The Crux of the Problem is the Priesthood of Believers: iPray: A simple Prayer Book for- Ministry, Mercy and Multiplication by James D Buckman

In case you missed this review at Disciplemaking in the Historic Church, I thought I’d bring it to your attention because it seems to get to the heart of the matter… Here’s the link: iPray: A simple Prayer book for- Ministry, Mercy and Multiplication by James D Buckman

You can buy the book or get a Kindle sample here at Amazon. Having seen both I suggest the larger print version. It’s an easy to read 8.5 by 11 large print book.

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iPray by James Buckman

So what’s the real issue with our churches? Why are so many “dead” or “dying”? Check with the latest “church growth guru” and they might say the problem is “no cell groups”, “no contemporary worship”, “outdated liturgy”, no “Purpose Driven teaching” or “no Sunday School program” and IF those are true they are only true to the degree that another problem is present, and I think the book “iPray” hits the nail on the head.

While it doesn’t say this in so many words, Buckman’s book is a strong reminder that the problem in our churches is the failure to activate the priesthood of believers in the most basic ways such as prayer and other simple forms of obedience to our Christian calling. To the degree gimmicks, strategies, techniques “work”, they only do so by reactivating the priesthood of believers.

Buckman’s strategy for doing that is calling people to pray… first as member care to shore up the foundation of the church and activate pray-ers. Next as visitor care. Finally as outreach. The faithful can take this to the step of even planting new house churches if they wish. These concentric circles of prayer move from well within our comfort zone gradually outward. They shore up the base before moving on. They build a base of supportive people who recognize that when prayer is the basis of outreach, their needs will not be overlooked in pursuit of winning others (that concern may seem petty to some but it is, nonetheless, very real.)

When we see the principle of activating the priesthood, the program shuffling becomes seen for what it is: an exercise in ecclesiastical musical chairs.

Before you try to “implement a new program” and try to work yourself and the people up with promises of “great things” and “If we only….” consider what Buckman has to say. He’s done the “attractional” and offers us this alternate path instead.

Again, this is my reading of the import of Buckman’s book. The actual book is about our calling as Christians, the doctrine of prayer from a confessional Lutheran perspective, and only THEN implementation.  Could it be tighter and more succinct? Possibly. Self published books without outside editors have some blemishes. But if you read the book and come to conclude, as I have, that the ultimate issue is how to sanely and faithfully reactivate the priesthood of believers without selling one’s soul, you’ll find a way forward for most churches without the trauma of trying to conform your congregation into the mold of the latest “superstart du jour”. Buckman speaks from a missionary’s zeal and a pastor theological concern and wisdom. He’s worth hearing on this I think.

You can find another review of iPray here at the Christian Portal.

 

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Open To Bible Reading

Ed Stetzer: We asked a total of 1,000 twenty-something unchurched people (900 American, 100 Canadian), and we compared them to a sample of 500 older unchurched (which would be 30 or above)…One of the questions that we asked them to agree or disagree with was: “I’d be willing to study the Bible if a friend asked me to”. Well, among twenty-somethings, 61 per cent said, “Yes”. And among their older counterparts of 30 and above, 42 per cent said, “Yes”. And that was a statistically significant difference, telling us there’s something going on, there’s an openness that’s there. So we’re seeing that as an opportunity—that in the midst of maybe some negative views of the church, there is also some openness to the things of God.[9]

From:

Shoal Creek: Planting Churches Where People Live, Work, and Play

Why seek to start a disciple making movement in the US? Aren’t we a “Christian Nation”?

Here are the answers from Roy Moran of Shoal Creek:

  • We ran out of space.
  • We were praying for the 300,000 living within 30 minutes of us. We wanted to make it hard for them to go to hell.
  • We ran into the story of David Watson and the Bhojpuri.
  • We developed a hybrid “come/go” strategy.
  • On the “come” side, we have a Sunday morning service (which doesn’t feel like church to most, so we don’t get a lot of transfer growth); on the “go” side, we train them in DMM strategies to plant the church where we live, work and play.
  • We wanted a scalable model that would encompass all 300,000.

For the full transcript visit:  Planting Churches Where People Live, Work, and Play 

Trends in Cuban Methodist Church Growth

Bishop Ricardo Pereira from Global Ministries on Vimeo.

In Cuba’s Great Awakening: Church Planting Movement in CubaBaptist researcher Kurt Urbanek relates the exciting growth of Baptist churches in Cuba but does not have much information to offer about other groups on the Island. Here are a series of links regarding the Cuban Methodist Church.

At one point in recent history, every Cuban Methodist pastor had planted a church.

Due to government restrictions, the Cuban churches must, of necessity, learn how to relate the “house church” to the “central church building”.

Other links (thanks to JohnLeeke.com)

Lesslie Newbigin’s Apologetic & Evangelistic Approach Summarized

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Those interested in Lesslie Newbigin’s Apologetic and Evangelistic Approach will find this summary very helpful.

One might call Newbigin a “humble presuppositionalist” – for American readers someone more informed by Polanyi’s philosophy of science than the Dutchman Van Til.

His approach to sin as summarized at the link addressed sin in 4 dimensions. The Gospel as a Creation to Christ narrative addresses all 4 areas and presented as a public truth instead of a privatized escape to nirvana commands the attention of people who might not otherwise listen to a presentation on “religion”.

Worth reading and pondering and fits well with the Methodology of Disciple Making Movements…

Lesslie Newbigin’s Apologetic and Evangelistic Approach Summarized

Barna: Is Evangelism Going Out of Style?

 

Takeaways: Evangelicals talk the most about sharing their faith and do it the least. Catholics talk the least but seem to – on average – link faith and behavior more. Millennials are the only generation for whom evangelism is on the rise. Low income households are more likely to share the faith than high income households.  Middle income people are the least likely to share their faith, yet, of evangelicals are most likely to affirm the obligation to share their faith.

Conclusion:

“Still, it should be troubling to Christian leaders,” Kinnaman continues, “that evangelism is on the decline among key demographics, especially among Busters and Boomers who make up nearly two out of three active Christians today. Also, additional insight is needed to understand why middle-income Christians have stepped on the brakes in recent years when it comes to evangelism. The bottom line is that millions of Americans remain committed to the idea and practice of evangelism. However, Christians need to be aware of a growing apathy toward evangelism among the most unlikely of groups: middle-age and middle-income Christians. These are the very people who are often reaching a place of religious maturity, which traditionally includes a commitment to faith-sharing conversations. Among these groups, has the Christian community lost a sense of urgency for those outside the faith?”

Read it all:  Barna: Is Evangelism Going Out of Style? 

Image courtesy Barna. Click through to the original blog post at Barna for all the infographics!

The Problem with Attractional Evangelism | The Keystone Project

The Problem with Attractional Evangelism | The Keystone Project

Does attractional evangelism only produce “consumers” instead of “disciples”?

There are (at least) five major weaknesses of the attractional evangelistic method:

1. It does not make disciples; it attracts consumers.

The attractional method typically appeals to the needs or desires of those it is targeting to reach, and must deliver those needs and desires at a “price” the target group is willing to pay. This is religious consumerism. At some point the church must call the attendee to a deeper level of commitment and sacrifice without which it is impossible for them to be a disciple. When that call comes later rather than earlier, the attendee has already “bought into” a form of Christianity which has allowed him to be a Christian without being a disciple. Too often this results in what Dallas Willard calls the “cost of non-discipleship”, undiscipled disciples! Additionally, it violates the basic principles of discipleship because you do not attract disciples, you call them (Matthew 8:18-22).

(Click through to read it all..)