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New Discovery Group Discovered!

October 16, 2008 in Headlines

The Cool Poole-Pollock Ideas

[callout]The fearless Howells and Morschers launched a Discovery Group of their own[/callout]

First there was Doug Pollack’s book “Irresistible Evangelism” and his presentation two years in a row at the Summer Institute. Then there was the somewhat alien (by Xenos standards) “Bush Group” approach of Gary Poole’s book “Seeker Small Groups” and it’s plethora of real-world examples. Then there was the Xenos example of the fearless Howells and Morschers who launched a Discovery Group of their own.

Hearing their stories caused excitement and interest. Then the clip from the Dawkins/Lennox debate at CT attracted us and reminded me of our training in apologetics. Our men’s cell group viewed the entire Dawkins/Lennox Debate DVD. It was a ready-made presentation for an outreach group. We decided to invite some non-Christian friends to view and discuss the debate. Call it “Delusion I” (a play on the “God Delusion” title of Dawkins’ book).

Great Resources

[callout]We get so defensive when we witness to unbelievers[/callout]

Our group set the date, and Michael and Rick listened to audio versions of Dawkins’ “God Delusion” book. We found a wealth of online resources at William Lane Craig’s site (www.williamlanecraig.com), including debates and great evidence to believe in the Bible. In one of his audio files Craig said, “We get so defensive when we witness to unbelievers when we don’t know good answers to the questions or objections unbelievers give.”

I was amazed at the sophistication of the arguments piling up over the centuries. When compared to Dawkins’ arguments against Christianity, I really began feeling embarrassed for him. He did little to prove atheism or disprove theism.

It’s great to know the evidence for God’s existence for several good reasons:

  1. Great evidence is available!
  2. It’s very difficult to answer Christian evidence in one night.
  3. Since it may take several nights, weeks or even months to plumb the depths, it’s a new Discovery Group approach!

Then we prayed and prayed again and again.

And THEN…

Alas, two self proclaiming atheists and an agnostic showed up from Michael Toth’s long list of friends (one even grew up in the Riverwood Community Church!). Following a relatively short time of getting acquainted while eating hors ‘dourves prepared by chef Jordan, Michael, Bill, Katrina & I sat down with our guests to watch the first half of the debate DVD.

I thought, “Whoa, I have no idea where this is going…I may have to bite my tongue.”

I believe Lina was right in her Discover Group article: when you provide a safe forum in which to discuss the “big” questions of life, non-Christians feel comfortable enough to discuss their own views. One of our guests admitted to being a “closet atheist” in her work environment for fear of how fellow work associates might react to that fact. She apparently felt totally at ease sharing that with us. That was cool beans man!

The issues were varied and strayed from those brought up in the first half of the DVD. We determined “rabbit trails” to be fine for now. In fact, very little control was exercised.

Then one very interesting question came up: “What would it take for you to lose your faith?” Without blinking, Bill said, “if Christ had not been raised, our faith is worthless.” And I added, “Yeah, the Apostle Paul said we would be of all men most to be pitied.”

Is it possible to begin a potential Discovery Group, deliver your testimony and the gospel, all in the first night? Sure it is! We did it! It really happened so naturally.

Our guests are looking forward to “Delusion II” on Friday, October 17, 2008 and apparently an additional person will come along.

Please pray for us!

Chicago Church-Planting Conference

September 13, 2008 in Appraisal

Disregarding the Mafia

Chicago is the city of Al Capone and Mafia politics, but it will be swamped this week by hundreds of Christian leaders, and four of them are NeoXenos ministry leaders: Joel Hughes, Keith McCallum, Mark Michalek and Greg Morscher. In a packed Gladiator van they drove without air-conditioning through a deluge of rain and floods that shut down I-94, but they arrived in the big city, starry-eyed and wondering what changes lay in store for the week ahead. ((Mark immediately turned the television on and began aimless channel-surfing, while Keith immediately thought of the many brothers and sisters back home who could benefit from a brief NeoZine article about this conference.))

Christian leaders are gathering from around the country to learn about radical, new church-planting strategies that break the dusty, old molds of the traditional church.

Multi-Site Exposed 2008 is a conference about "multiplying your church’s impact in your community," their Web site claims.  It is sponsored by Leadership Network, which has been bringing together "innovative Christian leaders" since 1984.

"Leadership Network’s ‘DNA’ is to work directly with pioneer churches who are testing and implementing the new ideas that will drive the Church in the future." – Leadership Network

Cutting-edge Christian thinkers do meet each other at Leadership Network conferences. The leaders of Emergent Village and the Emergent Church Movement first met a through Leadership Network conference.

"If you incubate a weed, you’ll get a lot more weeds," Joel said, "but if you incubate something spiritual and spread that, it’s a good thing." He was stressing the need for real discernment while learning from these other church movements.

The Timely Topics

[callout]We came to this conference to figure out, ‘how can we plant churches in other locations[/callout]For years NeoXenos elders were budgeting and watching for an opportunity for advanced ministry training. Greg first spotted this conference as a timely opportunity to examine new church-planting trends in Christianity. For months Keith was writing about these new trends in the NeoZine (see The ‘Real’ Xenos Model, for example), and then at the 2008 July Body Meeting at Hudson park he taught about the trends and the church plants that were coming as a result.

"This ‘Multi-Site’ conference is where we got all those cool teachings from Mars Hill," Greg said, referring to the teachings from Mark Driscoll, the Resurgence, Dave Browning, Matt Chandler and other innovative, young church-planters.

"We came to this conference to figure out, ‘how can we plant churches in other locations, universities and cities, given our meager resources?’" Greg said. The new multi-site pattern of growth was the focus of our July Body Meeting.

"We’re planting new churches this fall, and we need to see what other churches are experiencing" Keith said.

"I want to see one model of how this ‘Viral church’ idea might look," Joel said. "This is one of our options: to have a central hub with multiple churches stemming from that one. You can be in Pittsburgh or Youngstown and still take advantage of resources, teachings and support available back here at KSU," Joel said. "That’s one model — it’s exploratory."

Titles like "Reproducing Leaders: the most important task" and "Campus Pastors: what do they look like?" caught Mark’s attention, especially ‘Campus Pastors’: "That would be interesting to hear," he said.

But the sphere leaders agreed the most promising of all was "Rapid Reproduction: we need to dream big, but start small," by keynote speaker Dave Ferguson, who leads Community Christian Church on Chicago’s West side.

The South Street ministry will benefit from the teaching, "How does a church renew a city?" by Mark Job, pastor of New Life Church, the host site for the conference. This ministry grew in the renewal housing projects of Chicago’s inner city. It is a multi-cultural church, "making changes across economic, racial and community barriers in many sections of the city," they say.

Mark thought New Life would help South Street learn how to "create well-defined roles and ways to direct volunteers into the most effective ministry positions in inner-city work."

 

Next up: Sphere leaders attend a worship service at Willow Creek.

A Cool Paradigm for Xenos?

May 13, 2008 in News

Still interested in the implications from the 2008 Servant Team Retreat? There were many positive elements, but the STR also raised confusing issues. Read about the potential fallout and join the discussion about the future direction which affects NeoXenos almost as certainly as it will affect Columbus Xenos.

Two articles in the NeoZine discuss the need for change not only in Columbus, but Northeast Ohio as well:

  • Driscoll Versus the Weenie Wars, Part 1 discusses the sound leadership paradigm proposed by Mark Driscoll, one of the upcoming speakers at the Summer Institute in Columbus. It’s good exposure to how Driscoll approaches Christian ministry, but it some of what he teaches requires careful consideration at NeoXenos.
  • Driscoll Versus the Weenie Wars, Part 2 tackles the tough issues of planting new churches. The article raises issues that all Christians should consider, but certainly the impact on NeoXenos should be quite noticeable if these proposals are adopted.
  • The Real Xenos Model – did we lose our way somewhere? It doesn’t look good when our mentors say they lost their way! Willow Creek is now rethinking its “seeker-sensitive” business-leader model. This has implications for the new directions NeoXenos is undertaking as well.

Leave your comments about these articles at the NeoZine.

Adopting the Calvary Model

April 27, 2008 in News

Calvary leaders warn churches against adopting their model, because “they teach that immitation is carnal,” Dennis said. “Chuck teaches that you need to get your own vision from God.”

But “they have a good, hot theology of ministry,” Dennis added. “It’s already affected Columbus significantly, but not how they do church, though.” He said Xenos churches will benefit from examiningthe following issues closely and considering how to impliment them. Read the rest of this entry →

Mega-Retreat Stirs Hearts

April 27, 2008 in News

Years of searching, questioning and cross-country travel were involved. Xenos sent teams of researchers to scores of growing, cutting-edge churches across America. Yet for all those hours and money invested, the quest to find a church-planting movement reaching mostly non-Christians was a frustrating failure. Read the rest of this entry →