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Most & least diverse religious groups

Thought this was interesting in light of recent conversations. Hope denominations that stress the importance of the biblical doctrines of grace continue to develop in diversity. Why?

The goal is not multi-cultural churches. The goal is churches with one gospel culture.

From the Pew Research Center 2014 Religious Landscape Study

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Hope for Senior Citizens in Cuba

“Why would you want to open a home for senior citizens?” asked the government official.

Years ago the Cuban government closed all church-run orphanages and senior assisted living homes. Recently the churches we work with have been granted permission to start the first assisted living home in one major city in more than 50 years. It’s called “La Casa de Esperanza” – The House of Hope and serves 7 full-time residents and adult day-care for more. Uncommon.

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We attended the grand opening on the veranda. There is Miguel, one of my co-trainers, leading the program.

Surprisingly, three government officials also attended, took the tour, heard the testimonies, the hymns we sang and listened to the speakers talk about Christianity. It was almost a church service!

 

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They later spent 30 minutes quizzing a key church leader about why Christians would want to do such a thing. The churches barely have enough, why take on others’ burdens? The answer: Christians are taught to love others and care for their neighbors. Even if it costs them.

 

In a country where the average salary is $20-25 per month, caring for the weak and aged is especially hard. But the gospel is being proclaimed in word and deed in Cuba and the church there is growing in surprising ways.

https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/CUBA

Multiplying Gospel-Sharing Disciples

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Picture of one church’s short-term mission trip. But it’s different.

Last night our local church started its annual Short-term Mission Trip to our city. In a park behind the school where we meet. It’s a nightly Fútbol Camp for kids and families. No long trips, no plane rides, no exotic locale. Just right here where we live with our neighbors.

26 kids registered. Their moms, siblings and a few dads came and watched. Relationships started building. I wonder how many will receive Christ?

How will God use this ordinary group of Christians to reach ordinary people in an ordinary city on a very ordinary mission ‘trip’? We’ve been praying and reaching out here for years. I can’t wait to see what God does!

My role in this outreach is prayer. I’m not the leader – Pastor or Coach Héctor leads us now. But as I sat and prayed with Daniel, our Church Planter in Residence who will start another cross-cultural church nearby, holding the registration cards in our hands like I was taught, I had flashbacks to the first person to train me. My youth pastor, Mr. Mike, trained me to share my faith and lead outreaches in my parents’ basement when I was a sophomore at Marshall High School in northern VA. And now others have been or are being trained to multiply. This is where the action is. Multiplication.

Many, including my parents, modeled to me the importance of sharing the gospel as a disciple of Jesus through years of everyday life training. For over 10 years of Jr Hi ministry in the 90’s, our group held ‘Outrages’ where we did outrageous events kids could bring their friends to and present the gospel. And yes, Jr Hi kids shared the gospel, not just the grown ups. Our Sr Hi ministry outreaches, mission trips and training brought many to Christ but more importantly, trained a generation of youth (now in their 30’s) to share the gospel. (Side note: Mr. Mike and I teamed up at the same church for years. What a joy to work with him as a colleague!)

Now what Mike, my parents and others reproduced and multiplied into me is transferring into disciples from many nations in our city through people who were not Christians a few years ago. One mom who attended last year is now helping run the outreach.

The Best News Ever. This short-term mission trip may not go far away or host big, outrageous games. Soccer draws a crowd and the beginner evangelists show up, make friends and the gospel gets shared. Bigger though, is the impact of training others to share the gospel as part of making disciples. It’s God working in His power!

As I pray, I’m grateful. Grateful to God for His salvation offered by faith alone. Grateful for those people who discipled me. Grateful for the chance to disciple others who will disciple others too.

Keep having fun, praying for sinners to repent, sharing the gospel, inviting people to receive Christ and multiplying disciples who will disciple others too.

Jesus’ Simple Strategy for Planting The Church

I’m a curious person. Constantly synthesizing everything I learn to try to make sense of the big picture so we can find ways to reach the nations. My family and church staff have accused me of having too many great ideas for everyone, including myself. 

Underneath the driven curiosity is this burning desire that we have got to tell more people about Jesus.I’m often tempted to search for new insights, programs, training secrets, methods, books or ideas so I can be a better coach to church planters. 

So Jesus shocks me in his simplicity. In the quest to see God start a movement of church planting and disciple-making in the US and other parts of the world, Jesus’ strategy is so simple. 

As a follower of Jesus, planter, gospel coach of coaches and trainer of church planters, I need to remember to focus on Jesus’ simple strategy more than curricula and program. I’ve studied Jesus strategy off and on since 1992. I know this. But I get distracted. Many of Jesus’ principles of His Master Plan (Robert Coleman’s classic) we find extremely challenging to church planters.

Jesus didn’t have a ‘Plan B’ for planting The church. His plan was this:

  • Select average men who are loyal, teachable with big hearts.
  • Take the long view of the process.
  • Be with them in their lives. A lot.
  • Patiently hand off people ministry responsibility.
  • Quickly give tasks to disciples.
  • Expect and challenge followers to bring others along.

Church planters should ask potential disciples to follow Jesus the person, not me or you or the program. Over time, (12-18 months after starting) Jesus challenged his followers to his high-cost terms for disciple-making. We can’t change them or substitute our own. Evangelism and suffering can’t be left out. There’s no ‘Plan B’ for disciple-making.

  • Depend on the Holy Spirit as we do the work of evangelism.
  • “Show-how is better than know-how” especially while disciples watch.
  • Send out disciples in pairs to practice stating the gospel simply.
  • Always celebrate sharing the gospel and debrief for teachable moments (review and apply).
  • Expect hardship and learn to fight the spiritual battle together.

Here’s one I really don’t like. Jesus’ goal wasn’t popularity, masses of numbers (or even converts). By today’s standards of starting a new church, but the time of his death, Jesus was a failure. But it was all part of his Plan A.

Jesus said to our Father that he had ‘accomplished the work You gave me to do’ (John 17:4). His work goal to that point was preparing multiplying disciple-makers. Oh, too often I thought we needed better methods. We need better men. And more of Jesus.

If you’re interested in multiplying disciple-makers and want to join us in the learning, I’d love to chat more about what we do in Church Multiplication Ministries. 

Prayer for Immigrant Families

Participating in the Day of Prayer for Immigrant Families today.  

A few years ago our church had grapple with the immigration issue. People without legal status were receiving Christ and wanted to join our church. I could find no biblical reason for them not to join. And some dads of families in our church were being deported.

Up till that point, I’d tried to stay blind to the plight of people around me. Not take a ‘political stance’ on immigration. But the study of Scripture brought our elders to a point where we couldn’t not say anything anymore. So I wrote this resolution that reviews what Scripture teaches and what we recognized God was calling us to do:

May 25, 2011

A Resolution from Concerned Pastors and Elders of Crosspoint Encuentro Church Regarding Welcoming Immigrants into our Church

Whereas

God is the Sovereign King over all the earth and all governmental authority is subject to His authority and rule,

  1. God, after the Fall, subjected Adam and Eve to an immigrant status upon removal from Eden, (Genesis 3:23),
  2. God sent Abram to be an immigrant with his family (Gen. 12:2) sojourning in a strange land, then made His covenant with Abraham while he was an alien (Genesis 17:9),
  3. the children of Israel, through God’s divine providence, were immigrants in Egypt for generations (Gen. 50:22-26), were led out of Egypt by Moses, an immigrant (Ex. 2:22) and celebrated the first Passover in Egypt with converted strangers and sojourners (Ex. 12:43ff) who were led out of Egypt with Israel.
  4. God audibly and repeatedly commanded His people to give aliens/sojourners with them Sabbath rest (Ex. 20:10; 23:9, 12), identified them as former aliens and commanded His people to not mistreat or oppress sojourners/aliens among them (Ex. 23:9),
  5. God commanded His people to maintain the same regulations for non-native born people as native-born (Num. 9:14 and Num. 15) and required equanimity in temple worship (Lev. 17 and 19),
  6. God charged the courts of His people to judge righteously between fellow countrymen and aliens living among them (Deut. 1:16) and promises to defend aliens along with the fatherless and widow because He loves the alien and provides for them through the generosity of His people both directly and through the tithes of His people (Deut. 10:18ff, 24:14-21, 26:12-13),
  7. God curses the man who withholds justice from the sojourner, as well as the fatherless and widow (Deut. 27:19),
  8. Christ Jesus immigrated to earth from heaven,
  9. in His humanity Christ was an immigrant, persecuted by his fellow countrymen,
  10. we were all alienated from God and strangers to the covenants of promise without hope except through God’s grace by faith alone (Eph. 2:12)
  11. through Christ’s sacrifice in our place, He became our peace, made all believers one, broke down the dividing wall of hostility, created in Himself one new man, and by His reconciling work on the cross will make all things new in heaven and on earth by His blood (Eph 2: 14ff, Col. 1:20-22)
  12. his people are and will be from every nation, tribe, tongue and people united in Him, heirs and sons – neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female (Gal. 3:26-29),
  13. all of God’s people are citizens of heaven first and citizens of a nation on earth second (Phil. 3:20)
  14. there is no human governmental authority outside of God’s sovereign will and all government is established by God (Rom. 13:1-7) but does not supersede the government of God,
  15. legal status is not a requirement for salvation or church membership,
  16. ministers and elders of God’s church have a moral duty to speak against injustice.

We Resolve…

  1. We resolve to pray for immigrants and their families out of concern for their souls and well-being. We will pray as well for our US governing authorities – local, state & federal – who are responsible to God for their personal, legislative, executive (including enforcement) and judicial decisions in regard to justice and mercy for all people.  We will urge people to pray for the US electorate to consider immigration issues according to God’s Word so that His Word is exalted and obeyed as US immigration policy is debated and decided.  And equally important, we will pray for other nations’ governing authorities who will also one day answer to God.        
  2. We resolve to welcome all immigrants into our church for relief, assistance, development and the hearing of the gospel.
  3. We resolve to accept anyone who meets the requirements of faith in Christ alone by faith alone, they shall be welcomed into full membership in our church, regardless of legal status before the US government or any state in the Union.
  4. We resolve to disciple and train immigrants to ‘glorify God and enjoy Him forever’ and treat them with dignity as image bearers of God.
  5. We resolve to prepare all church members and attenders, whether immigrants with status or without, or citizens of the US, to live as missionaries wherever God may, in His divine providence, send them to live, work and worship Him.
  6. We resolve to protect and teach all children, regardless of status or citizenship, to love God, receive Christ by faith and follow the doctrines of our holy religion.
  7. We resolve to work for the protection of the weak, oppressed and alien during legal proceedings and to urge our political representatives to develop a just and equitable means for immigrants whose status has expired to be reconciled and/or acquire legal status according to the laws of the USA.
  8. We resolve to educate English-speakers in our church about the issues, challenges, problems and struggles for immigrants and to educate Spanish-speaking congregants about their rights and duties as a sojourner in the USA.
  9. We resolve to prepare any immigrants under our care who are not currently under proper status to comply with the laws of the US and if they are unable to rectify their status, prepare them for the potential return to their home nation and accept these consequences peaceably and with grace.

Under the Grace of God and to His Glory Among All Nations,

Jim Moon, Jr. – Founding Pastor, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA

Héctor Guzmán – Co-Pastor, Crosspoint  Encuentro Church Smyrna GA

Jim Payne – Co-Pastor, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA

Gordon Hwang – Elder, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA