Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Many of you are aware and deeply concerned about the ongoing disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Unfortunately the media coverage seems to be diminishing over time, but our work there will continue! Please utilize the Foursquare website to keep your congregations informed. There are several videos that have been created that would be excellent to show your congregations. Last week we hosted Jeff Roper from FMI to give us an update on what is happening on the ground in Haiti and how our District could get involved with the relief efforts. Everyone is asking “What can we do to help Haiti”, here is Jeff’s response and plea for our help….. WE CAN PRAY…..Prayer is vitally needed for everyone on the ground in Haiti. When your congregations gather please remember to pray for Haiti. Everyone involved in the relief efforts will need a continual prayer covering (Haitians, military personnel, medical personnel, relief workers, etc) All of the leaders at every level face an enormous task and will need great wisdom to rebuild this country. Many are living in a state of devastation, and hopelessness. Haiti is a country in mourning and in about a month the rains will descend on Haiti making a terrible situation even worse. The Haitians have erected temporary shelters from whatever could be found. These shelters are not waterproof, and will not keep them dry. Pray that the Lord’s grace and mercy would be upon that nation. If possible direct the intercessors or prayer teams of your congregations to pray specifically for Haiti when they gather together for their regular times of prayer. WE CAN GIVE FINANCIALLY ……Everyone desires to do something! However sometimes our efforts can be well intentioned but really miss the mark. For instance if we begin to purchase articles of clothing in the United States and ship them to Haiti it would actually hurt the Haitians over the long run. Part of rebuilding Haiti will be rebuilding the Haitian economy. Those articles of clothing should be bought in Haiti from those Haitian entrepreneurs that emerge. FMI will be partnering with Haitian workers and local businesses as needed to provide goods/services. Also, Foursquare will be utilizing the church property of the National Leader in Haiti, Pastor Guy Thomas as a base of operations to launch our relief efforts in country. As you can imagine this property was devastated and will need significant repairs before it can be inhabited. Rebuilding this property and securing it will be a top priority of FMI. Please consider receiving a special offering to resource this project. GO, WHEN IT IS TIME TO GO…..Please contact our District Missional Coordinator or District Missions Representative (Keith Jenkins kjenkins@foursquare.org or Remi Lawanson rrljil@yahoo.com ) regarding “Go-Teams” to Haiti. Initially the first teams into Haiti will be more specialized focusing primarily on medical needs and construction. Beginning in the early Spring other teams will be organized and sent in as well. The duration of the average trip will be no more 10 days. We will support you and provide whatever guidance you may need in organizing a trip to Haiti. I pray that this information will be helpful to you as leaders as you construct any response strategies for your congregations. Keith Jenkins

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excerpt from "Untamed" Alan and Debra Hirsch

From mine and Deb's book, Untamed (released next week (!!) by Baker). The Shema is a major theme throughout the book, hence a small explanation of why this is the case.

...how can we ensure we have a true understanding of God? Or even better, how can we know God? We believe Jesus is the answer and points us in the right direction when he says,
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” [and] “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29–31)

The power of Shema spirituality, or what Scot McKnight creatively calls “the Jesus Creed,” sums up the central revelation of God in Scripture and provides us with a worldview in a sentence. In other words, it is not just a simple description of what true worship means (and it is that), but also a description of a disciple’s basic orientation to the world.

• The Shema contains the revelation that God is one.

• The Shema shows us that God wants to be loved and worshiped in every aspect of life and with all of our being. The clear implication is that nothing in life, culture, and the human experience lies outside of this all-encompassing claim. No false dualisms, no sacred- secular splits—all of our lives, including our sexuality, work, play, home, politics, and economics, can, and indeed must, become aspects of our worship to the One True God.

• The Shema is expanded by Jesus to explicitly include the love of people, for it has always been a temptation of “religious” people to see religion as purely devotion toward God. Jesus will not allow this. Discipleship in the way of Jesus must include the love of people.

Furthermore, we suggest that Shema-spirituality helps us do the following:

• Rediscover the true nature of worship (we must love one God, not many—no idols and images, please)

• Learn what it means to love God in and through the whole of life (with intellect, passion, family, culture, money, sexuality, and so on)

• Understand our relationship to the world and our obligation to “the other” (we can never come to a true discipleship in isolation from the love of people)

• Recover an authentically monotheistic worldview, out of which we can rightly interpret our world (operating with a unified worldview around the kingship of God)

The Ten Commandments show us this truth. The first three of the ten have to do with one God and the prohibition of idolatry. The fourth has to do with the sanctification of time, thereby safeguarding the God-relationship. The rest of the commandments move straight into what it means to live together without killing each other—straight into ethics, or lifestyle! No grand philosophies, no eloquent speeches . . . just holy living in the whole of life-under-God.

In contrast, the Western spiritual tradition has tended to limit discipleship to issues relating to our personal morality, thereby neglecting our missional involvement in the world. But discipleship must include both and everything in between. We would argue that if we truly understood Shema spirituality, we wouldn’t even have to talk about mission because it is all contained in the primal confession—loving God and loving others as ourselves! To worship God involves loving God in all and every arena of life. Mission is implicit throughout the creed. And discipleship in the way of Jesus is all about living out the Shema. It is missional to the core! Hence, no mission, no discipleship.

Excerpts taken from, Alan and Debra Hirsch, Untamed, p.28-9 and 63-4

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some talk, while others do!

Living in Los Angeles has increasingly made me aware of the conditions that people live in who are confined to the urban context. Not to mention the challenges that the churches face who serve these communities. I recently had the privilege of traveling to Austin, Texas with a friend of mine to a "Missional Community" conference. (He was Korean-American) It didn't take us long to realize that we would be a minority at this conference. I noticed a long line extending from the registration table, and there was not one minority in sight. As the conference began the presenters were passionate, knowledgeable, and there was a strong sense of God's anointing on them. No women were presenters at this conference and one presenter was a Chinese-American! So, needless to say there was very little diversity represented at this "missional" conference. After spending some time with the organizer of the conference late one night it was plain to see that this was not his intention and yet there was no diversity. Why not? Where are the other voices? Why haven't they been engaged in the dialogue? A pastor in our District (Los Angeles) pastors in Compton, CA. He pastors on the frontline of the urban context and serves his community faithfully. They weekly feed the homeless, provide clothes, and other services for the community. Not to mention his church has paid for far too many funerals of young African-Americans. It is very likely that his experiences would have enriched everyone, and given us a different view of the mission of Christ through his eyes. But would he have actually taken the time to travel to Austin, Tx to "engage in the dialogue" (catch phrase from the conference) about the missional church? He is living what others are talking about everyday!!! He is listening to his community, he is finding ways to incarnate the gospel in his community, and they are discipling men/women and sending that back into the war zone called "South Central LA". Could it be that the lack of diversity and inclusion at this conference has more to do with priorities and geography than discrimination? These conferences are often held in the suburbs, seemingly in another world. When you serve on the front-lines, how can you take time to have "dialogue" about what is seemingly obvious. Of course more needs to be done to bring other voices to the table but maybe we could move the table a little closer to those we desire to include. Part 2 of this dialogue will address the gender gap!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Is Christ welcomed in HIS church?

Recently I had dinner with a good friend, and he was lamenting his inability to find a church that would express true passionate love for Jesus in His area. Although they had great facilities and an excellent program (typical) they were not willing to truly allow the risen Savior to reign in their midst. Discouraged he was contemplating not attending a local church at all! Seeing as I serve to facilitate missional effectiveness among Foursquare churches in the Los Angeles area his response is of great concern to me. Some would blame the era of "seeker-senstivity" that was given prominence by many mega churches. Yet I think the problem runs much deeper than a particular methodology adopted by mostly the more affluent churches in America. I have also visited smaller ethinic churches where one would think that passionate expressions of love for Christ would be welcomed in a more traditional setting. Not so! What is or is not acceptable in a church service may find it's roots in that churches approach to Christology. "Christology determines missiology, and missiology determines ecclesiology" - Alan Hirsch/Michael Frost. Honestly I stayed up very late last night pondering that statement and it's implications on the condition of the American church. Without re-discovering a "Christ-centered" gospel we will continue to reproduce what we currently know is ineffective. Our attempts to be sensitive to those who are unchurched ( I applaud the effort) has left us without solid theology upon to rest the church upon. Now human preference takes precedent over revealed truth. Personally, I am walking through the Gospels again and asking the Lord for fresh eyes and a cleansed heart as I do so. As HE enters my heart again, may it unleash unfettered passion for Him and His mission.

Keith Jenkins