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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Are Choirs Still Relevant in Modern Worship?

modern-worship-choir (As of last Wednesday 9/7, this SC Baptist Convention website article I wrote had 8,487 page views including 6,802 visitors.  Wow. I’m amazed!  Here is the article…)

Yes, I admit that many of our worship leaders and pastors hold divided opinions on the issue of choirs in modern worship. Yet in our culture we have seen a real resurgence of TV shows like “The Voice”, “Glee,” “The Sing Off,” and others that feature singers and choirs. Choirs are popping up in secular concerts, award shows, variety acts, and more. Some of the most cutting edge schools of modern worship continue to weave the choir into the fabric of their worship training.

I want to challenge you to rethink how a modern worship choir can be a viable way to revitalize your worship and involve more potential disciples in the worship life of your church! Here’s why:

The Bible tells me so

You may not be aware of it, but 54 of the Psalms are addressed to the choir director. Also, when the temple in Jerusalem was first dedicated and then again dedicated when Nehemiah rebuilt the temple, choirs were prominent in the dedication service. In fact, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 tells us that it was the choir and orchestra that delivered the worship so powerfully that the glory of God fell on all those assembled in the temple.

Continue reading this article by clicking here: http://www.scbaptist.org/are-choirs-are-still-relevant-in-modern-worship/

Thanks!  – Mark Powers

(And take the WorshipWise.com survey to help us design future classes for worship leaders at WorshipWise!  Go here: http://www.WorshipWise.com)


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Leading Through Change: Step Three – Enlist Pastor Support

Resources Recommendations Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me,

“How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?”

It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

Nehemiah 2:6

Nehemiah sought support from his king to pursue the vision of rebuilding Jerusalem. A worship minister must receive the support of his senior pastor to pursue the missional vision. First, find ways to mention your vision in casual conversation, written memos, staff meetings, and face-to-face appointments. Charles Billingsley, worship leader with Jerry Falwell and David Jeremiah, refers to what he calls “the law of the seventh mentioning.” He believes we can plan on having to mention an idea at least seven times before it will appear on the radar of our pastor.

Attitude is crucial in the process of asking for endorsement and support from your pastor. This requires much prayer. Don’t rush into this meeting. Don’t let your excitement make you hurry. Set aside a week or two to pray. Ask God to shape your vision to match the vision of your pastor and vice versa. Your vision must be fused into your pastor’s vision for the church. Like a gardener who grafts a branch onto the main vine, you want your vision to enhance the pastor’s greater vision for the church.

When you have a sense of peace and confidence in the Lord, schedule a meeting with your pastor. Trust God to do his work between you. Begin by asking your pastor to share his overarching vision with you. We trust that the heart of every Christian executive is to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. But he can express that in many different ways depending on his giftedness, personality, calling, and situation. He may say his vision is organizational unity, or financial security, or numerical growth. Continue to trust God’s Spirit no matter what your pastor expresses as a vision.

Your next question is crucial, asked in all sincerity: “How can I help you achieve this vision?” This discussion must be a sharing of hearts and not a sales presentation. Once you have heard their heart on this matter, then share the vision God has placed in your heart. If you are open and adaptable, God will shape your vision through the discussion with your pastor. You may leave the meeting with a different perspective on your vision and how to bring it to reality. But if you have soaked the meeting in prayer, you can trust that God had a hand in forging your vision through this meeting.

If the initial answer is “No,” don’t despair or give up. Ask permission to re-design and re-define your vision, then ask permission to come back and talk some more. If your pastor accepts your vision and pledges his support, schedule a follow-up appointment to present your written vision statement, smart goals, and action plans.

A prominent worship leader* who has successfully served his church for more than 20 years told me, “In pastoral relationships, there are no win-lose situations.” I asked him what he meant. “Any staff member is wrong to ever think he or she will win by making the pastor lose. If your pastor loses, you will lose. If you make sure the pastor wins, you will win, too,” he explained.

Here are three actions to make sure your pastor wins as you pursue your vision:

  1. Pastors need to trust you. They want to know who, what, when, where and why before trusting you. Using smart goals and action plans will help you earn trust.
  2. Pastors value unity. Your ability to keep people unified while successfully fulfilling the mission is a valuable trait. Your pastor and your church will value you for it.
  3. Pastors don’t like surprises. Make every attempt to keep your pastor informed by copying important documents and correspondence to him. Schedule regular updates in person. Share and celebrate victories and always communicate immediately if problems arise.

Worship Leaders – Is change bearing down on you? Don’t let it make you run and hide!  Lead your worship ministry through it and you will be leading your church… and maybe even your Pastor as well.  — Mark Powers

* Steve Phillips, Worship Pastor, First Baptist Columbia SC


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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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A Summer Meditation for Worship Leaders: “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”

cross01 If you desire to be a leader of disciples, you must beware. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7, NIV) The biggest challenge we face as leaders is the mastery of our private self. What am I when no one is looking?

Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done, he groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!

I shudder to think of the whip on Jesus’ back. I do not want to imagine the cat-of-nine-tails bruising and cutting him for me. Yet I persist in my sin, heaping pain on him. Are you too weak to embrace the pain of rejecting secret sin when he took the whip and nails for you? By his stripes we are healed. They are his gift to you. Allow the image of his stripes to overpower private sin. That is your gift to him. Our choice is to either be healed or hold the whip.

Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut His glories in,

When Christ the mighty Maker died for man, the creature’s sin.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe

Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do.

Watts, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed,” Public Domain.

— 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.


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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.