Book Review: Renovate by Leonce Crump

Renovate- Leonce Crump

How does the power and presence of the gospel enter into a city and bring real, transformational change?  This is the premise behind Pastor Leonce B. Crump, Jr.’s book Renovate: Changing Who You Are By Loving Where You AreRenovate weaves together Crump’s own personal journey as a church planter in inner city Atlanta alongside the things that God has shown him while seeking to live missionally in his neighborhood in a book that challenges each of his readers to truly embrace the gospel by investing in others.

Crump effectively encourages his readers of the incarnational ministry of Jesus- He came to live among us in order to invest in our lives.  It is by embracing Jesus’ model of ministry that we can truly effect change and gospel impact to those around us.  Crump reminds us that as Christians we are sent into the places where God has put us and may be sending us in the future.  In these places where we find ourselves, we must live like missionaries by seeking to understand the culture and its needs prior to proposing our own solutions to the culture’s problems.  In seeking to minister in a place, Crump reminds us that it takes time to see impact and that investment needs to be for the long haul in a community.  As we seek to live as sent ones being intentional to live for the glory of God and the good of the city, we will see God begin to work.

Renovate also addresses some of the racial tensions that we see in our world in a very helpful way.  Through Crump’s own personal story and learnings as an inner city church planter, he articulates some helpful things that members of the predominate culture should consider.  It is through seeking to see the world through someone else’s eyes that true understanding and change can come.

Crump’s call to Renovate is a clear and gospel-focused call to minister to people like Jesus would.  It is a helpful and challenging read for ministers seeking to reach their cities as well as Christians seeking to live on mission in the place that God has planted them.

Book Review: When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

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“Does our desire to help those in need cause us to really hurt those in need because we are not thoughtful in our approach to their needs?”  This is the haunting question that Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert bring to light in the challenging yet helpful book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself.

I have had this book recommended to me over the past several years since it was first published.  Knowing the contents of this book, I have been hesitant to read it knowing that this book would call me to question and change the way that I view missions and reaching out.  The book has raised more questions than I feel like I have answers to and has opened a discussion that every Christian who has a heart for the needs of others and every Christian leader needs to engage.

Corbett and Fikkert address the programs and approach to poverty ministry in a church, local, and global context.  The book is written in a way that focuses on stories of the good, bad, and the ugly of reaching out to those in need.  The book also includes a storyline that follows a local church as they wrestle with the challenge of helping the hurting without hurting them in the process.

The most helpful ideas in the book, in my opinion, are the equation that often defines people’s relationship to the poor and the definition of an effective method of helping the poor.

The equation of the often found current relationship is:

“Material Definition of Poverty + God-complexes of Materially Non-Poor + Feelings of Inferiority of Materially Poor = Harm to Both Materially Poor and Non-Poor” (p. 64)

Corbett and Fikkert redefine helping the poor through the following method definition:

“Poverty alleviation is the ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation.” (p. 74)

When Helping Hurts calls Christians and churches to embrace relationships over programs, partnership over ownership, collaboration over process, and holistic life change over a handout.  This is a profoundly helpful and challenging book that will change the way readers think of helping the least of these.

Book Review: Being Church Doing Life: Creating Gospel Communities Where Life Happens by Michael Moynagh

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In Being Church Doing Life: Creating Gospel Communities Where Life Happens, Michael Moynagh explores the practical nature of taking the influence of the gospel into the heart of the culture.  Throughout the history of the church, the church has shifted from being a movement of God’s people in culture to more of an institutional system.  Through his book, Moynagh seeks to bring the ideals of an established church and a home group/small group model together in a way that still encourages involvement in an established church but also keeps the missional heart of a home group movement.

Moynagh refers to these strategic cultural engagement groups as “witnessing communities.”  These are strategic groups of people who have taken the mission of taking the gospel to their world seriously by partnering together to make a difference and build relationships wherever God has placed them.  These communities can begin based on a common interest and location, but the goal is for the Christians in the group to be a spiritual influence on others around them in the group.  These witnessing communities establish safe environments for those outside of the faith to explore Christianity and hear the message of the gospel.

Being Church Doing Life is a strategic guide for those seeking to make an impact in their world through “witnessing communities.”  Moynagh combines a mix of inspiring examples of how God is using this ministry around the world with a list of practical steps to begin your own witnessing community.  This includes steps to get a community started, how to disciple someone in the faith, how to multiply a community, how to relate to the established church, and how to relate to the denomination.  These chapters make Being Church Doing Life a great starter guide for anyone seeking to make an impact through a small group or “witnessing community” ministry.

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Just Give Me Jesus

As I walked the streets of Cuenca, Ecuador today, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. Since I have a type A personality, I enjoy being in charge, making a game plan, and watching the game plan unfold, but today God determined that His game plan was better than mine.

Our team was on a limited timeframe, and we were walking to have a follow up discipleship meeting with a new believer. This enthusiastic man approaches me and grabs my hand. I was kind of concerned about random people running up to me because I was approached by a very intoxicated man yesterday. The drunk man grabbed my hand, told me I had beautiful eyes, and other things that I could not determine through my translators laughter. But today, the man was not a drunkard, but he was a seeker sent by God.

As the man grabbed my hand, he asked my translator if I was a pastor from the States. He then asked us to go to his sister’s store to share Jesus with him and his family. I have been on numerous mission trips and things like this don’t normally happen. Once we arrived at the store, I shared with the family the gospel message, and they all came to believe. The enthusiastic man then joined our Bible study this evening. He is excited about the gospel and is seeking to make disciples of people in his community.

Today, I was reminded that God is the One who really gets to determine the game plan, and that even though I sometimes struggle to understand the upcoming plays, He is working out all things for His glory and my good. I was also reminded that people don’t need church buildings, materials, programs, and training to come to know the life changing power of the gospel – the call of the man is the call of the lost everywhere – “Just give me Jesus!”

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Book Review: Dirty God by Johnnie Moore

In Dirty God, Johnnie Moore paints a compelling picture of the power of the gospel to transform the way we minister to the least of these.  Prior to this book, Moore was an unknown author to me, but by journeying through Dirty God, I have a desire to read more books by him.  He is an engaging writer who brings together his personal stories on the mission field with a solid theological understanding of the amazing nature of the incarnation.

Dirty God will make you view Jesus becoming a man, i.e. the incarnation, in a new light.  Moore argues that if we are going to truly be followers of Jesus we need to be willing to get dirty for the cause of the gospel.  He reminds his readers that Jesus forfeited the respect of the religious elite of His day in order to be about bringing His kingdom to the darkest and most broken places on the planet. Moore calls his readers to be willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ by bringing the hope of the kingdom to the dark places.

This book is written as a call to get dirty.  Moore reminds us that as Christians we have a great mission and follow a great Savior.  He was willing to give His all for us so our response of worship should be to give our all for Him for the sake of broken people in our neighborhoods, communities, and world.

Ministry Monday: Developing a Mission for Your Youth Ministry

As I began yet another year of youth ministry, I sat down to try to form a vision and mission for our group.  My goal was to create a sentence that completely described who we are and who we wanted to become.  As I wrestled with this challenge, I realized that it was easier for me to determine adjectives to describe our ministry rather than a sentence.  Here is my current mission and vision statement:

In Middle School Student Ministries at FBC Pelham, we seek to minister to 6th-8th grade students in a way that is relationship driven, gospel centered, and mission focused.

Relationship Driven
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” – John 1Open Link in New Window:14a (ESV)

  • Students grow in their relationship with Jesus.
  • Students grow closer to each other through Christian community.
  • Students grow close to a team of caring adults that want to encourage them in their walk with Jesus.

Intentional Relationships for Supporting Students’ Spiritual Growth:

  • Parents
  • Youth Ministers
  • Sunday School/Small Group Leaders
  • Prayer Partners

Adapted from Richard Ross, Student Ministry and the Supremacy of Christ, 2009

Gospel Centered

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the concerning himself.” – Luke 24:27 (ESV)Open Link in New Window

  • Gospel is the focus of Biblical teaching
  • Gospel is the key to following Jesus.
  • Jesus is the Hero of the Bible.
  • Gospel drives Christians to live on mission for Jesus and His kingdom.

Mission Focused

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)Open Link in New Window

  • Every student is called to be a missionary for Jesus wherever they are.
  • Campus- First Priority and FCA
  • Community- Student Serve Saturdays
  • World- Mission Trips

Student Ministry Strategy

“And they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” – Acts 2:42 (ESV)Open Link in New Window

  • Apostle’s Teaching (Bible Study)- Sunday School, Discipleship Training Classes, Refuge, and Small Group Bible Studies
  • Fellowship and Service- Middle School Hang Outs, Student Serve Saturdays, and First Priority or FCA on Campus
  • Prayer- Student Prayer Time

Have you developed your own mission statement?  If so, what is it?

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Ecuador Mission Trip- Day 6- Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Today was our last day in Riobamba. We had lunch with the national team and pastor who we had worked with this week. It is always amazing to me how much thanks and excitement they have for us coming and the work that God has allowed us to do in these days in Riobamba. Saying goodbye is always hard, but we will see each other again in heaven. That is another hope of the gospel – goodbyes on the earth are not final for those who surrender to Jesus.

As we drove from Riobamba back to Quito, I was amazed by the beauty of God’s creation. His glory is truly displayed in the beauty of Ecuador. As we looked at Mount Cotopaxi, one of the largest active volcanoes on the planet, I was amazed that God created such beauty simply to declare how great He is.

This trip has truly been a blessing! God has moved in great ways, and I have been encouraged to see God at work in His church in Ecuador.

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