Missionary Force or Mission Field?

I was asked this question by a missional leader. ” Carl are you starting a mission field or a missionary force?” So I have been wrestling what this means to me and the connation it brings can be arrogant or prideful but I really needed to examine what this means.

I am a church planter and what I am doing is not new but sometimes I tend to think I doing something different and I am not. I wanted to dive into church planting since 2011 since I heard it was the greatest way to reach the lost. Then I noticed that every church wasnt concerned about evangelism the way I was.

What we are doing for our neighborhood is definitely specific we want to abolish food insecurity by teaching about the obedience to Jesus.

through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

This is the basis of every thing we do. So back to this question if we are commissioned and empowered to share the gospel shouldn’t everyone that be in our church also be sent out and doing what we are doing.

Should we have a church that we totally minister to and be our mission field. So I am thinking about this in everything I am doing. Is my church plant focus to be a missionary force or a mission field? This is the question I ask all the time now if, my focus is to make disciples should they be a mission force to reach more people or should I be looking at people as a mission field waiting for God to transform them to the people he called them to be.

We focus on the urban poor and it may look like they are a mission field but I believe they are a missionary force that we have been called to teach the obedience of the faith to Jesus. I believe that God wants to bring a season of transformation in our neighborhood where people are released of bondage and released to share the Gospel of Jesus. This is an awesome vision and I am not naive, I know people are not all going to be sent out and ministering to the masses. I do believe thought that what we are called to do is to establish a missionary force among the urban poor.

As we look at the future of the church is the focus on being a mission field or a missionary force. We want people serving the community so much the story God pours out in the every part of the neighborhood. We want volunteers reaching the elementary school, reaching the community center, reaching families, reaching politicians, reaching co-workers, reaching into people lives where people are focused on the obedience of the faith.

What would you do? be a mission field or a missionary force?everyday-missionary-635

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Broken

So Jesus said do this when you gather  together and he brake bread and drink this wine in remembrance of me. So many of you may not know Jesus symbolized broken bread as his body.  I have been thinking of things I have been deeply affected by in the past couple of weeks. One of those things is my brokenness. My brokenness is very often hidden but in my private moments with God he sees my brokenness and just holds my pieces in hands and doesn’t toss them but cleans them up and slowing puts me back together.

Have you ever felt this way?

Passion Series: Jesus

I have lived a life mixed with struggle but I have developed a passion for Jesus beyond my normal capacities. Let me be clear Jesus is my Lord and Savior but I have a passion for his life that far precedes mine. In my passion for Him I have seen people come to know Him not because of me but the unwavering passion I have for him. I preach from a place of passion and try to reach people by telling our story together.

When desiring to live more passionately for Jesus I came across an emotion of weeping over peoples lives. Certain people grabbed my heart drug addicts, prostitutes,immigrants, elderly,orphans and the fatherless. I will give my life to seek these people in all the sphere the world has hurt them.

I have developed an inner justice which is something that fuels my passion. It takes me from a range of different emotions I have learned to tame them and attempt my best at being humble.

When it comes to passion for Jesus my whole being will stop at nothing to get the message out. I am extremely passionate about the life of Jesus and those seeing his divine nature erupt in their lives as it did mine.

This is probably why I love church and why we are planting a church because it is a catalyst to sharing the passionate life of Jesus. I have a clear view that our passion for Jesus will be more contagious than we are.

If you like to know more about our church check out our website http://www.faithtothenations.com

The Passion Series

My last post was about tribes vs teams  and I said I would do a follow up about our vision. I believe that I need to do a little bit better and share the passion behind it. I have three basic passions.

  1. Everyone deserves to hear about Jesus.
  2. Everyone deserves a meal.
  3. Everyone deserves to know who they are.

I believe I have can add value to peoples lives who fall under these passions. I believe their are barriers in people lives that keep them from making a decision to follow Jesus.

I believe people make decision based on their needs. I believe the decision to follow Jesus is held up by other decision people have to make. Such as food, if people are making a decision to feed their family than it would be hard to make a decision to follow Jesus. I believe as a pastor I am designed to remove that barrier. I believe that as a church we can abolish food insecurity in our neighborhood with the power of Jesus.

We of course are targeting a neighborhood in St. Paul Minnesota called Dayton’s Bluff. 30% of the neighborhood are poor and 28% are super close to being the 30% at any time.

We  are focused on reaching our neighborhood to add value and see people reach their full potential.

Check out our website Faithtothenations.com

 

About the Shepard’s

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Carl was born on October 1st 1980 in Atlanta, GA to two great parents. He was raised in two different cultures, one of Jesus Christ and the other shadows of Islam. Given a choice as all young men he followed Jesus Christ. Then the sifting began and he was entangled in sin and struggle without a glimpse of a savior.  In 2010 Carl enter Central Florida Teen Challenge men’s center with a determination to see his life change. He saw his life transform before his eyes and tasted true hope
and victory. Carl continued his walk of faith and stepped out and attended Emerging Leaders Bible through collaboration with Global University.

In 2013 he entered ministry with the International Ministry Network and took his first position with Middletree Church in St. Louis, Missouri and in that time also served as a life development coach for Joyce Meyers Ministry, St. Louis Dream Center. Carl got another call into the local church and took a pastorate with New Life Church International under the leadership of Pastor Darnell Williams. In his time at New Life Church international Carl was appointed Assistant District Youth Director of the International Ministry Network. Carl and Melanie have been called to start a faith communities  in large cities that abolish Food Insecurity with the power of Jesus.

Carl and Melanie are embarking on a journey to reach the inner city of St. Paul, MN by planting a church.Carl and Melanie have a call to define the voice for their generation in two ways. One voice is in the real truth of Christ and his nature and life. The second voice is to release worship that interacts with sign and miracles. They are humbled by the blessings of God upon their life. They are excited to share the vision of the church plant.

Church isn’t similar

As my wife and I visit different churches, we can see many similarities in the places we visit. Sometimes even the dress code becomes the same. Where we were a year ago, we did not intend on worshiping with similar people. I think the easiest thing we can do is to be with similar people. I remember growing up in Atlanta. When I was there, it was a melting pot of different people. I think that is when that term was popular “melting pot”, the conversation was constantly about how you are going to fit in a place that is changing.

My wife grew up in Los Angeles Compton to be specific. Growing up, I was painted this picture of Compton as a black epicenter of gangs and violence. To my surprise, that is not what I saw when I went there at all. It is home to many Latinos and plenty of churches.  This changed my scope of what data tells us. Most of the time we think data paints a picture when in fact it doesn’t at all.

I grew up in Atlanta. A city full of art, beauty, and southern cooking. One thing people don’t understand is that Atlanta is a hub to many nationalities, not just a basic four (Black, White, Asian, Latino). The city has a large and growing East Indian population. The African community is robust with entrepreneurs and hard workers.

The purpose is, nothing is similar. I was interviewing people in our target neighborhood and asking question and the question came up “why do you live here?” he replied “because its diverse, anything similar is boring.”

I was reading the story on New Song Church and this arose “the gathering of peoplehood into the church is to not be based on similar tastes, interest, or appearances”. (Planting and Growing Urban Churches pg239).

This sparked this thought and my lens for churches I am visiting. I am going to make an observation, similar is easy.  Our churches are lacking a neighborhood lens that shares the view of what God intended the church to look like. He sent Paul to the gentiles. The spreading of the Gospel defies similarity but brings us to oneness.

When we fight similarity, we come into Oneness. Therefore, my statement is, communities are messy and messy people are talented, artists, musicians, teachers, mothers, fathers, lawyers, and politicians.

Planting churches means that we must re-organize our thought on neighborhood and  look for people who love the neighborhood to gather in the church. People who have a vision for church. A definition for vision is God’s prophetic voice for your community. What vision is God saying for your neighborhood that includes all the messy people?

I want to leave you with this, as you look around you in this season, see how similar your dinner table looks and see how you can change it quickly.

10,000 Stories

We are so excited to be sharing vision upon vision for God’s prophetic voice in our neighborhood. I was watching others post during Giving Tuesday and we even jumped in the Giving. Our largest and most significant cause is seeing people come to Jesus. I wanted to show people that winning people to Christ is important so I said if God can create 10,000 lakes in Minnesota then he can give us 10,000 salvation  stories in Dayton’s Bluff. 

I am sharing the greatest cause ever winning souls for Jesus.

The Dinner Table

I have read stories where reconciliation has happened at tables. 

We were at a lunch with friends of ours and we started talking about race and culture. If you are reading this things got simmering but the grace of God prevailed and we learned from each other.

One party said if I truly want to learn I must stop living by my definition of racism and replace it with the person it is affecting.

Huge applause but we came away with knowing we still have a problem listening and understanding.

The major focus of this post is the meal and table brought discussion and we are celebrating communion we must remember Jesus in our conversation. 

Jesus wants discipleship and evangelism to happen and it happens at the dinner table. 

How many discussions do families have at dinner?

Can Christ reconcile us at a dinner table discussion ?

The Truest Election

I sit back and scroll through social media and I walk through the questions on our election. I even see this presidential race as an after thought when it comes to living a life with Jesus. So many people have created these dividing lines of faith and politics. I as a sold out believer in Christ have come to a conclusion.

First I am glad God did not choose my peers to vote to see if my life was worth changing. Secondly I am so thankful I have a God who knows my potential before I did. Lastly I remember when I didn’t matter to anyone and God said yes to me.

In Romans 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls

God chose me before I had any merit and the same is for you! I am so thankful for this election!

He chose me and he given me a life worthy of living

In 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

Just because I know Jesus I have all access to him to being a chosen son of God.

In 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

I have a responsibility with be elected and I must practice godliness.

I pose three questions

  1. Do you even think about your election with God?
  2. What has he given you to practice your calling and election?
  3. What really matter?

 

 

The power of silence

Many  times in our adult life we make decisions when God is silent. We take his silence as approval of our own ability. If you have never done this, then you are a fortunate person. I have made many decisions in my life with the silence of God and began depending on my power and intellect. I believe silence brings humility and hunger for God. In this season I hear God say wait for my power! We must wait on his power to show itself and seek him even the more.

I preached a message a couple of weeks back called powerless not knowing how I would be powerless to what God wanted to do in our life. See when God has the power we become a conduit for his glory. We have no power to save our selves or atone for our sins but God is powerful to send Jesus in his silence to save us and atone us of our sins.

 

Do justice. Be Humble. Love Jesus.

We Have Arrived

We have arrived in Minnesota and are ready and willing to hit the ground running. We are excited to meet people and minister to the lives of those in Dayton’s Bluff. We have had a time traveling from Ohio to Minnesota. The ride was pretty rough and we have to travel seven hours back to get our equipment trailer. We are believing and trusting God for the miracle he has promised us in this time.

We are looking for an outpouring in our city and cant wait to for him to reveal his presence. We believe God has a season of revealing his grace to us. I believe he will give his common grace because we are his creation. We know Jesus is up to something so we must stay fervent in this season.

We are ready to meet neighbors and see our neighborhood transformed by Christ.

Last staff lunch

During  my last staff lunch I was sharing about the church planting in the Twin Cities we are part of . I said there are going to be 30 churches planted in September. Our admin says Pastor Carl you could plant 30 churches. I was over whelmed by the statement. I said I am just going to focus on one. She said you can do it I beleive in you! 

How powerful is this to hear people say I believe in you! Words of affirmation are my love language and to be affirmed by someone who was just hired  3 months ago gave me a jolt. 

A sense of Lord am I thinking small again. I just wonder if she believes in me. Who else is believing in me. Jesus I believe in you! Lets do this for your glory!

The Journey Part 3: The Transition Continues

What a busy couple of weeks filled with summits and conferences. We have been wrapping up lose ends and reality is hitting we are packing up our whole life. I was talking to a friend and seeing transition means something different when you are going to plant a church. I am transitioning from an office to no office, a volunteer base with no volunteer base. I am so confident that God will bring many to us. I am also aware that he has anointing on my life for this step.

I don’t know everything, but he will equip my heart to care and love for the people in my neighborhood. I have moved many places and lived in many areas but this is all different. I have been leaning into the biblical example of Abraham of moving in obedience means favor.

We are ready to start the ministry has for us see the hidden faces God has been revealing in our hearts and pack up our memories to move into the next season of our life.

My quote for this season is “my memories have to be smaller than the dream”

The dream is so Big and we are transitioning into our miracle story!