Church Leader’s Conference

Together with Kuya Prudy (our senior pastor at Grace Place) and Ardison (a college friend of mine, pastoring the youth at our University church), we attended a 2 day church growth conference at CCF last March 5 and 6.

Christ’s Commission Fellowship was our “incubator” of sorts. After my born again experience in 2000, and after I decided that I can no longer be an Adventist in 2001, CCF became our “adoptive parents”. While Joy and I did not actually enlist ourselves as members of CCF, we grew up in the faith in that church thru the dynamic Sunday services and by attending Bible studies (much like Bible courses). When we decided to restart the old Communities of Grace, and now Grace Place, CCF has always been our model. We studied their principles and methods on evangelism and discipleship. A church of 12,000 members is indeed a good one to observe when you’re starting a local church!

We have been trying to “decipher” their ways. Not until this conference came where they laid down their “secrets” to help out the churches. Ain’t secret anymore! :D

The experience and learning had been tremendous. I’d like to share a couple of great things happened in that conference.

Abante — no more Xerex!

The conference had several testimonies from both leaders and members of their D-12 to emphasize on the success of such method. But one that has struck me most is that testimony of the owner and publisher of Abante, a newspaper that became very popular in the 90s for starting a “smut” tabloid. The tabloid popularized Xerex, a sex advice story column. It even became a local sex film hit.

According to his testimony, his lifestyle has been that of a successful businessman “who started it all” — but never was really happy. It was in the 2003 Purpose Driven Life campaign where he was invited in a study group and received Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour. The very first concern he had after the born again experience was to change the culture of his company. He wanted to get rid of the sexually suggestive elements in his publication where the tabloid has been known for. With firm conviction from the Holy Spirit, in November 2004, he took off all the almost nude pictures and the following month, the popular Xerex column. He testified that he is even willing now to loose the company if that will be the cost of following Christ. With the help of CCF, there are D12s (discipleship groups) in his company right now.

I praise God for that powerful testimony!

I did buy an Abante tabloid today to see if everything I heard was true. Indeed it is. Praise God!

Disciples of 12

The highlight of the conference is the discussion on a church growth paradigm that’s becoming popular not only here in the Philippines but perhaps the rest of the world — D12 (Disciples of 12). Basically, it’s a method of discipling members of the church that I think, as far as my understanding of other church growth and discipleship principles are concerned, is most focused and easiest to deploy. I can’t discuss the principles of D12 here in full — I’m kind of simply overwhelmed by the amount of information involved. But just the same, my prayer is that God will work thru this method when adopted by Grace Place. The good thing about Grace Place is that we’re a church plant. We’re just starting off a culture. There’s no “old wine skins” that may reject the idea of a paradigm shift.

That’s all folks. I’m back.

The power of the gospel

I’m speechless…

As the discipleship pastor*, I am tasked to write discipleship materials for our grace groups (cell groups). I am at this very moment writing Lesson 2 of our Gospel series entitled “The Only Way”. I have writen and talked about the gospel over and over. But you see, it’s very powerful that you can be moved whereever you are in your Christian journey. When I wrote these lines, I felt the Holy Spirit writing for and speaking to me:

“Jesus was the most precious possession in heaven. But because God loves us so much (Max Lucado says, ‘He would rather die than live without you’), he sent Jesus to die a painful death on the cross in our place. In effect, heaven went bankrupt just to gain you. That kind of love is unfathomable, how can we disregard it? The best part is, he did it while we were yet sinners. He didn’t say, ‘Be good first before I rescue you”, rather he said, “I’m going to die for you not because you deserve it but because I love you'”.

It’s seems like its the first time I heard it. I want to cry — literally. But deep inside, I am. I’m awed by His unthinkable love. I can’t say anything better than Thank you Lord!

*for no other proper term to use, I used “pastor” because that’s how we Christians call leaders. But at Grace Place, we don’t call leaders as “pastors”, we don’t even call each other “brothers” or “sisters”. We try to be unchurched-friendly as possible.

It’s great to be part of the team!

I never dreamed of becoming a church planter. That isn’t *my thing*. I like to sing, read theological books and even debate any cults — but not to plant a church. But when God calls you to do something, you can’t do anything but obey. Even your desires will change. Monergistic? :D

I’m new in this field. I even came from a denomination where church planting is an alien word. Yet I’m here supporting the vision of Grace Place. We’re 8 months to this church plant in Makati — aiming to minister to young urban professionals. Eight months of trying to build up a church without anything in hand — no money, no human resources, only faith. On the other hand, it’s assuring to know that we’re not alone in this, we’re part of the team!

Our ultimate role is to make His kingdom grow. And to make it grow, there has to be a teamwork within members of the team. I’m not talking about our team at Grace Place, I’m talking about THE team — the Body of Christ.

We lack musicians. Currently, it’s me doing the praise and worship leading, my brother at bass guitar and our Worship pastor, Enjel with his acoustic guitar. God deserves the best so in my estimate, this isn’t the best. I have to bail out of the worship team. Not that I don’t like it, but I know it’s not my gift, it’s not my ministry. We need a regular gifted praise and worship leader. We need a drummer (we use k-hon) and probably another acoustic guitarist to help K’ Enjel out.

I thought of asking Christian friends for referrals. I asked Jim of FEBC who hooked me up with Ida of a youth church in Intramuros. Ida eventually hooked me up with their praise and worship leader, John. Kuya Prudy and I met with John last Tuesday, and boy, he does know this stuff. And I realized how little we know about church music, instruments, sound system and mixing and basically everything about quality Church music management. John’s a blessing. He promised to help us out with our praise team development.

Isn’t that team work in action? Forget about denominationalism. Forget about Calvinism vs. Arminianism. This is kingdom building at its best!

Next — purchase musical equipments and sound system. As Kuya Prudy says, it’s God’s job to find financing. I am sure God will. Who knows, it will also come from the members of the kingdom. Isn’t that exciting to anticipate what will happen next?

Incidentally, I have created a new category “On Church Planting”. I will try share here our journey at Grace Place.