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Missing Part

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Something missing

We returned to the US after fifteen years in the Philippines, and I sensed something was missing in the church in America. I wondered what happened, but after a while realized it was more about what didn’t happen.

In the early days of the Jesus People Movement, young people were disenchanted with the status quo and shallow life of middle class America. Social unrest, fueled by issues that ranged from civil rights to anti-war protests, helped accent an emptiness that cried out to be filled.

Great interest in eastern philosophies and religions, coupled with a surge of psychedelic drugs and “love-ins,” intensified this emptiness. The political scene and economy also contributed to it.

God’s Spirit began to flow into a broken and lost generation, to fill up this emptiness.

A generation found and filled

No specific leader started the Jesus People Movement or headed up the Jesus Generation. It was a sovereign move of God’s Holy Spirit.

Some people did have influence in this move of God, but because of God’s favor, not their expertise at leading. Young people began to gather in public and private places, as well as in many churches. They were hungry and sought to be filled with the truth of God and God’s power.

A generational revival began to grow across the nation, which led to the raising up of evangelists and disciple-makers. They had no special training and needed no prompting to spread the gospel. This was not the product of a well designed program.

Simple, but mighty

Simple Bible study, often led by non-seminary-trained teachers, was a core element of the movement. Pastors and teachers who did have training were also swept up in the movement. My first pastor, Chuck Smith, was one of those teachers, but he was one among many solid teachers of God’s Word.

The gospel was preached and the Bible was taught in a simple way. Theology was simple in the early days, mostly born out of an organic biblical framework. Praise and worship was typically a blend of folk and rock music led by young people with long hair and buckskin. It was simple and genuine, and seemed innocently spiritual.

Even prayer had a simple power to it. People were set free from their brokenness and bondage.

Communal life and mindset

In much the same way as the early church, communities began to spring up where everything was shared. Communal life seemed to thrive off the flow of people being set free. Houses, ranches, and even apartment buildings became homes to people who had fulfilled lives with broken pasts.

These communities were inclusive, non-discriminatory, and often had strong leaders. It was a shared life with shared resources. My wife and I lived a few blocks from one in our first year of marriage. It was called Mansion Messiah located in Costa Mesa, CA.

They became models of biblical discipleship. Because Bible study was a core value, it spawned young people who were grounded in the truth of God’s Word, filled with God’s power, and released to share their faith with others.

What changed?

In much the same way as the radical activists of the 60’s, the Jesus Generation became more and more mainstream. Where once they were anti-establishment, they became the establishment. Once shunned by society, and many churches, the blended with the culture of the times.

When Christian believers don’t seem very different from the culture around them, something gets lost. But what was that something?

The missing part

In a word discipleship—intentional, relational, organic discipleship led by the Holy Spirit. In the past several years, even the last decade, discipleship has once again become popular. But I wonder if it’s just the next thing to catch people’s attention. I hope I’m wrong about that.

The difficulty with intentional, relational, and Spirit-led organic discipleship is that it’s hard to package. So, it is by nature hard to control. It also takes considerable time to do well, and requires genuine commitment. Commitment not to the task, but to the person discipled. Commitment is also needed on the part of the one being discipled.

Do you see the dilemma? Genuine commitment isn’t very popular nowadays, not in this distracted ADHD-culture of ours.

We can’t go back

It’s easy to long for the good old days, but that genders useless nostalgia. We need to look forward, not backwards.

God hasn’t stopped being God. He’s supernatural and sovereign. He alone is the one who stirs up a revival that produces something like the Jesus Generation. But believers do have a part in what God does upon the earth. He’s chosen us for such things (Eph 2:4-10).

 

About Trip:

With Trip Kimball’s permission this is a repost from his blog, Word-Strong. Along with his family, Trip planted a Calvary Chapel in 1978 and in 1990 took them to the Philippines as missionaries. There in Asia he was used by God to not only establish Rainbow Village for abandoned babies, but serve in equipping hundreds of national pastors and church planters. Currently Trip serves from his Florida home as a mentor with CCPN, as an integral part of Poimen Ministries and continues to equip leaders in the States as well as in missionary settings.

Strange Fire – Friendly Fire | An Interview With Pastor Brian Brodersen

Pastor John MacArthur recently held a conference in California called Strange Fire, where he addressed the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his opinion on their use in churches today. He also had some remarks to say about Calvary Chapel and our emergence during the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s. This 22-minute interview is a response by Pastor Brian Brodersen (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa) about John MacArthur’s comments…

Ephesus: Exponential Influence and Expansion (Pt. 2)

Ed Compean pastors Calvary Chapel Githurai, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more info, go to the church website at calvarygithurai.org. This is Part 2 of a 2-part blog series on the church in Ephesus. You can read Part 1 here.

Ephesus had Exponential Expansion 

Revelation chapters two and three record letters Jesus wrote to a cluster of churches that came from the plant at Ephesus. Paul infers in Colossians, that Epaphras planted a cluster of three churches in the Lycus River Valley, which included one of the Revelation churches, but also Colossae and Hierapolis (Col 4:13). Since Paul had never been to Colossae, we can presume Epaphras received his training in Ephesus. This also allows us to discern the seven churches of Revelation are far from an exhaustive list of the local churches that resulted from the initial plant at Ephesus.

Ephesus not only exponentially expanded the influence of the Body of Christ through a local cluster of churches in Asia Minor, but they took advantage of the cross-cultural people in their midst to expand influence cross-culturally. Aquila and Priscilla helped establish the church in Ephesus as refugees from persecution in Rome, but several years later they had apparently returned to that city and planted a church in their home (Rom 6:2). They were just two of over 25 people Paul greets by name, plus multiple households, in Romans 16. One of those people is Epaenetus, who Paul calls the first convert in Asia Minor (Rom 16:6). All those relationships and influence for Christ was in a city he had not been to, but God had used him to impart an expectation to expand the Body of Christ.

What We Can Take Away from Ephesus Church Plant

Since October 2012 the Lord has allowed Calvary Church Planting Network much influence with direct impact on at least 25 Calvary Chapel church plants. The network has begin to train and mobilize 133 mentors with 366 potential church planters for what appears to be a very fruitful next season. Those numbers are good, and worthy of praising God for, but the pace is slow and the task in front remains overwhelming. The work is important because Jesus gave His life for it. It seems preparing for a movement rather than a single plant would be profitable and good. God’s word gives that example.

The work is important because Jesus gave His life for it. It seems preparing for a movement rather than a single plant would be profitable and good.

A few hundred words on a blog will not solve the problem of the need for more churches to teach through the Bible and have a healthy view of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is certainly not the place to offer training. Instead this is a small Bible study with an emphasis to think and act towards church planting movements and not only single plants. This will be best done by encouraging planters to glean from Ephesus and its ability to train leaders to plant in its regions and beyond. It is doing what Paul told the pastor at Ephesus to do, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2).

The CCPN Process

In case you’re not familiar with Calvary Church Planting Network, or if you’re looking to get started in the CCPN process, here’s a video that will quickly and concisely walk you through the process. Bruce Zachary does a great job succinctly summing up the process, defining the vision of CCPN, and pointing you in the right direction. Take 3 1/2 minutes and watch the video below. If you know someone who is interested in planting a Calvary, make sure to pass this resource onto them as well!

Church Planter Profile: Jeremiah Hurt // Lexington, KY

Jeremiah Hurt and his wife, Serah, are in the early stages of planting Calvary Lexington in Lexington, KY. Here’s a profile on Jeremiah and some of the things he’s been learning early in this process…
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1. In a nutshell, how did you find the city you planted in?

My wife and I knew we were leaving to plant a church, and I sensed that He wanted us to leave soon.  I told my pastor (David Keesee of Calvary Chapel, Crawfordsville IN), and I told the company that I worked for that I probably wouldn’t be around for another year. We were willing to go anywhere. We even looked into and prayed about North Dakota. A friend of mine who had moved to Lexington KY called me one evening out of the blue and asked me if I would pray about planting a Calvary Chapel there. I said we’d pray about it. Being only four hours away, we decided to visit for a weekend. We left thinking we’d never return, but promised we would continue to pray. Three days later the Lord confirmed, through His word to Serah and I that we were to indeed move to Lexington. One month later we were here with my pastor’s blessing.

2. What were some of the lessons you’re learning since you are still early on in the church planting process?

We are constantly learning and relearning the simple truths of what it means to follow Jesus as we plant this church. Here are a few things that we keeping coming back to day in and day out. They will seem obvious for sure, but they have taken on a whole new meaning during this process.
        1.) Keep our eyes on Jesus
         2.) Seek Jesus and ALL these things will be added unto you
         3.) PRAY for crying out loud!
         4.) It is His church, therefore this is His church plant
         5.) He’s on the throne. He’s in control. He’s got this. Relax.
6.) Leaving everything to move here was still just a simple act of obedience.
It is His church, therefore this is His church plant.

3. If you did this again, is there anything you would do differently?

If there’s anything I would do differently if I could start over, it would be to pray more. Simple as that. Prayer breeds confidence in Jesus and that you are hearing from Him and being led by Him.

4. What are some of the most important things for a potential church planter to consider before they leave to go plant?

A few things to consider before moving to an unknown city to plant a church is to make sure your pastor and other men who are faithfully living for the Lord agree with the calling that you sense God has put on your life. Make sure you remind people to be praying for you as often as possible. The idea of the adventure that lies ahead can often be greater than the actual living it out on a daily basis. Purpose in your heart not to give up when the going gets tough. It will get tough.

5. What is your vision for the next year of your church?

My vision for Calvary Lexington in the next year and the following years is simple. I desire for us to grow in our love for Jesus, His word, and for others, and that we would genuinely live out Acts 2:42. I pray we would be doers of His word and not hearers only, and that Titus 2:14 would come alive in our hearts:
       “He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.”(Titus 2:14 HCSB)
If there’s anything I would do differently if I could start over, it would be to pray more. Simple as that.

Why I’m Optimistic For The Future of Calvary Chapel (by Pastor Miles DeBenedictis)

Calvary Chapel, a ministry and movement I’ve had the privilege of both growing up in and serving with for more than 20 years, is now facing the most significant transitional changes that it has in all the time I’ve been associated with it. With the passing of Pastor Chuck Smith a week ago, the changes will [now] be far more apparent, but they have actually been going on for the better part of the last two years.

Just over a year ago, the internal leadership structure of the Calvary Chapel changed with the creation of the Calvary Chapel Association, and as of yesterday, Pastor Brian Brodersen was chosen to be Pastor Chuck’s successor as the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. While it remains to be seen what this change at Costa Mesa will mean for the larger Association, I find myself very optimistic about the future of Calvary Chapel. Why?

First, Pastor Brian is (in my humble opinion) the right man, at the right time. He has faithfully served as an associate/assistant to Pastor Chuck for the last thirteen years. In addition to his faithfulness to Pastor Chuck and CCCM, Brian has a genuine passion for foreign missions and a clear commitment to the younger generation of leaders coming up in CC. In my experience—primarily at conferences domestically and abroad, and on occasion at Costa Mesa—Brian has proven to be one of the most approachable senior leaders I’ve encountered in Calvary. He takes the time to be available to those seeking counsel and prayer, and has thus proven himself a pastor, not only to the members of CCCM, but [also] to the missionaries and pastors of the greater Calvary Movement.

The second reason that I am optimistic grows out of an observation I had from outside of Calvary this week.

Recently, Exponential held its first West Coast Conference in Orange County. I had the privilege of meeting with some of the Exponential and Leadership Network leaders to discuss church planting and the Calvary Church Planting Network prior to the conference; and then I’ve tuned in (online) to several of the sessions throughout the week.

The theme for Exponential West has been DiscipleShift, and while the sessions from pastors such as Miles McPherson, Larry Osborne, Rick Warren, Robert Coleman, and many others have, been substantive, I have found it interesting that much of what is being presented as the new discipleship paradigm in American Christianity, has been standard Calvary Chapel practice for 40+ years. No, it has never been branded, packaged and promoted by Calvary, but for more than 40 years, it has been our practice. Thus, Calvary Chapel is, in a number of ways, still ahead of the curve and continuing to reshape American Protestantism. And, if Calvary can maintain the consistency of simply teaching the Word of God simply, loving God, loving others and making disciples, it will do so for many years to come.

View orginal article at CrossConnection Network