Saturday, May 26, 2007


Back here in good ol' oihO. And it is a treat to be home. Every time I am away, I invigorated into newer, fresher places of heart for our work here.

Well, to get this out of the way, the flights were fun. A one-hour, ten-minute ground stoppage on the runway in Dayton on my 737 was luscious. Of course I was monitoring the Chicago radar every fifteen minutes, but stopped short of offering my fellow passengers weather updates for fear of not being able to stop myself.

When we did finally get up and make our approach into O'Hare, the pilot was doing some pretty cool maneuvers that I wasn't sure I wanted to see a 737 make, like dips, dives and pull-ups over convective towers, like in the pic I snapped below.

I didn't know at the time, but one of our team members was in Detroit on his plane ready for departure when they discovered a mechanical problem with the fuel line or something. They performed a repair and did a taxi down the runway. I suppose as they were doing so, there was an even greater malfunction and fuel was being sprayed all over the plane. Yikes. No, make that a double yikes. Obviously that flight was canceled and,unfortunately, he didn't get to join us.

Coming back I got to fly in a Fairchild 328, which is Midwest's regional jet. I was scheduled for a United flight from Milwaukee to O'Hare then to Dayton on a 737. But guess who had a ground stoppage when I got to the airport in Milwaukee? They offered me a non-stop on Midwest to Dayton, which I took. You know that when you go up in gate letters and numbers you are getting a rinky-dinkier aircraft. So I got to gate D-52 and out the window there were nothing but turbo-propped "crop dusters" which I knew they weren't about to fly to Dayton, but I had to make sure. And I did. For the next 1.5 hours, I saw one Fairchild after the other land, deplane and take off again. These little boogers looked like mini-cargo planes and I immediately began to wonder how it would handle the turbulence we were about to get into.

It got a bit bumpy going up because the winds were gusting up to 30mph that day. But coming into Dayton felt like a riding with a drunk on a Rock-O-Plane at a gypsy carnival. I suppose a larger craft could have absorbed some of the bumps better but even as buffetted as we were, the crew did a good job landing.

The trip to Wisconsin was quite fruitful. We(our task force) have been compiling our findings from the past several months into some presentable material for our churches and their leaders. We have been receiving feedback from both groups and incorporating it into our material.

We started out with at least a premise that people in North America are largely unreached for Jesus and we aren't doing a very good job at ameliorating the problem. Intially, we were going to identify the barriers in our churches that kept non-professional ministers, (i.e., "lay" persons...regular church folk) from doing the Kingdom work they can and should be about, but have been kept back because of leader insecurity and just plain ignorance.

That is built upon the idea that soley relying on professional, trained church planters- the deployment of which are ridiculously resouce heavy- hasn't cut it. In that vein, we thought we were going to identify ways we could empower "lay" persons (we even have difficulties with the baggage associated with that word) to see that they could engage in planting in ways that- perhaps by perception- were reserved only for professional minister-types.

Well, now we are reasonably sure that the true spirit of what we think God is about in this is not to get people to "start" churches, per se, as much as it is about people being relationally available, persistent and connected to what God wants them to do in their own neighborhoods. When that happens, churches are often born in many kinds of forms that please God. That SBaptists have always taken the Commissioning in Matthew 28: 19, 20 to heart is not novel. More revolutionary in SBC life is that the goal necessarily isn't to pump out churches, but to create simple, redemptive communities where the spread of God's Kingdom is possible. This implies a radically new approach to disciple-making for some, if not many.

Not revolutionary for most of you, I know, but there is a groundswell amongst the everyday Christ follower in SBC churches that we are finding are longing to be released to do this and be free from programmatic/unnatural/inorganic approaches to impacting our neighbors for Christ. To be sure, there are deep pockets of control that factor into this being a bona fide release and empowerment.

But I think when people are free enough to realize their place and identity, God may move amongst us like we've not seen in ages, and in a way that isn't solely to save denominational face or feather the beds of our deep-seeded control issues. It will be something in which God alone can truly be glorified.

This much we knew from our first gathering in Orlando last October, when opening our journey together in a time of prayer, we were pretty literally driven to our knees- our little hotel conference room being filled with God's presence in a powerfully humbling way. It seemed God was telling us that if we were serious about what we were setting out to do, he would be the one to be glorified. I'll not forget that visitation of the Spirit upon us that day. We have a chance here. I know.

I hope.