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The Power of Biblical Connectedness

In 2002 we started an organization called Glocal.net that focused on starting churches. It would change and morph to ultimately what we have become today – but it was a journey. We didn’t plan to start a network organization, we had just started a lot of churches and many of them wanted a way to gather and network. It quickly grew very large and far beyond my administrative ability and became several groups. I had no desire to start or run a “mini-denomination!” As a matter of fact, I did very little with GlocalNet for years. As a church, however, we kept on starting more churches and by default GlocalNet grew.  I could see the value of all of us coming together – but our first response to the way we were relating was very western and industrial.  We came together around three things we all did – and still do:  (1) start churches, (2) work with the poor in our city, and (3) work in hard places in the world.  This brought around all kinds of people from charismatic to reformed to Baptist and even a few Anglicans. We had so many stories. I knew God was doing something different, but I responded the only way I knew how — in an old western, task-driven, organizational wineskins. 

As I began to travel the world I had the extraordinary opportunity to come to know and learn from many global pastors who lead significant movements.  We would call their what they’re a part of “church planting movements” (cpms), but most of them would not be familiar with that kind of language. These leaders taught me a new way of coming together as family.

This doesn’t mean that principles are not real or do not matter. The difference is that in the global church, they don’t start with principles, they start with people.  The people are first.  You can go to many conferences now and hear someone lecture or speak of how to start a movement and what it takes: a catalytic leader, a winsome message, a complimentary team, multiple evangelist to promote the movement – and on and on and on.  Inevitably, people without movements begin to use the language of movements to get people to join a movement that doesn’t exist.  We are missing something.

What we are missing is the Biblical Concept of Family. The global pastors I’ve met do not talk about movements or networks. Instead, when they talk about the church, they speak of their family and of their spiritual sons and daughters.  In many of these places around the world it’s impossible to have big meetings and gather thousands of people to hear your message.  You can only grow through relationships. Here, we often join movements through hearing preachers preach about their networks or movements.  A family requires a lifetime of relationships and a lifetime of relational work, not simply a staff and an organizational chart.  This is much more than a language shift.

As I have worked with pastors over the years, I’ve discovered they join groups for the purpose of identity or mission.  You can tell the identity groups because they have robust statements of beliefs, certain teachings, and doctrine you must agree on.  Teaching, for them, is huge because it’s critical to make sure everyone is on the same page.  With mission groups, story is the critical factor.  This is so and so and this is what happened . . . God opened this door, etc.  All organizations and tribes have a certain measure of doctrine and story but each will lean stronger in one way or the other.  This distinction is important to know and understand because it will give you the ethos and direction and values of a particular network, tribe or organization.

But here is what I’ve learned.  Most young pastors join a group because they are really looking for family.  They don’t want organizational ladders or organizational stats – they want family and they need Fathers.  This is very hard for us as Americans. Our history as a nation, our culture, our rugged (if not sinful) individualism makes family hard – but make no mistake about it – we all long for and need family.

Here’s something else that’s important to consider as a leader in this shift, people want to touch people, not worship a new king.  I’m always amazed by how these global movement leaders are so  accessible to the people.  They are not like American mega-church pastors at all.  They are humble, they are normal, you couldn’t pick them out of the crowd.  Often their clothes don’t match and they’re missing teeth! 

Finally, a family has a certain DNA – ours is Kingdom/Disciple/Society/Church.  We all share that same DNA.  It’s in our blood. We believe Jesus is leader of the Kingdom and his teachings are foundational on the Kingdom.  We define disciple as hear and obey.  We believe the grid we engage is our society through domains in the public square.  We believe the church isn’t just a worship service but a small group, a congregation, and a global church.  We build our everything around those four strands. 

When you start operating as family everything changes.  I’m having more fun in ministry today than ever before because pretty much everything I do, I do it with young people alongside of me. I’m trying to raise up a family.  I love working with world leaders at this stage in my life, but I don’t do it alone any more.  I often take a young pastor beside me, mentoring them in diplomacy, protocol, culture, or whatever is necessary at that moment. From the credibility we’ve earned over our lives we gain far more access than we had when we were young which leads to many more opportunities.  As we get older it is critical that we share our access and opportunities as we mentor young sons and daughters so when we’re gone the family and the ministry continue. 

If you want to know what our family is like, you’re welcome to join us at our Family Gathering.

 

Unleashing Vocational Influence

If you grew up in church, you heard many religious phrases that subconsciously shaped your thinking, such as “born again,” “decisions for Jesus,” or “joining the church.”  One of these is is “called into the ministry,” a phrase which I now find highly misleading.  I am convinced that God has called the entire body of Christ to ministry, nor just the few whose talents lead them to be pastors.  Some followers of Christ are called to various specialized functions, but every one of us has a responsibility to edge with God’s work in the world.  There is within each of us a longing, a deep inside that calls us to something unknown.  Throughout our lives, we may get glimpses of it, and it draws us forward to an undefined goal.  C.S. Lewis attempted to describe this longing when he first experienced it as a child:

‘It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation that came over me; Milton’s “enormous bliss” of Eden…comes somewhere near it.  It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?…Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased.’

For most of us, calling is something like this – a deep, private, personal longing that bring everything together in a single experience of great significance.  God calls every one of us in many ways, often using these undefined longing we tend to ignore or pass over as mere feelings of the moment.  Those who wish to follow God must learn to develop sensitivity to these moments, and when they come, to tune their ears to God for his call. 

When you are seeking God’s call, your skill, vocation, and passion are critical.  But undergirding all of this are four things that are essential to hearing God’s “full counsel” for your life.

 

1) The Importance of Prayer

Prayer is where it all starts.  When our hearts are clean and our lives are an open book before God, He will often speak things in our heart that give us a sense of where he is leading us. 

 

2) The Guidance of God’s Word

Scripture is indispensable.  For most major decisions, God will often give me a verse or a particular passage of Scripture to meditate on.

 

3) The Council of Other People

Proverbs says that there is safety in the presence of many counselors (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).  This isn’t to say that God won’t call you to do something that goes against the counsel of other people.  But a wise disciple of Christ will often seek counsel from people they know and love.

 

4) Divine Intersections

Finally, I frequently keep my eyes open for God’s mysterious work – those divine intersections.  Sometimes God has place something on my heart, something I can’t let go of, but I have no ability to do anything about it.  The next thing I knew there are people, resources, and situations emerging, beyond my control that are causing significant changes.

 

What is God calling you to do?   Specifically, what is God calling you to do TODAY?  Be obedient and let God fulfill the longings you have.  

 

Discover more about unleashing  vocational influence in the book: 

Real Time Connections by Bob Roberts Jr.

GlocalNet Family Gathering – Nov. 8-9

Join us for an amazing time of worship, inspiration and learning at the 2017 GlocalNet Family Gathering.  If you are a part of the family, a friend of the family or just curious about what our family is all about, you are invited to come be a part of this experience.

 

 

WHEN                 November 8-9, 2017

WHERE              NorthWood Church — 1870 Rufe Snow Drive, Keller, Texas 76248

SCHEDULE      Begins at 8:30 AM Wednesday the 8th & ends at 4:30 PM Thursday the 9th

WORSHIP         We will be led in worship by a Multi-ethnic, multi-church team.

COST                   $49

** Special Hotel Pricing at Holiday Inn Express & Suites DFW West – Hurst, Texas 820 Thousand Oaks Dr, Hurst, TX 76054 (817) 427-1818

 

PRESENTERS

  • Bob Roberts — NorthWood Church & GlocalNet
  • Omar Reyes — NorthWood Church & GlocalNet
  • Kevin Brown — The Perfecting Church, PA
  • Kevin Cox — Vista Church, TX
  • Mitch Jolly — Three Rivers Church, GA
  • Nic Burleson — Timber Ridge Church, TX
  • Steve Bezner — Houston Northwest Church, TX
  • And other special guests….

 

SESSIONS & BREAKOUTS

  • Multi-Faith
  • Multi-Ethnic
  • Multiplication
  • Multi-Domain
  • Multi-Nation
  • Multi-Dimensional
  • The Multiple Aspects of the Public Square

 

R E G I S T E R   H E R E

 

Healing Power of Mourning

Romans 12:15b…Mourn with those mourn


A heaviness weighs over our nation like a dark overhanging cloud of impending storms. We see

the deep division among the racial fault lines; political mayhem invades our living rooms every

night; endless groups of people galvanized by specific hurt, wounds or certain values that are

gathering from outside the edges of societal norms. The LGBT community clamoring for their

causes; transgender issues clumsily breaking into our consciousness. Demanding a space to

exist and the right to use whatever bathroom they choose. Wars and rumors of wars fill the

airwaves. Large segments of the church of Jesus Christ deeply divided among political

affiliations choosing sides and losing their prophetic voices in the process. Yet the hope of the

world is wrapped up into the word called reconciliation. However it seems that mourning

historically precedes the journey of reconciliation. Romans 12:15b says to mourn with those

mourn. The way to heal hurts, sadness and disappointments is to lament with those who

lament. Logic and reason cannot heal emotional pain it takes empathy and emotions to get into

the world of broken people and sit with them in that pain and share it with them so they no

longer feel alone.

God identified a problem before sin, when He said in Genesis 2:18 “It was not good for man to

be alone” He did not design man to be alone and his solution was not Himself but another

human being called Eve. We were created to remove the aloneness of each other and yet we

see that we are altogether yet alone. The church that was mandated to break down all walls of

separation and including people in a community of belonging has consistently erected walls of

division; even within its own house. Mourning is not despair or whining. It is not a cry into the

darkness. It is a cry directed first to God. It is the cry of those who see the truth of the world’s

deep wounds and the cost of seeking peace. It is the cry of those who are deeply disturbed by

the way things are. The path of reconciliation is rooted in the practice of mourning. Let’s step

back from our quick fixes, superficial anecdotes and take a seat by our brother and sister. Let’s

just sit with them; put aside your intellectual and logical answers and just mourn with them

awhile. Mourn with the refugees who has lost all; mourn with your gay friends, the loss of love

and family. Mourn with your African brother and sister whose history here in America did not

sail in on the Mayflower but on a ship ironically called “Jesus of Lebeck”, the first British slave

ship to land in America. Their history began with unimaginable pain and humiliation. Mourn

with the Mexican immigrant who left wife and kids to find work so he can feed them and clothe

them. As you mourn with them you will begin to mourn for yourself for in their pain you will see

your own brokenness. You will see that their pain is your pain and that sharing our pain can

become a source of healing. Then and only then are you truly ready to carry this gift of

reconciliation to the world.

TRANSFORMATION CHURCH – Being the Church on the Hill

There are all kinds of words that we would use to describe what “church” should be like.  My favorite word is transformation, because it’s the direct result of a church based on the Kingdom of God.  That transformation changes us, our families, our communities, our nations, and the world.  That transformation will not be complete until Jesus comes. As a result, some give up on seeing transformation beyond personal spirituality and a walk with Jesus because it won’t be complete until he comes.  This is a wrong response.  The kingdom has begun; we are to move with the kingdom as it comes.  It has been coming since Jesus came, it has come throughout the New Testament, the Early Church, church history, and even now.  Jesus set the direction and pattern for the church in the Sermon on the Mount and his parables in what he expects of us.  Paul further takes the Kingdom to new levels in Colossians 1:15-20 when he talks about glorifying God in all things, all dominions, all principalities, being transformed as a result of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  We should never give up on people, cities, and nations.  A church that is built upon the kingdom will see lost people come to follow Jesus – but it will not stop there.  A Kingdom church will engage the person, the family, the city and nation at all levels.  Read more

4 Key Changes Needed for a Polycentric World

by Omar Reyes, Northwood Church
Guest Blogger

A simple definition of Polycentric, is to have many centers. We live in an age where everything is connected. The whole world communicates, conducts commerce and interacts on the global grid of fiber–optic micro cable and personal computers. The convergence of technology leveled the playing field and everyone now is invited to participate. The little guy or gal somewhere sitting under a coconut tree in an obscure little Island in the Pacific is able to play beside the Gucci-wearing suit banker working on Wall Street. The earth has gone flat declared Thomas Friedman. What Columbus declared round, technology flattened once again. This changed everything, the score went back to zero and we are now playing a new game. Anyone can sail from anywhere at the speed of light instead of the speed of knots. We all have the potential of Columbus, discovering new lands, finding treasures and bringing them home and selling them for a profit without leaving the shade of the coconut tree or our desk in our padded offices. We are all at the center of this vast flat expanse and it demands a new way of thinking. There are four important changes we must consider in this new game.

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FOUR HUGE SHIFTS FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS

This week, Thursday night at First Baptist Church Glenarden, Maryland, just outside Washington DC, at the Ministry Center (not the new worship center) there is going to be a first time ever large gathering of evangelical pastors and imams.  For the past few years, several of us have been on retreats together and even traveled the world to try to figure our how we use our influence with the masses to build bridges, bring down tensions, and protect religious minorities from persecution – be they Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever.  THIS ISN’T THEORY OR IDEAS!  It’s actually working and progress is being made.  You will meet the people and hear stories of it and be given an opportunity to do the same.  Be we Christian or Muslim, both of us have received heat from our own tribes from becoming friends and associating together.  Neither of us have compromised on our beliefs – I believe Jesus is God, and Muslims believe he’s only a prophet.  We do believe, as religious leaders with access to the masses we have a responsibility work for peace in our world and help the religious minorities among us be we Christians in America or Muslims in Pakistan.  THIS IS THE FUTURE PRESENT.  You can register www.spreadingpeace.net it’s free. Read more

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN U.S. UNDER SERIOUS THREAT October 9-10 in United States

 

Christian, the most important thing you can do for the Gospel locally globally today is to stand up for a Muslims religious freedom in America.

My heart is sad and it’s hard for me to comprehend how far we’ve strayed from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  That we can have mosques in 20 cities targeted for “armed” protest and there is so little outcry?  Where are the tweets and blogs from my fellow evangelical pastors?  Have we forgotten, especially those of us as Baptist that we were in the forefront fighting for religious freedom in America?  Some of our Baptist forefathers wound up in jail because we refused to minister under any authority but our own – Baptist.  It was Jefferson that came to our defense and that is how we as Baptist became some of the strongest defenders of religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world.  Read more

PUBLIC SQUARE MISSIONS! ROCK ON CHAD GRIFFIN!!!

by Bob Roberts

This is the kind of engagement that members of Northwood Church do!  Chad Griffin, a NorthWood member, works with orphans in Uganda through Yonder Life. His good friend, Frank who helps runs that organization in Uganda, shared a great story of friendship about a Ugandan gym owner who was moved so deeply that he began supporting their ministry to serve poor children.  The gym owner is Muslim as are the majority of those in his community – so who winds up helping him with ministry to serve the poor?  Muslim athletes and body builders . . . read it and shout!

“In 2014 I joined New Beginnings Fitness Gym, a gym owned by my Muslim friend , Arafat Ssekitoleko.  It was the typical gym environment, where by whoever comes in is focused on working out while being surrounded by motivational fitness charts on walls and music being played. Shortly after attending there I was nicknamed Pastor due to the way I used to behave. I wasn’t involved in abusive language and tried to stop whoever used bad words, so they called me pastor. Well later I kindly asked the gym instructors, Ibrah and Arafat, if they could offer us one day of Gospel songs because all the songs that were being played were secular music! To my surprise they accepted and chose Friday. At first some members opposed it and started complaining that the music was to slow and that “worship” slows them down, making them feel sleepy. Arafat insisted, so we collected all sort of gospel music and they started getting used, singing along with the player I loudly made words being heard to those of English songs I knew.  Today even when I am not around, since I left the gym 250 miles away, Gospel Friday is known by all members and they are ok with it. The only thing you can hear are voices of them singing along with the player praising God!!

When I was sure it was ok to share, I shared the Yonder Life  mission with Arafat and his elder Brother Asad. They were interested in learning more so they boarded the bus traveling 250 miles to see what we are doing on this side of Uganda. When they saw the children and the communities we work with and the great needs, they took action to help by providing clothes and shoes! Seeing half way naked kids was what made them realize they needed to help with that first!

A clothes drive was organized as the New Beginnings Gym celebrated its first year anniversary (a gym that that was officially opened by Chad on his first visit to Uganda)! All the clothes, shoes, bags, and other items were donated to the children and elders of Nyabuharwa, Mirongo, Mbale and  Kyakashoro communities. The people were so appreciative and still send in their thanks for the support.  Seeing Ugandans serving Ugandans in their country despite their religion or background is a blessing. Glory to God.”

HISTORIC GATHERING… www.spreadingpeace.net

The world today is boiling hot in hate, violence, discrimination, and war.  Christians are literally on the brink of extinction in parts of the Middle-East and being forced out.  A true fact is that numerically, more Muslims are being slaughtered by extremist Muslims in the Middle-East than any other group.  Neither the United Nations nor governments seem to have the will or ability to address the issues.  It’s time for those of us as religious leaders to stand up, stand together, speak out, and WORK HARD against religious bigotry and for religious freedom worldwide starting right here in the good old United States of America.

Fifteen years ago I began working in the Middle-East and Near-East with Christians, Muslims, Jews and others.  Prior to that, all of my perceptions of Muslims, Arabs, and that part of the world were shaped by 2 minute news stories.  There is no way, you can understand another group by short news stories or editorializes on either side of issues where the news deals only with the most shocking or sensational stories.  I began to read broader, listen to many different news sources, and then meet people and talk to them directly.

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