08 Advance Round Table - Audio of Main Sessions  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in , , ,

Here are the 2 main teaching sessions from the 08 Advance Round Table event this past weekend:

Audio Recording of Session One - the Strategic Inflection Point of Change and Redefining Risk Within Our Community

Audio Recording of Session Two - Avoiding False Dichotomies & the Art of Asking and Raising Spiritually Qualified Leaders

The Advance: strategically inflected, the bad gap and false dichotomies  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in , , , ,

For the GP leaders who experienced the Advance Round Table this past weekend, here are your favorite "Mike Drawings." In a previous life I called this my future competitive sport: whiteboarding!

Still to come: the false dichotomy trap and some spiritual growth continuum diagrams!

A Disciple Shares the Heart of His Rabbi  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

Many of you know the story of my friend Marco from Cozumel. He was a guy my wife and I had the chance to share the Gospel with back in January and have since maintained an email dialogue on discipleship and life in Christ.

Marco is in his late 30s, highly intelligent, and wrestles with a lot of guilt from lifestyle patterns and deep questions about faith. His story and journey in Christ has been rapid-fast and amazing to watch. It's truly been an Acts 2 like experience without any prompting or scripting.

At the 3 month mark of his walk with Christ he hit some choppy waters. Externally he was being persecuted by some legalistic Christians nearby for what they saw as unholy habits; internally he was torn with frustrating questions about life and faith and what even matters. He reached an impasse where local Christians were forcing him to fix his "fruits" while he was struggling with his heart. It's a place that so many people fall off the saddle into a pit of despair, frustration, bitterness or into a dry life of legalistic faith.

For 3 weeks he disappeared and I couldn't find out what happened. I feared the Enemy had beaten this man down so young in his faith and that I'd lose connection with him. I got an email from him this past week. He had indeed been in a wilderness spiritually, but he weathered it and shared this testimony:

Don't worry, I'm okay and I'm even stronger in my faith now! I had some serious doubts and questions, but I've discovered through prayer how true Romans 8:28 can be for those who do love Him. I was doubting and then read Ecclesiastes - Wow! I've been praying and reading a lot and now things are making sense...I started having problems at work (not enough sales), but am seeing how even that was to help teach me to rely on Him 100% in my life. It was really difficult for a while, but now I am so thankful. I'm full of love and peace. I'm praying for everything now - I pray for direction, for my own needs and health, I pray for the salvation of everyone around me, I pray for my Christian friends and what they're going through...My faith is growing and feels like it is out of proportion to life and I feel so much love for everyone I meet. I'm thinking about and praying for you Mike!

Here's a man who has been 3 months in the Kingdom. A man who has a laundry list of questions to contend with and a community context that is opposed to his new life in Christ. In the face of swelling frustration and pressures around him his response is...to seek God. He channels his discontent into a driving force of a God quest instead of a rebellious abandon. The result is a humble heart of love and grace that reveals the heart of his Rabbi shining through his life.

A disciple is obedient to his teacher. A follower goes where the leader is heading. A disciple shares the heart of his rabbi. How is the heart of Rabbi Yeshua shining through in your life? Sharing that is fundamental to discipleship.

The Blisskrieg  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

My wife and I launched our first website recently. We're newbies at the world of true internet tools, but it was fun. House of Marital Bliss is our "address" as a tie to an affectionate and sometimes comical reference to our home. We're unabashedly unashamed about challenging everyone we know to pursue "bliss" in Christ, which leads to bliss in marriage, and bliss in all spheres of life.

A friend visited our site and sent me a note asking if we had any plans to "launch a 'blisskrieg' or a full attack from the heart."

*Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) is a popular name for an offensive
operational-level military doctrine which involves an initial bombardment
followed by the employment of motorized mobile forces attacking with speed and
surprise to prevent an enemy from implementing a coherent

What a beautiful image - a full attack of love from the heart. A lightning strike of love as an offensive!

Leadership Legacies  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in , , , ,

I met with a lady this past weekend who was a missionary kid. Her parents spent 30+ years as missionaries across Latin America. Her aunts and uncles were all missionaries in Africa. Her cousins have all chosen to remain as missionaries in places like Congo, Ghana and the interior of Africa. Her sisters were missionaries. She herself was highly involved in local church ministry plus multiple trips a year to do women's ministry abroad and help foreign missionaries. What a legacy her family has in the Kingdom! How blessed to be the great-grandparent in that family, looking at a series of generations all obediently sold out to Christ! To see God use your "children to bless the nations" is truly a mighty legacy for any leader to behold.

Yesterday we had a gathering of area pastors to welcome a new guy to town. It drew high profile guys, new guys just starting churches, pastors of struggling churches and some "patriarchs" who had been icons of regional church leadership for decades. With many generations represented at the gathering, there was a remarkable distinction in how various generations tended to establish their legacy.

George Harris and Buckner Fanning were looked up to by half the guys in the room because so many of them had been mentored, encouraged, supported, and commissioned by those guys early on in their Christian walk. They saw them as patriarchs of their own ministry journey. The legacy of George and Buckner was that their leadership was beyond themselves - they freely and whole-heartedly invested in raising up others who went on to lead with great independence from them. CBC and BRCC are not "church plants" by either of these guys, yet both pastors were mentored and supported by George.

There was a free loving investment in others by that generation of leaders that stood out as exceptional to the present norm. It's so easy for a church, an organization, a team or any group to only invest by addition - to recruit the best for their own effort and want to grow their team superior to everyone else by "drafting" top talent. Contrast that with how these elder statesmen sent out leaders to go and flourish for the Kingdom without any strings attached.

How do you measure legacy of leadership? Personal reign, personal accomplishment, or the beyond-self passing on of Godly love, counsel, discipling, instruction and wisdom that bears fruit outside the fences of your territory?

How would your leadership legacy be measured today? How will it be in 10 years?

When Jesus was asked by John the Baptist's followers if He was truly the Christ, Jesus pointed at His track record in the lives of people - "the blind now see, the lame walk, and captives are set free."

A Man Named "The Rock"  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

This essay was written by Shelby Reese -- a 9th grader in our youth ministry -- as part of her "Leadership Rocks" course in The Point University (TPU).


Pushing to the head of the line and blurting out loud, outrageous assertions. Named first in the list of disciples, Peter is often seen elbowing his way to center stage. With a big heart and unlimited enthusiasm, bold and courageous, yet cowardly when it really counted. Peter didn't show the signs of the "Rock" Jesus had for him to become. Yet through the Lord and through the power of His Holy Spirit, He transformed him into a tremendous witness for His glory. By the time Peter sat down to write his first epistle, a lot had changed. The shifting sand of his personality began to solidify into granite. His main focus was not on the cause of suffering, but rather on the results. "For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trails. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than god, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

The man once known as being blustery and loudmouthed, Peter now counsels wives to have "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4), and for husbands to "treat their wives with consideration and respect" (1 Peter 3:7). Taking suffering as a badge of honor, as proof of his commitment to Christ at any cost.

With every new step, from Simon, to Peter, to the Rock - his example and influence was widely felt by the church, during his entire lifetime of service to the Lord.

********The End****

Not bad for a young student of Jesus, His Way, and the path of leader-followers!

Complicating Simple Mysteries  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in , , , , ,

In response to the Janitor comments from the previous post...I am repeatedly convicted of how, as a bypass to dealing with the deep mysteries of simple truths in the Gospel, we throw ourselves into drawing complex systems of more "understandable" rules. The truth is so simple it profoundly frustrates us - so we'd rather arrive at the same conclusion via a 40 year wilderness modeled process of well-defined steps.

I once wrote a paper on how the Holy Spirit is free to use it's power in the lives of believers practically to the glory of the Father. A fairly simple theological premise. The title of my paper? "A Paradigm of Pneumatological Pragmatism." That's an oxymoron title about being practical!

Many thanks to the Burkholder Post-Karmic Stream for the recent posting on Rube Goldberg. To approach life like a Rube is to take a long, complex route to a simple end. Isn't that what people have always done with the love and law of God? How many steps can we walk on the Sabbath, and what is 'work' exactly? Who's my 'neighbor' again? How many times must I forgive? Jesus sure frustrates the A-type personalities when He boiled 650 legal code statements into "love God, love people. Period."

I've learned and relearned this principle at least 26 dozen times, it feels. It started at a young age.

When I was 12 I was fascinated with physics and practical sciences. I was terribly intrigued by the seemingly limitless energy of magnets - they never drain! Surely there must be something to be done with this energy. Plus, the whole power of sunlight as a force (photovoltaic inertia). So, being a verbose and altogether odd kid, I spent 6 weeks one summer writing a "fun research paper" on the subject. The conclusion was a paper with very cool diagrams called "Vehicular Propulsion from the Harnessing of Electromagnetic Repulsion & Photovoltaic Inertia." That means making your car run by the push effect of magnets and concentrated light beams - but I liked the cooler words. In my concluded state I was convinced I had just stumbled upon the secret key to the next industrial revolution - "The Age of Electromagnetism," the ultimate green solution to societies' needs!

I took my research paper to an industrial engineer at our church who was some uppity-up with a major oil (Kyle would say "Energy") firm. He read it and smiled. Sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation I figured he didn't get the full implication of my thesis. He then went, "This is great work, Mike. Very elegant way of connecting the dots and making something of electromagnetism. What you just discovered round aboutly and very comlexly is the original, most simple engine ever invented: the solenoid motor. About 200 years ago it really rocked the world and is now a key component of just about every vehicle and propulsion system in the world." My heart sank.

I had just reinvented the wheel, with the Rube Goldberg style of non-simplicity. Somehow we make the "Way of the Annointed One that is Jesus" a life journey of reinventing the wheel of truth shadows. We celebrate discovering a beautiful truth and mystery that has been lying in plain view for millenia, previously discovered, lost, rediscovered, lost and now sought again.

Radically Hospitable - a Kingdom Leadership trait?  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

(borrowed from some small group community friends out of DC)

Radical Hospitality: The Requirement of Leadership

In Paul’s first letter to the young pastor Timothy, he gives instructions concerning the challenge and process of establishing leaders for the church. One of the traits required for leadership is hospitality. Based on the other things we’ve seen in Scripture concerning the true nature of hospitality, I don’t think Paul was looking for “nice” men here. He wasn’t looking for men with culinary ability, domestic skills, and a subscription to Southern Living; rather he was looking for men who were willing to take the lead in embracing uncertainty, taking risks, and welcoming strangers for the purpose of letting God’s power and presence invade the lives of people.

As leaders, we’ve got to take the lead in creating a community that is risky in its welcome. We’ve got to recognize hospitality as part of our job description. That doesn’t mean we have to possess the gift of hospitality or be the most hospitable person in the group. It just means that we’ve got to place a high priority on its importance, create an environment where people feel safe and secure, and identify those with hospitality gifts and unleash them to use their gifts freely in our groups and our lives.

Most importantly, it means we must make hospitality a priority in our personal lives. Over the past few weeks, we’ve given you ideas about how to create an environment of hospitality in your groups and ministries. Today, we want to help you practice hospitality in your personal life. Here are five specific things to consider:

1. Be on the front lines of welcoming others at our weekly worship gatherings.

2. Meet at least one new person this weekend and invite them to lunch. Then, invite them to be a part of your group or ministry.

3. Look at your resources and give something away to someone who needs it more than you.

4. Invite someone over for dinner.

5. Initiate a conversation with a homeless person. Get to know their name and their story. If possible, have that conversation over dinner.

John Piper said, “Freely you have received. Freely give. Is there any greater joy than the joy of experiencing the liberating power of God’s hospitality making us a new and radically different kind of people, who love to reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in all kinds of hospitality?”

From Follow to Body and Blood  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in ,

I was at a conference last week where there was a lot of talk about the purpose of the church, the purpose of small groups, the purpose of Christian community. Discipleship is obviously a key to these spheres. One of the pastor-speakers said it this way:

Jesus started out simply 'Come, and follow me.' No lengthy doctrinal presentation, series of classes and then a pass/fail exercise - but an invitation to come and see what life in the Kingdom was all about. Along the way more and more was revealed. 3.5 years later Jesus was talking about "eating my flesh/body" and "drinking my blood" as a mysterious and rich word picture for living in Christ. We need to help take people from "come and follow" to "eat my flesh, drink my blood" spiriutally. That's discipleship - taking them from wherever they are at to truly experiencing Christ as bread and wine, as flesh and blood of their life...but understanding whatever step they are in that process and meeting them there.