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36 flat screens around and over the stage and a 70 foot big one behind it. It’s just the tip of the iceberg here at one of our ARC churches, Celebration Church in Jacksonville. It’s all quite stretch for me – and not because I’m old, old school, or because I see dollar signs (this is a $22 million dollar church facility, $4 million of which went into technology).  

Even so,,,, my sense is that today we worship with creative technology like they worshipped 500 or 1000 years ago with the most extravagant and majestic architecture, acoustic marvels and they let the Michelangelo’s have free reign on the windows, walls and ceiling using light and color with artistic excellence to retell the Story and reflect his Glory. I guess it’s using everything to glorify Him. The Scripture scorns living in paneled houses while the house of the Lord is in a meager state. Perhaps then the best technology should be in church. In so many churches people donate their old broken down PC to the church. We should be giving our best offering.

It would seem to me a sin to make God dull or put forth little expense or extravagance to make much of Him. We know God made sure the Tabernacle/Temple were adorned with the best materials and musicians to reflect Him. It wasn’t more spiritual or Scriptural to go simple with sackcloth decor. The best should not be left to the world, it should be redeemed to further His Cause. And technology is a tool. It’s not God – it can either distract from Him or be used to point people to Him. My caution for people who are blessed to be in a technologically saturated and super-charged church like this is to make sure they can worship without all the electronic enhancements.

I know God is using media and technology to get the Message to the far corners of the earth. As long as it’s deeper than a show (and in some places IT’S NOT) and there is vitality when a church is unplugged. And as long as He is the only celebrity. And as long as the latest and greatest doesn’t replace love. If you have 36 flat screens but have not love….

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My sense is the story of Shaun King is just in it’s earliest chapters but already it’s worth telling. I first met him four years ago when he came to us to be assessed for church planting. His dream was to plant in inner city Atlanta where he grew up. The first thing that set him apart was that he had a powerful death to life testimony. Our assessment team unanimously recommended him but I think it’s fair to say we wondered if he was a right fit for our system. No doubt in our minds that he’d succeed but perhaps there was the thought that our system would stifle him. Months later, via his magic with social media and the grace of God, he became our largest launch to date, over 600 on his first Sunday at Courageous Church.

Those of us who played even a small part in that beemed with pride. His success gave him leaway to buck the system a bit… I remember he riled our feathers when he noted publicly our meetings were too white and the speakers on our platforms were all white. A few years after that smoke cleared I can report our meetings are less white.

Shaun is a social media specialist and he raised massive amount of money for Haiti and got thousands of tents sent there. In the earliest days he somehow directed search and rescue efforts via Twitter from his home in Atlanta – no kidding, U.S. relief ships were following his leads to hurting people, doctors in the US were being directed to specific people in specific places. Shaun appeared on many national news and morning shows. There is a similar story to tell about his work helping the Atlanta Flood Victims. Those of us who’ve been following him on Facebook and Twitter grew to look forward to his updates loving how he just said what needed to be said. Things like; “Note to Donors: Please do not donate your dirty draws & bras. I will have a scientist from GA Tech run a DNA scan & twitter your name.”

In March of this year he felt led to make a radical shift in his church. He announced in a few weeks he’d preach his last sermon at the church. It wasn’t because he was leaving the church. It was because he was changing his church and focusing on three causes instead of church just being about pulling off Sunday morning services.  I’ll repost his comments here because they are worth reading.

Currently, the overwhelming percentage of our time, energy, skills, budget, and creativity are spent preparing for Sunday morning services, getting people to our Sunday services, and getting them to volunteer for our Sunday morning services.  I love what we do on Sunday morning. I love preaching and it is one of my primary gifts.  I love our worship team, our breakfast, our volunteers.  Our church is growing.

However, 5 things have convinced me that this extreme emphasis on Sunday morning is not the will of God for our church.

1. Our city is falling apart in painful ways that break God’s heart.  Atlanta is now the nation’s hub for child sex trafficking.  We have one of the highest teen incarceration rates in the nation.  Our education system in Atlanta is beyond broken.  In the face of these things, the church continues to preach and sing, but kids keep getting sold to perverts for sex.

If James 1:27 is true and “Authentic faith in the eyes of God is caring for widows and orphans” then I declare that our church will have authentic faith and have hands and feet that address these issues.  Right now, our church, like most American churches, as Rick Warren said “Is one big mouth”.

2. As I read the Gospels and see Jesus, I am increasingly stumped how we determined sermons and songs are what makes us most like Him.   I am not saying we do away with them, but we preach and sing too much and serve and love in radical ways far too little.  The answer is not to add love on top of the sermons and songs, but to decrease the sermons and songs and increase the service and love to create a balance that looks like the life of Jesus.

3. This week I was able to meet with a personal hero of mine and he said something to me that was shocking.  One of the best preachers in the world, he leads one of the largest churches in the country.  He told me, “At this point in my life I have preached thousands of sermons and I am not even sure what they mean to God, but nothing makes me feel more alive and like I am nailing God’s will like caring for foster children.  I can point my finger in the Bible and say yes – this is what God wants.”

For me, I do not want to wait another twenty years to come to this conclusion.  I do not want to wait until our entire church is built around my sermons (as it is becoming) and then conclude that it may or may not be what most honors God.  I’d rather go for it now.

4. Anybody that ever heard the vision of Courageous Church before we launched in January of 2009, knows that our vision was to never become a Sunday morning machine, but this is what we have become and we do it well.  A real temptation exists to keep chugging along, do it like other churches do it, and try to forget the original vision of Courageous Church to take bold leaps of faith to bring about real change in peoples lives, in our city and in the world.

Most of our time is now spent thinking about the arrangement of chairs, the execution of payroll, the brightness of the lights, the printing of the announcements, the lyrics on the screens, the pitch from the mics, and in the midst of all of this – I confess that people have been hurt in the process.  We created a church to love God and love people and in the busy-ness of it all – people that we cared about were neglected and forgotten. I won’t do it this way another day.

5. I feel like this is what God wants for Courageous Church.

Rather than meet weekly on Sunday mornings, Shaun broke things down into three discipleship groups that met around three causes; child trafficking, education and caring for widows. The Cause Groups would meet twice a month, the entire church would re-gather once a month for a Festival.

In all my years of church planting and training church planters I have said a thousand times, we don’t build churches on or around a cause – we build a church on Jesus. For sure this is what Shaun was seeking to do. Even so, Shaun is spot on when it comes to pointing out (what I’ve been calling) the theotainment model of the mega-church today is probably not what Jesus wanted us to build. I’ve long maintained that the church is a community and that causes are the domain of the parachurch. Shaun makes me rethink that.

In case you are wondering, Shaun’s experiment didn’t work. He faced perhaps the roughest summer of his life as his church sought to transition into these uncharted waters. Last month Shaun announced that since the bulk of the families in the church wanted to return to the traditional model, he would transition himself out of leadership. Here’s part of what he had to say in his announcement:

I thank God that I am not stepping down in shame or scandal, but it is clear that God is calling Rai and I to take our family in a direction that is just significantly different than what most in the church are asking for.  Over the past 6 months I have taken Courageous Church down a difficult, counter-cultural road in an earnest attempt at building true disciples.  It’s been rough.  All but a few families are now yearning to go back to a traditional Sunday focused system and I am sure that I am not the person to lead you there.

Those of us who assess church planters know it’s often more insightful to talk to the guys wife if you want the real scoop. Here’s what Shaun’s wife Rai had to say about leaving Courageous Church. You’ll have a hard time finding anything more honest about being a pastors/church planters wife. My o my o my o my, it’s the perfect thing to read here on this last day of “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Made me wonder what my wife would write if someone asked her honest feelings about the state of the church.

The last couple months Shaun’s been writing about giving away everything he owns, 1000 books, his new ipad, his bed…. everything. This is the first time I’ve ever voiced this but I’ll say it here, every serious follower of Jesus would do well to walk away from everything they own at least once to follow Jesus. I’ve given away my retirement three times and gobs of other things and dollars and certainly there was a time when I had nothing that wouldn’t fit in my car, but never have I walked away from everything. I do believe these are days to live a wartime lifestyle – living only on what we need and giving the rest where it’s most needed.

Shaun wrote a fascinating article on when a leader loses his mojo. He likens himself to Obama in that regard – at the top of his game just a couple years ago, now a fog has set in and it’s better to pull over if you can’t see where you are going.

Don’t think for a moment Shaun now lacks vision. After living his entire life in inner city Atlanta, this week he drove his family to California where they will live for an undetermined period of time before he and a team move to Africa – the suffering in Somalia has gripped his heart. And he’s climbing the worlds seven great mountains of need. Check that out here TellTheMountainToMove. You can read his next steps here.

Last night at 9:44pm, Billy Hornsby met Jesus. Big win for him and major major loss for so many of us who’ve known him as friend, mentor and father and as the pioneer and founder of our church planting movement – Association of Related Churches.  In 2010, a melanoma cancerous growth on his foot spread to his spine and in January of this year it went to his brain.

Seacoast’s Geoff Surratt had this to say: @GeoffSurratt If you want to know what it means to leave a legacy, search “Billy Hornsby” on Twitter//such an amazing man

If you do that, and on Facebook, you’ll see the likes of people all over the world honoring him – from Brian Houston of Hillsong Australia to Larry Stockstill of Bethany to Rick Warren of Saddleback to John Maxwell of EQUIP. Mostly what you’ll find are church planters like me from all over the world saying things like what my friend Dominic Suazo said… @billyhornsby I will always remember you my friend. You believed in me when others didn’t. You changed my life. This is a common sentiment from many who Billy has helped become the leaders in some of today’s most successful and fastest growing life-giving churches… @billyhornsby believed in me during a dark time in my life. From a variety of ecclesiastical streams now flow prayers and concern like this… Much love to my ARC friends on the passing of their Apostle.  Interesting choice of words and spot on.

Billy took me into his family and that means he considered me a son, he introduced me to everyone he knows and taught me something unknown in denominational accountability systems… spiritual fathering that is based on relationships and love. He made time for me, invited me and my wife into his home, on hunts, on trips – he visited us here in our home and church. And I do actually think he wanted to come see me more than just the fact that I could introduce him to a rising cloud of South Dakota pheasants. A great memory is Thanksgiving a handful of years ago when he and son-in-law Pastor Chris Hodges came up to hunt – we got hammered by a snowstorm and ended up stranded in the Kelly Inn in Mitchell. The power went out that night so Billy’s C-PAP machine wouldn’t work. All that meant the three of us just talked and dreamed and encouraged each other – the ARC Assessment process was birthed that night.

I appreciate Billy believing in my Momentum book and writing for it and getting copies to everyone in the ARC church planting network. He handed out my books at our Church Planting Roundtables. He trusted me to establish the assessment structure ARC uses to discern who God is leading to plant future ARC churches. Billy asked me to meet up with him in Pensacola to help start the Globe School of Ministry, and he asked me many times to help him write books and articles. He introduced me to people who are today my closest friends, even opening up doors for me in Europe where Billy was the European coordinator for EQUIP’s Million Leader Mandate.  Billy would even call when he was out speaking and ask me to fax him my thoughts as if I were speaking in that venue.  I did, and I’m not sure he used them- but wow does that make one feel valued. On occasion when we needed it, he and Charlene sent my wife flowers, coffee gift packages, and took us to great restaurants. He ministered to me and invited me to be with him in Birmingham after my mom died. In part he helped fill a dad-gap in my life after my dad died. A full-blood cajun, Billy taught me how to, pardon me, “suck some heads” and gobble down jambalaya and savor beignets. He rarely spoke without first telling a Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke – we already know the mantle on that is now fully on Pastor Chris. I have a great memory of Billy picking up my guitar and making my daughter blush by singing her a country music song.  He was actually very good and could have easily put out a CD.

I’ll be honest now, in the last few years I know Billy struggled with my political and pro-life involvements.  In 2007 he called me at 6:30 in the morning and told me God gave him a scripture and a word for me and he’s been up praying for me since 4am. I thanked him for letting me sleep a couple more hours. He said God gave him Deuteronomy 11:24 where God said… “Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert of Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Western Sea. No one will be able to stand against you.”

Billy said he felt God was saying to me… I’ll give you all this territory, and with relative ease, but the relative ease part of this promise is only good as long you as you stay within the borders of the territory I’m giving you – he said… notice God was giving him territory within established boundaries – i.e. from the Euphrates to the Western Sea. Billy said he fears the pummeling I’ve taken in my pro-life and political involvements may be due to those areas not being within the borders of “my territory.”  His admonition was to get with God and discern my borders.  Kristen and I felt like we did that and obviously, I’m pretty involved politically. I think about this a lot. Maybe Billy felt like I made a choice between more involvement in ARC which he was asking for and the “political way.” Even so, when I ran for Congress he was very supportive and wrote… this all amazes me. (When I get home I’ll dig out his exact statement of support.)

Eight weeks ago ARC and Church of the Highlands put this tribute together to honor him. I regret big-time that I was too busy in the legislature at that time to contribute to this tribute when I was asked – the request got buried at that time along with other stuff. I’ll look for a link of a message he gave here at Church at the Gate on relating to people in a life-giving way – it was vintage Billy Hornsby and it still has life-life-life on it and his life anointing all over it.  His most recent book is hot off the press and you can read his comments on that here or you can buy a copy here.  Here is a brief statement from Pastor Chris referring to arrangements for the memorial service at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham.

We are praying for Charlene, Pastor Chris Hodges and of course his wife Tammy, and his other daughters and grandkids and all the ARC staff and Lead Team. Billy and Charlene have been in love since childhood and they shared the most amazing marriage I’ve ever witnessed. When my dad died before my terminally-ill mom died I said it was a C.S. Lewis style “Severe Mercy” that God took him first as his last conversation with me included the statement… “I can’t bear to lose your mom, I’m addicted to her.”  Charlene has also had numerous recent bouts with cancer (she’s been healed of it many times over many years but again is struggling – here is a precious youtube clip where they are talking about all this together) and Kristen and I have wondered many times what Billy will do without her.  Again it seems a severe mercy to me that God took him first.

I really look forward to being in Baton Rouge in a couple weeks for our annual family reunion – and you are invited! – surely this will be a great time to celebrate a great life.

Do you suppose Billy is right now talking with Noah about how to really build an ARC that God will use to save the world?

UPDATE 1: A memorial service to celebrate Billy’s life will be held at Church of the Highlands on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. CDT. In lieu of flowers we are asking that donations in Billy Hornsby’s name be made to the Association of Related Churches (ARC), www.arcchurches.com, a non-profit ministry which trains, resources and supports church planters.

UPDATE 2: ARC just put up some pics and video clips of Billy.

UPDATE 3: This is a must see and well worth the 13 minutes of time it takes to watch it… Billy’s last public appearance and message to us all.

 

Today it rained all morning, stopped for a short while, and has continued on now into the night. I love it. Imagine a faint, cool breeze and quiet except for the sound of rain on the trees. Maybe one of the reasons we all slept 12 hours last night (unprecedented but obviously needed) is because it’s actually a bit dark even during the daylight hours. The Black Hills back home are called “black” because the pines look so dark from a distance. Here they call this the Black Forest because the trees are so tall and so close together it’s very dark underneath them.

Most of the day today was spent with Pastor Desmond Frey sitting here at the dining room table discussing the formation of a confederation of related church-planting-churches here – a sister expression of the Association of Related Churches of which I’m a part back in the states. There will be much more on this later as this is one of the main assignments that has brought me here. I’m here, about one-third of my time here anyway, to wash the feet of Desmond and put on paper a model which he envisions to plant life-giving local churches all over Europe.  During the weeks I’m here he has invited key church leaders from other European countries to meet with us and talk strategy and relationship. And we will pray. Those of you who’ve know a few Steve-isms regarding church planting know I teach church planters to plant churches on their knees. We are asking God to give us his heart for places and people and strategies to reach them with his love.

Several years ago in Amsterdam, Billy Graham surveyed Europeans asking this question – Would you like to know more about God?  98% said YES. His follow up question was – Would you like to know more about God through the Church?  98% said NO.

Desmond told me today he doesn’t even use the word “pastor” to describe himself. It’s like Erwin McManus says, “Telling someone you are a pastor is like saying, ‘I’m a cannibal, do you want to have lunch.'” The dialog is over because, in part, for so long the Church has been an embarrassment to Jesus. Desmond tells people he’s a life coach.  When they ask what a life coach does he tells them he helps people find fulfilment and happiness and walks them through life stuff like relationships, finances, purpose, calling, meaning, and spirituality, etc. When they ask where to find a life coach, he tells them new churches are being led by folks who are basically life coaches. The people then say they’d go to a church led by people who are there to help them through life.

Europe is long overdue for the fresh rains of a new reformation and renewal. The beautiful cathedrals here are dry dusty museums that lack life. Yet, spiritually hungry people here in Europe are encountering God through new expressions of the ancient faith.

Tonight as a family we watched the movie Luther and paused it numerous times to hash it out and talk about what Reformation sites we plan to visit next week.

Kaitlyn has put a couple posts on her blog but mainly is loading her millions of pictures on Facebook. Thomas has a couple new posts. Kristen put up a little bit yesterday on jet lag. Nothing from Caleb yet in terms on online commentary.  Here’s the trailer for the Luther movie – rent it if you haven’t seen it, or read this classic.

The Great Awakenings in early America (that evangelicals love to romantically look back upon) were scandulous and freaky to the mainstream church of that day. The revival leaders were heralded as “false-everything,” the manifestations made the news. Yet today we look back quite fondly on those “special times” God visited our nation. Today, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer. People are gathering all over America asking God to visit us again.

Let’s be honest… if God were to “visit” our churches today in similar fashion, half of yous would walk out and spread a bad report. Am I wrong? Before you judge what is unfolding in Florida, ask yourself this question… what will it look like when God shows up? The self-appointed, unaccountable, anonymous, bitter and fruitless doctrine police on the Internet are already having a heyday with Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Florida outpouring. They shoot their arrows from places of concealment. They sit in the seat of scoffers. They bother me because their methods and message are far more unBiblical than anything unfolding in Florida. The Bible cautions against those with forms of religion but who deny the power. Anyone else want the power? I do.

Come out of your cave and stand there and wait for God to pass by. You thought he’d come in a storm or a whirlwind didn’t you? Nope. He came in a still small voice. To all of you now standing outside your cave waiting for a still small voice, I’m guessing he’ll come now in the storm and many will miss his coming. Do you think he’s forever locked into passing by in only one fashion?

Some of us have been praying and fasting for years for God to come in power. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have been in some recent outpourings – Kansas City being our hometown, Kristen and I experienced the early years of the Kansas City Prophets and saw God move mightily in those gatherings. We were dating at the time and that’s what we did for dates – go hear Bob Jones! There was good and not so good and, long story short, we bolted to Chicago for a few years to settle into safer ministries. But I love the Narnia line about Aslan the lion/Jesus… “Is He safe? No. But he’s good.” In 1996, the Spirit rocked us again. Since then I’ve been to Pensacola/Brownsville, Toronto, Nigeria and Kiev. Last summer my son Caleb and I, and friend Andy, went on a prayer journey to Herrnhut, Germany to tap into an ancient awakening there.

I believe in cross-pollination, transferable anointing and impartation. Historical revivals spread up and down the east coast of our nation because people traveled. I’m bummed some of the aforementioned outpourings didn’t last or, in any tangible way, transform the city in which they occurred. I believe we are learning more each time about how to steward a move of God. There are God visitations spoken of in the Bible that were soon quenched by carnality, pride and the like. I know we are to inspect fruit, but the Bible doesn’t discount the authenticity of a visitation just because the people afterwards veered off course.

And now something has broken out in Lakeland, Florida. With many others who also have their ear-to-the-track regarding the End Times, I’ve been waiting for something to pop somewhere and for it to go national, indeed global, in just a few weeks through the wonders of technology and transportation. In the 80’s back in KC we held on to prophecies that God would one day fill stadiums with prophetic healing meetings. This is happening tonight in Florida. Meetings that were only intended to go for a couple days have now been ongoing daily for weeks – they are outgrowing every venue they’ve moved into and tonight they will be in Tiger Stadium.

For these reasons I’m watching Florida really close and watching my tongue lest I speak against something God is doing. Friends who have gone have come back powerfully healed. Others report some misgivings. I certainly have some misgivings of my own but they are easily overcomeable. Each night our family has been watching via GODTV. A few guys in the church have talked with me about going. I probably will. I think you should do what Zack Hensley is thinking of doing – driving down with a buddy just to kick your skepticism in the face. Let’s be people who bless not curse. Thanks Zack for this blessing prayer:

Bless Todd Bentley, Bless those in Lakeland Florida. I pray that the Lord continues to give him a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that they would know the hope of which Christ was called. I pray for all those touched by the Lord in healing and salvation that He would complete the work he has started in them. That they would be counted worthy of His calling and that the grace and peace of Christ would sustain them until the end. amen

I’m not worried about being deceived. I trust God’s ability to keep me more than the devil’s ability to deceive me. Here’s what I fear more… missing a move of God because it came in a way that made me uncomfortable.

I share Randy Bohlender’s sentiments

Revival is always a polarizing event and this one is no exception. I don’t feel compelled to answer for ministry styles or personalities any more. I do know this – our friend, Kelsey Hayes, was dramatically healed (is there an undramatic healing?) last week. My guess is her parents didn’t worry too much about the ministry style. Do I wish people did things a different way? Of course…but not enough to reject something if God is in it.

[SH: Read a news report of Kelsey’s healing here. I highly, highly recommend you read this testimony/news report.]

Do desperately hungry people get real picky about how and who hands food to them? No.

Numerous CATGr’s are quite familiar with the main personality in the Florida outpouring – Todd Bentley. A year ago I led a group of 30+ people through a study of his book on the Supernatural World. It was a great upgrade for those of us ready to “set our minds on things in heaven, not on earthly things.” Others have been to conferences where Todd has ministered. Same story… some powerfully touched, others report misgivings.

Personally, a few of his antics and of course, the observables (tattoos and piercings) don’t make much sense to me. But here’s how I’ve overcome that… I asked myself what the 21st century equivalent to eating locusts/wild honey and wearing wild camels hair and a belt might be. What do you think it is? Wearing wild camels fur put John the Baptist in league with the outcasts and unclean. I’m thinking today’s equivalent might be tattoo’s, t-shirts and piercings. Lou Engle once commented about the young generation that God is raising up today that is so full of piercings. Frustrated, he told God… they “look like fishing lures.” God responded something to the effect, “Precisely, and I’m going to use them to reel in the nations.”

What should a “man of God” look like? Do I fit the bill? In other nations, cultures and camps probably not. Twenty two years ago when I entered ministry the “man of God” wore a blue suit and a red tie (that is if you had any holy role on the platform). But I started to move in other circles and discovered a camp where the “man of God” had to have a $3000 suit to show off his anointing. If I’d have shown up with my $100 blue suit/tie they’d have kept me off the stage and cast the spirit of religion off me and tried to introduce me to the new wineskin.

Today we are active in the ARC and in the prayer movement. Last week we were in Birmingham for the ARC conference and repeatedly saw how the “man of God” wears an embroidered untucked shirt with the sleeves barely rolled up, jeans and dress shoes. At IHOP, frankly, anything from Goodwill will work. They don’t care down there because the knees will wear out soon anyway from hours in the prayer room. Dressing like that in the house of God is “offensive” to some – where’s the reverence and respect?! I say, lighten up. In the case of female attire, at least they exude a modesty I’m not seeing in suburban evangelical youth/college ministries. My son Caleb graduates high school in a couple weeks and is heading to IHOP’s Forerunner School of Ministry in the fall. After four years of buzz haircuts for Marine Corp JR ROTC, he told us this AM his hair is going to get longer and that he is thinking about a tattoo on his arm of the Hebrew letters for the word “Nazirite.” I told him to hold off on the tattoo but I was delighted that he has the heart of a Nazirite. Maybe I need a tattoo. When I cut my long hair a few years ago many CATGr’s were relieved. One of our worship team peeps commented to me the day I cut my ponytail off… “good, now I can invite friends again to church!” Maybe I’ll put my earring in again.

One of our praying people at CATG once told me regarding Heidi Baker that “she offends the natural mind before she even opens her mouth.” If you’ve seen her you know about the twitching and jerking. It does… it offends the natural mind – many probably think “this lady is a certified nut.” But, no. No, no she isn’t. God is using her to minister to the discarded children of the world – to start thousands of orphanages and churches. She is going to the hopeless places in the world the scoffer has yet to go and, unlike the scoffer, she is bearing eternal fruit. And, buckle up for this… she is literally seeing things in her ministry like the feeding of five thousand with a single bowl of soup.

One things I know about a genuine move of God, it will offend the natural mind. If you can get past that you can get into the supernatural.


I hope you’ll also read my other posts on Todd Bentley and the Florida Outpouring.
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Seat of Scoffers part two
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Seat of Scoffers part three
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley and the Angel Emma
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley, Violence and the Kingdom of God
Florida Healing Outpouring – Todd Bentley, the manifestations of the Spirit or Kundalini?

Sorry to disappear from the blogosphere for a few days. I hope you were able to function for a few days without my life-giving insights into whatever I’m interested in. (Blame a hotwire.com $39 a night La Quinta hotel room that promised wireless internet but apparently the wires were missing that would have made it actually work.)

We just got back from Birmingham late last night. Went with 11 CATG peeps to Church of the Highlands for a spectacular church planting conference. Many things are rolling around in my head right now that will soon gel into more vision and passion for what we are doing right here in SD!

It’s always great to travel with friends. Lots of laughs… like yesterday when Pastor Dennis mis-spoke during a conversation about his baldness and talked about his using viagra and how that didn’t help his hair grow (he later tried to assure us he meant to say rogaine.) We flew from Birmingham to Dallas with Brian Houston – that was cool for the star-struck among us. I want to publicly thank Kathy for packing light this time… we knew you could do it!

Here’s some highlights:

– The greatest church planting “tool” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his followers after three years of equipping… stay here in the upper room until you get what you really need to go out and take territory. Jesus sent people out to plant churches with POWER!

– Great word from Brian Houston on how we often focus on what we don’t have and only take notice of the lack… we miss what is right here in our own house- people, potential. We learned THE Darlene Zschech was once just a lady in his church named Darlene – now her song made America Idols top ten list – shout to the Lord! We often don’t see the “oil” in our own “house” because it doesn’t look like its going to look like when God touches it. We’ve got to raise people in our midst up and release them!

– Regarding prayer… a man on his face never falls from that position. Do we as leaders, at our core, really believe that prayer matters? How we run our ministries reveals whether or not we really believe that is true. The hard days in prayer are more important to God than the easy days.

More later…

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This June, we are planning to partner with hundreds of other churches to do a series together called One Prayer. The series will begin on the weekend of June 7-8 and run for a total of four weeks. The premise of the series is: “If God would answer ‘one prayer’ for the church at large, what would you pray?

This series serves several purposes. Specifically, we believe it will… 1) Promote unity in the body of Christ for the larger work of God in his church. 2) Cross-pollinate our church with other key ARC churches. (Hundreds of other churches are participating but we will connect with others in our network) 3) Infuse spiritual passion into a typically challenging month. 4) Raise money for a mission project as participating churches pool offerings. 5) Simultaneously link our hearts with many others fasting, praying and seeking God.

The general concept is this: I’ll start off the series off, then in the following weeks I’ll pass the baton to other key ARC pastors who will speak at CATG weekend services via video cast. Some of the other ARC pastors who are participating are Craig Groeschel, Rick Bezet, Chris Hodges, Dino Rizzo, Greg Surratt, and Stovall Weems.

A couple thoughts on how God is using technology. It used to be we’d have to spend big bucks to fly-in special guests to benefit from the anointing flowing in other sectors of the Body of Christ. Today, we can stay where we are and still be right in the midst of what God is doing elsewhere.

Having already launched a video campus, video messages are nothing new to CATG’rs. However, it is still new to many and on occasion I hear how it’s “second best.” My main reply to this is that we are so spoiled. In other parts of the world, Christians huddle in fields around appointed rocks to listen to a crackling transistor radio of a Bible teaching coming in over the airways. We need to be thankful that we are in a place where we can have a full-size, full color, front row seat to the key things the Spirit is saying to the church today. Technology is a gift from God and he’s increasingly using it to his glory here in the End Times. Stay tuned for updates.

We’re all busy, right? There are times I find myself in the middle of something asking “why am I doing this and is it really that important?” I don’t have time anything non-strategic. Especially now. Unnecessary trips, meetings, conferences, whatever… they get cut quickly.

So why am I in Atlanta right now? I come here several times a year to assess potential candidates for church planting. It is our goal in the Association for Related Churches to plant 2000 churches immediately. Here’s why planting more churches is essential…

Each year (between 2000-2005), 3,707 churches in America closed. And, 4009 new churches were planted each year during that time frame. For those of you not so good at math, that is a net gain of 303 churches per year. Before you smile and start feeling good about that… consider this – 3,205 new churches are needed a year just to keep up with the population growth.

That’s how many are needed JUST TO KEEP UP with the population growth rate. We need many, many more to begin to gain ground and take this nation for Christ. For those of you with kids, these numbers ought to be frightening. In twenty years, America will be a far different place for our kids, unless the church starts reproducing.

More on this later, but my friend (and father in church planting) Dave Olson, just wrote a very important book about the state of the church in America. The numbers are far worse than George Barna has been telling us. He’s said that 45% of Americans go to church. Dave recently completed the largest study ever done on the America Church and figured out the numbers are not even half that!!!

So again, it would take 3,205 new churches a year in America just to KEEP UP with the pathetic numbers presently in the Body of Christ. And, again, right now we are only at 303 in terms of a net gain. 

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