulties of the past came from a "command and control," top-down model... Wisdom and vision (and hence authority) were seen as belonging to a few and their job was to dispense it as they saw fit... It was the model we knew, the way we were taught.

Very OT... The problem: reading the NT with OT eyes and OT mental template... but again, if that's what you know, that's what you do.

It led to those "in authority" not really being answerable - in reality - to anybody. Hey they were God's man, and when you're on the top of the pyramid, where do ya go for wisdom? (I know, theoretically to God, but we're all going there, right?)

Jesus - His life, death, resurrection, ascension - made a difference.

The NT model is more about every Believer hearing the Spirit as an indwelling, influencing part of their lives so that a corporate vision "bubbles up" among people walking together. Not very "top-down" but more "all-level-at-the-foot-of-
the-cross" thinking. And being answerable becomes a heart attitude of listening to those more mature, more knowledgeable and having better insight.

It becomes a big problem for those of us who are into commanding and controlling... (sigh)

Discipleship happens as we hear God and teach others to hear the Spirit for themselves and to walk out what they hear in faith. And Jesus teaches us to listen to others with humble ears. And we trust them to actually hear.

Ok, ok... all this is just off the top of my head and I'm not sure FB is the place to air this... I'll post this on my blog and we can discuss there... Please hold all flame-throwers at bay...

19 April 2009

Brave new - or is it old? - thinking...

I know you've all read these things... they're old, but just in case you didn't... 

End of Christian America here.  As if it ever was.  Maybe the headline should read: MISSION FIELD ARRIVES IN AMERICA ALTHOUGH IT NEVER LEFT! (Please don't hate me or throw things at me!)

Ed Stetzer in an interview with Biola Magazine says:

"I think there's some discomfort with the modern evangelical machine that has produced a catered, franchise, packaged Christianity that is pretty neat and freeze-dried. I think people are looking for something that is more transformational, more organic, and missional has become that which people rally to. There are other people using other words -- like "externally focused" -- which are describing similar ideas."

Sound familiar?  Could be the Lord speaking to your heart, huh?

Also, some amazing ideas about morality... namely "emotionally-learned" morals here in the NY Times article by David Brooks.  He says:

The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality is an epochal change. It challenges all sorts of traditions. It challenges the bookish way philosophy is conceived by most people. It challenges the Talmudic tradition, with its hyper-rational scrutiny of texts. It challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.

Could "emotionally-learned" parts of our lives be the spiritual parts?  The imago dei?  That deep, deep untouched and mostly unexplored parts of us that touches God and reaches out to Him?

You know me... I'm thinking "yes."

I see these "developments" as a sign that God is at work.  That He's always been at work and that He wants us - the Church - in partnership with Him in His Work.

17 April 2009

A Tale of Two Plows...

This morning I was thinking of two stories in the Bible – one OT, one NT. And I don’t usually mix stories like that but they came to mind.

One is found in Luke 9:61-62:

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (NIV)

Here is a pretty typical response to God’s radical Call – in whatever fashion you want to view it: “I’m willing and I want to, but give me some time so I can take care of pressing issues, social customs, family matters and internal necessities.”

And then there is the response of Elisha found in the OT:

1Kings 19:19-21 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said, "and then I will come with you." "Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?"
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant. (NIV)

Both these guys respond to The Plow and the Call. Both “calls” were to service in the Kingdom. And both reply the same way; the human way.

And the human way is not the wrong way, but often the only way we know. But the “human way” needs to be processed in such a way that the results are obedient faith! Obedient faith. And radical faith requires a radical obedience.

To my knowledge, the NT guy from Luke 9 (and parallel in Matthew 8) never shows back up. He leaves without returning. His backward glance destroyed his ability to put his hand on the plow as forward movement for Kingdom service.

But Elisha, destroys the plow and the oxen, turns it into a big going-away party and attaches himself to the Man of God, Elijah. And becomes the heir to God's move initiated through Elijah! Complete with a double portion!

So my concern - both for myself and this generation - is how will we respond to the Call to follow Jesus on His big mission of taking the Gospel to the whole world.

Let's have a party - burning all out attachments (yikes!) - and go for it! Maybe we'll have a double portion too.

16 April 2009

My friend the Cage Fighter...

Received 31 March 2009 following a presentation to a group of leaders…

I’ve changed a few grammatical things and removed some identifying references, but otherwise this is how it came…


Good morning Glenn,

On my way home I was giving thought to the “tribe idea” that you talked about at the conference. I have been calling this “brotherhood,” but it is in essence the same thing.

With this in mind, I began to think of my tribe: “Cage Fighters.” Why do we get together and why do we train so hard and what event are we looking to have happen to fulfill us? And why is it important? The answers I found perplex me and I thought that I would share them.

One: Why do we get together? I told my friend on the way home that I would trust my life and the life of my family to my tribe before I let the church anywhere near them! Why? The tribe holds loyalty as a virtue above all else. And I know that if I was gone and something happened on my farm, it would be the fighters not the church that would come to help my wife and kids. (Note: only one of about 20 of us are saved besides myself.)

Two: What are we looking to have happen? I asked the tribe this when I got home this last week and I was surprised and thrilled at the answer. We all want to be in an epic fight – one that leaves us spent, beaten, battered and broken but yet we win against overwhelming odds. That is why it is no real loss to lose to someone that is better then you as we are always trying to fight someone more skilled then ourselves. It is also why many fighters won’t even count a victory over an underling in the craft. Odd, I know, but it is my tribe! Why is this important? It allowed me to share Jesus with them based on their ideas of virtues. I understand that we should learn mercy, love, kindness but we must first come to Christ before we can be made in His image.

In my tribe, these are the most important things: courage, loyalty, strength, HONOR, and respect. I have been wrestling with conforming to the image of the acceptable church and holding these values. (Someday if we have lots of time we can talk about that!) Holding these values, seems to be in conflict with the church of today for us fighters, so we just push Jesus aside with the church as weak, cowardly, un-loyal, without honor and un-respectful. I – and you – know that this is not the whole picture; I’m just telling you how we view things. Why is this important? Well I got a revelation on the way home. (I guess this is my “one for the year…”)

This tribe is my mission field. I love these guys and understand them. Last Monday one of them told me that I break all the stereotypes of Christians. I took it as a compliment. Understanding my tribe and why and what brings us together gives me the road to reach them. So after two days of practice with them I have made sure to talk about the (for lack of a better word) “warrior aspect” of Jesus: how He fought, how He struggled and how He overcame in the battle. In just two practices we have made great moves in their lives. Travis talked to me after class and said, “I have hope now I did not have because there is a fight worth fighting.” I was amazed all he needed to hear was that Jesus was like him and he was willing to listen. I’m amazed…..

I get a lot of flack for cage fighting and the craziest questions like, “Would Jesus punch someone in the face?” I’ve always wanted to answer, “If it was a deacon… Yes.” But haven’t yet.

But my tribe is slowly coming to Jesus because I live were they do, speak the way they do and love them the way Jesus does.

I just wanted you to see that your “tribe talk” at conference encouraged me to stay with the tribe. Sometimes we get a lot of flack for looking at things differently but you are a blessing to me. Any thoughts would be great…

Welcome your comments...

15 April 2009

Just when we thought we had a corner on spirituality...

While recently speaking to a group of ministry leaders, I mentioned that we - the church in North America - spent two decades fighting against "secular humanism."  And we trained a generation to defend God, Christianity, the Gospel and the church against the evil foe -- as if God or the Gospel needed defending. 

But, now, I said, everyone believes themselves to be spiritual beings.  They see themselves as spiritual and connected to God apart from church and "organized religion." You can see my post about that here.  Ed Stetzer - the Baptist guy who is everywhere and head research dude with Lifeway says:

"...73 percent of unchurched twentysomethings consider themselves "spiritual" and would like to know more about "God or a higher supreme being." This is 11 percent higher than among unchurched individuals who are 30 years old and older. They are also significantly more likely to attend church or a small group than older, unchurched generations."

You can read and listen to Ed here and read more here.  (I'm not necessarily hawking Ed's book, but hey! he agrees with me!  What can I say? (big grin))

Tomorrow, I want to share a letter from a pomo guy about his Jesus walk and his tribe...

14 April 2009

Just thinking...

Coupla things...

  • This morning a friend of mine who teaches English to a particular group of Saudi Muslim guys here in the States called me. "Yesterday," he said, "They asked me to explain to them about Easter! So today I'm explaining Easter to them!" "Wow, I said, "The Lord sure lays them out for you doesn't He?" So we talked for a few more minutes and I'm grinning from ear-to-ear! "They'll be very curious about Easter because Islam teaches that Jesus didn't really die on the cross, but rather just sort of 'swooned.' And then there'll be questions all about Easter eggs and all that. You'll have to explain that..." "That I can handle," he replied. "They're Wahabist (a sect of Islam like Osama bin Laden) so they will understand all the peripherals in Islam..." Whoa! And this guy's calling me! I'm humbled and pumped as God is doing some cool things!
  • I'm planning a trip to Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in September for Phyllis and I. It'll be a teaching/ministry trip initiated by my friend David Finke in Dar es Salam. His father, Bill and I did some teaching a bunch of years back about reproductive church planting and a group of guys took it to heart, and now we're going to visit a group of churches in the bush in Tanzania. I also hope to visit Manna Bible Institute in Nairobi and maybe even get to Kampala for a few days. I'm praying and working hard to put together the funds to take Phyllis along.
  • I keep thinking about stuff I'd like to do weekend seminars about here in the USA:
    • Building on Your Strengths
    • They Ain't the Same: The Leadership/Manager Team
    • Building Leadership Teams God's Way
    • Disciple-making and Spiritual Children
    • Developing a Scorecard for Missions

10 April 2009

What's Leonard saying to the church?

I've been listening to Leonard Sweet's newest book So Beautiful.  (You can download it free here.) 

I say I've been listening, because that's pretty much a new experience for me.  I don't "listen to books," I read books.  And when I read books, I take notes.  Or highlight.  Or underline.  And  this proves that I am a product of my time.  I'm literate - I read and remember through writing.

And I'm listening to So Beautiful little-by-little on my iPod docked to the radio in my bathroom while I shave.  (Okay probably TMI!  Sorry...)  But as I listen to some unknown person read Len Sweet, I keep wanting to stop everything, get a piece of paper and write things down.

(Personally, this might be the most important  book Len's done since Soulsunami and Soul Salsa.  (Although, he does crank em out...)  And he dedicates this book to Alan Hirsch citing him as a big influence on his thinking.  So there you go.  And he's saying things I've been saying for a long time, like Church is missional, relational and incarnational.  I said that myself.  Must be listening to the same Spirit.  (smile))

In missions we teach about "orality,"  and speak about "oral learners." They are those who learn best through hearing not by reading.  They learn through stories, rather than through literacy. Some cultures are "pre-literate" in that they have no written language and their traditions, values and virtues are passed on through story-telling, dance and drama.

And orality is also a characteristic of post-literate societies like the pomo (an I use that word with great caution, but I still use it) world we find ourselves in.

Stories - good stories - also engage our emotions as much as our minds.  Good stories develop our insights and moral understanding.  I've often said Jesus was not so much of a great preacher as he was a great story-teller.  Just think about the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son.  Great stories!

Mostly in preaching we uses stories as illustrations, but Jesus and great story-tellers tell stories not just to illustrate, but as stand-alone teachings.  They don't need explanations, they allow the hearers to understand the story and apply it themselves.  Think of when you heard an Aesop fable or a Joel Chandler Harris Uncle Remus story.  Made you think.  Made you remember.  Taught you something.

So for me, I'm listening to Leonard Sweet.  I'm hoping he's as good a story-teller as he is a writer.  I'm listening...

07 April 2009

Talking Pomo Like an expert... (sigh)

Phyllis and I had a whale of a day a few weeks ago with James Graham and the guys of Global Fellowship.

We drove over in the storm - rain, hail, thunder - to Mobile, Alabama to the International Gospel Outreach Headquarters and I spoke for hours and hours regarding my journey into the post-modern world.  (And I'm pretty sure that everyone there felt like it was hours and hours of Glenn Hatcher drivel... but hey! they invited me to do this! (smile))

You can see the PowerPoint presentation here.

I warned them that I was not an expert, but a student.  A student of culture - that's me!  (So even what I say below is not - I repeat! - not because I am or even think I am an expert on postmodernity!)

I was expecting a group of old guys (like myself) who were baffled by the cultural and ministry paradigm shifts in which they found themselves.  But there was a group of young people there who listened, took notes and shook their heads knowingly.  They got it, 'cause I was talking about them.  Maybe even explaining themselves to themselves.

You see, spirituality is the new gig.  The new paradigm.  The way we've always said it was!  Seems like everybody says they are spiritual.  The church spent two decades fighting against "secular humanism" only to see it evaporate like a rain puddle on a hot summer day.  We fought against humanism by defining ourselves as spiritual, but we have a hard time head-to-head with alternative spiritualities when everyone else defines themselves as being spiritual as well.  That's a "missionary thing," not  a pastor/church thing, right?

But today, few people define themselves as atheists.  People today define themselves as spiritual and speak openly about their spiritual journey.  Just ask them!  The problem is they see us as being merely "religious" and not truly "spiritual."  Can we argue?  Being "religious" means we are "churchy" and "churchy" is not about connecting with God.  That's being spiritual; and churchy is being involved in church stuff.  Make sense?

And many define their spirituality according to their particular tribe.

Tribal thinking is a big part of postmodern thinking.  There are many tribes -- surfers, skaters, bikers, in-liners, runners, rock climbers, music-heads, geeks.  Just look around!  Each tribe (which in another era we would have called a sub-culture) has it's own language, way of dress, hierarchy, values, virtues and spirituality.  Ask a surfer and he'll tell you he's in touch with God when he catches the perfect wave.  Ask a skater (this refers to a skate board rider... in case you're wondering) and he/she will tell you he/she feels close to God - has a spiritual experience - when they are skating.  Or ask a crotch-rocket guy, or a cyclist and they'll tell you the same thing: "I feel spiritual and experience God when I do my thing."

As I unpacked the whole tribal mentality of pomo spirituality, Katie, one of the young ones sitting on the front row, asked this question: "Don't these tribes just see us Christians as another tribe attempting to compete with their tribe?"

She nailed it!

In the new world of America - just like in Europe or Asia or Africa or the Middle East - the church and Christianity is seen as just a competing spirituality among many.  It's like the Hebrews in the OT, serving Yahweh among the Amelekites and the Hittites!  Competing spiritualities: competing realities, competing rituals and belief-systems.  All side-by-side.  Amazing new world.  It's not just Islam and Buddhism, etc.  Now it's everywhere, all the time.

Actually, I had a blast being there and teaching! 

But having a blast is not enough.  Understanding competing spiritualities is not enough.  I want to be able to impact some other tribals and tribes with the trans-tribal wonder and amazement of Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

It's not enough to understand the world.  Lenin said it something like this, "Philosophers have explained the world.  Now we must change the world."

Echoes of Jesus...

03 April 2009

Bring it on!

My Seabeck buddy Brad Sargent is beginning a new series here to begin discussing CULTURES AND KINGDOM.

He'll be talking about:

  • What is culture?
  • What is “cultural capital” that is possessed by a cultural group and then passed on to their next generations?
  • How does cultural capital differ from a paradigm?
  • What types of cultures are there - what frameworks can we use to understand the range of cultures?
  • How do sets of cultures relate with each other?
  • What is the ideal “Kingdom Culture”?
  • If all gatherings of disciples are moving in that direction, are we supposed to end up looking the same? If not, what areas is it legitimate in which to differ?
  • How do Christian cultures relate with local cultures?
  • How SHOULD (and shouldn’t) Christian Cultures Relate with Local Cultures?
  • How do cultures tend to move or change over time, whether due to unintentional change or intentional transition?
  • What makes the difference between mere change and intentional transformation?
  • What are key types of trajectories, in local cultures and Christian cultures moving toward Kingdom Culture?
  • How do subcultures/alternative cultures form? How do virtual cultures form?
  • How has your thinking about cultural formation changed since you first started writing on the subject in the 1990s?
  • How could cultures relate with one another in the Kingdom?
  • How SHOULD Christian cultures relate in Kingdom Culture?
  • What are potential issues in the “Futures of Cultures”?

As a missiologist kinda-guy (and hey! in the real world of 2009 we've all gotta be missiologists thinking like missionaries... even pastors!) I'm excited to hear Brad's thinking!