Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

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How a Garth Brooks Impersonator became a Myrtle Beach Missionary

Steve FairchildFor we are not proclaiming ourselves

but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:5, HCSB

Here is another modern-day missionary. This guy is a missional artisan following God’s great strategy and modeling the five-fingered-approach-to-sharing-the-gospel.

Steve Fairchild fulfills his mission to artists in a completely different setting. As a child, Fairchild went to live with his grandparents after his parent’s divorce. His grandparents took him to church every Sunday and on Wednesday nights. There he learned the basic facts of the gospel but church left him confused and frustrated. The pastor preached against smoking but lit up a cigarette anytime he worked on his car. Church members smiled and hugged at church but talked hatefully about each other all week. Fairchild said, “As a child, I remember being told that dancing and going to movies was sinful. Then the rules changed and movies and dancing were okay. I used to wonder what happened to all the people that went to movies and died before they changed the rules. As I grew up I wanted no part of church or organized religion.”

Fairchild’s mother eventually remarried and brought him home. As professional musicians, his mother and stepfather traveled with several prominent country music artists. So when Fairchild could break away, he took to the road as a country musician himself.

He remembered, “When I began my career in show business, Jesus was the last thing I was thinking about. I was in the fast lane making lots of money as a Garth Brooks tribute artist, having lots of fun, and touring all over the world. I thought if I was just a good person, I would be okay.”

But his thinking changed when he met his wife. She shared how important Jesus was in her life and that she would never marry someone who was not a believer in Christ.

“I can sacrifice an hour in church if I get to marry the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met,” he thought. “So that’s what I did while we were dating and in the first two years of marriage. I went to church for her, not me.”

One Sunday morning the pastor asked, “What is keeping you from a relationship with Jesus?” It was a searing question, but Fairchild had plenty of answers. The pastor continued, “Some of you are carrying around excuses like bricks in a backpack. Let them go and come to Jesus.” Suddenly, like Paul on the Damascus road, it was as if Fairchild was the only person in the room. He heard Jesus’ voice, “Steve, what is your excuse?”

Steve replied with his standard answer, “There are too many hypocrites in church.” He heard Jesus ask again, “What does that have to do with your relationship with me?” “I don’t like how they change the rules!” Fairchild countered. But through his every excuse, Jesus’ question was the same.

Fairchild said, “My life changed that day. I gave my whole life to Jesus. My backpack of excuses fell to the ground, and I was free for the first time in my life.”

Then reality set in. The next day, Fairchild went to the theater where for many years he had been performing 12 shows a week impersonating Garth Brooks. There was sin all around him in the language, attitudes, and actions of his fellow artists.

He said, “The biggest shock was not all the mess that was happening around me, but how I had lived in that mess without ever seeing it before.”

The next morning he met with his pastor. He shared that he was going to have to quit his job to avoid the evil around him. The pastor looked him in the eye and said, “How will anyone come out of that darkness if you are not there to show them the light?” A missionary was born!

Fairchild completes his story by saying, “Since 2000, I have traveled the world spreading the good news of Jesus Christ disguised as Garth Brooks. Meanwhile, I became an elder in our church and served as worship leader. In 2010 our pastor became ill and died unexpectedly. The following October, I was chosen to succeed him as pastor of our church, Low Country Community Church in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Many of the artists I have worked with across the years, now come to my church. I don’t preach in my cowboy hat but I do still perform as Garth. Every time I sing ‘Friends in Low Places,’ I am reminded of people in low places looking desperately for life’s answer. Christ is the answer. We have been commissioned to go and make disciples for him. If God can use a Garth Brooks impersonator, he can use anybody!”  Even YOU!  🙂  — Mark Powers


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How YOU can be a Church Planter!

Your Time is NowBecause we loved you so much,

we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you,

we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:8–9, NIV

Like me, you may have assumed that Paul started churches according to an institutional church model. An institutional model for church planting would require finding a building in which to meet, securing furnishings, hiring staff, and promoting the first worship service to attract the community to the grand opening. But a study of Scripture shows that Paul’s approach was not institutional. Instead, Paul used his giftedness as an artisan to serve his community and build relationships that led to sharing the gospel. His missional heart led him to present the gospel of Christ in every cultural context, in the marketplace to Gentiles and in the synagogue to Jews. Paul embodied the concept of being on mission rather than the attractional model we so easily promote today.  (Watch the “Missional Church… Simple” video listed under resources in the right column of this blog.)

Paul reminded the Christians at Thessalonica that he went beyond simply being a figurehead and shared daily life with them. Paul truly modeled the five-finger-approach-to-handing-someone-the-gospel: he met them at their point of need in his community on a regular basis to build relationships that led to witnessing opportunities.

While Paul was not a worship leader or musician, he was in fact an artisan. An artisan is defined by http://www.dictionary.com as “a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson who makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods.”4 An artisan enriches daily life by producing useful and artistically pleasing artifacts. What was Paul’s artistic gift that he used as a vocation to serve his community? He was a leatherworking artisan, making and repairing tents and other items to support himself (Acts 18:3).

But Paul’s tent-making was more than a job. His craft was his doorway into the community and into relationship with his target group, like Jackson in the example above. From this vocation arose daily opportunities to share with customers and other merchants. Those relationships led to invitations to speak to gatherings in homes, in the market, or at the town square. Through Paul’s witness, some came to believe and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Groups of believers began to gather in homes to worship, grow in discipleship, and move out on mission. These home groups became mission outposts which grew into churches. And there you have it: the most basic element of effective church planting—worshiping disciples on mission starting home groups to grow into house churches. And you know what???  YOU CAN DO THAT!

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Paul the Apostle: How He Went Full Circle!

Your Time is NowBut in whatever anyone dares to boast—I am talking foolishly—I also dare:

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, near death many times. Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods by the Romans. Once I was stoned by my enemies. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses.

The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows I am not lying.

2 Corinthians 11:21–25, 30–31, HCSB

Paul modeled God’s great strategy contained in the four mandates with his life. (We discussed the four Great Scriptural Mandates previously… go here: https://goingfullcircleblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/four-missional-mandates-god-gives-you) In the Apostle Paul we see a man sold out to God’s mission to redeem the world. In the above Scripture, Paul’s integrity was apparently under attack from one of his many detractors. So, against his own better judgment, (“I am talking foolishly . . . like a madman.”) Paul chronicled the hardship that validated his status as a missionary for Christ. Time and again, he endured terrible circumstances and personal attack, yet he stayed the course as a worshiping disciple on mission. Let’s look at the ways Paul reflected God’s Great Strategy contained in the Four Mandates:

1. The Great Cultural Mandate, Genesis 1:28 – Paul, Hebrew from birth and citizen of Rome who spoke several languages, was uniquely gifted by God to “become all things to all people(1 Cor. 9:22, NIV) on mission. He adapted to the community and people wherever he traveled, using the culture of that locale as common ground to build witnessing relationships. Paul understood that culture is a tool from God to connect people with Him. Learning and communicating in the heart languages of those around him became second nature to Paul.

2. The Great Covenant, Genesis 12:1-4b – Paul, the ultimate Pharisee, shifted allegiance to Christ and traveled the world on His behalf. Paul modeled God’s covenant of faith originally given to Abraham: the grace of God manifested first in the Hebrew nation, ultimately was revealed in Jesus, then flowed to the whole world through his disciples. Acts 13 (HCSB) showed Paul in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, preaching the gospel of Christ to his fellow Jews. He punctuated his testimony with phrases that demonstrate the Great Covenant: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me!” (Acts 13:13); “Fellow children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent,” (Acts 13:26); and “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus” (Acts 13:32). As Christ’s missionary, Paul understood that God’s mission is revealed in the whole history of mankind, not just in what God is doing for him right now.

3. The Great Commandment, Matthew 22:39 – Paul, the persecutor of Christians, was changed into a man of compassion when he encountered Christ. Paul preached the pure gospel in all its ramifications without regard to political correctness. Yet there was no doubt in his writings or in the way people responded to him that he was a man of great compassion and caring. “I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds [us]” (Eph. 4:1, HCSB). As Christ’s missionary, Paul cared for and loved people with the love of Jesus. His was not a soft love aimed at offending no one and being tolerant of all. Paul’s love was tough and enduring. The Greek word agape means “sacrificial love,” and it is the word Paul used throughout 1 Corinthians 13 as he defined love. Paul demonstrated that a worshiping disciple on mission reflects God’s unconditional, sacrificial love to the world.

4. The Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20 – Paul, champion of the Hebrew faith, was transformed into a disciple of Jesus and went on mission for Him. In previous blogs, I cited Paul’s writings that demonstrate his heart for worship. Worship continually empowered Paul to join God on mission to redeem the world. In Acts 16:25-26 (HCSB), we see Paul and Silas worshiping in prison: “About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prisondoors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.The story continues in verses 29–34: “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”

The power of Paul’s personal worship ignited his calling as a disciple on mission. His life fulfilled Christ’s Great Commission mandate.

Does your personal worship empower you to join God on His mission to make disciples that make disciples???  — Mark Powers

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A Warning about Marital Affairs (Link to M Hyatt blog)

Greetings friends, and happy Labor Day holiday.   Please see this excellent blog from platform-building guru, Michael Hyatt about avoiding marital affairs.  It’s great advice for all of us.  Click on the link below.

Have a great holiday weekend! — Mark Powers