Saturday, May 22, 2010

First and Second Shifters in the Organic Movement

In the early 1990's, I heard someone speak on the radio about the simple way church was done during the early formation of Christianity. They mentioned a series of tapes available from different teachers on the subject, that Jim Rutz had put into an album called, "Open Church: Lions In The Pews". I sent for the tapes, and listened to them many times over. I checked their claims with Scripture, prayed for discernment, and eventually passed them around to all my friends. I resonated with the messages and concepts on these tapes, and soon Tom and I were on the journey of discovery in Simple/Organic/Missional Church.

When I first began to talk to people years ago about this topic, it was challenging to find words and communicate accurately this new paradigm of thinking about church. I struggled to describe and "re frame" for people, this new (but old,) lifestyle of simple Christianity. I used words and descriptions like; "living church 24/7" , "being church", "living like a missionary in my neighborhood, work, coffee shop", "having simple church", "full time but not paid", "I don't go to church, I am the church", "church is relationships not buildings", "release of the laity","church in the home", "fluid church", etc.

I predominately encountered the "huh?" response. In Minnesota, we call it the "deer in the headlights" look. Most people didn't have a clue of what I was talking about! I know some thought I was in major error, if not apostate. Others, I just confused. Painfully, I had a few relationships distance themselves from me for it.
Those were some lonely and often very isolating times. You ask yourself, and God, a lot of questions and usually don't find the answers you want. Such is the life of faith.
However, the unmistakable Spiritual Fruit that we saw in our own lives, the lives of our children, the lives of those we were reaching out to, was a continual affirmation of our direction.

That was then, this is now.

Now, I believe, we are transitioning into different times.

The words I mentioned above, their concepts, and those practicing the life and journey of organic, simple, missional living are becoming more and more mainstream terms. We have great authors who are writing books, blogs and doing regional teaching/trainings to communicate the stories, definitions, and particular aspects of the paradigm.
More and more people are stepping out of traditional churches and exploring this Christianity of less church activity and more God intimacy. Mega churches, traditional churches, multi-site churches are beginning to seek out certain aspects of this movement that they want to incorporate into their expression of church. Major Christian publications are writing and discussing it. Just Google the words house church, simple church, missional, open church, organic church to see the multitude of links!

We've moved into the second shifter phase.

Second shifter is a great description for the natural progression of going from exploration to implementation. Where the ideas, concepts and ultimately a new paradigm of living, begins to take root into the culture as more and more people adopt its principles and concepts. (Thanks Trey)

In the exploration phase, those who function like "Lewis and Clark" discover and set the trails.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with American History; Lewis and Clark were explorers who opened up the western United States to settlement in 1804. They were called the Corps of Discovery. Their journey was short, but of huge significance. They are known to have opened up everything west of the Mississippi for settlement. In just a couple decades, the west was forever changed. They opened the way for the second shifter phase.

The implementers.

The implementers are those who take the information of the explorers and actually use it for settlement. They make it available and useful, giving definitions, application. Communicating these in such a way that allow for the settlement phase to take root.

Communication at this point of implementation becomes far more important because the impact and scope is so much greater, than during the exploration phase. Portability is a necessity. However, there is a lot at stake with this phase. Second shifters have a huge responsibility.

In my next blog post, I'll share some of my thoughts about that...........

Saturday, May 8, 2010

SEE - Search, Evaluate and Execute in Organic Church

My husband and I are motorcycle riding instructors for the State of MN, certified by an organization called MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation). In the classroom portion of the motorcycle instruction curriculum, we teach a strategy for motorcycle riding which goes by the acronym SEE. The S is for search, E for evaluate, and the last E for execute.
We teach riders to "SEE" constantly while driving their motorcycle, and that it is a never ending process in riding a motorcycle.

Search and pay attention to all the details of things going on all around you. Use your eyes and ears to search and gain information. What do you see?

Evaluate. What are your options and the possible scenarios and courses of action you could take with what you've seen and heard? What will your response be to what you've seen? What are you going to do?

Execute an action based upon your evaluation. Commit and move.

The Bible tells us to have eyes and ears that hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. To each of us, individually and uniquely, through our relationship with Him, He is communicating with us. Have we learned to listened? Have we learned to hear His Voice above all others?

He is our teacher and instructor. He is committed to conform us into the likeness of Christ and accomplish the plans and purposes of God, in and through us. He has a strategy for accomplishing this in our lives.

A strategy birthed in Him and initiated by Him - that's organic.

It's not following a model or technique. Rather it is following the Biblical principles that teach us to listen, obey, mature, how to have authentic relationships, live in a lifestyle that incorporates Him into every interaction.

Similar to my husband and I instructing the individual motorcycle riders in our classes in affective riding, Gods strategy for accomplishing Organic Kingdom Life also involves our seeing/searching, evaluating, and executing. And like our SEE acronym in riding; it is a never ending process!

Here are some of His own words to us on the topic of see:

Ezekiel 40:4

The man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.
Mark 8:18
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?
Isaiah 41:20
That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Jeremiah 23:18

"But who has stood in the council of the LORD, That he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened?
Mark 8:1
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?
Revelation 3:18
I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Deuteronomy 1:33
I who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
Ezekiel 34:4
You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
Matthew 10:11
"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.
1 Corinthians 2:10

but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

And to evaluate (understand):

1 Chronicles 28:19
"All this," David said, "I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan."
Psalm 119:125

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
Philemon 1:6

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

And to execute (act):

Philippians 2:13
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
2 Thessalonians 1:11
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
Philemon 1:6

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Organic Kingdom life is a never ending process of seeing(searching), evaluating and executing alongside the Holy Spirit who is the faithful Guide. He will get you to where you need to be. No doubt about that! The choice is ours. Will we learn to let Him guide us and live a life of faith and adventure of not knowing where the road will take us on our journey to the finish line?

God give us faith and ears to hear!