Last April, the Lord connected me with Matt and Toni Daniels who are church planters in Uruguay. (Currently on furlough in Tennessee.) They wanted help with starting house churches so I took them through Church 101. They immediately “got it” and not only began practicing the two rhythms with their family but also began teaching the rhythms to their friends. In fact, they have led several groups through Church 101 and are getting ready to take another group through. (I love it when the “virus” spreads like this!) There are three reasons I’ve posted below the invitation that they recently sent out to their friends…
First, I love the epiphany that Matt has about half way through his story. A lightbulb goes on and it changes everything for these veteran missionaries. Look for this sentence… “And then it started to hit me with real force…”
Second, because Matt does such a good job explaining what this is all about. He is remarkably articulate! You may want to use something like this with your friends.
Third, because some of you haven’t been through Church 101 and you may want to go through it with Matt and Toni. Just click on the links below.
We are starting up another Church 101 online course soon, and wanted to tell you our story and invite you along.
My friend John asked me this question, and now I am passing it on to you:
“What would it take to see a vibrant family of Jesus within easy reach of every person on the planet?”
It is a question that I had been asking for a long time, but I have to confess, I already had a preformed picture in my mind about a “vibrant family of Jesus.”
It was there, just under the surface of my conscious mind. And yes, it was the church of my teenage years. Big. Round. 3,000 people worshipping God. Rated “ugliest building in Memphis” several years in a row in the Memphis flyer.
But I never started one of those in Uruguay, so I corrected the image. Oh yeah, it is the “missional community”… 30 people or so having a house party, doing service projects together, having barbecues and worship nights. And bible study. And discipleship. That was more like it.
But John had another question for me. “How small can it be and still be a church?”
I was smart and quick. “Two. You know, ‘two or three gathered in my name…’ That thing.”
He kept asking, “And what would have to happen in order for it to be a church?” I thought about the Great Commandment. “You’d have to love God and love each other.” And then the Great Commission. “And make disciples.”
My friends at Revolution Church have that as there mission: “Love God. Love each other. Make disciples.”
“And how often would they meet?” I thought about the Scriptures, “So often as it is called today…” “They met together daily.” “Encourage each other daily.”
And then it started to hit me with real force. “That’s… what… Toni… and… I… are….” I am not only starting a church plant, our FAMILY already IS a church plant. Rocket science.
But the question remained. Had we really embraced the fact that we WERE a church? What could we do to BE church with each other? What rhythms and practices could we, and ANY other family, do, that would have us following Jesus’ leadership to “love God, love each other, and make disciples”?
My friend John, who is part of a little “nano-church” incubator called Luke 10 Ministries, suggested a couple practices. He even sent us his 4-week course, which I actually started teaching before I had even gone through it myself, which I am now starting to teach over and over on a regular basis to interested folks.
And, I kid you not, something shifted. An itch I had had since my “house church” days gathered in Peaches, out back of A.J. and Martha Walton’s house, found a big, long, relieving scratch.
I actually got excited about being in Jesus’ presence with Toni and the kids for the first time in a long time. And I even got renewed passion about being a church planter again.
“How do you get others involved?” I asked John. Do you advertise? Do you recruit?”
“We pray,” he said. He showed me Luke 10:2b, that says, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He send out laborers into His harvest.”
There it was. Pray.
I have since given up trying to recruit people to come to our small groups, to come to our gatherings, to come to our meetings, to contract our coaching services. I have given up trying to force people to grow as much as “I” wanted them to grow in the way I wanted them to grow. And it’s not that we DIDN’T pray before. We always have. Prayer and work. “Ora et labora.” But as one wise saint said, “We don’t pray so that we can DO the greater work. Prayer IS the greater work.” Much more restful this way.
So, how does it work?
Well, when God brings someone along who wants to learn about how to “do church”, we share what we do. Heck, usually we even do it with them.
Then, if they are interested, we walk with them through our “Church 101” course, practicing the basic rhythms of church with them for four weeks.
Next, we set them free, and encourage them too to pray and watch as God calls more laborers into His harvest. They can invite their friends and family into doing these rhythms and practices together at meal times. Some have joined a bi-weekly peer coaching group for church leaders. Some have entered into a personal spiritual formation relationship with us, where we help identify their key needs and opportunities, helping them get the theological, pastoral, and practical life tools they need.
Lastly, we seek to connect all the “nano-churches” together on some regular rhythm.
What about you? Sound interesting? Want to know more?
If you would like to be a part of our next “Intro to Church 101” monthly call, click here to drop us a line.
If you would like to know a little more, here are some videos that tell a little more about this style of practicing church.
As always, we appreciate your prayers, presence, and support that allow us to see a vibrant family of Jesus within easy access of every Uruguayan and everyone else on the planet too!
Matt and Toni