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Loved the book and did a 4 part series on Covenant and Kingdom at Discovery Church.  By the way there are free preaching resources on covenant and kingdom from 3DM.  Also used this book as an introduction to the bible and reformed theology.  

I agree that the ability to teach should be a requirement of an elder. I do think we have to be careful that we don't translate what we think of as "teacher" as what it means to be an elder. We tend to think of "teacher" in the same way that we think of our pastor teaching in a catechism class or Bible study. Or we think of a high school, college or university professor teaching a group of students. Being able to teach others in the role of elder is the capacity to make disciples who make disciples. This is more organic but still teaching.  An elder should be able to walk alongside someone in a discipling relationship where they are then capable of walking along someone else and discipling them in a discipling relationship? That's what it means to teach. There are organic structures and there are organized structures for teaching. The organized capacity to teach looks different.  I think it's appropriate to ask the question of someone nominated to be an elder, "Are you discipling someone now or have you discipled someone in the last year?" as evidence of the ability to teach. I think that this gets at what the article is trying to highlight. 

Here is a great blog post from 3DM on  Pilot Missional Communities: Nuts and Bolts

We have just finished the pilot phase and will be launching 3 missional communities this September.  We are launching them alongside our existing small goups but as part of a long term stratigy we will be replacing some of the Small group stuff with more discipleship training that includes a high accountablity aspect that is missing in most of the small group materal out there.  I find that most small group material only get to the information portion of discipleship.  Some get to the immitation part but most don't get to the immersion part that is extreamly important for transformation.  Putting into practice the discipleship information and immitating the discipler will best transform when the disciple is held accountable for immersion each week. 

The missional community groups model from 3DM have a great discipleship component to them.  I have really enjoyed the discipleship journey with the group in the pilot.  I dont know about you but I didn't have anyone that held me highly accountable for immersion.  The closest I came to that kind of immersion was from my Dad but the actual practices of discipleship were something I had to do on my own.  He was never taught nor did pass on to me that when we practice this together and hold each other accountable we see powerful transformation together.  The book "Building a Discipling Culture" from Mike Breen is fantastic. 

Love to share some thoughts... also could recommed some people in the CRC in Canada who are doing this. 

I just happen to be organizing a trip to a 3DM conference in Cincinnati from November 5-7. If you're interested a group of five or six of us are traveling to attend their conference on discipleship which includes their teaching on "huddle".

One of the things that we did at Discovery church was to run the four month missional community pilot. This allowed us to experiment with a huddle and the rhythms of a missional community with potential leaders. It was a process of discernment for many leaders and approximately half of them dropped out. What we were left with was two missional communities that have started this past September. So far so good. The steps to run the pilot are in the book "Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide".

Posted in: What Counts?

The usual metrics are bums in the pew and pennies in the plate. I found that a helpful measurement tool is to count how many people are intentionally being discipled. We count the number of people that are participating in a small group, in a discipleship group or  taking a class of some sort.   We live in a culture where Sunday morning attendance is much more sporadic than it used to be, so I don't think it's an accurate way to count or assess growth.

Posted in: What Counts?

I think that one of the reasons why this "second cadre" of leaders is now apparent in our denomination stems from the specialization of ministries. Calvin seminary and those like it have consistently graduated pastors and teachers. Many of us Apostle/Evangelist types slipped under the radar while going through seminary.  The specialized ministries typically allow for more of the apostolic, evangelistic and prophetic gifting. It's interesting to me to note that the most successful church plants across North America come from non-theologically trained pastors. It's unfortunate that those who have more apostolic evangelistic and prophetic giftings, whether we want to say it or not, are relegated to a second tier system called "ministry associate"or now "commissioned pastor" as I am.

As a church planter and ministry associate I was recently told that since I was not a "minister" I could not represent our Classis as a Minister delegate but rather as an elder delegate. Now… I understand the need for clarification and definitions regarding roles and I understand the need for things to be in proper order. However, we have for far too long allow the equipping ministry of the apostle, the evangelists and the prophets to be sidelined in the CRC to secondary positions at best or sidelined altogether in church.

As I read Ephesians 4 the passage indicates that all five giftings (pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, apostle) are necessary for a healthy ministry.  If we teach new ministers and prodominatly educate them as pastors and teachers than this office of commissioned pastors is vital because, like myself, many are not drawn to an educational system that focuses on pastors and teachers.  It is one areas that allows for the expression of leadership in the CRC in an ordained office. 

This brings up 2 concerns for me...First is that what we're communicating is that one group is more official/legitimate than the other.  When I read Ephesians I do not see the segregation.  The second concern is that we are saying that a "commissioned pastor/ministry associate" does not have the credentials to be a Minister of the Word and yet I have pastored our church for 7 years on my own as a "commissioned pastor/ministry associate", because its allowed in a church plant.

I recognize my gifting and seek help and support from my ordained ministry collegues on issues of pastoral care but guess who they come to for advise on mission and evangelism, me.   Why...because we need each other and one should not function without the other.  We need all five equiping gifts present in the leadership of the local church, "As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." (Eph 4:16) NLT  But we also need them present in the leadership of a Classis and Denomination. Not in a two tiered system but as equals.

If you encourage giving through a smart phone during the service then people still feel like they are participating in worship. The act  of participation is still in effect if you encourage giving for those that are not likely to remember to put money in the offering plate.  If you set up an account with PayPal and connect it to your  back account, debit card or PayPal account then any smart phone will act as a wallet during the service.  If the minister then takes out his/her own smart phone during the offering and shows the congregation that it only takes a few seconds to make a donation than people will respond quickly.  Options are not an option anymore.  Our church has a lot of people under 40 and most of them have a smart phone.  In 5 years I predict that you will see a dramatic increase in electronic giving during the service. Making an actual donation is better than putting a card in the plate from a previous donation.  A cheque or an electronic donation from the pew is better than a card that only signifies a donation. 

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