Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

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Missional Thinking 101 for Worshipers: Our Worldview

Awestruck FamilyAnd I will put enmity between you and the woman,

  and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:15, NIV

A worldview is the lens through which people view and understand life. In Basic Training for Mission Teams, Jerry Rankin and Phyllis Tadlock defined worldview as: “Shared beliefs, feelings and values that drive the behavior and life patterns of individuals and cultures.”1 A Christian worldview sees history as “His story,” the story of God’s mission to redeem the world. God’s story is a continuum with a beginning and an end. Some have portrayed this redemption story as the story of three trees: the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden; the tree of Calvary where Jesus gave his life for us; and the tree of life in Revelation 2:7 at the end of this age.

In the above Scripture, God unveiled his redemption plan immediately after Adam and Eve fell into sin. God revealed to Satan as serpent that ultimately Jesus would crush his head even after Satan had wounded the Son of Man. This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

The Bible is full of stories showing our God on mission to restore fallen humanity. His redemption story unfolds in distinctive chapters across the ages: the creation; the fall into sin; the plan of redemption announced; the faith covenant with Abraham to bless the world through his offspring; the prophecies of the coming of Messiah; the birth, ministry, crucifixion, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ; the Great Commissioning of the church to join God on his redemptive mission; the gospel taken to the nations; the second coming of Christ; and the consummation of his story when all disciples are worshiping the Lamb at the heavenly throne.

You and I are a part of this continuing story. We have been commissioned by God to join his mission and share his story. What an amazing concept, that God would use people like you and me to redeem our world back into relationship with himself through Jesus Christ.  Let’s not waste a moment in this life. Let God use you continually as his instrument to “seek and save the lost”.  EVERY CHRISTIAN IS CALLED TO BE A MISSIONARY TO THEIR COMMUNITY AND THE WORLD!  — Mark Powers

1. Rankin and Tadlock, Basic Training for Mission Teams, 28.


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Worship Team Meditation: “All Creatures of Our God and King”

 Dad-childAll creatures of our God and King,

Lift up your voice and with us sing

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise him! Alleluia!

God has set this world in order. It runs like clockwork in infinite detail with amazing precision. The order of this world testifies to a mastermind of infinite proportions. Yet God’s attention to detail extends to the smallest thing. As mankind lives and moves within this infinitely organized world, we organize our own lives as we reflect God’s creativity and resourcefulness. We call it culture. And when the cultural organization of our lives is in tune with God, we live in harmony as his creation. But when we assume the role of demi-god and force a foreign culture onto a people, we move outside of God’s graceful order. Skirmishes begin to disrupt the grace relationship in which God calls us to live. The joy of singing “Alleluia” is lost when we are under attack from those who should bring God’s grace. War breaks out in our soul, in our relationships, and in our churches. The term “worship war” is an oxymoron. There can be no war in worship when worship belongs solely to God.

And all ye men of tender heart,

Forgiving others, take your part,

O sing ye! Alleluia!

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on Him cast your care!

O praise him! Alleluia!

How can we rediscover the joy of “Alleluia” when the song of heartfelt worship has been drowned out by a worship war? Hearts may once again become tender through praising God and casting our cares on him. Our souls cry out to God in the unique language of our hearts. In those heart languages we embrace the cross and the love given there. May this act of worship bring you to forgive those who have forced their culture on you. Then may you rise in “humbleness” and worship our God with a fresh spirit, free from the hurts of the past. “O praise him. Alleluia!”

Let all things their Creator bless,

And worship him in humbleness,

O praise him! Alleluia!

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,

And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

O praise him! O praise him!

                      Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

                  — Mark Powers

Francis of Assisi, paraphrased by William Draper and Thomas Ken, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” Public Domain.

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Going Full Circle: Youth Prison… Christmas Eve

Columbia area Baptists spend time at Christmas with juvenile inmates.

February 12, 2016

Written by Scott Vaughan for SC Baptist Convention. Go here…. http://www.scbaptist.org/resources/news/columbia-area-baptists-spend-time-at-christmas-with-juvenile-inmates/609/

For 18 years, Columbia area Baptists have spent Christmas Eve with juvenile inmates.

Tim Brown received the thank-you letter after Christmas.

“Dear Mr. Tim,” the hand-written letter began. After a few sentences thanking Tim and other Columbia area Baptist volunteers for a Christmas Eve visit to Columbia’s State Juvenile Detention Center on Broad River Road, the letter continued.

“My own family won’t even write me, let alone visit on a regular day. But you came here on Christmas Eve. That makes me realize that the world is not only filled with evil and sinful people, but it’s also filled with loving and caring Christians.”

The letter goes on to acknowledge Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind’s sins.

For 18 years, Tim Brown and a group of 18-20 Columbia-area Baptists have gone out to the juvenile detention center early on Christmas Eve morning. The volunteers divide into teams and visit each dormitory, bringing Christmas cheer to 100-125 teenagers on the campus. Bert Holland, who, like Tim, is a member of Riverland Hills Baptist Church, dresses as Santa Claus and communicates that the joy of Santa doesn’t compare to the joy found in a relationship with Jesus. Mark Powers, director of worship and music on the South Carolina Baptist Convention staff, brings his guitar to lead Christmas singing. Volunteers give each teenager one of the state convention’s prisoner packets, a Christmas card, and a folded copy of the Christmas Cane Story with an actual candy cane taped to the outside. The Christmas Cane Story, telling the gospel through the colors and curves of the traditional Christmas cane, provides an object lesson as volunteers share the gospel with the inmates.

“It’s been a real blessing for me, personally,” Tim says. It was made even more special this year as two of his grandsons were a part of the volunteers. The thank-you letters are an added blessing.

“I received another letter from a teenage girl that read, ‘You all showed me that God is real. I enjoyed hearing your talk; it made my day 100 percent better. I will be leaving soon and try to be better at prayer and Bible Study. When I go home, I want to push myself to go to church every Sunday.’

“Hopefully, we are planting seeds that will germinate in these young lives,” Tim says. Beyond the 18 years of Christmas Eve visits, Tim is entering his 33rd year of prison ministry volunteerism. A part of that volunteerism has been as a mentor to assigned teenagers.

“Many of these teenagers have never experienced love in their homes,” Tim says. “It gets their attention when you give up time, including Christmas Eve, to go visit with them. And, the Department of Juvenile Justice needs more mentoring volunteers. I just always encourage the teenagers that this is a point in their lives, and it’s not the end for them. There is hope.”

The state convention’s Mark Powers says, “For me, one of the high points of the last 8 years has been the opportunity to visit, lead carol singing, and then present the gospel to these teenagers.

“Soon after moving back to Columbia, I met Tim Brown.  Tim invited me to join these Christmas Eve volunteers, and I have done everything possible not to miss it since.  The expressions on the faces of the students each year are suspicious at first, but as soon as we start singing and handing out prisoner packets and Christmas cards with candy canes, they warm up to us.  Surely the love of Christ lovingly expressed through smiles and gifts is the power that breaks through the hard shell of a lonely teen in a prison cell.  I’ve seen it personally time and again each Christmas Eve at the detention center.”

Matthew Morrison, South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice volunteer coordinator, applauds the beyond-the-church-walls volunteerism shown by groups like Riverland Hills, saying, “Volunteer commitment of groups such as Riverland Hills Baptist Church positively touches the lives of the youth that we serve.  By offering these moments of happiness and care, we bring hope of brighter futures to our youth and the citizens of South Carolina.”

GFC BLOG READERS: This story was too good not to share on my blog this week.  I pray that it inspires YOU to find your mission!  — Mark Powers

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Combine your Worship Services OR Stylistically Separate Them?

Blessed BeOur task as worship leaders really is simple. We plan God-focused worship in the heart language of our church. We grow them as disciples. Then we lead them on mission to learn the heart language of the target group to whom God sends us. With this understanding, our slavery to attractional thinking can be broken. No longer are we laboring under the mandate that we must get the world into our church to win them for Christ. We are free to connect Christians with God in a style that fits them best so that they can be sent on mission. If this means offering different worship services in different styles, then so be it. Meeting people where they are in their heart language to communicate the gospel is the essence of being missional. And if you are afraid of creating different churches within your church, remember that unity comes from a unifying mission, not simply sitting in the same room at the same hour once a week.

So, the deciding factors in providing multiple worship services in your church to meet multiple needs are:

  1. Spiritual Maturity: If your church’s members are spiritually mature enough to sacrifice their own heart languages for others, you can provide only one worship service. Aim the worship style at the majority, but include the wider spectrum of heart languages from time to time.
  2. Resources: If your church does not have the size or resources to offer more than one service, you can provide only one service and offer as many of your congregation’s heart languages as possible in that service. Constantly teach them to focus on God and call them to sacrifice for each other. But beware, you may discover why blended worship is sometimes referred to as “the equal opportunity offender.”
  3. Missional Intent: If your church has the resources, spiritual maturity and missional intent to offer worship in a variety of heart languages, then, by all means, do so. But don’t just guess at the heart languages of your congregation. Research and poll them to target their heart languages as closely as possible.

I certainly believe that most of our evangelical churches have the ability and resources to offer different services in different styles. But please remember the most important point in all of this. We must know that the goal of worship is to connect us with God so that we grow as disciples who make disciples. Worship can never be about us. If we discern our church’s heart language simply to meet our own needs and keep us happy, we will have missed God’s intent for us as his children.

No more forcing a worship culture on a congregation under the mistaken assumption that it will help win the world for Christ by getting people into church. No more arguing about which style is better. No more worship wars resulting from putting our preference on the throne. What a relief! Simply start where your people are and use their heart language to connect them with God, grow them as disciples, and send them out to join God’s mission.  — Mark Powers