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Entries from November 2005

Church Plant

I have come to the conclusion that what the church really needs here in Kenya is a new role model. Mega churches and big televangelists have for too long been the examples for pastors of small congregations here in Kenya. They look at these guys and equate numbers with success. What they do not realize is that you can be successful without trying to grow larger in numbers. Being a Christian is more then being a number in a building somewhere. We want to provide an example or a model if you will for churches here in Kenya to look at and see true or Pure Christianity at work. In the beginning of the new year we will launch a new church or fellowship or community or whatever it will ultimately be called. I really believe that is why God brought us to Kenya. He knew I never would come to Kenya to plant a church so He let the idea come to me after getting me here. There are challenges to planting a church anywhere, but there are more challenges to planting one in a culture not your own. With God’s help and the help of friends we will be able to hurdle these challenges and lift up a shinning lamp for churches in Kenya. We will share more in the future as the plan unfolds, but if you have any specific questions or advice please email us.

P.S. The greatest need we have for this church plant right now is money for furniture. So please pray and if you would like to contribute towards that need email us and we will let you know how to do so.


There Is a God

There is a God. I have absolutely no doubt about that statement being true. All I have to do is take a look around the world, and how it works to see that there was purpose in its creation. I also believe because of my personal experiences, observations, and faith that the God is the Christian God, Jesus. There is a God; I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is our interpretation of that God, and then applying that interpretation to everyone else. Psalm 100 verse 3 says that God made us we didn’t make Him. We did not make God, so why do we think we can define Him? When we define God what we are doing is creating a god. Why do we think we can assign absolutes to God? What because of the Bible? Karl Barth said something about the Bible that I really like. He said that the Bible is not the revelation of God, but instead the record of that revelation. Like any record or biography it is not a complete picture. God did not write the Bible Himself so we are seeing that revelation through the writer’s perspective. Had God given me the vision He gave Isaiah, would I have recorded it exactly as Isaiah? Take a look at the four Gospels. They are perhaps the most holy parts of the Bible, yet even the four writers did not agree on every little detail. God I think has been polluted by a couple thousand years of church, a pollution that seems to have escalated the past hundred years or so. My encouragement is to go back to the beginning. Let us go back to the Gospels and try to emulate God. We need to do what He did. We should look at the first church and copy them. That church was led by men who knew Jesus face to face and therefore knew better then anyone what He wanted. There is a God; just maybe He does not resemble the god that has been defined by the church for us.

P.S. Forgive any grammatical, spelling, or other type errors. My wife did not have a chance to edit this article.


The Future of Church

For a little more than five years now, I have been reflecting on the future of the church. Admittedly most of that contemplation has been centered on me and what the future of the church was for me, and how I was to fit within it. Most of the time I do not fit within the cute seeker friendly programs offered by church nowadays, and what is important to me is very often not important to church, and the other way around. I need a place with meaning. I need a place where I can ask questions without being labeled a heretic or trouble maker. When I look at how things are done now, and then compare them with the first church, well I find very little similarities. Sometimes I even wonder- are we following the same God? Understandably our churches and the first church will be different; after all we come from different cultures at different points in history. However our church now does not resemble the radical religious movement of the first church instead the church more resembles the religious institution that Jesus came to destroy. Jesus, it is important to note, made no effort to create a church institution while He was on Earth. In fact He had no headquarters, no grand building where His followers could go to, and did not write volumes on church doctrine. Jesus walked from community to community preaching a strange Gospel, a gospel of sacrifice. Jesus meant for us to follow His teachings and example, but instead we have crafted a new Gospel to suit our own lusts. We have found the message difficult, but rather then abandon the message we altered it. Now our Gospel of a personal savior is easy and seeker friendly. What is the future of the church? I think it will be what we make of it. For some of us we can never return to institutional Christianity again, for others of us, we will work for reform from within the system.

I think the first thing we need to do is move our focus from man and put it back on Jesus. Right now most churches are built around a man and his personality. The man, or pastor, calls all the shots and without him you cannot move. We need to stop looking to the man, and start looking to our God. Church needs to be governed by the church as a whole and not governed by the man. We need to try and let others preach, spend the money, decide what outreaches we are doing, and make doctrinal decisions for a change. Christ’s church is made up of many different members with many different personalities and gifts. A church service should be an opportunity for us to hear from more than one or two men. We should be able to hear from the entire Body of Christ. Can you imagine going into a church service that is lead by the Spirit instead of by a man? When we stop looking at the man, then our agenda will change. Up to this point we have been working towards the vision of one man (the pastor), but when we shift our focus to Jesus, we can begin to work on His agenda.

So just what is that agenda? Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. Not life as we think, but life as God thinks. In God’s idea of life, the down and out are blessed, you are blessed when you lose the things most dear to you, and you are even blessed when you are persecuted. In God’s life, He was pleased to see His only begotten son crucified. The highest honor in God’s life is to be put to death for what you believe. Jesus said if we were to follow Him we would have to pick up our cross. Well that was a bit weightier than I intended for this article so let’s leave that for later. I think it will become a future article on sacrifice. So we can follow the agenda of Jesus instead of the agenda of the man. What is cool about that is that very often the man’s agenda is concerned with himself, but Jesus’ is concerned with you and me. Being concerned about your neighbor is like the core of Christianity to me. I think the future of the Church is not in buildings, but instead in the hearts of men and women. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within. It is time we started to believe that, and stopped spending millions on buildings to house the people we have attracted to our programs. We can redirect that money to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, educate believers, and care for the sick, and on and on. The future of the church is within.

P.S. I realize that not everyone will picture the same church as me. I believe that is why God created individuals with different talents, tastes, etc. You should be able to find a group to suit your needs.

This blog was inspired in part by the following:

AN INTERVIEW: with a Modern-Day, Sunday-Morning, Church-Going Christian by Frank Viola (www.theooze.com)


Kuku Project

You’ve probably heard us mention our desire to do chickens so we’d like to inform you that we finally have our chicken coop built and occupied with 9 hens and 1 rooster. In just 10 days they’ve already laid 31 eggs for us to give away! (We keep a few for future babies).

I’d like to share with you our vision for this project and some details…

There is a HUGE gap between the rich and the poor in Kenya East Africa. According to the National news paper in Kenya, an astounding 70% of Kenyans earn LESS than a dollar a day (74 shillings)! The price of one chicken is 200 shillings ($2.74) each. That means that one chicken is TWO days wages (or more)! I know that might not sound too bad, but let’s put that in American terms. If we use someone working 8 hours a day with minimum wage, a chicken will cost approximately $80! (I used $5 for the minimum wage to be conservative, but I am sure it’s a bit more). So by giving away chickens we raise to hungry families and/or by planting mini chicken houses in the homes of widows who need income and need to work at home, the families are really being blessed.

If we just give a chicken house to a mother of small children who just lost her income source-- her husband-- then she can sell the eggs for profit immediately, or sell the chicks after 3 weeks, or sell the full grown chickens after about 5 months.

I’m documenting our chickens daily to get stats on how many eggs 9 hens and one rooster produce a day, how many chickens make it to full grown and when, etc… So once I get the idea of what will be best for a family to do with their Nyumba ya Kuku (house of chickens), I’ll be able to pass it on with complete, easy to follow instructions! I hope it works!

We got our 9 hens and one rooster a week ago, and we’ve given away a dozen eggs already, plus we have 19 more to give away today. I plan on keeping 10 fertile eggs for when my hens start sitting so they can make some chicks!

Our desire is to work out the kinks with the Nyumba ya Kuku, and then plant farms at the homes of the needy. As we work on our farm, we’ll try to maintain 20 to 30 chickens and give away the rest to hungry families for food.

Just on the family aspect of things, we are enjoying the chickens. The chicken house is like a giant aquarium. The kids go out and feed the chickens and laugh at them scrambling for food while I just sit and watch it kind of like watching fish swim about. You know that feeling of enjoyment of just watching how creatures do things and observing their movements trying to figure out what they are thinking. For example, all my chickens just know to go up in the house at night. It’s amazing. They do it all by themselves. The house is raised so they actually climb a ladder! I thought I was going to have to catch them and put them in one by one, but I didn’t! It’s like cats and litter boxes!

Well, I have a 70 kg (154 lb) bag of chicken mash in my pantry! Imagine! I hope we don’t get rats!

Thanks for being a part of what we do!

Love,

~Kate


Can We Forget Our Ideal of Church?

I really believe that at this time in church history what we really need to do is to forget about our ideal of church. Abandon our model of how to conduct church. The system we are using now is a flawed and failing system. Throw out the past two thousand years of church system, and reinvent it. I know that on the surface it looks successful. Things look good for churches everywhere. We have mega churches, big flashy TV preachers, and a church on every corner. Success is not always about the numbers. To succeed as a community of believers we first of all need to be a community of believers. Where is the Christian community? Where can I go and hang out with fellow believers and not get the third degree about how I live and believe? I am not talking about the Christian subculture, but instead a real group of believers. The first church written about in the book of Acts had community. The writer records that there was no needs among them. Several thousand people a couple of thousand years ago lived life without needing anything at all. They had plenty of money, food, shelter, and love. God was not working miracles everyday providing for their every need. Instead the believers were working the miracles and providing for each other. We need to adopt ideas and projects that promote what God is really about. God wants us to love the loveless and help those who need help. Is it so hard to feed the hungry? Is it so hard to give up our dream of a big car or house to provide medical assistance to AIDS victims in Africa? Can we not sacrifice our time and lives to help women trapped in abusive relationships? One only has to look around to see that the church has failed the world. We are quick to preach and condemn, but slow to forgive and care. In my spirit I feel depressed about how the church is now, and I feel that God is not happy about it either. Why not throw out the entire thing and begin anew? Next Sunday we should walk into our churches and do something we have never done before. Try not to sit in the same pew. Try to speak to someone you have never spoken to before. Maybe even try going to a different church. We should try taking up an offering for famine victims in war torn Sudan before beginning another building project or sending a check to our favorite TV preacher. Before we pay someone to lobby in Washington for us, let’s take up an offering for an AIDS awareness project in the third world. Why not create real dialog with those that have differing views on life than us? I am not sure how to go about changing the church, expect maybe one Sunday at a time. I know one thing for sure, that I want to please God. I cannot please God with just faith. Being a Christian is more than just believing, it is doing something.

P.S.  Sorry for any typos, grammatical errors, crazy sentence structure, or anything else. My wife did not have a chance to edit this entry before I posted it.