Welcome to Missional Journey

...thoughts on Missional churches, missional people and how a church planting movement might be fostered in the Texas District, LCMS.

Some have been gleaned from others who are writing, speaking and living with church planting everyday. Some are my own thoughts from my own experience with church planters and missional churches. Your comments and reactions are welcomed.

God's Blessings as you continue on your own missional journey.
Paul Krentz
Mission and Ministry Facilitator
Texas District, LCMS

Friday, October 10, 2014

What Does Your Mission Field Look Like?

There are three things every missionary of Jesus must do.

First - Be clear what message you are sent to share and the posture you take in sharing it. In 
1 Cor. 2:1-3 (ESV) Paul gives us a wonderful model. He says And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.  A missionary shares the Good News of salvation in Jesus with the community he or she is sent to.

Second - Know the people whom you are sent to reach.  Every missionary spends considerable time getting to know the history, culture, values and the people of his mission field in order to communicate the message of Jesus in a clear way that fits the context.  Often times, however, churches and communities of believers who have been there a long time lose touch with the context of their community and perhaps don't even think of it as their mission field.  But, we are missionaries and we need to know our community. While printed demographic studies give us valuable statistical data, nothing beats listening to people and culture in order to really know and identify with our local culture.  Here are 20 questions You might ask in order to understand your local mission field?
  1. Where do you need to go to "listen" to your culture?
  2. What/Who are the "gods" in your culture?
  3. Who are the cultural heroes?
  4. What does security look like?
  5. What are the visible signs of wealth?  Of poverty?
  6. Who is moving into your community?
  7. What are the "hot button" social issues currently being debated?
  8. How does the history of your community affect life right now?
  9. What political, cultural and economic issues have shaped the ethos and beliefs of your culture?
  10. What are peoples' hopes and dreams in your community?
  11. What does masculinity/femininity look like where you live?
  12. How is authority viewed by the people around you?
  13. What is considered "art" in your context?
  14. What are the key slogans or phrases known by people in your community?
  15. Where do people invest their resources of money and time?
  16. Do local institutions deal with immigrants as an asset or a problem?
  17. What is the reputation of religious leaders and churches?
  18. What behaviors in your community are rewarded and which are punished?
  19. How does your community define peoples' concept of "the good life"?
  20. What do people think about Jesus? 
Regularly seeking answers to questions like this help us understand our mission field.  When we are clear on the first and second tasks of a missionary life style, we can take on the third part of a missionary life.  In fact, we might most often do this third task while we are discovering the answer to questions about our mission field.  What is the third task?

Third - Engage the people of your culture and community with the clear message of "Jesus and him crucified" with a posture of humble "fear and much trembling" as you go about your every day life.  Paul said something else in 1 Cor. 2:4 that makes this 3 step process possible.  He said "and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." None of us can do this in our own strength, but with the power of the Spirit, every disciple IS a missionary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

No Reason To Be Afraid

I don't know if you are like me, but there are times where I become afraid to share Jesus and His Gospel with people that I meet.  I become fearful of how my testimony might be received; fearful that I might be seen as preachy or pushy; even fearful that I will not "get it right."

Even the Apostle Paul must have been subject to this same fear.  In Acts 18, Paul is in Corinth.  He had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi; left Thessalonica under duress; fled "agitated" crowds in Berea and testified in Athens.  Despite the anger of those who opposed Paul's message of salvation through Jesus, a fledgling group of disciples in a new church was formed in each of those cities. 

In Corinth, Paul connects with Aquila and Priscilla.  He preaches both in the synagogue and to the Gentiles with numerous new disciples being made.  Challenges from influential Jewish leaders are about to come down on Paul.  God knew that Paul would be afraid so He spoke to him in a vision.

Acts 18:9-10 ESV And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

There are four learnings that I gain for my own witness from Paul's vision.

First, the Lord exhorts Paul "Do not be afraid".  That phrase or some version of it (e.g. "fear not") appears 365 times in the Bible.  When I think of the fact that God gives me the opportunity to witness for him every day, I find it awesome that there are 365 "do not be afraids" in the Scriptures.  If Paul needed it, so do I.

Second, Paul is given an imperative "but go on speaking" and a prohibition "and do not be silent."  The Lord gives the same instruction both positively and negatively.  Confessing the truth about Jesus and His love is something we are privileged to do at all times.   There is never a wrong time to share the Savior King with another person or group.

Third, the Lord gives the reason why Paul can proceed fearlessly speaking the truth and testifying to the Savior. God assures Paul "for I am with you."  Paul was not alone.  Neither are you or I when we witness.  The Holy Spirit has been given to us for this very reason.

Fourth, the Lord assures Paul "no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people."  Despite the mounting opposition and the trial before a Roman Proconsul that Paul will soon face, the Lord promises that no one will lay a hand on Paul.  It is sometimes tempting to think that when we witness and share the love of Jesus, that no one is listening or moved by the Holy Spirit.  Paul is assured that God's Word has had its effect.  It has done exactly what God intended to do with it. God will do the same through you or I when we confess His truth.

So…reminder to self: 

Don't be afraid (365 days a year); Go on speaking; Do not be silent; Trust God is with me; Be confident that He has many who are His people and even when I don't recognize it, they are all around me.

Why not make that a reminder to yourself as well

Monday, January 20, 2014

Can My Church Plant a Church?

That's a question Faith Lutheran Church; Georgetown has been asking itself for the past several years.  Faith Lutheran Church is where my wife Becky and I have worshiped, served and been nurtured in our faith life for more than 18 years.  God has blessed Faith with healthy growth, caring Pastors and DCE's and leaders who are willing to risk for the sake of Kingdom growth.

A major focus of my work for the Texas District is in serving as a catalyst, resource and mentor to churches planting churches and to church planters.  When I was asked to chair a Church Planting Parenting Team at Faith two years ago, I was excited and just a little bit scared as I was to find out first hand whether all the things I had worked on with other churches in would be a blessing in my own church.

Two and a half years later, Faith has been led by God to move forward with launching a church plant.  Our staff, elders, church council and voters each voted unanimously that we should do this.  Members are looking at this as an investment in the Kingdom rather than as a loss of resources.  That's exciting to me!  I again have been blessed by being asked to chair the Call Committee for our Church Planter and we continue to move forward as Jesus leads.  We are excited to see who God brings as Planter and as the people to be discipled.

We learned some things along the way.  Here are a few of our key learnings leading up to our decision to plant a new church:

  • Disciples in the local church must passionately believe that the church exists for those not yet part of God's Kingdom or they will not move toward planting a church
  • Churches planting churches don't lose people; they invest them in the work of gathering a harvest.
  • Parenting a church has little to do with size of a churches attendance but rather on the size of its heart.
  • A byproduct of a healthy church is the willingness to invest in reproduction.
  • God calls some to go and plant a new church. He calls others to stay and keep the parent church strong and healthy.
  • Church planting churches give up the "myth of acquisition."  (Examples: "We will start a new congregation after our building project is paid for;" "Once we have added a couple of new staff members we will be in a position to try this;" "If we can increase our budget to X dollars, then we'll be ready to plant a church.")  Instead, they have learned it is about God's time to plant.  They have learned that it is much like having children; "If you wait to have children until you can afford it, you never will."
  • Churches planting churches have already cultivated a culture of missional generosity.
  • Churches planting churches care more about the people in the new field of work than cloning a replica of their current church in a new location.
Not all of these statements were true about our church when our team began its work, but we have seen how the Spirit has faithfully been working in our leaders and disciples so that right now we are eager for a planter to arrive and begin this work with tons of support and prayers.  We can't wait to see what Jesus will do with us.

What could be done if your church wanted to begin a discernment process of your own?

  • Charter a Church Parenting Team who would work with your Texas District Mission and Ministry Facilitator to research, study and make a Spirit led recommendation to your leaders and congregation.
  • Communicate a Biblical understanding of parenting a church to your congregation.
  • Create awareness of the process of change needed.
  • Carefully wait for the Kairos time for a Spirit led decision by your congregation.

    Is the Spirit prompting you and your congregation to explore church planting?  Let me know how I can help.  I am ready to meet with you and other leaders at any time.  It is the highest priority!

Friday, September 13, 2013

When Less is More - Gideon and The Church

When it comes to investing in the mission of Jesus to bring the Gospel to people, the "church" is often tempted to think in the following ways:

"It would be nice to plant a church, but we don't have the financial resources."

"We could do outreach to that community, but our people are busy enough just keeping our local church going."

Satan loves to tempt followers of Jesus to function from a mindset of scarcity rather than a confidence in God's abundance.

Gideon, when told that he was chosen by God to defeat the Midianites operated from a mindset of scarcity.    His response was 

Judges 6:15 

"But Lord, " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."

God's answer was

Judges 6:14 - 16
The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you? . . . I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together." 

With God's promise Gideon gathers an army of 32,000 men.  God twice reduced Gideon's army because He knew Gideon was seeking to operate out of his own human strength.

Judges 7:2-3 
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, {3} announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'" So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

Gideon obeyed but once again God reduced his army

Judges 7:4-7 
But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." {5} So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." {6} Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. {7} The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place."

When by all human calculations, it looked like Gideon should lose, he was nevertheless obedient.  God gave victory.  No mindset of scarcity here - just a confidence in God's abundance.  Truly Less was More!

It is absolutely true that God provide all that is needed to accomplish His mission in the world.  It will be done regardless of whether we take action or not.  But, I for one don't want to miss out on the exciting Kingdom adventure God has in store for me as I have the privilege of being part of that adventure.  That is what Jesus wants for every believer and every church.  While we might be tempted to think there is not enough to be in mission, God takes what may appear to be little and shows us that it is enough.  He did it with Gideon and He will do it with you and your church.