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‘New Atheists’ Meet ‘Pagan Christians’

January 21, 2011 in Ministries

Rob (right) patiently explains Hawkings to Keith (left)

The crowd listened in awe as an undergrad student refuted the best arguments from the so-called “New Atheists” like Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins. It was the testimony of Rob Nock, a young, pagan-Christian who once believed in the atheism of  Dawkins and Hawking. After attending the KSU Identity Project, however, Rob was so radically challenged to rethink his atheism, he finally became a Christian. On Christmas break he read Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, and announced at the retreat, “I can now say with certainty now that I am a Christian,” Rob said.

The event was an IP retreat, and Rob’s testimony was a sample of the many, new Pagan-Christians changed by Jesus Christ. Jon Ha

Nervous teachers (Richie and Becky) practicing their facial expressions and hand movements.

kes explains more in the following report.

After a brief battle to claim the best sleeping space and everyone settled down, love was in the air—but not that cheesy romantic love that singers sing about—but rather the real love authored by Jesus Christ through godly relationships.

Keith and Paul set the stage for “Reaching Pagans”, the theme of the weekend. Keith taught on Pagan Christianity, which means reaching non-Christians (or “pagans”) with the gospel. Paul taught what it means to witness to pagans. Their fast-paced content sent everyone racing to the dinner table to get the energy to finish off the next teachings by The Bedford tag team of B-Bassett and Richie Fresh. Working from John 3, they taught how to witness to intellectuals. Rob [mentioned above] followed with a moving testimony of his conversion from atheism.

They felt like Peter, 'walking on water'

The teachings kicked up weekend of relating like none other. Everywhere people were enjoying spiritual conversations, card games, and some were performing miracles by walking on water like Jesus did at a nearby lake. [Ed. Note: the water was frozen.]

By Sunday, incredible spiritual momentum was in-motion, and nobody was tired. Mike and Rozler led the morning teachings with different types of people we would expect to encounter when witnessing. Seeing Rozler up front and center for an IP teaching was very touching as he began by stating his weaknesses and reliance on the Lord.

The day was just as exciting as the previous night while relationships were growing. Every teaching was given with power and authority, and even the quiet Becky delivered a powerful punch Sunday evening which caught the audience off guard. Along with Kate, they taught the logic of the Four Spiritual Laws, yet still delivered an amazingly-emotional testimony. The strong teachings of Viking and Craig came next on how to witness to pagans, and Keith finished the teachings with a burden around his neck the size of an albatross. It provided us a glimpse of the future for IP peeps.

Are You a ‘Fundy’ or a ‘Pagan’?

Even Audi was inspired!

That night brought everyone even closer than before, and it was obvious the Holy Spirit was blessing us with the ability to deepen our relations. There was a celebration for Kate and Eleni’s birthday and much joy filled the air. I felt a heavy strum on my heart-strings being witness to such a loving body of Christ.

Finally the moment arrived for the activity developed by gaming geniuses. The game was a practical encounter on the difference between a Holy Huddle and Pagan Christianity. People were initially organized by Cell Group into “mini-churches”, and the  average spiritual age for each “church” determined which group was a Holy Huddle of old, Fundy-Christians, or a group filled with young and exciting Pagan Christians. [Ed. Note: Holy Huddles were the losers, Pagan Christians the winners.]

'Pagans' and 'Fundies' mixed together

The goal was to win by transferring older Christians away, and winning young, Pagan Christians from the other groups. As a result, some groups were transformed into Holy Huddles by church-hopping, Fundy Christians! Other groups succeeded by winning young, Pagan Christians who reduced the average spiritual age. But losing all the older, Fundy Christians would make it more difficult to answer Bible questions, which was required to win younger, Pagan Christians. Such difficult choices sometimes embroiled the groups in controversy.

Surprisingly, the game reflected real-world scenarios. For example, the “Holy Huddle” losers mostly complained and rarely tried to answer questions. The winners were full of energy and excitement, answering questions, taking chances (and sometimes cheating), but they doubled in size through “Pagan Christian Growth.” Overall it was a very pleasant experience to grasp a practical example of how fun Pagan Christianity can be.

Monday morning loomed its ugly head as IP-ers dragged their butts out of bed. We shared communion and very sweet testimonies were followed by the warmest prayer session I was ever a part of. After cleaning up the mess we made, and after the tears dried, we returned to Kent ready to build more Pagan Christianity!

Craig Smith and others had an emotional moment Sunday AM

See more:

  • Retreat pictures on Picassa.
  • Did you upload retreat pictures? Give us the link in the comments, below!

The SLUM Gives Birth to Elders

January 12, 2010 in News

Greg Surveys

Greg surveys the spiritual landscape

For the first time in years, NeoXenos trustees gathered at an Elder’s retreat rather than a Sphere Leader’s Under-shepherd Ministry (SLUM) retreat. The Michaleks and Hughes’ were trustees, but at the the October Body Meeting they were appointed Elders by common consent. The difference is not small, because the Bible says it should be those with Elder character qualifications who lead Christian ministry (See 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1).

Together with the McCallums and Morschers, who were already Elders, the group met for two days on the shores of frozen Lake Erie to survey the spiritual landscape and get a fix on future directions.

As we see in Acts 6, Elders should focus on “the Ministry of the Word” and prayerful leadership. The challenge of an Elder’s retreat is discerning God’s leadership, understanding how God’s Word applies to NeoXenos, and discussing how “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)

The Ministry Landscape

The ministry in 2010 looks considerably different than last January’s SLUM retreat when we were faced with such tremendous persecution and opposition. Not only did Jesus lead us into vindication and protection, He also brought us tremendous spiritual victories:

  1. All ministries are reporting salvations.
  2. All ministries are seeing new and competent leaders and teachers.
  3. We saw unprecedented growth (nearly 25%) across our ministries.
  4. We were blessed with 12 new qualified Deacons and two new Elder-teams!
  5. We expanded our support to include the Meeting House in Canada and Ray Stedman’s people in California.
  6. We were blessed with free (and quite exquisite) meeting facilities at the KSU Chemistry labs!
  7. And two student Home Churches split!

All of these advances are quite astonishing, considering that NeoXenos was a renegade, vagabond Christian fellowship last January. It seemed the whole world was set against NeoXenos for no reason anyone could identify!

For 2010 please pray that Jesus will continue to provide for us! Even with all these great advances, we are still a church “with only a little power.” (Rev. 3:8)

[flagallery gid=3 name="Retreat Pics"default]

Issues for the 2010 FST Retreat

Despite all this good news, we are facing tremendous hurdles for 2010:

  1. Financial shortfalls continue to limit our future prospects.
  2. We desperately need to hire part-time student  interns in order to sustain our growth and take advantage of new ministry opportunities opening up to us.
  3. We cannot lose our zeal for spiritual revolution, now that we are no longer facing persecution and opposition.
  4. The expanding ministries with new leaders and teachers desperately require equipping in the Word.

These hurdles are significant, because we must also expand into these new and exciting ministry opportunities:

  1. We must spread and export the Jesus Revolution we enjoy so much; what a tragedy it would be if this ministry remained bottled-up in Ohio while spiritual decline spreads across the rest of the country!
  2. We must do more to “remember the poor” and suffering that surrounds us. New opportunities are under consideration.

The Elders emerged from their weekend with an exciting list of prospects to meet these challenges, however. And this will be the topic of the upcoming Fiscal Support Team Retreat (FST) in February!

Stay tuned for more…and fill out a Pledge Form for the FST retreat!

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by Dar

The Biggest Kick-Butt DMT Ever!

October 20, 2009 in Leadership

By DarDrops – Visit her new Blog at www.dardrops.neoblogs.org

The NeoXenos DMT Retreat of 2009 was the most edifying leaders’ retreat to date. We gathered in Marblehead, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie at the Rock of Ages Retreat Center. This year the number of leaders exceeded the capacity for the house. We had 44 leaders attend! (With sleeping for only 36, where did that leave the others?)  Our college guys graciously volunteered to sleep on couches and floors.

In the past year, we’ve undergone quite a few changes. Persecution and its resultant publicity, love ethics, new college ministry, a hopping high school group, and an emphasis on our freedom in Christ, revolution, and disestablishment.  Religion kills, but relationship kicks butt.

I can’t wait to see what this coming year is going to bring. We don’t know what it will be, but…we know we’re gonna follow the Spirit on this.

Ready for a Non-Retreat Retreat?

February 5, 2009 in Headlines

Our meeting room - Greg wanted the pink flowers.

The Fiscal Support Team normally meets this weekend to “Review, Plan, and Pray” (RP&P).  But, “Things just ain’t the same ’round here,” someone recently said about NeoXenos, and they’re so right!

We’re spending two days in RP&P, beginning February 6th (this Friday), and ending Sunday morning. So many ministries, so much growth, so many changes, and yet so little time!  Yet by the end of the weekend everyone should get at least a good picture of what God’s doing here, if not a clear picture.

Many conversations will swirl around this area over the weekend, for sure. Got kids? Bring it on! We're lining up some babysitters.

Lessons from Veggie Tales

Phil Vischer, the Veggie Tales man.

Phil Vischer, the founder of Veggie Tales, provides an excellent framework for our discussions (listen to his cool lecture online). Phil rose to great international prominence through Veggie Tales and the ministry he built around it. But then his business crashed, and he landed in a one-man office sitting alone, day after day, for over a year, wondering what happened. He was so full of vision! Where did it all go?

He once lived by this passage:

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…  Proverbs 29:18

After the business collapsed, he was so defeated. Why did God give him such a powerful vision for ministry, only to end in such disaster? “How could God stand back from something that was doing so much good, and watch it collapse?” he wondered.

[callout style='float: left']Quick Links: Hotel Accommodations, Veggie Tales Speech used, below.[/callout]

For a year he struggled in failure until he finally figured out Proverbs 29:18 — he understood it incorrectly.  It didn’t teach that we should devise a “vision” and push it, the way a business might create a vision for a product line. The word really is “revelation,” as in “God’s revelation.” And there was his problem: he was pushing Phil’s vision, not following God’s revelation. The verse actually reads, “Where there is no revelation, the people are drawn away.”

Phil’s story is a marvelous description of what we face here at NeoXenos in 2009. Our vision for this ministry is really quite paltry and unimportant compared to God’s revelation about this ministry. Phil quotes C.S. Lewis on the issue: “He who has God plus many things has nothing more than he who has God alone.” What a sober reminder of what makes life work!

And this is the task before us for this FST Non-Retreat: not to create a vision or great plans for our future. Rather, we need to understand what God is revealing about our ministry, how God has been leading us, and thus our future comes into better focus. Frankly, we’re forced into a position of “planning without plans” in this ministry, because everything we’ve seen and experienced in the past year has been largely unanticipated, but certainly not unwelcome!

It’s all very exciting, but do we appreciate why it’s working so well? Certainly it isn’t any human genius at work here.

Great Expectations

The minigolf course is an essential tool for planning sessions.

The approach for this year’s retreat is very open-handed, asking for God’s revelation. Much has already been given, quite generously. But do we appreciate it, and can we articulate it? This is the challenge for leaders and workers in every ministry this weekend. We’re starting over at NeoXenos — but not really, because we’ve already started something, or perhaps it’s better to say God has already started something, and we’re playing catch-up.

Can we survive another year of so many changes and new directions? Yes! We should pray for something so great! Having tasted the excitement of God’s revelation like this past year, it’s impossible to return to plotting our own course, no matter how exciting our vision may be.

Here’s the lineup and proposed approach for this FST Non-Retreat:

  • Friday, 8 pm – Keith and Mark lead us into a Bible study to grasp two major currents that are carrying us along: Meetings Without Boundaries, and Dangerous Christianity. Hopefully we will have the “Battle for the Bible” DVD available for understanding an historical framework for these two currents.
  • Saturday, 10 am – Brief summary of discoveries from the recent retreat with the Sphere Leader’s Under-shepherd Ministry (SLUM). This includes some radical material from Roland Allen’s famous books, “Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?” and “The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church.” Then a brief overview of our financial picture by spiritual hit-man Greg Morscher, so we can make some financial pledges for the upcoming year.
  • Saturday day & afternoon – for some, just plain fun; for our ministry groups, the opportunity to talk and prepare for the evening’s presentations; for one-and-all, a period of badly-needed, carefree fellowship (without demonstrators outside, perhaps).
  • Saturday 7pm – ministry group presentations and reviews.
  • Sunday ??am – A surprise that will be remembered for some time to come! (Led by Joel & Co.)

This is a Non-Retreat Retreat because we are in fact pushing forward this weekend to break new ground and rejoice together as a fellowship over the great advances the Lord has brought us!

BE SURE TO LINE UP YOUR OWN HOTEL ROOM! You may not think so now, but you’ll find yourself growing less and less inclined to leave the Holidome once you get there! There’s not only a vast pool, but also miniature golf, ping-pong, pool tables, and many other countless distractions and ways to enjoy the Non-Retreat!

Read more about it and get the details from our Talk Line!

Grab a bed while available! BE SURE TO ASK FOR THE $70 XENOS PRICE! And no jumping on the beds!

DMT Retreat Nears!

September 16, 2008 in Headlines

On September 26-28 about thirty NeoXenos leaders will gather for a retreat near scenic Marblehead Light House, a favorite attraction for campers at East Harbor State Park.

This is an intense year of new ministries and growth, increasing the need for more Deacon Ministry Teams (DMTs). Experienced leaders are stepping into new ministries and new leaders are needed to replace them.

The recent “Multi-Site” conference in Chicago raised several topics for this year’s DMT Retreat, such as changes in teaching format, “apprenticeships”, online education, and new ideas for home group multiplication.

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by bbpress

Macho Man Comes to Summer Institute

June 3, 2008 in Headlines

Ever heard this guy before? Mark Driscoll is his name. Take a look at his crazy YouTube video to see what’s coming to the Summer Institute:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSrZVF3FEUQ]

If you haven’t yet signed up for XSI, you need to!

Attention Home Church Leaders: they want us to get registered before the usual NeoXenos schedule! Talk about it, do it, go register at http://neoxenos.org/xsi …

For students it only costs $5. For the rest of us it’s $15, but that ain’t bad at all!

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 →