Friday, March 8, 2013

Why Are We Not Seeing Greater Impact In This Movement?

We've been living Simple, Organic, Missional life in Christ for awhile now, and frankly there is no other choice for my husband and I.  We are completely convinced this is the way Jesus lived, and that's good enough for us.  We've raised our three children to young adults in this paradigm, and we've seen the fruit of it in their lives, and those who have joined to us along the way in this journey.  I encourage, coach, and mentor all those I can in this paradigm because I am committed to it.  God showed us the potential of the Simple, Organic, Missional paradigm to exhibit His Presence, Power, Purpose and Love to the world through it.

Before I knew anything about S/O/M, I was committed to missions and outreach to those who don't know Christ, because I wanted others to have what I have in Jesus.  It's that simple.  To me, it all boils down to the fact that God sent his Son, so that we might have fellowship with Them, and so He sends us for the same purpose.  It just isn't anymore complicated than that.

 So if this is true, why have we seen such little impact of a movement that has all the elements of going viral because in principle, all the participants are sent on mission?

Because the majority of those who are living Simple and Organic paradigms are not living Missionally.  Sadly, it's just a "buzz" word for most, the latest "cool" thing to talk about, but with very little reality or practice in their lives.

Let's get to it, and those who have ears to hear, let him/her hear.

First of all, let's look at what we're doing pretty well; the First Leg - The Fellowship Leg of The Table vision, has some good stuff happening.  Let's look at some of it:
  • We have various styles and types of Simple and Organic church.
  •  The essence of church as a family is happening. 
  • We are doing a much better job at all of us reading, studying and understanding The Word.
  •  People are exploring, practicing and growing in their gifts with one another.
  • We are getting better at understanding that leadership is more like a mother and father, and less like a CEO.
  • We are enjoying playing, eating, and learning together, making our fellowship experience more like normal life and it's ebbs and flows.
  • We are learning that Christian life and fellowship is not what we "do" but who we "are".
  • We are understanding that there is no "secular" vs "sacred" - but we serve God holistically in all areas of our life.
  • We are understanding there is no laity or clergy, but all of us are called to listen, obey, serve and minister.
  • We are finally learning that the 5-fold gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, Evangelist are for the equipping of the saints for the real ministry, and not for platforms of notoriety, fame, power and prestige.
 Okay! That's worth celebrating and thanking God for!  In the advertising slogan of a long ago cigarette commercial; "you've come along way baby!" But, and you knew a but was coming, we have not come far enough.  It is not enough to get better at having Christian fellowship - as good as that is! We have to live missionally to really BE like Jesus.

The truth and reality is that not many of us are truly reaching out to those who don't know Jesus, and living missionally.   Why not?  I've heard such explanations like; we need more intercession, it's not God's timing yet, we need more S/O churches to mother/father all the New Believers that will result, we are not called to mission (because that is "works") but rather to Jesus alone, we need persecution to force us, we live in a different culture, we're too busy to invest the time and commitment it takes.  Heard or said any of them yourself?  Maybe none, some or all of these are true, and I've even said a few myself trying to understand why we are not reaching out in mission.  However, in seeing that the life and vibrancy of the First Leg of The Table vision stemmed from their being connected and invested in the Second Leg of The Table which was made up of those who didn't know Christ, and seeing how the church in the Book of Acts grew, and in places like India, China and Africa is growing today - I don't think those reasons hold much merit.  I think the truth is we are afraid, discouraged with previous attempts, too busy, too self focused, lazy, expect others to do it,  and find excuses for our lack of mission and make it sound spiritual so we can let ourselves off the hook.

Am I being too harsh?  I'm hoping to exhort you to fulfill the whole purposes of God in your life to use you to bring the light, the fragrance, the saltiness of Jesus to those He has destined you to reach.

When I teach about S/O/M church I do the following visual:  I have a few from the group come and stand in a circle, holding hands.  A good and familiar picture of what we do pretty well in our Christian fellowship.  We are together, supporting one another, linked and joined in community.  All good.  Yet we are only looking at, and are focused on each other as we face inward.  No wonder our groups become ingrown, unhealthy, and full of the elements of the flesh we are warned about in Scripture. 

Now, flip everyone around, so that each is facing outward.  Still holding hands in support, linked and joined together, covering each others' backside.  But the difference is that the focus is outward.  Each person is gazing outward from the group at a slightly different angle than those on either side, into a unique and specific journey of mission that the Lord has destined EACH of us to walk in.  The Word says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10).

Living missionally means we are continually sowing Christ into the lives of people all around us.

 In Greenhouse training we learn about the four different types of soils that Jesus teaches us about in Matthew 13. Of the four identified soils, only one of those soils actually produces lasting fruit and real salvation. The problem for us is that we cannot judge by looking at it, which one is the fruitful soil.  Only Jesus and the Father know the soil of a man's heart.  We are called to sow, and sow a lot, leaving the results up to God.  Many times I've sown in soil I judged to be "the good and receptive soil" only to have that person end up just the opposite.  And I also have resisted sowing in some soil I judged to be too hard, rocky and unreceptive, only to have it produce incredible fruits of salvation in the person!  I simply cannot, and neither can you, be accurate in soil evaluations.  Therefore, we have to sow a lot and trust God to do His work, and only His work, in creating a disciple out of the soil of their heart.  I firmly believe that as we are obedient to this, and growing in faithfulness, that we will become more and more like Jesus, who "only did that which He saw the Father do" (John 5:19) Then we will be incredibly effective in our sowing, because we've learned to be great at listening and responding to the Father's voice in obedience.

 What if you asked Jesus to show you three people this week that you could invest in that are not Christians?  Can you commit to living a week of intentional missionality, and see what God might do through you?
Pretend you are just like Jesus, waking up in the morning and turning to The Father and asking; "who do You want me to reach out to today Father?  Who are you working in that I will come in contact with? Let me join you Father, in Your work to reach and save those who are lost, and those sheep without a shepherd."

Then do what Jesus did.  Listen and obey, and see what God will do through you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Third Post of "I'm Hungry" and The Table Vision

It had been there all along, silently, quietly and slowly forming in obscurity all around me.  A little here, a little there, but far from the magnitude and impact of what I saw in The Table vision, and what had excited me to my core! The Table vision had shown me what was possible, and what was in the heart of God - and I was ruined for anything less.

The season of the "D's" was not spent in just praying, waiting and idleness.  In fact, I was seeing God do incredible things on mission and ministry trips in different countries other than the United States during these years.  This caused me to beg God to do what I saw Him do in other countries, here at home in my own relationships, neighborhood, city, region and country!

I've always believed that God prefers to direct our steps as we keep walking, over lighting a match to our butt to get us moving.  So even while walking through desert seasons, and seeing very little of The Table vision manifest, I was starting, facilitating, and participating in many various types of Simple/Organic Churches during this time and through these years.  We saw a lot of fruit from these groups.  No two were ever the same - the make up the participants, the duration of the group, the specific "issue" we might be gathering around, how we gathered, etc. was varied. Some gatherings were scheduled, and others were fluid (meaning they happened without scheduling).  Some met for a year or more, and others a few months, and still others were so fluid that they were far more relational based and they were lived in spontaneity. They were a small example of the First Leg of The Table. However, an example I could tangibly see, and I was encouraged.

 One Simple Church that Tom and I have fond memories of was predominately made up of those with mental health disorders. (I would venture to say that this type of church planting does not get on the list of current church planting books and seminars.) This Simple Church formed naturally as we reached out to a guy we knew who struggled with his mental health, and then he brought others, and so on, and so forth.  This group had some Christians in it, and others who became Christians through the fellowship and healing prayer of group members as they ministered to one another in Christ. Again, it was only a small glimpse of The First and Second Leg of The Table, but it was there.

 I constantly wondered: were there others out there who were also living disconnected from the traditional once or twice a week Christian experience, and programed life of fellowship and ministry?  Were their others who like us, who were living and experiencing fellowship and mission with others without a program facilitating it to both Christians and non Christians?
Those people that had a lifestyle that resembled more than anything else, an unknown adventure of discovery of what church really was, coupled with the  natural expression of the Great Commission as we lived our lives WITH, not separate from, those who don't yet know Christ?  Where were they? How could I find them?

Towards the end of my "D" season, I began to hear of others meeting in Simple Churches.  Although they were hard to find, just knowing about their existence was encouraging. Most were, "under the radar", in the unobtrusive and quiet manner of Simple Church. I was spending quite a bit of my time explaining Simple, Organic, Missional life and fellowship to people, and I saw there was increasingly more and more interest in it.  It seemed daily that God was crossing my path with others who were "looking for more" in their relationship with God and others.  God was drawing people into this paradigm.

I began to pray about how to bring connections.  How to connect the people that I was meeting, and still others I knew must be out there, that I had no knowledge about- but God did.   I didn't know how I could possibly identify, reach and pull people together - but I was excited about trying if God was going to do all the real work!  I had heard Neil Cole at a House2House conference in 2006, teach a workshop called Greenhouse.  Neil spoke the things that had been in my heart and mouth for many years, but he spoke them WAY BETTER !  I contacted Paul Kaak, Neil's co-author of Greenhouse and CMA  (Church Multiplication Associates), to share my story and ask to sponsor a Greenhouse for my region.  That was the first of 5 Greenhouses (GH1 & GH2's) that brought many people together from all over the region and country (and even from Australia for a GH!).  I also developed a conference called Living The Mission, and helped promote and involve people in a House2House regional conference.  These gatherings brought people together who were in different "streams" of Christianity, who lived in different areas, who had no knowledge or connection with one another, but shared an interest in Simple, Organic, Missional paradigms.  They were lay people, paid ministry people, new in Christ or mature in Christ, male, female, young and old.  They shared their stories, encouraged one another, learned from one another,  formed connections, built relational networks, formed new Simple Church expressions or outreaches, or went back to traditional church with new zeal and organic life in Christ principles. The fruit of these gatherings (and this is just a small piece of what the Third Leg represented) was evident.  I began to see, year after year, more of The Table vision form, especially the First and Third Leg, although there is a long way to go in the Third Leg of The Table vision of the Church coming together.  This is just a short synopsis for a blog post.

 Some of you wonder if there are others in your area or region who are living Simple, Organic, Missional life.  Many of you wonder how to connect with those in your region.  Hosting city/regional gatherings of some sort, is one way for you to see God bring people together that you would never had known or had access to.  Greenhouse, Momentum (House2House's regional conferences) or other venues like these are great ways to see God bring connections and relational strength to the Simple, Organic, Missional movement in your area.  Contact for information on sponsoring a Greenhouse, or contact Ken Eastburn at for information about a Momentum conference if your interested.

So what's up with the Second Leg of The Table vision?

Sadly, not much....let's talk........

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Second Leg - I'm Hungry continued....

Yesterday I started to share with you a vision I had about a table and the legs that supported it. If you haven't read this previous blog post, I suggest that you read that before you start this one.

After the formation of the First Leg of The Table, the Second Leg began to take shape before me. This new leg forming before me was very different from the small fellowships of Christian koinonia that made up the First Leg of The Table.  This table leg was the "missional" leg.  I saw that the umbilical cords from those groups in the First Leg, reached over and connected them to communities and people from their lives who didn't yet know Christ.  Individuals and communities that First Leg people had connections with through work, their neighborhoods, interests, family members, previous lifestyles, and other "oikos" from which they came from or presently lived in.  I saw it as The Mission Leg of The Table, because it was through these relationships and connections that the First Leg fellowships grew, and how new fellowship groups were formed.  First Leg fellowships didn't form and grow from each other, or through the shuffling of people around from group to group, but rather through the addition of new believers!

Then The Third Leg began to form.  I saw this leg represent the corporate gathering of the many fellowship groups from the First Leg who gathered together for such things as regional trainings, conferences, corporate worship, teaching, local and international mission projects, and various community outreaches. Those things where the Body of Christ of a region came together in larger community and in corporate unity type of events.  Thus, the Community Leg of The Table.

Then I saw the Fourth Leg of The Table empty and without anything visible, and asked the Lord, "what about that leg?" and He said, "that's not for you to know at this time."

End of The Table vision.

I was stunned. I was amazed.  I was enthralled with what I had just saw. I saw true shepherding, real discipleship, natural evangelism, training and equipping, the "one anothers" of scripture in true community and authentic fellowship, the participation of each member of the Body, and so much more in this vision.  Seeing that everything we needed spiritually, physically, emotionally for such Kingdom life, had been bountifully provided for us on the top of the banquet table, boosted my faith to new levels.  I was ready!  Bring it on Lord!  This was going to be great!

 I prayed and prayed and prayed.  But nothing.  I told people about the Table Vision, and received back blank stares or raised eyebrows.  I drew picture after picture of it on napkins, scrap papers and anything else I could find to illustrate it. Once in a while I got a, "oh, cool!"  My initial excitement began to wane.  Years went by.   I waited, watched, and prayed, and waited some more.

But nothing happened. Only the "D's" - deserts, droughts, discouragement, disillusionment, defeat, dejection, despair, depression, death. For years I prayed and looked for the manifestation of this vision.  It had impacted me so powerfully, and I was aching for it to become something that I could be a part of, or at least witness in my lifetime.  But nothing.  What had started out to be an incredible blessing of insight and encouragement, became to me like a curse.  I began to beg God to take it from my memory if He was not going to allow me to be a part of it, or at least see it come to pass. I prayed and prayed for it to be forgotten and lost to me.  But it didn't go away.  It stood before me daily like a great neon sign advertising something I could not have. 

Then the long season of the "D's" came to an end.  I began to see the Table Vision form around me.

More in the next post........

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Hungry

It was about 20 years ago when unexpectedly the Lord placed a clear picture in front of my eyes.  Some would call it a vision - I called it a blessing and curse.  Here's the vision, and here's why.

Before me I saw a large banquet table that was full of every kind of food and drink imaginable.  It was overflowing with more than I saw the table could hold, and yet it did.  Immediately, I knew that what I saw was the provision of the Lord to His People.  It was symbolic all that we needed for life and godliness, power, provision, grace, wisdom, strength - you need it, it was there.   I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that all that provision was there waiting for us to take. Faith welled up inside of me as I saw the magnitude of this provision for us.

Then, I saw the First Leg of The Table form before me.  I saw that what made up this leg was various and diverse types of fellowship gatherings.  They were of different sizes, although none were very large, and they were each quite unique from one another.  Some were made up of young mothers, others of men and women at work places, some were couples of various ages, some were those seeking freedom and healing from issues that plague humans, others were affinity type groups of some sort or another, there was an incredible diversity of them.  Although all the groups were very different from one another, they did all have in common that they read and studied the Word of God together, they cared and ministered to one another - using the gifts God gives - growing in them through practice and application, and they were maturing.   These groups were full of life.  Pulsating life, in fact!  As I marveled at the vibrancy of these groups, I wondered how they grew and how the new groups formed on this table leg.  As soon as I did, I saw umbilical cords from these groups grow backwards into the now forming Second Leg of The Table.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Are You Headless And Don't Even Know It?

  Lately,  I've been struggling with the decision of whether or not to continue writing Backseat Driver.  I'm really seeking to know the direction of the Lord in this.  I'm wondering if it's really valuable and producing Kingdom fruit, or if its time to move on with other things. I hate to think I'm just contributing more pablum to our obsession with teaching, information, endless opinions, "expert" dissemination and constant verbal noise. Maybe I'm just tired, and in pessimistic mood, but I find myself in reading blogs, twitter, and Facebook/Google posts, the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes when he says, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity". 

I'd like "Backseat Driver" to be what Solomon describes when he says, "The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write truth correctly.  The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by the one Shepherd", (Chapter 12:10-11).  However I'm worried that I may be falling into his warning in the next verse along with many others when he continues with, " But beyond this, my son, be warned; the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books (blogs, twitter) is wearying to the body.  The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person". Ecclesiastes 12:12-13.

So, going back to my very first blog post from February 2009, which I re posted here - I'm taking a good look in the mirror and wondering if I'm walking around Headless, or connected firmly to the Head. 

 What about you - are you walking around Headless and don't even know it?




Last night I had a disturbing dream where everyone was walking around without a head attached to their body.  Even stranger, was that it didn't seem to be problem or an issue.  I watched them function in all the ways we do naturally, going here and there, living their life.   I was confused because I couldn't understand how they were doing so without their head directing, seeing, listening, processing etc.

Have you ever been driving the car for a period of time, lost in thought, and suddenly realized that you had covered many miles, switched lanes, maneuvered through traffic and not had a consciousness of what just happened?  There was a disconnect from the "head" but you functioned just fine on "auto pilot".

In Colossians 2, the theme is learning how to walk out our being complete in Christ.  In verse 19 it states; " not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God."  

In Ephesians 4:15 it say; "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ."

How much of our daily lives to we live "without the Head", and we don't even notice it?  When we go on "auto pilot" ?

I know I desire to grow with a growth which is from Christ, and I believe you do also.  To remain connected to Him so that our lives are a living, fruitful and growing reflection of His Will and direction.  No more auto pilot or headless meandering!  Let's stay connected to our Head!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Last of the Questions!!

Q:  How do you handle bad doctrine and those who bring weird ideas?

 For any disciple new or old in their relationship with Christ, it is necessary and paramount to our maturing process to read and know the Word of God and the Word Himself as our teacher. Not only reading, but also in the practice of what we read for it to become a part of us.  Otherwise, it is quickly forgotten and it never takes root within us to bear fruit.  There are no shortcuts to maturity - it takes time and commitment.  It means you listen and obey your way to maturity and discernment.  Hebrews 5:14 says, "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil"

Maturity means your not easily misled.  Unfortunately, we have people misled by false teaching because they don't mature and are vulnerable to any charismatic and forceful teacher.  It will always be so. The Apostle Paul dealt with false teachers and teachings, and those who misled others and comments a lot on the subject in his letters. Jesus said we will have tares grow up alongside the wheat.  We should expect it, and train ourselves to discern wisely.  We should also expect to be misled if we are not reading and practicing the Word ourselves.

When our children were very young, we encouraged them to read the Bible and ask God to teach them what it means.  Of course we engaged with them in the process, but we did not substitute a quick answer for them, and required them to seek out God and His Word for themselves.  They developed a lifestyle of asking, listening and obeying.  That is the essence of any disciple - to know Jesus intimately and do what He says.  We do that with those we disciple also - point them to Jesus.  This doesn't mean they couldn't, or didn't come to us with questions or for counsel, it just meant that God was sought FIRST and the Holy Spirit was trusted and expected to do what He says He does -which is teaching, guiding and conforming us to Christ.

With the MSF motorcycle rider training program we use to teach the basic skills of riding, most of those who take the class have no prior knowledge or skill about motorcycling at all.  At the completion of 10 hours of "on the motorcycle" training, most are doing good quick stops, skilled cornering, tight U-turns and more.  If we can do that with a good training program in two days in our flesh, how much MORE can the Holy Spirit do if we trust Him to train us in The Word - the very thing He is wanting to do?!

 Everyone needs to read the Word of God.  We discern error when we know the real thing because we have familiarity and personal interaction with it regularly. If we only know regurgitated and editorial interpretations of The Word, we will be easily mislead. Weird and false doctrine usually comes through the teaching of one person in the group, and where the group doesn't know it's wrong because they are ignorant.  When we give the responsibility to know the Word to someone else because it's easier for us that way, we open ourselves up to being mislead.  When the group has matured through knowing the Word themselves, they can easily recognize and deal with error.

A great tool in helping people (especially new Christians) read the Bible, are LTG's  (Life Transformation Groups) from CMA Resources (

Q:  Our house church didn't last very long and people went back to the traditional church, why does this happen?

Because nothing really changed, it only shrunk.  We call it the "honey, I shrunk the church" syndrome.  It's as if by leaving a building and then substituting the meeting place with a house, a city park, or a coffee shop, that somehow it's now become a Simple, Organic, Missional church.  In essence and in practice, nothing is very different.  The paradigm of how we view church never changed, only the location.  They are still "doing" church, instead of "being" church.  A very profound difference in theology and practice.  
Many leaders who think they are starting a Simple Church, are just taking people with them from the traditional church where they had faithful relationships who supported their leadership, but who don't have a clue about what S/O/M life really is.   They just are following their leader. When these people  see that the leader is basically leading the same thing in just a smaller (and often more unhealthy) version of church, that doesn't offer them the "perks" that they are used to like child care, short services, professional music, youth activities and such, why stay? 

Understanding the paradigm of Simple, Organic, Missional life and fellowship and how it is practiced 24/7, is crucial.  Some people don't want to make the commitment once they see that it requires more effort, maturity, accountability, involvement and commitment. Many are not willing to make such a lifestyle change, especially if they have found the convenience of traditional church more accommodating at fitting into their schedules.  When they really begin to see what is required of them, they often leave for an easier venue of practicing their faith.

Another point I want to make is that we are used to thinking about church in the traditional sense of going on and on for generations in some town, city or region.  We think of congregations as lasting forever.  In the paradigm of S/O/M Church, fellowships are far more fluid.  They form, grow, die, change, etc. according to the leading of the Lord and His Purposes.  The eternalness of the Body of Christ is always there, but the fellowships and their makeups change.  The Bible says that unless a kernel falls to the ground and it dies, it cannot produce fruit.  The death of something allows for the birth of someone else. Change is healthy and life is transitional (birth, childhood, youth, adult, middle age, old age).  Our fellowships are also transitional, and that's okay!  Our relationships with each other are eternal, and they aren't contingent upon how much or often we gather with each other.

Q:   How do you get the word out in the community about your home church?

I am not supportive of most "attractional" ways to gather people for S/O/M fellowship.  This is the way traditional churches try and build their congregations.  Marketing is a big deal in our culture, and it certainly has affected the Church.  I think that growth should happen naturally through your relationships and contacts, and not through advertising.  

Many put their Simple Church on various websites, name and build networks, advertise and promote their groups to those seeking this venue of fellowship and life.  I'm not a proponent of that.  However, I do recognize that it may have some benefit in the connecting of people, but it feels to me like "church shopping" and artificial addition instead of natural growth through divine connections.  

The best way to "get the word out" is to live your Christianity in ways that those around you ask you questions about your faith and how you practice it.  God will bring you in contact with those He wants you to connect with - that's His job, and He does it well without our help in advertising.

****And that's all the questions we're going to address for now!  Thanks for following them in these last few blog posts, and remember if you have some suggestions, thoughts, opinions or disagreements - feel free to post them in the comments section!  

 I named this blog Backseat Driver for a reason.  YOU are the one in the front seat of your own journey with the Lord in this wonderful adventure called Simple, Organic, Missional life and fellowship.  I'm just offering my thoughts on the journey to you in humility.  If you find them confirmed by the Holy Spirit ........GREAT!  God has used me to encourage and ignite you.........

  If not, backseat drivers can easily be ignored.........:)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Questions Continued: What About Financial Support?

  • In the process of organic church planting, how does the person support his family?

My quick answer?  By working a job or jobs, or having a spouse who works to financially support your family's income needs. 

I find that most of the time this question is asked by those who have been financially supported in ministry by receiving a salary from a traditional church or ministry.  Simple, Organic, Missional ministry is very different.  There are a few instances that I know of where a denomination or an organization who is seeking this direction of church planting is funding the Organic Church Planter because that is how traditional church does church planting in the West.  There are others (a very few) who receive income from their writing and speaking forums in this area. 

The majority of Simple, Organic, Missional Church Planters work secular jobs to support themselves and family in some way.  

For me, between my husband and myself, we have 9 separate streams of income from various jobs - (all but one is part-time and/or seasonal).  It's part of the paradigm change to consider "full time ministry" not as something special, positional, professional, and from which you receive a salary,  but instead where "ministry" is the normal Christian life for ALL of us as we present and live Christ to those around us in our daily journey. Ephesians 4:12 says, we are all called and equip "for works of service" in our normal lives made powerful because of Christ in us.  In this paradigm there are no "secular jobs" or "sacred jobs", where one is holy and special, and the other not. Work is ministry, life is ministry - for everyone.

When we work at a job/jobs, it means that there is not a lot of extra time to "do" ministry in the way we have thought it had to happen in the past traditional sense. This is where we think of ministry only happening in time slotted meetings, prepared orations of teaching, directed study, preplanned activities and organized events.  The Simple, Organic, Missional paradigm is that ministry is not something we do, but rather live, and it fits into our lives naturally in its' various contexts.  It is not something for the "chosen few" professionals, but rather the whole Body of Christ.  It is not "slotted" but fluid, and responsive to the direction of the Holy Spirit. We look for opportunities at work, with our families, in our neighborhood, with people we associate with through our children, communities of activity, in fellowship with other Christians, etc. to live ministry and Christ fluidly and naturally in all contexts.  I spoke with a guy recently who resigned from a pastoral job and went back to school to become a nurse.  He shared with me that he feels he is ministering to others far more through his nursing job, than he did through his weekly church events that were called "ministry".

But what about those in Ephesians 4 who are called to "equip the saints for works of service"?  Shouldn't they get compensated?  

My short answer?  Yes and no. 

Those called to equip the Body are not professions and positional.  They are functional and with a divine authority attached to them that results in effective equipping and obvious fruit.   Not everyone who thinks or calls themselves one of those listed in Ephesians 4, who take an assessment that tells them what they are, or have a seminary degree or title given by others,  are necessarily those described in Ephesian 4 as 'equippers' of the Body.  We should be looking for fruit and the obvious evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit that endorses such a claim.

The Apostle, Teacher, Evangelist, Pastor Paul (all obvious when viewing the fruit of his life) said in I Thessalonians 2:5-9, "For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed - God is witness -nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.  But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.  Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased  to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.  For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not be be a burden to any on you we proclaimed to you the gospel of God."

He speaks of his authority and yet uses the example to describe his leadership as being "like a nursing mother tenderly caring for her own children".  That is a distinctly opposite visual picture to "seeking glory from men, flattering speech, greed" and positional authority.  A nursing mother is quiet, subdued and totally there for the nursing child at her breast.  Certainly no mother expects compensation.  Can you imagine a mother saying, "you owe me for nursing you ten times a day, seven days a week, for two years!"  If we can see true Biblical leadership in terms of good mothering and fathering instead of as a CEO who needs compensation, then we will begin to understand this passage much better.....but that is another future blog post I'll have to write.........

RARELY do we hear and read books about the teaching in the Scriptures of the Apostle Paul (and others) who supported themselves financially WHILE living and "doing" ministry. Why not?  Is it because most of those who teach the Scriptures don't work secular jobs, and they don't want to lose their financial support which would cause them to have to work secular jobs?  It seems to me in reading the book of Acts, that Paul did incredibly powerful effective ministry WHILE making tents. Equipping Aquila and Priscilla, starting churches, teaching principles and doctrine, disciple making of men and women who would go on to plant churches and make disciples of their own. Paul did receive financial gifts at various times, his incarceration being one of those times. While he was in prison the making of tents was likely denied him, but I'd bet if given the opportunity, he would have made tents to support his own needs while he was sitting in jail. 

 I Corinthians chapter 9  is full of Paul's exhortation regarding the right of those who minister to receive financial support, but he also chooses not to be dependent upon it.  In II Thessalonians 3:7-10 Paul says, "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; not because we did not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example.  For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order; if anyone will not work, neither let him eat." 

The Scriptures have many verses that indicate that we need to financially support particular leaders who devote themselves to equipping the Body for ministry.  In order to get more of the Body of Christ really ministering like we emphasize in Organic, Simple, Missional life, we need the Equippers to be equipping!  And that might mean supporting some financially so they have more time to do it.  

And, we need more examples of those who claim to be "equippers" working "day and night" and "as a model" to the Body of how to live ministry fluidly in the contexts of life AND work who do not expect financial support as a "right". 

I believe that if there is evidence of fruit and impact, in certain seasons of life, and under certain circumstances, that some should receive financial support at times if they are truly equipping others for service .  We have to follow the teachings in Scriptures that endorse financial giving and working to support oneself - both! Going back to the Apostle Paul, he sometimes got financial support and others times he supported himself and those around him.    

It should be both and, not one or the other.