A recent update shared our excitement about the kickoff of the first Mission Training Equipping Lab called Cultivate. There’s another reason we’re excited about it, too. This Mission Training Cohort signifies the beginning of a new Mission Alive network! Mission Alive’s vision is to equip leaders to plant and renew hundreds of churches all over North America, thereby catalyzing a movement of mission and discipleship. By God’s grace we’re seeing this begin to happen — from San Antonio, Texas, to Regina, Saskatchewan, and from Newberg, Oregon to Williamsburg, Virginia! We are pursuing this vision through the creation of regional networks – where leaders and churches in a particular geographical area connect and work together for planting and renewal. As a result, we’re thrilled to commission Fred Liggin as the Network Coordinator for Mission Alive’s new Mid-Atlantic Network! Continue reading
In 2004, Mission Alive began in Gailyn and Becky’s home in Carrollton, TX. As new staff was added, each officed out of his/her home. We have been lean and nimble, with our weekly meetings taking place in public spaces, such as Panera, or in our homes.
As we establish more roots and expand our network, we believe that now is a good time to centralize into a common workspace. God has provided a donor and a location (on Interstate 635 and Preston Road in Dallas). We are excited to begin having daily face-to-face contact and experiencing the synergy that will come from that!
As we make plans to set up and furnish our new space, we want to invite our friends and supporters to bless us as we begin to office together. Will you help us set up shop? Probably many of you have chairs, shelves, tables, etc. in the garage, attic or storage shed that would be useful to us. Will you donate some of those gently used items for advancing God’s kingdom work through Mission Alive? This Google document includes a list of items we need to be fully furnished. Will you look over the list and sign up for any item you would like to donate? Feel free to email or call us with questions!
Praise God for new beginnings! On Monday, November 18, 2013 the Redland Hills Church in Wetumpka, AL held its first gathering. After months of conversation, planning, and praying, our core families, along with others who have been interested in what we are doing, gathered for a night of worship and thanksgiving. And we have much to be thankful for! God has been walking with us and far ahead of us each step we have taken. We are grateful for the partnership, advice, and coaching from Mission Alive to even get to this point. We have been blessed with a great space in a neighborhood clubhouse, with even space for a kids program. We’ll begin renting this space each Sunday beginning in January 2014. And we’re so grateful for the many prayers and encouraging words that friends and supporters have shared. It is humbling to begin a new work like this, but so rewarding to see it come to fruition.
October 11-12 was a big weekend for Mission Alive! We launched the first Cohort of Mission Training, the new equipping process for church leaders we have been developing in the past year.
Thirty people in six teams came together to participate at the Williamsburg Christian Church building in Williamsburg, Virginia – three church planting teams and three renewal teams (from existing congregations).
Mission Training is designed to equip church planting and renewal leaders as missionaries in their particular contexts. They begin to envision how the churches they lead can make disciples, reach those who are searching for God, and embody God’s inbreaking kingdom in their communities.
Leaders experienced Cultivate: Personal Discipleship, the first Equipping Lab in the Mission Training process. Cultivate fleshes out our fundamental conviction that the most effective church leaders are devoted Christ-followers. The purpose of the Lab is to help leaders evaluate their own personal spiritual health, have an encounter with God, and identify spiritual rhythms they want to live out in the six months following the Lab. Throughout the weekend, leaders receive teaching input, engage in personal reflection and journaling, and interact with other leaders in Equipping Huddles.
Wes Gunn, team leader of the Redland Hills church planting in Montgomery, Alabama, enjoyed the personal formation and networking opportunities in Cultivate:
“I appreciated the focus on personal discipleship and the foundation that we must be shaped by Christ ourselves prior to being able to guide others. A particular blessing to me was networking with other church planters and encouraging each other in our journeys.”
Jason Thornton, a team member from the Williamsburg Christian Church, was touched by the depth of community and spiritual intimacy in the Lab:
“The Mission Alive Lab reminded me of the importance of the ‘each otherness’ of walking with Christ. I found it refreshing to be in a Huddle and to share in a time of confession with other brothers in Christ. Having been in ministry, I have frequently felt like I was on an island in spiritual battle. From my brief time in the Mission Alive Lab, I feel like I had more true spiritual intimacy with brothers and sisters in Christ than I had experienced in most of my time in ministry.”
Cultivate is one of four Equipping Labs hosted every six months in the two-year Mission Training Process.
Click here to download our Mission Training brochure.
We are excited and thankful to God for the opportunity to walk alongside kingdom leaders and equip them for the mission!
Director of Training
First, we are excited about Mission Training. Tod, Charles, and I were in Williamsburg, VA, this past weekend facilitating the first lab of our new equipping cycle. Thirty-six participants (from three new/beginning church plants and three established churches) explored how to “Cultivate Personal Discipleship.” These participants were both growing as disciples themselves and learning to help others do the same.
Second, we are excited about new church planters–committed, talented, people of experience!! For example, Wes Gunn recently announced to the Landmark Church in Montgomery, AL, that he was resigning to follow God’s call to plant a new church in the area where he lives. Praise God for the words of encouragement and affirmation that Wes and Amanda and their core team received from their church family. Please pray for Wes and Amanda Gunn (pictured), Tim and Diane Castro, Rob and Rivers Sellers, and Rob and Joy Williams as they begin to reach out into their community. Read more about the Redland Hills Church at http://www.redlandhills.org/blog. And we are thankful that this church planting is fully funded from the beginning. Praise God with us!
Third, we are excited about the leaders who are growing to heightened spiritual vitality and understanding through our Equipping Communities, which we have been calling Huddles. Continue reading
In late July Becky and I finally finished writing and editing the second edition of Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies. Completing this missions text is very significant for Mission Alive. Writing the chapter on “Planting, Nurturing, and Training: An Incarnational Model for North America” (in the context of the other chapters leading up to it) has helped to sharpen our thinking and led us to be very intentional in the process of church planting and renewal. This text has nine new chapters and moves more intentionally from theology to practice than the 1996 edition (http://zondervan.com/9780310208099). This first edition has gone through 12 printings. Its publication will also be significant for us as a ministry.
In the next few weeks I will continue blogging a few excerpts from this text. We invite you to read and to respond.
God’s Ministry through Jim and Julie
Jim and Julie discerned that they were naturally gifted as evangelists and this understanding amplified their interest in missions. As youth ministers, they felt the calling of God to begin Missional Communities, meaning in this case, Christian relational networks within schools to help searchers know God and walk with him. With other leaders of their church, they conceived of multiple Missional Communities, embedded in neighborhoods and relational networks, as extensions of their public Worship Gathering on Sunday morning. The seeds of the communities were planted when they began to pray with Christian student leaders about their schools and to minister with these students during campus activities and in coffee houses. They were present for many school activities; it was their arena of mission. Soon Jim and Julie were ministering to a broader group of students who were friends of the core group within the church. After a student’s death, Jim and Julie were at the school to comfort, counsel, and pray. They attended many sports events and the coaches frequently asked them to pray for and minister to struggling students. Jim and Julie attempted to model Jesus’ ministry on earth in their campus environments by teaching, listening, praying, and healing. Reflecting the ministry of Christ, they also prayed diligently for the students from their church who ministered with them. After extended prayer, they selected twelve students, six from each of the two high schools in their area, and invited them into two discipling huddles. The huddles’ focus was to help the students grow as disciples of Jesus and partner with them to be Christ to their campuses. As a result, within a year missional communities of about 40 students were ministering in the name of Jesus on each campus and worshipping in the church’s public gathering. Mission had gone out of the church building and into the schools and homes of the community.
What do you think are Jim and Julie’s assumptions about the nature of ministry?
How are you gifted? Wired? Called?
Some Christians are gifted as church planters. They are like Paul the Apostle. Converted to convert others. Led by God to start new churches. Paul spoke about this gifting when he wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6). God uses called and gifted servants to both plant new churches and water existing ones. Do you have the apostolic calling of Paul?
As you consider this question, read 1 Cor. 3:5-9 and specifically ask, “What type of servant am I—a planter or a waterer?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
As you reflect on this passage, realize that you are merely a servant. Only God working through you makes things grow (vs. 6). This planter/waterer metaphor illustrates not only spiritual gifting, but more importantly, divine guidance and empowerment. We are only “God’s fellow-workers . . . God’s field . . . God’s building” (vs. 9). Ultimately the mission is God’s, and we are merely servants ministering in his vineyard.
Read 1 Cor. 3:10-15 about laying kingdom foundations.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
What type of builder are you in the kingdom of God? Are you like Paul—one who lays the “foundation” of the Gospel “as a wise builder”—or are you like Apollos, a minister building upon an existing foundation (vs. 10)?
The Lord’s work is not easy! It is messy—as messy as people are. Paul writes, “The fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (vs. 13). How do God’s servants spiritually and strategically prepare themselves to lay new kingdom foundations of Jesus Christ (church planting) or to build upon these foundations (church renewal and growth)? Are you willing to put your life in God’s hands and work in this messy world?
What type of material will you use to build the foundation of Jesus Christ? Paul describes various materials used in the building—“gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw.” What separates these elements? The answer is that some are combustible and some are incombustible!
Since “the fire will test the quality of each person’s work,” some work will “survive” and some will be “burned up.” Foundations of gold, silver, costly stones will survive but those of wood, hay, and straw will be consumed. How can we spiritually prepare ourselves for ministry in which some of God’s work will “survive” but some will also be “burned up”? Are you spiritually ready to experience loss?
Paul talks about ministering out of “God’s grace.” What does this mean? How do we minister out of God’s grace?
Paul called himself “a wise builder” (vs. 10). How did Paul—who once persecuted the church—become an expert builder? How does “God’s grace” work within us to form us into “expert builders”?
Answering these questions is a step in discerning how you are gifted, wired, and called.
For personal spiritual discernment contact us at Mission Alive at Contact@missionalive.org to connect and discuss a process of equipping. We would love to hear your journey and pray with you.