Podcasts and Faith

I enjoy listening to podcasts when I run, when I drive and when I’m working. I love the ability to discover stories, learn new things, stay up-to-date with the news, and more. Lately, several podcasts that are part of my regular listening rotation featured episodes about church and faith. Here is a rundown…

StartUp from Gimlet Media

StartUp is a show about what it’s really like to start a business. I have been a listener from day one. Over several seasons, they have shared the ins and outs of starting a business from scratch. The most recent season is a bit of a shift and one that is particularly fascinating for me – church planters. While I have never planted a church, I have resonated with the real life stories from Restoration Church. Here are the episodes so far:

There is more to come, so don’t forget to subscribe to StartUp here.

This American Life from WBEZ

Unlike StartUp, I have not been listening to This American Life from the beginning. I have been listening for a number of years. The storytelling is world-class. I have appreciated many episodes over the years, though the one that brings them to this post includes a segment about Restoration Church and brings in a bit different angle. You can take a listen at If You Build It, Will They Come?

Hidden Brain from NPR

I have been an on and off again listener to Hidden Brain – usually depending on the opportunities and challenges of a particular season of life. This episode, Creating God, takes a look at how religions have evolved, almost like living organisms, to help human societies survive and flourish. This approach to religion is from a social psychologist and it is fascinating, challenging, and hopeful. You can take a listen at Creating God.

After you listened, what was your response? What podcasts do you listen to on a regular basis?

The Rabbit and the Elephant – a review

I recently finished reading The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church by Tony & Felicity Dale and George Barna. This book offers the perspective that the church may be more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ by multiplying rapidly rather than seeking to grow larger. The authors offer both practical tips and a thought framework for launching house churches and creating networks.

Tony and Felicity Dale share their stories of house church planting in both England and the United States. Some of their reminders include listening to God, focus on prayer and to model a simple pattern so that it can easily be repeated.

An outline for engagement in a house church is taken from Acts 2:42 – apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together and prayer.  Each gathering includes conversation, a meal and prayer. None of these are to be the best possible (for example a gourmet chef) to encourage the participation of all. The authors suggest a framework for teaching which involves studying the scripture in a community and using symbols as a guide to the conversation.

  • Question mark – “something we don’t understand”
  • Lightbulb – “something that sheds light, either on that passage of Scripture or something going on in a person’s life”
  • Arrow – “represents God piercing a person’s heart – he or she has heard from God and needs to do something about it.”

The authors suggest that it is important to consider starting new groups with new people rather than assimilating others into existing groups. They suggest looking for a person whose leadership could be key in influencing a new circle of people to start the next group – a “person of peace” (see Luke 10:5-6). Finding this person of peace may be accomplished by telling one’s story as this can be a key opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. They suggest this simple pattern for sharing (pg 135):

  1. What was life like before you became a Christian (or before your faith became real to you)?
  2. How did you meet Jesus?
  3. How has Jesus changed your life?

I found particularly important the reminder that there will be a difficult time of transition for persons who are moving from a more traditional form of church to a micro church. It will not be what it was, nor will it likely be exactly what is envisioned when first starting out.

Many of the themes in this book were quite helpful for those considering the possibility of living out one’s faith in a micro church. Unfortunately, the book did not flow smoothly from beginning to end and there were parts of several chapters that did not add to the advancement of the thesis. Nonetheless, this was a solid book and I recommend it for anyone considering a life of faith in a micro church.

Elevator Pitch for Networked Micro Churches

In North America, the church is failing to live up to its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Since 1990 over 150 United Methodist churches have closed every year.

During this same period of time, internet usage has exploded. Since 1990 the internet grew by 100 percent every year.

I propose a solution that addresses the failure of the church in its mission by harnessing the power of the internet.

Within three years, networks of micro churches will develop that use web technology to facilitate worship and leadership development.

This solution:

  • creates new places for new people
  • develops leaders
  • leverages existing resources

to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

I invite you to be a part of this movement to help the church fulfill its mission.
I would like to set up a meeting to talk with you about the possibility of a micro church launching in your area.
Please email me at andrew dot conard at cor dot org

New Churches – What if?

What if entrepeneurial small group leaders were asked to equip others to invite people to Christ and multiply small groups?

What if these leaders were asked to oversee the groups of small groups which they helped to initiate?

What if these groups participated in worship and discipleship together?

What if  faithful and effective leaders were encouraged to organize a group of groups as a local church?

What if these new churches sought to be recognized by the United Methodist Church, instead of the denomination starting new churches?

What if it was facilitated by a live worship http://live.cor.org?

What is a new church or new congregation?

According to UMC Path1:

We believe a new congregation is more than a mission project, new worship service or new building. For us, it is a newly organized faith community that is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and:

  • includes regular community worship
  • is theologically Wesleyan
  • has an effective discipling system
  • receives new members
  • demonstrates faithful stewardship
  • is deeply involved in community outreach
  • is willing to plant a new congregation in its first decade

Annual conferences will obviously continue to define what they consider a new congregation.

This definition does not have anything to do with numbers or the way that worship is facilitated. I would add to the list one, holy, catholic, apostolic.

I believe that a home, small group or house church would fit this definition and forget about a decade for this type of community to start a new church. I would say within the first 10 months.

What do you think?