March – Organizing Fellowship

MARCH
__ General Editing.
__ Expand on items.
__ Include church discussion.

Please join me in making disciples:
F is for following.
F is for fishing … learning how to fish.
F is for fellowship … gathering people together to love one another.

Organizing fellowship: Wherever two or three: Mat 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.

Mat 18:14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Intentionally loving one another: The Prayer Tool.
Intentionally bringing people together.

First person to choose: someone within the church.
Praying creates fellowship.
After loving God first, the second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. The focus of fishing for people is the neighborhood. The first word of the great commission is ‘Go.’ Where we are to go is our neighborhood, and our neighbors are people we encounter wherever we are.

Actions equal monthly invite. System problem stranger evangelism.

Sorting worship attenders into FISH levels.

Worship Sunday School percentages. 17%.

Let’s take a short Break! THE FOUR CORNERED ROOM – A Simple Discipleship System, Part 1 – DM101 Module 2
Newborn Developmental Level
F = Fellowship Corner Readings.

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.
We share each other’s woes, our mutual burdens bear;
and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.

STAGE 1: COME AND SEE: (Develop relationships between one another.)

John 1:35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus.

 

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20 06-Mar-2022 3.1 March: What Needs To Change. Covey: “A change in perception changes everything.” The people on your maps are all potential disciples.
21 3.2 Intentionally loving one another: The Prayer Tool. Praying creates fellowship. A church tends to grow to their level of competence.

23 3.3 Reading #2. Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone – overcoming alienation and cut off.
Organize fellowship to fix Putnam.

Reading #2. Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
Social bonds are by far the most powerful predictor of life satisfaction.
More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues.
Joining and participating in one group cuts in half your odds of dying next year.
It has the equivalent benefit to your health of quitting smoking.
Every ten minutes of commuting reduces all forms of social capital by 10%
Watching commercial entertainment TV is the only leisure activity where doing more
of it is associated with lower social capital.
Declining Social Capital: Trends over the last 25 years …
Attending Club Meetings: 58% drop
Family dinners: 43% drop … Having friends over: 35% drop
Sociologist Robert Putnam’s research indicates that American networks of engagement are breaking down and that this loss of “social capital” is the primary cause of many serious social problems. As the church is the primary builder of social networks, the decrease in social capital is both a cause and a result of the decline of church participation in America. Relationships that build community bonds between neighbors are essential to disciple making.

Reflection Question: Do you agree? What are the implications of this?

 

 

24 Discuss Stark – in homework: people who are not connected well are open to new connections.

 

The simplest form of fellowship is to go where they gather and hang out there until you belong.

#1 Smoking Section Fellowship

Below are two statements about the church planting ministry of Neil Cole, whose work was featured in Unit 6 of this course:

Statement #1: Steve Lawson, Jesus With An Iced Latte
Neil Cole has a saying: “If you want to reach this world for Christ, you have to sit in the smoking section.” This planter of postmodern congregations has a way with words. He also has a way of acting on his pithy maxims and seeing dramatic results in the form of changed lives. In 1999, Cole jettisoned his traditional pulpit ministry in Alta Loma, California, to launch Awakening Chapel–founding it literally in the smoking section of The Coffee Tavern in Long Beach, an urban beach town southwest of Los Angeles. In a little more than four years, the crew he gleaned from the smokers’ ranks on the patio at The Coffee Tavern has ballooned into a movement of 400 churches in 16 states and 12 countries. Almost four new congregations started up each week in 2003 under Church Multiplication Associates (CMA)–the umbrella organization Cole leads and started simultaneously with Awakening Chapel.
When Cole, 42, landed in Long Beach from Alta Loma, his initial brainstorm was to birth a coffee shop–à la the Jesus Movement–in a storefront he had rented on busy Cherry Avenue. He said God had told him: “‘Why don’t you just go to the coffeehouse where the lost people are already?’
“Instead of trying to convert them from the coffeehouse they really love to our coffeehouse so that we could then convert them to Christ, we just went and hung out at the coffeehouse where they were already at,” Cole recounts.
This taking-church-to-where-life-happens approach has been a cornerstone of the movement since a group of about a dozen people started meeting at the coffee shop, as well as in Cole’s living room and in the storefront, to worship, read the Bible, pray and fellowship. Nothing too unusual about that–many congregations have been launched in homes. What wasn’t normative was that the first church plant happened within months–among the smokers at Portfolios, another local java joint that has become a nucleus of outreach.
Not all the churches–which seldom grow to more than a few dozen members–meet at coffeehouses. One came together on the lawn of the art building at California State University in Long Beach, another in a parking lot in east Los Angeles and another on a local beach. Many meet in homes, but Cole shuns the classification term “house church” and doesn’t apply it to those groups.
“The church is not a building, whether it has a steeple or a chimney. It is the people,” he says.
Nor are these groups defined as “cell churches”–because the term implies that the smaller, or cell, church is part of a larger organism.
“In our case we are decentralized and most of them do not have any larger celebration meetings,” Cole explains. “Usually new believers do not want a large gathering–it is just the people who were raised with that tradition who want it.”
The core of Awakening Chapel and the associated churches is called the Life Transformation Group. Usually only two or three strong, these same-gender units meet weekly for Bible study, prayer and confidential discussion of shortcomings. There is a major emphasis placed on new believers reaching out to the people in their circles of influence.
Cole comes from a Grace Brethren denominational background, but churches in his movement are aligned with many denominations. Some of the groups have started as offshoots of 12-step programs; one met in a barrio and another among a group of Filipinos.
Pastors are called shepherds. They include people from a variety of backgrounds–a former grocery produce manager, a truck driver, an ex-party girl. “The goal is to always see leaders come from the harvest,” Cole points out.
Some of the churches align themselves with Awakening Chapel, but several other groups of churches have also been launched, including The Refuge in Salt Lake City; Big Fish in Mesa, Arizona; and The Fountain, east of Los Angeles. This is all part of what Cole calls organic or natural church growth. Even Cole’s daughter, Heather, 17, has started a high school church.
“We did not plant a church. We planted a movement of churches,” Cole explains. “We want to reach young, urban, postmodern people. We want to reproduce disciples, then leaders, then churches, then movements.”
In fact, Cole would like to see a multiplying of similar movements that have no direct connection to Awakening Chapel or CMA.
What kind of people come? All sorts–from athletes to artists to students. There have been Satanists, businessmen and musicians. Take Scott Hughes, for example. He was one of the first people Cole encountered at The Coffee Tavern.
Hughes was there to meet his drug dealer. Reluctantly he agreed to come to a gathering at Cole’s house. Later, more willingly, he went to a baptism at the beach, where he snapped photos. Soon enough Hughes made a decision to follow Christ.
How did he celebrate his new life? He got high. Hughes was an addict and could not buck it. Cole tried everything to help but finally told Hughes: “You and me have got to get into the car and drive over to your drug dealer’s and tell her about Jesus.” This runs right on course with Cole’s belief that Christians must bring light to wherever darkness exists.
Hughes laughed at the idea and said he would go alone. The next day he kept his word. The drug dealer did not accept Christ, but her son did, and he is now a part of Awakening Chapel. Moreover, since that day Hughes has not once been tempted to take drugs and is now a shepherd of an Awakening Chapel church plant.
“We value seeing true transformation of lives, not just converts and not just numbers,” Cole says. “We are not afraid to go to very dark places where there is much ugliness. Church should happen wherever life happens. The church is a sent agency, not a sending agency; therefore, we must go.”

 

#2 Josh Hunt Friday nights.

Reading #3. Southern Baptist Sunday School expert Josh Hunt:
We used to have our friends over on Friday nights to play cards. We would have dessert, tell jokes, and play games together. One day I suggested to Sharon that we invite a couple who had visited the church to join us on Friday night. We did, and we had a good time in the process. During the entire evening, we never said anything about church or Sunday school or the Bible or anything remotely religious. But, do you know what? They joined the church in a few weeks. Now, he is teaching a class himself. And they would both tell you that they were not living the disciple’s life before they played cards and ate dessert with us that night
. . . That is why I say, if you want to double your class every two years or less, give Friday nights to Jesus. Have your friends over. Play cards. Eat dessert. Tell jokes. Laugh. Have a good time. But most of all, include an outsider couple. Ministry has never been so much fun. . . . This ministry is based on sound church growth thinking: people are not interested in a friendly church; they are looking for friends.
Josh Hunt found that 90% of the people he played cards with later joined the church.

***The key issue for this corner is the formation of healthy relationships where people learn to love one another because they link up with someone as a partner/mentor who will love them the way Jesus did – John 13:34-35 – people need to belong before they believe. Without enough nurture, there is a spiritual failure to thrive and growth stops, leaving people stuck at this stage.
Reflection Question: Do you agree? Who was or is your church partner?

 

 

 

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