GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


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Take Your Worship Team on Mission: Missional Moments in Rehearsal

Dutch Fork Back to School Bash 2012How can we  teach basic concepts of how to live ON MISSION with God to our worship teams in just five minutes during rehearsals? In my last blog, I shared how to plan a Missional Retreat for your Worship Team to introduce basic concepts and convict their hearts while you are rehearsing music for upcoming services.  Check it out here if you missed it: http://wp.me/p4ybbl-bx

Step Two in growing a Missional Worship Team is to do something weekly that intentionally teaches your team the Biblical concepts of being on mission with God.  Here are some simple easy things you can do:

  • Share stories of Worship Teams from other churches that are successfully doing missions in their own community.  Email me at markpowers@scbaptist.org for a list of those in South Carolina.
  • Show videos with a Biblical mission theme.  Some good sources are WorshipHouseMedia.com, SermonSpice.com, and IgniterMedia.com.
  • Invite local missions volunteers to come and give a testimony of their work in your community.  Communicate upfront with your guest that you are only able to allow them four minutes of testimony and one minute to pray over the group in closing.  Hold them to it.
  • Invite your own worship team members to share stories of how they are on mission in their family, work, school, and other community settings.  This creates a culture of Missional thinking through healthy peer pressure.
  • Invite directors of local homeless shelters, food pantries, prison ministry, and other community missions to present the needs they have in their work and enlist volunteers from your team who can help meet their needs.

Remember to target emotional impact for real change by using stories, Scripture, testimonies, and videos to illustrate each point. Exercise careful discipline to stay on task and within time constraints. Be sure to close with prayer for your team to apply the concept taught each session.

During this step, you, as leader, need to take note of anyone who seems to be hearing God’s call to be a missional leader or leadership team member. Draw from those who show interest and personally recruit them for your mission team that will work with you to plan and produce a mission project in your community. But be careful not to recruit only those who are Innovators, eager to embrace change but not trusted as leaders. You will need trusted leaders possessing influence necessary to move your vision toward action plans and lead in that process. Also, during this step, begin to promote participation in the next step, Discipleship TRIOs.

The call of every worship leader goes far beyond just making it to the next Sunday and providing for moving, powerful worship that connects us with God.  Christ’s Great Commission calls every Christian to grow disciple makers! The BEST context to “grow disciples who make disciples” is when we are on mission with God – THINKING like a missionary, PRAYING like a missionary, and ACTING like a missionary everywhere we go!  — Mark Powers

 


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Unlock a New Vision to Go to the Next Level

Resources Recommendations But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem,

for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done . . . I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought this calamity upon us and upon this city?

So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. Nehemiah 13:6–7,17–18,30, NIV

Nehemiah’s first vision was to re-build the city of Jerusalem. His next vision was to purify the people. While in captivity and immersed in another culture, they had compromised the purity of their Jewish faith. Nehemiah’s intent was to restore their allegiance to the one true God—the God of their forefathers who would use them to bring forth the Savior. In some ways, rebuilding the city must have seemed easy compared to changing the attitudes, habits, and daily practices of the people.

As you celebrate the victory of achieving your first vision, remember that the process of transformation is ongoing. The mission effort you have begun is very fragile. It must be nourished and protected in order to take root. Regression can happen before you know it. A single accomplishment will be an empty victory if we return to old patterns of hoarding our giftedness inside the “Church Club”. Being missional requires an ongoing intent, focus, and plan to get outside into our community. It will take years for missional thinking to be fully ingrained in an organization that has been self-centered.

Your ability to manage change is always dependent on the quality of your relationships. I am amused to read in Nehemiah how he resorted to strong-arm tactics of pulling hair out and beating up those who disobeyed the laws of Jewish purification (Nehemiah 13:25). A leader must certainly be willing to discipline those who disobey God’s laws. But a leader can never withdraw from the bank account more than he has invested in his people relationally. Nehemiah had said previously: “The earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people . . . Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that” (Neh. 5:15, NIV). We must constantly check our “relational balance statement” to ensure that we are depositing more care, attention, encouragement, and love in our follower’s lives than we ask for in return. That is servant-leadership by Christ’s example.

Once you have successfully accomplished your first ongoing mission project in your community, begin to envision your next work. Go to God and ask him to breathe another vision into your brokenness. Go back to your pastor and begin the circle all over again. Keep on dreaming and leading full circle. Never stop as long as God’s mission of redemption is yet to be fulfilled!  — Mark Powers

P.S. Enrollment in WorshipWise October Session OPENS OCTOBER 1 but CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT, OCTOBER 14.  Check out our 4-week courses for $99 each at http://www.worshipwise.com.

 


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Leading Through Change: Step Four – Enlist your Leadership Team

Signs of Change  I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors . . . that they will provide me safe-conduct. . . ?

And may I have a letter to Asaph, so he will give me timber. . . ?”

Nehemiah 2:7–8a, NIV

When God gave me the vision to start M3, the MusicArts Mission Movement among our South Carolina Baptist churches, I prepared to send out invitations to key worship leaders. My goal was to recruit six young worship leaders to join me in igniting the movement. But during the month I planned to send invitations, my father became ill and entered the hospital. Three weeks later God took my dad to heaven. Heartbroken, I was ready to delay the whole M3 process. My supervisor convinced me to send out a general e-mail anyway just to see what interest there might be. Within one week, I had six colleagues signed up and ready to jump aboard. God had already spoken to their hearts and enlisted them by the power of his Spirit. I simply needed to believe and obey God’s leadership.

The vision given to Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem must have seemed impossible. But God’s visions are uniquely designed for the one to whom they are given. God will not give you a vision without giving you the innate abilities to complete the task. God will also place around you the resources needed to fulfill the vision. Be open, nevertheless, to sharpening your leadership skills if God leads you to do so.

Make a list of candidates to serve on your mission leadership team and then approach them to share your vision.

  1. Help them see and understand the problems: the world is dying without Christ; churches are in decline; few Christians are being discipled and sent on mission for Christ. Then share your vision with them.
  2. Most importantly, express what you expect they will receive personally from their involvement. Share success stories and testimonies if you have them. All of us have a longing to be part of something with eternal significance. Appeal to that longing in them.
  3. Make sure that they understand that you are recruiting them for a limited time to accomplish a specific task. Few will sign on for unlimited service with no ending point in sight. Then step back and see how God moves in their hearts.

Remember that you cannot program people to respond positively to your vision or mission. Trust God to “call out the called” as he works in those he has chosen to join the mission. Do not take a “no” answer personally. Communicate your vision clearly and enthusiastically and then wait to see who God brings alongside you.

— Mark Powers

READERS: In September, I will be launching a new online e-classroom featuring 4-week basic training courses for worship leaders!  Stay tuned for more information about WORSHIPWISE.com.  Keep looking here for info and class registration.


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Here’s Why I’m Not Big on Blended Services

wondering Our “blended” worship is often restricted to a blend of only contemporary and traditional church styles. A true blend must be more representative of the musical heart languages of our church and include all musical styles prevalent in our community: bluegrass? urban? pop? etc. etc. To be honest, though, I believe that worship is more effective offering different styles in multiple services wherever believers differ in their musical heart language, as opposed to simply offering one blended service. Different services of different styles allows traditional worshipers to continue to embrace the hymnody of the past while other groups embrace styles that resonate with them.

And most of our church members are not spiritually mature “to wait their turn to get what they want.”  That’s why blended worship has often been called “the equal opportunity offender.”

Radio stations understand that blending seldom works. Top forty stations don’t offer a daily classical symphony; country stations don’t suddenly break in with a few jazz selections, and rap stations don’t program an occasional hour of contemporary adult hits and oldies.

So if we are going to truly connect our people with God in deeper discipleship and active missions, we must know our church’s heart languages. Too often we assume we know our people and their favorite styles of expression. Have you polled them lately to see exactly what their heart language is?  Email me at markpowers@scbaptist.org if you would like to see some samples of worship polls for your congregation.

One thing the radio preference chart shows in last week’s blog is that we probably don’t even know what they are listening to on their way home from church. (Click here to see last week’s blog: http://wp.me/p4ybbl-az.) It is dangerous to assume we are on target with our worship planning and are speaking their cultural language without researching it.

Or worse, we are being just plain arrogant if we think we know what is best for them and what style God prefers. 

— 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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Singing Churchmen Mission Trip to Cleveland: Amazing Works of God!

 Cleveland 2016 - street singing 2 Twenty eight members of the 60 voice SC Baptist Singing Churchmen were on mission in Cleveland Ohio from last Saturday, April 30 through today Saturday, May 7.  God used us in amazing ways to share the good news of Christ!

Every time we sang we included a simple straightforward presentation of the gospel. But even better… from Sunday through Friday, we recorded 219 one-on-one conversations in which we presented the gospel in a personal and non-threatening way. Something like this: “Hi, did you enjoy our singing? We’re here telling people how much God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them through Jesus.  Are you a Jesus-follower or have you experienced that relationship with God?”

From these conversations we gleaned 22 contacts which were turned over to Jay Schroder to give to Cleveland Church Planters for follow up.

DURING THE FIVE DAYS IN CLEVELAND we sang  TWENTY TIMES in every imaginable setting. Here is a list of the places we sang:

Sunday, May 1:

  • Morning Worship at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church where the Holy Spirit moved mightily.  After our songs, Pastor Dwayne Simmons abandoned his sermon and communion service plans and preached on prayer and led us into an hour long time of praise and prayer for chains to be broken in the congregation and the city.
  • Evening Worship with the Chinese Church in Hudson Ohio followed by Q&A about worship and music ministry then dinner with the church members and guests.

Monday, May 2:

  • Concert at Tower City Mall in downtown Cleveland at lunch hour which led to many spiritual conversations.
  • Singing in four locations on the downtown streets of Cleveland. Fun time!
  • Concert at the Cleveland VA Hospital, one of the largest VA hospitals in the U.S.

Tuesday, May 3:

  • Concerts in three Assisted Living Centers where NAMB church planter Dave Wible has started discipleship groups.  (Dave has started over 70 discipleship groups in the past three years in the Cleveland area.)
  • Flash Mob twice at local mall food court… many great conversations!
  • Two concerts during evening feeding shifts at Lakeside Lutheran Men’s Shelter.  Amazing experience!

Wednesday, May 4:

  • Concert at the Medina OH town square gazebo for Brunswick Community Church then lunch at cafes all around the square to talk to those who had seen and heard us. Pastor Buck Wilford, former Special Forces officer, was meeting and talking to those passing with great energy and a huge smile.
  • Flash Mob at the historic Westside Market in West Cleveland, a huge inside market featuring bakeries and delis and butcher shops.
  • Concert for Liberty Hill Baptist Church, an African American congregation that loved us and provided for us in their dormitory style rooms where many mission groups stay each year and let us use their full kitchen for our meals.

Thursday, May 5:

  • Participated in and sang for the Cleveland National Day of Prayer Event in Wade Oval Park, a powerful four hour prayer and praise fest with Christians from across the city.
  • Concert of kids songs and gospel magic for Laura’s Home, shelter for abused mothers and children.  One of the real highpoints of the trip… watching our group “dance” and sing motion songs with the kids.  Jim Diehl, Director of Missions for Aiken Baptist Association, presented the gospel through kid-friendly magic, too.

Friday, May 6:

  • Traveled halfway home and presented an evening concert at Ansted Baptist Church in West Virginia for a packed house pastored by Randy Spurgeon who is the former Worship & Music Director for WV but was called to pastor this church last fall.  This church is a major force for the gospel, running around 200 in worship in a small town of only 2,000 residents. What a great way to end our trip!

THIS IS GOING FULL CIRCLE… WORSHIP THAT LEADS TO DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSIONS!  And YOU can do it, too.  GO!  — Mark Powers


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Missional Thinking: Church Planting 101 for Worship Leaders

GFC iconThey said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man,

who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel

to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” The following day he (Peter) entered Caesarea.

Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

Acts 10:22, 24, HCSB

Here is the goal of missions: That a year from now, there would be more people who know Christ as Savior, as a percentage of the population of a specific people group, than right now. Based on that specific goal, we must “develop a contextual process to reach, disciple, congregationalize (gather), mobilize, and reproduce believers among specific ethnic, lifestyle and life-stage groups,” a definition of missional strategy that Curt Watke teaches in his missional training.

Across America and the world, new strategies are springing up almost daily to accomplish this goal. My purpose is not to recommend one or the other, but rather to encourage us to explore the variety of ways God is moving to win people. The establishment of missional communities is one such strategy sweeping our world. Reggie McNeal accurately chronicles these in his book Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church. McNeal is careful to say that missional communities can exist alongside our congregational churches as an alternative church life form. And both can and must learn from each other. The term “missional community” embraces a wide variety of groups. In general they are groups of between ten and seventy people collaborating together to fulfill a mission strategy. Sometimes, a missional community is formed by smaller cluster groups such as discipleship groups, etc. Members of missional communities worship, study, grow and do missions together in formal and informal ways. 3DM Ministries, founded by Mike Breen, facilitates missional communities to model the three dimensions of Up-In-Out. This is a close correlation to the full circle of worship-discipleship-mission. I highly recommend Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom for excellent insight into missional communities and how they function. This resource is based on more than 20 years of developing a practical nuts-and-bolts approach to starting highly effective missional communities.

The house church is one prevalent form of missional community. Since New Testament days, the house church has been a powerful seed in church planting. The house church movement is alive and well across the world, moving under the radar of institutional awareness and control. House churches are the engine fueling the rapid growth of Christianity in China, India, Brazil, and many other parts of the world. Lessons from the house church movement—both good and bad—can give excellent insight into leading your worship ministry to become a missional community. You can read more about the house church network at http://housechurch.org/about.html.

Meanwhile, institutional churches are being revitalized by the “mission outpost” strategy. An outpost mission team is called out and trained in the five-fingered-approach specifically to start mission outposts to become new churches under the guidance of the sponsoring church. The mission outpost process is very simple: form and train a mission team, target a people group in your community, place the team at a home or public setting to do missions, form a home discipleship group from contacts made there, and then grow the discipleship group into a house church to reach indigenous people around them.

These strategies and many more are predicated upon finding the “person of peace” and his/her household. In Luke 10:5–7 (NIV), Jesus sent his disciples on mission with this instruction: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”

God shows us where he is about to visit by the presence of one or more people of peace. In the Scripture above we see Cornelius, the person of peace who reached out to Peter and opened his household. God instructs us to look for a person of peace in a target people group and connect with that person and his/her household. If there is no person of peace there, then we simply move on. God may prepare the most unlikely people to be your “person(s) of peace,” so be open to everyone. Finding and building a relationship with the person(s) of peace is the key to connecting with their households—their relational networks. It is imperative to involve persons of peace in our Missional communities as quickly as possible so they embrace the gospel and join God’s mission. This will equip them to be leaders as our outpost grows into an indigenous church or missional community on its own.

So here is the circle of missional strategy:

1. Churches present local mission events;

2. From those events, mission outposts are established to meet people at their point of need on a regular basis in your community through ongoing mission projects;

3. Persons of peace are discovered from the mission outposts and enlisted to host Bible storying groups in their home or another community setting;

4. As people in the group accept Jesus as Savior, the outposts become indigenous house churches;

5. House churches link together to become a constituted church or missional community;

6. These present local mission events . . . and the missional strategy keeps going full circle.

New Testament churches were basically missional communities worshiping, discipling, and doing missions. They reached out to persons of peace in their own communities and established new missional communities household to household. Using this model, Christianity grew exponentially in three centuries from about 1,000 believers in 40 A.D. to 33.8 million by 350 A.D. Would you agree that the strategy worked? Can the strategy work today?

WORSHIP LEADERS – I am challenging YOU to do ongoing Mission projects in and through your worship ministry, discovering persons of peace in YOUR neighborhoods, then discipling them to establish mission outposts for the sharing of the gospel of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. WHO WILL GO? — Mark Powers

  • Watke, “M3 lectures.” South Carolina Baptist Convention, 2012–2013, used with permission.