GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


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One Simple Resolution… Grow Disciplemakers! That’s it.

GFC icon And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,

but let us encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:24–25a, NIV

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I make a few myself. But here’s the one that really counts in God’s Kingdom: “To Make Disciples Who Make Disciples!”  OK, Worship Leaders, do you have a plan for developing disciple makers in your worship ministry during 2017? NO?  Why not?

Come on, let’s get on it!  There are many great plans out there from all kinds of sources.  Go find one.  If you need some ideas and materials, email me at markpowers@scbaptist.org and I’ll send you several that we promote from our offices.

But make sure, whatever you do, that you use a method that fits TODAY’S SOCIETAL NEEDS!

Avery Willis in 2005 noted the changes in America that are opening the door for storying in our own society: “The post-modern culture drives much of the revival of storytelling in the United States . . . Most of today’s younger generation and even many of the baby boomers of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s prefer to learn through spoken and visual means rather than written word. There is also a preference towards relational, non-linear learning . . . The problem before us is that most of our preaching, Bible studies, evangelism and discipleship are reader-oriented and very linear-sequential. So how do we change? That is the question of the hour. We must do something before this wave engulfs us and before we lose a whole generation for the cause of Christ.”

If you don’t understand Bible Storying as a disciple making method then STAY TUNED to this blog all during the month of January as I lay it out for you.

Jesus knew the power of stories to communicate truth. When we think of Jesus, we naturally think of his teaching in parables. Stories conveying truth occur throughout the Bible. Bible stories are actual historic accounts while parables are metaphors that are developed to illustrate a point of truth. Both are wonderful means of conveying truth through storying.

The simplicity of the storying method of Bible study is obvious. This simplicity creates a reproducible process in a relational environment, and this is the key to the method’s appeal and accessibility. Using this simple method, you can start a full circle group in your worship ministry and lead it to multiply throughout your church and community every six to twelve months. And further, by adopting a mission project for the duration of your group, you are creating a missional community with a goal of establishing a mission outpost that may become an indigenous church with ongoing cultivation.

Get Ready… Get Set… GO make disciples who make disciples!  — Mark Powers

— Willis, “Storying Going Mainstream.”


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Leading Through Change: Steps 1&2 – Find God’s Vision/Give it Form

Signs of Change They said to me, “Those who survived the exile

and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.

The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Nehemiah 1:1–3, NIV

We dream of doing great things for God. But dreams only become reality through a persistent commitment to a process that produces results. Without a plan that yields results, our greatest dreams remain unrealized. Artistic people seem to have no shortage of dreams. But artistic people sometimes struggle to develop and follow a strategic plan. Creating an artistic masterpiece requires a disciplined approach. Here is the process you can follow to create a missional masterpiece.

Step One: Seek God and HIS Vision

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.

For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4 NIV

God is at work restoring his own masterpiece in this world. He wants to inspire you to join him in his mission. The word “inspiration” literally means “breathed into.” From within, the Holy Spirit calls us and empowers us for the mission. Remember, the statistics show us that we can’t change ourselves. Only a God-given vision has a chance of success. Only God can lead you through change to action. Surrender your will to him—seek him, find him and follow him.

Nehemiah got alone with God, crying out for God to give him a vision. First, he allowed the problem at hand to become personal to him. He became so convicted that he mourned and wept. Then he sought God’s solution through prayer and fasting. We must seek the vision God has for us with every fiber of our being.

Step two: Accept the vision and define its form

Then I prayed to the God of heaven . . . “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight,

let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Nehemiah 2:4, NIV

Artists understand form. A work of art is expressed in form, whether it is dance, visual art, sculpture, or any other artistic medium. In music, form is the overarching pattern through which melodies, harmonies, and rhythms are stated and developed. So, too, a missional vision needs form to be stated and developed.

When the hand of God rests on you, he will give you a vision. Nehemiah saw the need, received God’s vision, and set out to develop a form. Nehemiah’s vision to restore his heritage took on the form of rebuilding Jerusalem. He visited Jerusalem, personally surveyed the destruction, and then formed a mental picture and a verbal description of a rebuilt city. Put your vision in written form.

Next week, join me as we look at the next two steps for leading through change! I’ll see you here.  — Mark Powers

 


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Jesus’ Secret for Leading Through Change

Jesus5 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me. You’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Matthew 11:28–30, The Message

Dictionary.com defines change as: “1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is, or from what it would be if left alone; 2. to transform or convert.”

An unknown writer said: “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”

Socrates said: “Let him who would change the world first change himself.”

The Bible talks about change, too. Most Scriptures using the word “change” are assurances that God’s nature will remain unchanged throughout eternity. The remaining Scriptures mentioning change are commands to change our lives to align with God. Though God’s nature never changes, the world he created is ever-changing. Change is a naturally occurring result of a dynamic universe made by a creative God. So we must learn to lead through change because change is always going to be a part of life.

The Scripture above is the secret to unlock Jesus’ plan for leading through change: God is the real leader, and we are following him.

Henry and Richard Blackaby, in their book, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda, wrote: “The key to spiritual leadership is for leaders to understand God’s will for them and their organizations. They then move people away from their own agendas and on to God’s.”

The Scripture in Matthew 11 tells us to “walk, work, and watch” in God, so we will “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” A leader must stay so close to God that we hear his whisper and walk in his shadow. There is no guarantee that this level of trust and obedience will bring success in worldly terms. Jesus lived like this, and it took him to the cross. Yet we trust in the power of the resurrection regardless of the sacrifice it takes to get there.

GO walk every step with God, and be the leader HE has called you and gifted you to be!  — Mark Powers

 


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What Style of Worship Music is Right for Your Church?

Question-MarkOur Missional Music

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him.

Acts 17:16–18, NASB

Ethnomusicology is the comparative study of music from different cultures. Ethnomusicologists combine the study of musicology with anthropology to analyze music as a reflection of society and culture. Missional ethnomusicologists encourage the development of indigenous Christian songs produced by the local believers in their own language and music system. Music workshops are presented to native peoples illustrating the value of using local music systems rather than foreign systems, thinking through Scripture passages that might be put to music, composing new Christian songs in their own native style, and recording the new songs. In this way, the gospel becomes incarnate in the musical language of the native people.

A Brazilian missionary reported that a Palikur woman was asked, “Which do you like better, the hymns with non-Indian music, or the ones with the Palikur tunes.”

She replied, “We like them both, but the ones with our music can make us cry.”

Using the heart music of a people connects the gospel with their own legacy. Missionaries have reported that native people, normally apathetic about Christianity, listened with great attention to the words of new Christian songs written by their own musicians in their own style. Putting the biblical message in an indigenous style gives it an authority it would not otherwise have. We, too, must be ethnomusicologists. Worship leaders need to analyze their communities to effectively connect them with God in their indigenous cultures.

Paul was very careful to analyze the surrounding cultural context wherever he went. In the above Scripture, we see him relating to Jews in the synagogue, to Athenian citizens in the marketplace, and to Greek philosophers. In every one of those contexts, Paul saw idolatry alive and well. As a missionary, each of us must analyze our context as well. Who are the people groups in your community/town/city? And what are the idols they have substituted for relationship with almighty God?

The Intercultural Institute for Contextual Ministry offers many resources on its website, http://www.iicm.net, for analyzing the ethno-musical context of our communities. First, we must know the classifications and characteristics of people groups in general before we can analyze who is in our community. IICM identifies these American communities listed below.  Plus, according to Arbitron radio ratings, I have listed the most popular style of music each of these communities were listening to by percentage of radio market. These style preferences are the second thing we must know:

  • Upscale Communities – Affluent families living primarily in suburbia but also in posh neighborhoods in urban settings = ADULT CONTEMPORARY MUSIC.
  • Mainstay Communities – A diverse mix of ethnically mixed singles, couples, and families in established, diverse neighborhoods within small towns and second cities = COUNTRY MUSIC.
  • Working Communities – Racially-mixed, lower middle-class blue-collar households living in older towns = COUNTRY MUSIC.
  • Country Communities – Rural families with outdoor-oriented lifestyles working in agricultural and mining communities = COUNTRY MUSIC.
  • Aspiring Communities – An eclectic group of young, mostly single, ethnically-diverse households living in homes, apartments, and group quarters = URBAN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC.
  • Urban Communities – Ethnically-diverse singles and single-parent renters living in struggling-diverse, inner-city neighborhoods = URBAN CONTEMPORARY.

Obviously, this data is limited because it only includes radio listening habits and does not include data from personal listening devices. But despite those limitations it remains useful for analysis of general music trends in our American communities.

Here’s the kicker… Churches far and wide have started contemporary services using popular musical styles that they suppose will connect their members with God and be attractive to the world. Such Christian writers as Chris Tomlin, Tommy Walker, Laura Storey, and Paul Baloche, as well as a multitude of others, have given us wonderful songs of worship. Their songs are in a pop style that relates to those who listen to Adult Contemporary radio. But that’s where this strategy breaks down, and here’s why. The Arbitron ratings show clearly that the leading radio style is Country music in Mainstay, Working, and Country communities. Urban Contemporary music, which includes rap and hip-hop, is the leading style in two communities —Aspiring and Urban—while Contemporary Hit radio leads only in Upscale communities.

The style of music being used in most contemporary worship services best compares with Adult Contemporary secular radio. If we are going to effectively connect all people with God, we must offer worship in other musical heart languages as well. Yet how many churches do you know that are offering a worship service featuring country, rap and hip-hop, top forty, or the myriad of other styles available? Can we truly think we are connecting all worshippers with God when only contemporary and traditional styles are being offered on any given Sunday?  — Mark Powers

 


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Missional Thinking 101 for Worshipers: GET OUT OF THE CHURCH!

MSTour1 Have this attitude in yourselves

which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself,

taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2: 6–7, NASB

Our Missional Face

The operative word in missions is “incarnation.” John 1:14 (HCSB) says, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.” Incarnate means “in bodily form.” Jesus brought God’s Word to life, in the flesh. As disciples on mission, we bring the gospel to life, in the flesh. In their manual Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide, Mike Breen and Alex Absalom define incarnational as: “changing our message from ‘come to us and look like us’ to ‘we’re coming to you and showing you Christ where you are.’”6

As stated in previous chapters, my definition of missions has become “meeting people at their point of need on a regular basis in your community to build relationships which lead to witnessing opportunities.” Across the past 30 years in the evangelical church, we have emphasized that every church member is a minister, not just the paid staff. But the Bible calls every church member to be a missionary, too. When we incarnate the gospel to the world, ministry will happen alongside missions. Just as Christ became love in the flesh, so must we. The greatest Christian mission force in the world is sitting inside our churches. Break out, church; go embody Christ to your community!  — Mark Powers

BLOG READERS… please join me in this May-June class online at Missional University:

>>Click here for an engaging video about my online class “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”: https://vimeo.com/161573899

>>Get info and register here for this class BY APRIL 18: http://missional.university/index.php/swl

 


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Missions 101: Our Missional Message – Jesus is the Only Way to God!

Jesus5 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,

a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him

who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9, NIV

A 2012 study by LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors and church members to respond to the statement: “If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity.” The alarming statistic is that 12 percent of Protestant pastors actually agreed with the statement. This means that more than 1 in 10 of the responding pastors does not believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Statistics for adults who attend Protestant churches are far more alarming. A startling 26 percent agreed with the statement. That’s more than 1 in 4 Protestant church members polled who don’t believe Jesus is the only way to God.5

The Scriptures call Christians to be a distinctive people. But many Christians today want to look and act like the world to increase our acceptance by the world. Distinctiveness is not something we seem to value as Christians these days. Let’s consider this issue in two parts.

First, the message of the gospel calls Christians to a distinctive belief. Without a distinct message, it is almost impossible for the church to call unbelievers into relationship with God. When we believe that other religions lead to eternal life, the message of Christ and the call to God’s mission of reconciliation go out the window. Any talk-show host or positive-thinking guru can piece together a message from world religions that makes us feel good. American society tells us, “Co-exist! Live, and let live. Lifestyles are in, religion is out. Everybody has a right to embrace their own belief system. There is no right and wrong as long as you don’t hurt someone or their things.”

But God calls his people to boldly proclaim Christ as God’s singular means of reconciliation. Will we listen to our God or to our world?

Jesus said himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). Mohammed specifically says in the Koran that Jesus is not God. Jewish faith says that the Son of God, the Messiah, has not yet come. Buddhism says that there is no God. Hinduism says there are many gods. These religions are mutually exclusive. You can’t get around that fact. We must offer the world the only thing that will make a difference. Offer them the real truth of God. God designed us to be incomplete without him. He completes us for eternal life exclusively through his only son Jesus. There is no other way to God.

Second, the message of the gospel calls Christians to a distinctive lifestyle. Without a distinctive lifestyle, it is almost impossible for the church to call unbelievers to relationship with God. If our behavior is no different from those around us, how can we tell them that Christ will make a difference in their lives? As discussed previously in this blog, God expects his followers to consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If these qualities do not signify our lives, how can we be significant in pointing others to God? Our distinctive lifestyle must be a bright beacon to our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And our lives must point to Jesus – the only way to God!  — Mark Powers

Roach, “Pastors Uphold Christian Exclusivity Poll Finds,” http://www.lifeway.com.

BLOG READERS… please join me in this May-June class online at Missional University:

>>Click here for an engaging video about my online class “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”: https://vimeo.com/161573899

>>Get info and register here for this class BY APRIL 18: http://missional.university/index.php/swl

 

 


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Missional Thinking 101 for Worshipers: Our Missional Mind

Claiming the Streets  I, the Lord, have called you

for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand.

I will keep you, and I will make you a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.

I am Yahweh, that is My name.

Isaiah 42:6–8a, HCSB

Mission is the work of God to reconcile our sinful world to himself, and it is eternally rooted in his own will and nature: God originated the mission; Jesus Christ enacted the mission; the Holy Spirit empowers the mission; the church carries out missions; we tell the world the good news of reconciliation through Jesus; a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, becomes a disciple, and joins God’s mission. God’s love goes full circle in missions. John Piper, in Let the Nations Be Glad, wrote, “When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity.”

Gailyn Van Rheenen, in Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, pointed out that there are at least five things that Christians must understand when we join God’s mission: “First, if mission flows from the character and nature of God, it cannot be neglected by the church. Mission, because it is of God, cannot be aborted. Second, since the mission is of God, God will equip people for the task. If they feel inadequate, he will empower them. Third, the mission of God enables Christian missionaries to understand themselves under God’s sovereignty. Christians should not undertake God’s mission for self-glorification but for the glorification of God. It is God’s enterprise. Fourth, the mission of God implies sacrifice. It is a mission worth living and dying for. Finally, because the mission is God’s, it will succeed. Even though messengers fail and people reject the message, the mission of God continues. God, the source of mission, will raise up new people to carry his message.”

Understanding these five things about missions will help you clarify your role in the mission of God. How many of our church members, or our pastors for that matter, can clearly put into words the mission of God and our work of missions? We are quick to tell anyone what we think our church should be. But our church wish-list seldom mirrors God’s mission in the world.  — Mark Powers

NOTE: – During May and June, I will be teaching an online course based on my book GOING FULL CIRCLE.  The course runs 7 weeks – totally online – and is called “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”.  Please join me for this! Cost is $285 plus a $30 tech fee. Go here and scroll down for lots of info and videos about our School of Worship Leadership at Missional University: http://missional.university/index.php/swl.

Credits: Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, page unknown.  ——- Van Rheenen, Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, 19.