Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ralph Moore is multiplying churches!

Ralph Moore is rocking my world lately. I've just finished "Starting a New Church" and am now diving into "How to Multiply Your Church." To anyone in church ministry, these books are a must read. His down-to-earth writing and communicating style, grounded in experience and sensible Christian living, and his authoritative argument - that church multiplication is the only way we can reach the world - is the message we leaders need today.

Moore ought to know. He has planted over 700 "Hope Chapels" (related to the Four-Square Denomination) around the world, and is recognized as one of the leading church planting practitioners alive today. His home State of Hawaii is the only place in America where church growth is out-pacing population growth! In short, Ralph and some of his Hawaii peers have proven the model works!

Beth and I visited Hope Chapel, his home, in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in August. We've known Ralph since the early 90s when we lived in Hawaii and worked at Grace Bible Church under Sam Webb and Norman Nakanishi, both friends of the Moore family.

For a quick intro, watch this 2-minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP1BP7T8IoI&noredirect=1

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Living to the Power of Ten!

I'm really enjoying a study of the Ten Commandments, both in scripture and in the writings of other men. "Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today's Moral Crisis" by Philip Graham Ryken is particularly insightful.
These simple, straight-forward commands, given in love by God to a nation He was bringing out of bondage into to a new national freedom (the Exodus Story), were designed to help them survive and thrive as a new nation.
Ten Commands! Three about respect and love for God. Six about respect and love for our fellow man. And one about taking care of ourselves - the weekly Sabbath rest!
Living by these foundational principles, is the basis for a happy, uncomplicated life - personally and in community. Everyone longs for it, but so few are willing to develop the disciplines necessary to experience the rewards.
The Ten Commandments show us the way we are to live, and they also show us how desperately incompetent we are to do it! Especially in light of Jesus' teaching where murder isn't just killing another person, but hating them! And adultery isn't just an act but a thought as well! And stealing is measured by our covetous attitude and love of money.
Jesus didn't do away with the Ten Commandments! He raised the bar! We need Jesus to empower us to live His Way! And, this is the way He wants us to live.
I dream of a place where people live - in their hearts and in their behaviors - by these simple loving tenets. This is what we call "Christian Community" or "the Body of Christ." It is the people of God who love, respect, and trust God and each other in every detail of life. This is what we all strive for as Christian leaders.
It really isn't a difficult way to live. That is the real secret we try to get out to people! The world - including that portion of "the world" that lives inside of us - makes it difficult because our sinfulness floods us with tempting opportunities to live and think another way. And when we do, when we follow that path, we pay for it every time - in our personal lives and in our relationships. We have all suffered from breaking the Ten Commandments.
But Jesus offers an alternative. He said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The more I study the Ten Commandments in the Old and New Testament, the more I am convinced that "Living to the Power of Ten" is actually the easiest and most rewarding way to live!
And, the example we set is the way to transform the world!

A Tenacious Life!

On October 14th, my friend Wayne Crooke died suddenly of a heart attack in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was only 66 years old. Wayne and his wife Carolyn have given their lives to the nations of South East Asia. He was my first mentor in missions. Beth and I worked with Wayne and his family when we were first married, young twenty-somethings with high ideals and low experience. We joined him to help build SEA Crusades. Together, under his visionary leadership, we pioneered an open-air crusade model in Thailand that planned and prayed to reach thousands of people for Jesus Christ.

For three years we hammered away with negligible results and small crowds. But Wayne was tenacious and wouldn’t give up. Of all things I loved and hated about Wayne Crooke, it was his determination that was his most memorable feature! In the spring of 1981, after years of toil, God finally gave him the break-through for which he had labored and wept in prayer. We set up our simple equipment on a large open soccer field in Thoeng, North Thailand, and advertised with handbills in the surrounding area. I remember Wayne commenting about how small the village was, and perhaps we were foolish to agree to come here for ten days of meetings.

Three hundred people showed up on the first night. Then 600 on the second, and 1200 on the third. The crowd continued to grow like that until on the 9th night over 20,000 filled the field! They came for only one reason: to hear stories about Jesus Christ and see His power at work in their lives. It was an historic night, not only in our experience, but also in the history of Thailand. No one had ever seen such large crowds gather to hear the Gospel in this nation. In following years, our family started working in Sri Lanka and Wayne and new team members continued traveling all over Thailand conducting huge open-air meetings like this. In recent years, Wayne, now in a new season of life, was preparing to enter Burma.

Those experiences set our family on a journey in missions that we continue to walk out today. In Sri Lanka, two years after Thailand, Beth and I followed Wayne’s model, and ultimately planted churches after our outreaches – one at a time until 35 churches were birthed. Today that group has grown to over 90 churches with membership totaling 35,000 people!

We should never under-estimate the impact we make on others. Positive impact is almost always the result of faithfulness over time – steadfastness, perseverance and determination! Our culture too often sells us short with quick fixes, instant gratification, and fast food answers. Too often we expect the same from God. But much of Kingdom work is the fruit of time-tested steadiness.

I hope I am the kind of mentor and example that Wayne and Carolyn have been to me. My goal in leadership is to model that kind of life-long steadiness. I remember making a decision as a young person, while we worked with Wayne in Thailand. I had heard a lot of people talking about “having the fire of God in our souls!” and of “burning out for Jesus.” I decided at that time that rather than burning out, I was going to be an internal-combustion engine that would make the long trip and keep on rolling.

Perhaps that is why, after a lifetime, people like Wayne Crooke were still happily doing the stuff!

And THAT, as they say, is how we roll!