Saturday, June 26, 2010

God is Moving! Third Shifters; Are You?

God is moving, and it's not just in China, India, Iran and other places.
He's moving here too - in the United States.
Where, you ask?
The Scriptures tell us; "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. John 4:35

The fields are there. The harvest is there.
The problem lays with us, and our inability to recognize either one.

Or maybe we recognize it, but choose passivity.
Either way, we're missing out on one of the biggest blessings of our lives.
To be used by His Hand. To see God change a life. To witness the supernatural reaching Love that floods a broken and bruised life and changes it forever.

Jesus encountered this dullness of perception, and apathy of involvement, in the folks around Him. People doing all sorts of "religious activity" but with little fruit or impact. People who should have, but did not see the activity of God. Or, they saw it and remained aloof from it.

In John 5, Jesus found it necessary to remind the Pharisee's, when they persecuted Him for healing on the Sabbath (not a condoned religious activity), in verse 17 with; "But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."
He's saving the lives of those who have not known Him, but have asked questions like; "Are you real God?" "Show me if you exist!" "Help me!" God replies; "Here I AM!" when "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

God is moving and Jesus has made it possible for us, you and me, to be the instruments of that moving.....if we're watching for it, if we are willing, and if we make ourselves available. The choice is ours.

I shared in the last blog post, about Third Shifters being those who ultimately make the biggest and most transformational impact of the Kingdom. Mainly because they make up the larger group of those who can cause impact.
First Shifters are few and trekking into new territories. Second Shifters are busy teaching and creating systems and building blocks.
It's the Third Shifters who are the heavy lifters, so to speak. They, by their shear mass, can reach into the lives of people and make a difference through those relationships and encounters.

Here is a recent unedited testimony a friend of mine sent me after he participated in a day of watching God move in our city. Read how God is moving through average, obedient people responding to His leading:

"We had about 120 people at the water baptisms tonight and the LORD gave us a spontaneous word of instruction that we were to go out and every person was to invite someone to the gathering for dinner. After the spontaneous outreach we had about 200 that we fed and loved on and led many to the Lord!!! Then we went down to the beach and had over 20 water baptisms (we had only 4 scheduled but the Holy Spirit poured out so dramatically that we had 16 spontaneous first time believers or rededications). Here are a couple of the stories. Wow!

There was Allah Mohammed Hussein. (Spelling) A 17 year old Iraqi Muslim who lost his sister a year ago. He called out to God for help and Jesus came and comforted Him when he was in Iraq. He Has been in the United States for only 6 days and was out running and stopped at the pavilion we were at. A brother invited him in and he couldn't believe how much love he experienced. He decided to surrender his life to Jesus so that He could be cleansed of his sins and start over with God. He was baptized in the lake with the others. Then there was Brenda. She was a native American. She had been part of an Alcoholics Anonymous program for the last 14 months. Just today she texted her friend and told her she really wanted to surrender her life to God. She was out walking by the pavilion where we were gathering and stopped to listen to the preaching. A sister approached her and she gave her life to Jesus and was baptized in the lake with the others. Then there was Amby. A latino young woman with a new baby. She talked with one of our Spanish speaking brothers and wanted to give her life to Jesus. A leader joined him and led her to the LORD. She started weeping as she was filled with the Holy Spirit. We had many hmong families who joined us for dinner and got prayer including a man named Tao whose arm was hurt and a couple people prayed with him and Jesus healed him. He got to experience the Holy Spirit in a significant way and a powerful witness was released to him."

Pretty exciting stuff isn't it?
God is moving!

This was in a park in St. Paul, Minnesota with a group of men and women who themselves are largely new Christians. They happen to be lead by a group of leaders who teach from the beginning of their walk with Christ, to hear and obey. They are taught that God wants to and will move to reach out and save the lives of people. They expect it - and listen to His instructions on how, who and when.

God is moving. Now. In the United States. In your city. In your neighborhood. He wants and waits to use YOU!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:7-9

Your commissioned and sent!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Third Shifters; Bringing Impact

Recently I received a publication from an organization that plants churches in Iran called Elam Ministries ( or Here is something I want to share with you from that brochure:

"While it is safer to plant a church in the West, it may actually be simpler to plant one in Iran. Go to a church planters' conference in North America, and you will hear about budgets, programs, marketing campaigns, and the need for a good worship set. Attend a conference for Iranians, and you get a different picture. They'll talk about starting by sharing Christ with friends and family, gathering new believers for a weekly Bible teaching and fellowship, and then encouraging and praying with them to go and share with their friends and family."(Elam Ministries, Issue 2, 2010)

Let's look at the points they make:

1. Start with friends and family
2. Study the Bible together
3. Get together for fellowship
4. Empower, encourage and pray for each person to go out and share Christ in their "okios" (spheres of influence)

Simple, Organic and Missional. Every believer in Christ can do it.

This is the way the Kingdom has been extended since the book of Acts, and the rest of the New Testament, was written for our instruction and encouragement.

The Apostle Paul, Barnabas and others as "First Shifters", carved out through their missionary journeys "The Way". They pioneered new territories and laid foundations.

Then, those like Timothy, Titus, Apollos and others "Second Shifters" began to build on those foundations.

It was the "Third Shifters" however, that I believe created the impact and real expansion of Christianity and the Kingdom of God. The masses of normal, regular people living out their faith and commitment to Christ in every day life.

The names of most of these people we don't know. Although the Apostle Paul does from time to time in his letters, acknowledge some of them and their faithful work in the Kingdom.

It is these nameless, faceless, empowered, obedient Believers in Christ that God really works through in profound and powerful ways. This group of people multiplies itself over and over, causing transformation in neighborhoods, cities, regions and countries. This is the group of real impact.

Here is a testimony from an Iranian couple who have gone into a deeply Islamic city from the Elam article;

"We started with two people who were Christians, but had no Bible teaching. We met with them and began to disciple them. The Lord blessed us and now we have twenty faithful believers".

Another church planter who oversees over 20 house churches says:

" Our churches grow through our members. We started with one family in Tehran. We would visit them in their home for worship and fellowship. We taught them the Bible and encouraged them to share Jesus with their friends and family. They did, and the church grew." (Elam Ministries, Issue 2, 2010)

Felicity Dale, a friend of mine, recently posted an article called; 15 Reasons Why We Don't See Harvest ( In it she offers some suggestions as to why we are not seeing a lot of harvest that I would encourage you to read and contemplate. Even better, join in the conversation!

In my opinion, we will not see the results that are seen in China, India, Iran and other places until the Third Shifters begin to faithfully, simply, organically and missionally walk out their faith in the natural rhythms, circumstances and oikos' of their lives.

"But you are a Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a People For God's Own Possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light" 1Peter 2:9

Start proclaiming, and let's see the Book of Acts come alive in our own time and lives!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Second Shifters - The Communicators

You can go to almost any grocery store these days and find foods with an Organic label. The term has become in vogue and put on everything from produce to clothing. But be warned. Not everything that is labeled "organic" has met the qualifications for that identity.

In fact, the label Organic has been so misused and slapped on anything someone wants to call Organic in the last couple years, that new stringent requirements are being put into effect before a product can legally claim that title. That's good. It keeps the integrity of the label and then we all know that what we're buying is the real thing.

We are in a similar place with the Organic, Simple, Missional expression of Christian life and fellowship. Organic labels are being slapped on anything someone wants to call by that name. Any why not? It sounds green, cool and trendy - and that's important to some people. I wrote a little about some of this already in the April post called "The Human Hijacking of Organic".

This issue needs to be addressed over and over because the the repercussions could be the difference of this initiative of God being either being squelched, or ultimately nurtured.

In a recent Twitter post, a friend of mine asked; "Will the real Organic please stand up!". For some of us older folks, we remember a television show called; 'To Tell The Truth' that was popular and used this phrase in it's conclusion of the show. In the show, three people would claim the name and identity of the only one true individual with that name. The other two would fake it as best they could, looking, speaking and acting as much as possible as the real person of that identity. The judges job was to discern the real one.

With the influx of multiple definitions and explanations of the word Organic, it becomes even more important that we continue to stand for what is truly Organic and not let the term, and ultimately the expression of it, find itself far removed from its true essence.

So how do we know what is really Organic or just a transferred label?

Second Shifters, your task is to wade through all the pablum and find the real thing and communicate it well using your gifts and influence.
It won't be easy. But, I believe most Second Shifters are those with gifts of teaching, discernment and are Truth Seekers. God has put within you a desire to "know how something works" and how to apply it for use. God has given and equipped you with all you need to take the baton from the First Shifters and Explorers to transform the wilderness into settlements. Your those to lay foundations of what is to be built upon by the masses who will adopt Organic life and allow God to flourish in their individual oikos's (spheres of influence).

Just to reiterate what I say over and over in my blogging, I will continue to define Organic Church as: that which is initiated by God through a intimate and dependent relationship with Him and then expressed naturally and uniquely through that relationship to others. Be it through how you fellowship, with whom, and in what place, the primary feature is that it is the initiative of The Spirit of God for His unique and natural outflow of Himself through the life of a believer to those around him. It has far less to do with a form, a style, or something to be copied and eventually placed into a model.
Jesus is our perfect example of this, seeking the Father each day for instructions as to how and with whom, He was to interact with on that particular day. A lot of variety, a lot of unique interactions, a lot of fruit because it was born and initiated in the will of the Father. That's organic.

Okay, so maybe you disagree, or have found some other alternative definitions. That is to be expected. Who am I anyway? The challenge is for you Second Shifters, the Implementers, to take your role and position to communicate clearly, effectively and accurately just what is in essence; Organic.

As I said previously in my last blog post; communication at this point of implementation becomes far more important because the impact and scope is so much greater, than during the exploration phase. There is a lot at stake with this phase and Second Shifters have a huge responsibility. Portability is a necessity if there is to be any real change or impact. But, portability of the real thing. Not an impostor, an adaptation, or revised humanized religiously acceptable version.

In marriages, friendships, work relationships, parent/child interactions - basically any relational connection, communication is always a challenge.

Communication is both the delivery of what we're saying, AND the receiving of the message.

Some people think that good communication is just in the delivery. They spend all their time on putting as much information out there as they can, oblivious to how it is being received and possibly misconstrued. Both delivery and reception have equal validity in creating and sustaining good communication, and it's not an easy thing to accomplish. Our own ideas, past history, emotions, hurts and just the skill of picking the right words, all make it challenging. Really listening to someone else, without imposing your own thoughts or words to what their saying is extremely difficult and a skill that takes time and practice.
Those of us who are married know you can say one thing to a spouse and it can be received in an intirely different way! Or with a teenager who heard something completely different than what was said.

The First Shifters primarily explored the wilderness of doing/being church and mission differently. Second Shifters teach and communicate it for the adaptation. Third shifters are the majority and it is they who will bring real transformation and impact. If each one reaches their own oikos, their own spheres of influence and relational connections, widespread impact can occur. The scope of reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus, all of a sudden, takes on the proportions of places like China, and India, where God is moving powerfully through each Christian, not just the few.

With the next blog post I want to explore the Third Shifters...........