Tuesday, September 22, 2009


There is a difference between what we experience with "woundedness and healing," and what we experience with "death and resurrection." Let me detail the differences:

Woundedness and healing...

- process is natural
- restoration is expected and gradual
- time is an ally
- treat it and work it out
- incremental turnaround
- friends can help you
- advice is called for

Death and resurrection...

- process is supernatural
- restoration is unexpected and sudden
- time is an enemy
- grieve it and let it go
- dramatic turnaround
- only God can help you
- miracle is called for

When looking at your own life, or the lives of others, it is helpful to keep in mind these distinctions. For matters of woundedness and healing, Christian counseling, a "how to" sermon series, or small group support can make a big difference. For matters of death and resurrection, there is not much that can be done, except to wait on God for a miracle. Many believers become frustrated waiting on God for healing and restoration, not understanding that the process they are going through is more likened to a resurrection from the dead. It's not that God won't be able to bring about restoration, it's that ONLY GOD will be able to do it, and He will do it in his way, and in his time, and sometimes as a complete surprise.

As I think back on the darkest period of my life, in which I left the ministry and was filled with anger and doubt, I can see that it was more than just a wounding that needed healing. It was a death. It was the death of "David, the pastor." It was the death of a vision. It was the death of life under my control. Years later God pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet on a rock. As I look back now, I don't view my recovery as a healing, I view it as a resurrection. God sovereignly intervened in my story. As the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty" says, "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty back together again." But while the king's men can't put the pieces together again, the King can!

Many Christian leaders want to "fix" problems when they see them. We want to view broken marriages, failed ministries and personal tragedies as challenges that need our coaching. But sometimes, what we're looking at cannot be solved with salve. It's deeper than that. There is nothing that we are going to be able to say or do to bring restoration. God is going to have to resurrect the story from the dead. At these times, we're better off to function more like the mortician than the physician. Issue the death certificate. Let them know that the marriage is dead. Let them know that their life, as they've known it, is over. Eulogize. Help them throw the dirt on the coffin. But here is the beautiful thing about the kingdom of God. Just when we think it's over, it's not. God loves to raise the dead.

Monday, September 14, 2009


We need to extend grace in matters of style, as well as sin. I would say that CTK has become noted for being a place of grace for sinners. We say without reservation that there is "Always a Place for You." We don't care where you've been, or what you've done, we know that love covers over a multitude of sins. We say, "God will take you where you are, He just won't leave you there." We believe there is forgiveness for the past, and hope for the future. There is no question about how we feel about sinners. We love them. The question is, "Will we extend the same kind of grace to someone who differs from us in their style?"

Thomas Jefferson put it so well when he said, "In matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock." This has proved to be a difficult balance for Christians to maintain. We have tended to a) gravitate to certain styles (in preaching, worship, service order), then b) imagine that our preferred methodology must be "right," then c) become cynical, critical or judgmental of others for being different. We must resist this temptation. As Jefferson noted, style is an area where we want to see diversity, not unity. We want to be loyal to the master and mission, not the method and manner.

I have found that many believers have a wrong notion about Christian unity. They confuse unity with uniformity. Christian unity is not uniformity. Uniformity is the natural man's way of seeking unity and involves:
(1) looking for little things he has in common with others, then

(2) finding differences between his group and others, and finally

(3) increasingly insisting that those who are with him be like him.

That is not Christian unity. That is worldly uniformity. And, frankly, anyone can do it, which is why everyone is doing it. Christian unity is embracing diversity within the will of God (see 1 Corinthians 12). Did you catch the difference? Christian unity actually embraces diversity. Within God's will, there is grace for differences in personality and presentation.

Can you appreciate a sermon that is preached in a different style than you prefer? Can you worship with a song that isn't your favorite? Can you "talk up" a denomination that isn't yours? If not, you may need to take some of the grace that you have for sin, and apply some of it to style.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Multi-Site Church Road Trip

Greg Ligon, co-author of Multi-Site Church Road Trip (which features a chapter about CTK) asked some follow up questions of me as part of a "blog tour" that includes a stop here today (Thursday, September 10th, 2009). (See www.multisitechurchroadtrip.com). Here are the questions and my answers....

1. Dave, you say in Multi-site Church Road Trip that you and the team at Christ the King have 120 campuses and many of those are actually International campuses. What does an international campus look like? How is the same/different from one of your state-side campuses?

Overseas our gatherings are often not in an owned or leased facilities. Some of our congregations meet in tents, or under trees, or town squares. Often the gatherings have children present, whereas in the US we offer children's programming simultaneous the worship service. In the US our services are typically an hour or less. Overseas, our services are often longer than two hours. In some cultures the leader has a more prominent role that we tend to see in the US.

2. I think it is interesting that you have a commitment to international campuses and a high value for use of technology in developing leaders but no Internet campuses? Any reason for that?

Our international reach is more of a "God-thing" than anything else. We had no plan to be outside of our own county, much less around the world. But once you define the church by relationship, instead of geography, you realize that relationships do not respect geographical boundaries. We say that we can go as far as relationships will take us. Our goal is to raise up people to do ministry, so we view technology as a tool, not a strategy.

3. We have talked recently about your discovery that there is a greater access to cell coverage than high speed internet in India and many of the countries you are serving in Africa and that this has prompted you to redesign your leadership development training to be delivered in text size messages. Can you give us an update on where you are in that process? What is working? What is not?

I send out a weekly email that gets resent as text by our international leaders. Some of our leaders follow me on Twitter as well. The cell phone is clearly the next laptop. More SMS texts are sent every day in the world than email messages. We are attempting to take our "teachable points of view" and distill them to 140 characters or less. We are also developing 60-second sermons that can be utilized on cell phones.

4. You are the author of Deliberate Simplicity, another title in the Leadership Network Innovation Series. How do the key principles of simplicity find application in the establishment and execution of International Campuses?

Simplicity resonates in the two-thirds world, because it really is the only option. There are not resources available in much of the world to support the attractional model.

5. What is new about the multi-site ministry at Christ the King since we last talked?

I believe that God is showing us some new things about worship. Many of our leaders are feeling that our corporate worship has been too much about us, and not enough about Him. We are also exploring more non-musical forms of worship that have great potential to reduce our dependence on musicians as key to expanding the church.

6. What have I not asked that I should have?

You ask great questions. One additional one might be, "What complicates overseas ministry?" The answer would be: money. There is such a huge resource disparity between our church in the US and our church in the two-thirds world that we are wrestling constantly with how much to support needs overseas. So far we have sent very nominal and sporadic support, and have placed an emphasis on being self-sustaining. But it is often difficult to say "no" when they need it and we have it.

Next stop? Robert Emmitt, Senior Pastor, Community Bible Church, San Antonio, Texas - communitybible.com

To get the latest updates be sure to sign up for the RSS feed at www.multisitechurchroadtrip.com

Monday, September 07, 2009


In the CTK story we see most small groups falling somewhere between being a Bible study, and being a social hang out. Some groups, of course, are Bible studies, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Other groups are purely social gatherings, and there is nothing wrong with that, either. But what we feel is "most right" for the "most people" is a group in the middle ground, that emphasizes biblical application in a social context. This type of gathering is what John Wesley called the "class."

One of the dictionary definitions for "class" is a "social group with similar opportunities." The "classes" that Wesley organized were not Bible study groups or the "sharing" groups we have come to know. They were weekly groups, led by a volunteer, in which participants gave a report to each other about their lives, their activities, their temptations, their failures, and their successes. The sharing was targeted to what it meant to be a Christ-follower. In the safety of friends, each one would be encouraged to follow after God and to do meet the needs of people in the larger community. The emphasis was on living out the Christian faith in all of life. The groups were powerful because there was an edge to the conversations - some might call it support or accountability - in every group meeting. Outsiders who would attend the meetings were struck by the spiritual authenticity and fervor. These were not ordinary people living ordinary lives. It was truly a special "class" of people.

To understand the Spirit of the "class," listen to Wesley's challenge: "Make every class meeting an exhilarating feast of divine love and holy joy and people will come no matter how tired and/or busy they are. Fire is kindled with fire and wind. Enthusiasm is kindled with enthusiasm and the Holy Spirit." Has your group become lifeless or boring? Pray for a fresh fire. Engage more deliberately. Ask daring spiritual questions. Expect transformation.