Here are some ministry principles undergirding healthy forms and structures:
- All ministry is local in origin.
- Disciple-making communities follow Jesus by His Word and through His Spirit (to the glory of God).
- A healthy church is where disciples make disciples, leaders train leaders, and disciple-making communities birth disciple-making communities.
- The essential characteristics of disciple-making communities (congregations or “Clusters”) include: it identifies itself as a congregation, spiritual gifts function, biblical leadership emerges.
- These disciple-making communities are networks of networks interconnected organically and often principally through their leaders.
Sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected places. Those of you who know me also know that I tend to be awake in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning. Years ago, I would spend that time DXing across the shortwave bands listening to Radio Moscow and trying to figure out what would be in the news before the New York Times or Washington Post hit the streets. That radio world changed with the internet.
Now I listen to podcasts and YouTube educational instruction videos ranging from NancyPi’s tutorials on solving calculus differential equation problems to the Crazy Russian Hacker’s mind-numbing life-hacks. What can I say? I don’t always sleep through the night.
I usually find myself having to explain why we spell our name “soles”—the bottom of our shoes—instead of “souls.” For the record, it is a play on words to highlight both the fact that I am forever dressed in my Converse Chucks and the fact that our ministry tagline is “walking God’s path together.” If you still don’t get it, just think about it.
This time in the title I enclosed “Wisdom” not “Soles” in quotation marks, not as an intentional misspelling, but to highlight the fact that as we are walking God’s path together, we are not meandering aimlessly. We are hacking through jungles and picking through brambles while trying to avoid life’s many potholes and pitfalls, wisely charting our way. Being a Christian is not a proverbial stroll through the park but a spiritual warfare survival course where the enemy uses live ammunition. That life course takes wisdom and a lot of it.
We are called to do what has never been done before. We don’t even have a vocabulary or common set of terms to describe it. Sooner or later, I am sure we will look back with the confidence that only the future brings, but we move along through the fog of faith for now.
We are on sure historical footing to know what it means to be the church, but we walk in a fog of new forms and structures rolling in. They look like a return to the organic, decentralized forms of the early New Testament church. But they are uniquely shaped by globalism—characterized by interconnected relationships defined by technology that realigns every aspect of our lives from how we communicate to how we build and maintain friendships, how we buy and sell goods and services, to how we shape culture.
It’s 1977. Commodore, Tandy, and Apple introduce personal computers collectively known as the “1977 Trinity.” At that time, many thought of the personal computer as a way to balance a checkbook, play a video game, and stop a door from slamming closed in the wind. Who would have imagined that a small personal computer would forever change the world? No one had seen one before.
Only a fool wants to be a fool, and the rest of us work hard not to become one.
Stupidity, ignorance, and foolhardiness are hardly a science. Anyone can be an amateur practitioner. But being a fool is an art.
The thing is, you don’t wake up in the morning and simply decide, “Today I will not be a fool,” as you might say, “Today I will wear a blue polo and jeans.” After all, how does a fool know that he is a fool? Does the mere concern indicate one is not a fool, or do we all labor under a mass delusion that we are all somehow wise?
The goal is not getting more people in the room through some attractional means, but unleashing everyday disciples to make disciples who make disciples. This is how the early church multiplied. Multiplication is how the church has grown throughout Christendom, but too often we rely on additive measures. We desperately need a movement where disciples are making disciples, leaders and training leaders, and congregations are multiplying congregations.
“Evangelship” is a made-up word desperately needed to correct a misunderstanding at the core of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. The term combines “evangelism” and “discipleship” to reunite what we’ve separated as two different activities with great ramifications.
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