What We Believe

Mission, Vision, Fluencies, & Doctrine

God at the center

What are fluencies?

We want our church to possess certain “fluencies”. This is beyond a creedal affirmation. This is competency and the ability to reproduce a reality. You are fluent when you can flow, which is why fluency is rarely acquired unless you immerse yourself in the culture. The key word here is culture.

We are trying to create a unique and passionate culture, a Kingdom of Jesus kind of culture. We do not want liberal or conservative, progressive or traditional; we want the Church. We want the Kingdom of God. We want an alternative, inclusive culture, much like what we discover in the book of Acts. They were far from perfect, but they were very alive. And they turned their world upside down. Our fluencies help us define this reality…

Green
Fluency

Grace
Fluency

God-Seeking
Fluency

Scripture
Fluency

Spirit
Fluency

Discipleship
Fluency

Multiplication
Fluency

Microchurch
Fluency

Evangelism
Fluency

Diversity
Fluency

Humility & Leadership
Fluency

Missions-Generosity
Fluency

Wholeness
Fluency

We See

Our Vision

We See

Churches of real disciples, not part-time believers; people that love God as Father, follow Him as Rabbi, and honor Him as King; people that give themselves for one another, and the cause of the lost and the least.

We See

Churches of passion; people who stand so amazed at God’s grace that they can’t help but live lives of adventure and generosity; God leading us to spend ourselves for those who could never pay us back; strong with children, students, missions, and the poor. We have been sent.

We See

Churches where people feel like they can belong before they believe and believe before they behave. We also see bodies with too much brown to be called a white church, and too much Hispanic to be called a black church; with too many kids to be called an old church, and too many wise ones to be called a young church – churches that model the diversity of God’s kingdom.

We See

Congregations that love God with more than Sundays and care for people with more than words. We see characteristically Spirit-filled churches that move in undeniable power yet stay non-religious and creative. We see churches where people become whole – in spirit, soul, and body.

We See

Communities where the potential of all the members get realized, as people recognize that they are called, whether they work in a church building or the marketplace. We see teams that are led by people who are greater on the inside than they are on the outside.

We See

A movement of disciples who reorient their lives around Jesus’ call to make more disciples. We see a multiplying network of churches and Microchurches that unashamedly and fiercely love their neighbor both locally and globally. We see ordinary people mobilized to go and change the world.

We See

Mentoring churches and missions outposts, worshipping families and authentic communities. We see houses of prayer. We see a church as supernatural as its Master, because He promised nothing less.

With God as the foundation

Doctrinal Statement

Doctrine matters. In a world where there are so many voices vying for our attention, it is paramount that we tether ourselves to the Bible and what it says. What we do needs to be grounded in who God is and what He has done. With that in mind, these are the doctrinal truths we ground our faith, ministry, and call to action in.

We affirm our belief in the one-eternal God, Creator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who governs all things according to the purpose of his will. He has been calling out from the world a people for himself, and sending his people back into the world to be his servants and his witnesses, for the extension of his kingdom, the building up of Christ’s body, and the glory of his name. We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that even when borne by earthen vessels the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves anew.
(Isa. 40:28; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 1:11; Acts 15:14; John 17:6, 18; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 12:2; II Cor. 4:7)

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We also affirm the power of God’s word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. The message of the Bible is addressed to all men and women. For God’s revelation in Christ and in Scripture is unchangeable. Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God’s people in every culture to perceive its truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole Church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God.
(II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16, Matt. 5:17,18; Jude 3; Eph. 1:17,18; 3:10,18)

We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognize that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as “the Saviour of the world” is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or

ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God’s love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him Lord.

To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world. (I Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 2: 32-39; John 20:21; I Cor. 1:23; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45)

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our
neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.
(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14- 26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed people into the world as the Father sent him, and that this calls for a similar deep and costly penetration of the world. We need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. In the Church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the

whole gospel to the whole world. The Church is at the very centre of God’s cosmic purpose and is his appointed means of spreading the gospel. But a church which preaches the cross must itself be marked by the cross. It becomes a stumbling block to evangelism when it betrays the gospel or lacks a living faith in God, a genuine love for people, or scrupulous honesty in all things including promotion and finance. The church is the community of God’s people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology.

(John 17:18; 20:21; Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; 20:27; Eph. 1:9,10; 3:9-11; Gal. 6:14,17; II Cor. 6:3,4; II Tim. 2:19-21; Phil. 1:27)

We affirm that the Church’s visible unity in truth is God’s purpose. Evangelism also summons us to unity, because our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our gospel of reconciliation. We recognize, however, that organisational unity may take many forms and does not necessarily forward evangelism. Yet we who share the same biblical faith should be closely united in fellowship, work and witness. We confess that our testimony has sometimes been marred by a sinful individualism and needless duplication. We pledge ourselves to seek a deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission. We urge the development of regional and functional cooperation for the furtherance of the Church’s mission, for strategic planning, for mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience.
(John 17:21,23; Eph. 4:3,4; John 13:35; Phil. 1:27; John 17:11-23)

We rejoice that a new missionary era has dawned. The dominant role of western missions is fast disappearing. God is raising up from the younger churches a great new resource for world evangelization, and is thus demonstrating that the responsibility to evangelise belongs to the whole body of Christ. All churches should therefore be asking God and themselves what they should be doing both to reach their own area and to send missionaries to other parts of the world. A reevaluation of our missionary responsibility and role should be continuous. Thus a growing partnership of churches will develop and the universal character of Christ’s Church will be more clearly exhibited. We also thank God for agencies which labor in Bible translation, theological education, the mass media, Christian literature, evangelism, missions, church renewal and other specialist fields. They too should engage in constant self-examination to evaluate their effectiveness as part of the Church’s mission.
(Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1-3, I Thess. 1:6-8)

More than 2,700 billion people, which is more than two-thirds of all humanity, have yet to be evangelised. We are ashamed that so many have been neglected; it is a standing rebuke to us and to the whole Church. There is now, however, in many parts of the world an unprecedented receptivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that this is the time for churches and para-church agencies to pray earnestly for the salvation of the unreached and to launch new efforts to achieve world evangelization. A reduction of foreign missionaries and money in an evangelised country may sometimes be necessary to facilitate the national church’s growth in self-reliance and to release resources for unevangelised areas. Missionaries should flow ever more freely from and to all six continents in a spirit of humble service. The goal should be, by all available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to hear, understand, and to receive the good news. We cannot hope to attain this goal without

sacrifice. All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the injustices which cause it. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life- style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism.
(John 9:4; Matt. 9:35-38; Rom. 9:1-3; I Cor. 9:19-23; Mark 16:15; Isa. 58:6,7; Jas. 1:27; 2:1-9; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35)

The development of strategies for world evangelization calls for imaginative pioneering methods. Under God, the result will be the rise of churches deeply rooted in Christ and closely related to their culture. Culture must always be tested and judged by Scripture. Because men and women are God’s creatures, some of their culture is rich in beauty and goodness. Because they are fallen, all of it is tainted with sin and some of it is demonic. The gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any culture to another, but evaluates all cultures according to its own criteria of truth and righteousness, and insists on moral absolutes in every culture. Missions have all too frequently exported with the gospel an alien culture and churches have sometimes been in bondage to culture rather than to Scripture. Christ’s evangelists
must humbly seek to empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity in order to become the servants of others, and churches must seek to transform and enrich culture, all for the glory of God.
(Mark 7:8,9,13; Gen. 4:21,22; I Cor. 9:19-23; Phil. 2:5-7; II Cor. 4:5)

We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth, and divorced evangelism from Christian nurture. We also acknowledge that some of our missions have been too slow to equip and encourage national leaders to assume their rightful responsibilities. Yet we are committed to indigenous principles, and long that every church will have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but of service. We recognise that there is a great need to improve theological education, especially for church leaders. In every nation and culture there should be an effective training programme for pastors and laity in doctrine, discipleship, evangelism, nurture and service. Such training programmes should not rely on any stereotyped methodology but should be developed by creative local initiatives according to biblical standards.
(Col. I:27,28; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5,9; Mark 10:42-45; Eph. 4:11,12)

We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization. We know our need to equip ourselves with God’s armour and to fight this battle with the spiritual weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activity of our enemy, not only in false ideologies outside the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the place of God. We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the biblical gospel. We acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to worldliness of thoughts and action, that is, to a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have compromised our message, manipulated our hearers through pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.

(Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 6:11,13-18; II Cor. 10:3-5; I John 2:18-26; 4:1-3; Gal. 1:6-9; II Cor. 2:17; 4:2; John 17:15)

It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practise and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable.
(I Tim. 1:1-4, Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21)

We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father sent his Spirit to bear witness to his Son; without his witness ours is futile. Conviction of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Christian growth are all his work. Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and power. We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole church become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.
(I Cor. 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8-11; I Cor. 12:3; John 3:6-8; II Cor. 3:18; John 7:37-39; I Thess. 5:19; Acts 1:8; Psa. 85:4-7; 67:1-3; Gal. 5:22,23; I Cor. 12:4-31; Rom. 12:3-8)

We believe that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly, in power and glory, to consummate his salvation and his judgment. This promise of his coming is a further spur to our evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. We believe that the interim period between Christ’s ascension and return is to be filled with the mission of the people of God, who have no liberty to stop before the end. We also remember his warning that false Christs and false prophets will arise as precursors of the final Antichrist. We therefore reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia on earth. Our Christian confidence is that God will perfect his kingdom, and we look forward with eager anticipation to that day, and to the new heaven and earth in which righteousness will dwell and God will reign forever. Meanwhile, we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ and of people in joyful submission to his authority over the whole of our lives.
(Mark 14:62; Heb. 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8-11; Matt. 28:20; Mark 13:21-23; John 2:18; 4:1-3; Luke 12:32; Rev. 21:1-5; II Pet. 3:13; Matt. 28:18)

Greenhouse
They walk with us in the valley, while fighting for us in the prayer room, and are there to celebrate with us on the mountaintops, all while praising Jesus our source. These are our people. Wayne & Ingrid Carney

GREEN FLUENCY

There are many ways to describe the Church. The people of God. Two or more gathered in the name of Jesus. The Bride of Christ. The Body. Yet at the functional level, our ecclesial minimum, and our discipleship approach looks like this: When you find a group devoted to worship, mission, and community you find the Church.

The implications of this are profound. This means there are many religious buildings and Christian groups that sing songs, facilitate monologues, and call themselves “church” – but that does not make it so. This is why there are huts and caves and homes all over the world that look highly plain on the outside, but on the inside you find a worshipping community on mission. And that is Church.

When the yellow of our devotion to God (worship) meets the blue of our devotion to people (mission and community), we reach the deep green of the Church. The kingdom of God comes to earth.

We call people to live in the green. We scrutinize the health of our families and microchurches and discipleship by whether or not we are living in the green. We recognize and resist the dangers of organized religion to complicate the simplicity of our call.

Note the order. Worship is first. There is a reason that the first of the Ten Commandments involves worshipping only God. The second involves idols, a function of worship. All of the other commands – most involving people – will be an outgrowth of these first commands. You never break commandments 3-10 unless you have first violated number one and two. Indeed, our lives flow out of our worship. We absolutely must disciple people and lead churches with this truth in mind.

Yet part of the litmus test of true worship is mission. Once we connect to God in worship we cannot help but receive his passion for a lost and suffering world. He gives us a new heart, and this new heart leads us into mission. People who worship God begin to care about what He cares about. We always embrace the interests of the people with whom we share our heart.

When we worship and engage in mission with other people, community is the natural result. We see this with soldiers in battle. Diverse men and women, who possibly would have never come together, become a band of brothers and sisters uniting around a mission. This is how God has wired us. And this is why we call people to realize that in a world where people are afflicted with loneliness, we do not encounter authentic community by looking for community; it is the result of encountering God and getting on mission – together. Don’t “go to church” looking for friends; go to church looking for God and mission, and you’ll always have friends. That’s why you can’t really “go” to church; you have to “be” the church.

And that is what makes Greenhouse tick. Only God can make things grow, but we provide an environment where he can work his wonders.

Grace FLUENCY

We are justified by grace through faith. And we are sanctified by grace through faith.

Perhaps the greatest theological contribution of the Protestant Reformation was the second of these two statements. And perhaps the greatest theological challenge of most believers is precisely this: although they believe that the grace of God is enough to justify, forgive, and pardon them, they functionally believe that future growth and progress will be the result of their hard work and striving. In other words, Jesus got this ball rolling, but I’ll have to take it from here.

Please don’t miss this, when we allow our sanctification(ongoing progress) to feed on our justification (finished work), we thrive. But when the opposite occurs, we base the stability of our justification on the instability of our sanctification, and we fall deeper into sin and despair. It was the unmerited favor and work of Jesus that saved us, and it is the unmerited favor and work of Jesus that grows us. This is why Paul said that all he talked about was Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Apparently, every word of wisdom and moral exhortation was directly tied back to the Gospel of grace.

This means the key to growing in the Kingdom is the same key to getting in the Kingdom: a life-altering encounter with the amazing grace of God. Good news! It is the good news (about what Jesus has done andis doing), not the good advice (about what we do) or the bad news (about what we have or have not done). Our teaching will clearly involve moral imperatives and instruction, yet it must find its roots in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, and the ongoing work of Jesus through His Spirit. Gospel freedom – not legalistic guilt – is the fuel for every call to obedience and mission.

Thus, we acknowledge that transformation is not the result of trying harder, but beholding more deeply the grace and person of Jesus. Just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, when the people gazed upon it, they were changed. When we gaze upon Christ and Him crucified, we are transformed.

We do recognize that the Gospel of grace is a challenge for non-first-century people to comprehend. Substitutionary atonement is a Jewish concept. Words like propitiation, adoption, and covenant require explanation. Yet we affirm these truths, and consider the effort to explain them well worth the energy.

We need to be fluent in life-altering thoughts like these. Jesus took my place (substitution) and covered me (atonement) by exhausting all the wrath against me (propitiation). He lived the life I should have lived, and died the death I should have died. He took what I deserve, and now I get what He deserves. I never have to wonder what I did to deserve this; Jesus took what I deserve. Therefore, I am His.

If we will lead people to know who they are, they will increasingly act out of that identity.

God-Seeking Fluency

Ministry for God without intimacy with God is a dead work. Mission to the world without a connection with the God who loves the world is a filthy rag. Anything of eternal consequence flows out of our relationship with Father. Far too much of the ministry being attempted today is deprived of the soul-morphing effect of an intimate encounter with God.

David said, “The intimate friendship of the Lord is reserved for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14) His response? “My eyes are ever towards the Lord.” (25:15) This fluency speaks to the need for intimacy with God.

This lack of intimacy is a fundamental problem for so many Christians in general and leaders in particular. It’s like a travel agent selling time shares for a property she’s never seen. Or a vegan waiter pushing meat loaf he’s never tasted. The pictures look good and the food smells great, but the experience is second-hand. Far too many believers are bored with their relationship with God. Like spiritual pornographers, they attend (and lead!) religious gatherings to watch other people encounter God, while they themselves are lifeless and dull, wearied by the “duties” associated with “serving” God.

Spiritual leaders must have first-hand experiences with God in order to lead people to have first-hand experiences with God. We intend to mobilize movements of people who will make the first commandment their first priority. We love God. And how does this manifest in the real world? We begin by seeking God.

Our eternal position changes the moment we reorient our trust from our righteousness to Jesus’. We change. We are born from above. But we still have an ongoing need for this same kind of reorientation at the practical level. This involves our activity, attention, and energy. The human soul is a fickle thing. Nothing short of direct abiding in Jesus and allowing His words to abide in us will do the trick.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

If we want to reflect our King, and represent our King, we must imitate our King. And before the sun had even risen, He would find a solitary place – a place to shut the door on distraction. To shut the door on temptation. To shut the door on all competitors for his attention. Because behind the shut door Father gets the monopoly. In fact, this is precisely how Jesus taught us to seek His face: go, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. (Matthew 6:6)

We challenge people to be extravagant in their devotion. We equip people to move from duty to delight. We expect every leader to spend the first fruit of their day in the Secret Place. We expect every pastor to commit two hours per day in the Secret Place. We call people to the place of encounter with God.

Scripture FLUENCY

The role of Scripture cannot be overstated. One of Jesus’ very definitions of a disciple points directly to his word: “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Disciples are people who abide in the Word of God. They prioritize hearing, reading, studying, meditating, memorizing, and applying the words of Scripture.

We affirm the Bible, including the 39 books of the Old Covenant and the 27 books of the New Covenant, as God’s written revelation to humanity. It is the indispensable and infallible record of God’s self-disclosure. The Bible is the authoritative and normative rule and guide for the Christian life, conduct, and doctrine. Greenhouse leaders are expected to rightly handle the word of truth.

At the concrete level, this means we encourage leaders, teachers, and students to be able to study Scripture with an inductive approach. We expect disciples to do faithful exegesis (what the Scriptures meant then and there) as well as hermeneutics

This begins with observation. Start with prayer. What is happening in this passage? Ask the who-what-when-where-how-why questions. Note key words, thoughts, etc.

Then move into interpretation. What does this passage mean? How does this line up with other scripture? Each book is to be studied diligently and handled faithfully, within both the immediate context and ultimate context. We are to always ask, what was the original human author’s intent in writing this?But then we recognize the invisible divine Author and ask, what is His intent in including this passage in Scripture? The idea is not to read our opinions and biases into the passage; what does the Holy Spirit mean?

Finally, we move into application. We recognize the danger of being “hearers only.” Therefore we approach the Scriptures with a heart to go deeply enough to put these words into practice. Jesus warned of the leaven of the “doctrine” of the Pharisees (Matt. 16:12). He would go on to claim that their preaching was right, but their practice was wrong (Matt. 23:3). According to Jesus, the doctrine that matters is the doctrine you actually put into practice. Hence, fueled by Gospel grace, with eyes for Jesus, every sermon, study, and teaching leads to response. We must always ask, what are we going to DO about this?

In the end, we call people to a Jesus-center. If we read the Bible, but fail to arrive at Jesus, we have engaged in vain religion. We remember that this faith is not just a belief in a book, but a living trust in a Person. Thus we read the Scriptures with eyes for Jesus. We embrace a Christo-centric, redemptive-historical approach to Scripture. The Bible is not a just book full of teachings with stories thrown in to illustrate the points. It is one glorious story of redemption, with teachings and principles thrown in to tell the story.

Spirit FLUENCY

Greenhouse leaders are expected to be both biblically grounded and practically experienced in the workings of the Spirit.

The prophets said the sign of the end times was legitimate but widespread Holy Spirit activity (Joel 2). Jesus promised His ongoing work would be through the Person of the Spirit. The early church made decisions with statements like, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28) Seemed? How could they make such a claim? Because, as Paul would say, they “kept in step” with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Paul would go so far as to say we “live by the Spirit.” While most Christians functionally minimize this to mean “living biblically”, the book of Acts presents a much richer experience.

And herein lies the fluency challenge: experience. Most cessationists (those who believe that the miraculous gifts and manifestations of the Spirit have ceased) argue that Spirit-filled believers base their theology on experience. While many do, the reality is that many cessationists base their theology on lack of experience. Thus, we begin with the Bible. We conclude that the gifts and power and presence and guidance of the Spirit is abundantly available in our day, and we draw this conclusion from Scripture. Not subjective and unbiblical mysticism. Every leader must be ready to teach and lead people in things of the Spirit. This will often mean asking good questions.

“Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2) These were Paul’s opening words upon meeting a new group of disciples in the city of Ephesus. If the Gospel of grace was his first priority, one could make a strong case for the reality of the Spirit as his second. Why was this so? Because, if you read the first 18 chapters of the book, you find a church that seemed obsessed with a very direct and constant relationship with God the Holy Spirit.

Positionally, we know that every believer has the Spirit living in them. Yet every believer is not always “filled” with and encountering the Spirit. There truly are experiences with God subsequent to salvation. It’s not that Jesus is not enough; it’s that we need to go all the way with the Jesus who is enough. We agree with Martin Lloyd Jones: “There is nothing, I am convinced, that so ‘quenches’ the Spirit as the teaching which identifies the baptism of the Holy Ghost with regeneration … Got it all? Well, if you have ‘got it all’, I simply ask in the Name of God, why are you as you are? If you have ‘got it all’, why are you so unlike the Apostles, why are you so unlike the New Testament Christians?”

Thus, we call our people to both understand the blessed reality of being eternally sealed with the Spirit, while being called to continually be filled with the Spirit. In practical terms we “ask for the Spirit” in prayer, “earnestly desire” spiritual gifts in our gatherings, and make room for such a reality. We then “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and “weigh what is said.” (1 Cor 14:29) 1 Corinthians 14 is a gold mine for biblical order.

Discipleship FLUENCY

We make disciples. Not religious services. Not song lists. Not interesting sermons. This is the Great Commission. On the day of judgment, we will stand before God and give an account for this command. Are we bringing disciples with us into eternity? It is beyond tragic that the average Christian has never “made” one disciple.

The church does not move forward without an intense commitment to discipleship. This was Jesus’ final command – to go and make disciples. There is no such thing as a discipleship formula, but the fundamental components Jesus gave us to make disciples can be summed up in these two mandates: baptizing them and teaching them to observe.(Matthew 28:19-20)

It is vital to understand that, according to Jesus, leading people to faith and going all in through baptism is one part of the discipleship process. He did not separate evangelism and discipleship, like most Christians do today. That said, we will discuss evangelism in a fluency all its own. You might say that discipleship requires two types of immersion; the first is in water. But the second is in one another’s lives.

Discipleship requires face time, real relationships, and life lived together. We need leaders who are living lives worth imitating and who then allow others to live life with them in a way that affords them opportunities to imitate what they see. “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ) This is the crux of teaching them to obey, because the doctrine that matters is the doctrine you do. It takes a doer of the Word to reproduce a doer of the Word. We are not looking for Bible trivia, but lives centered on and transformed by the Word and Spirit of God… and the best way to have that take place is to first see that lived out by others. Intimate imitation is key to cultivating a culture of disciples who make disciples.

Yet the Word is key. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31) Disciple makers are shooting for Word-abiding. Accountability to train is absolutely vital: reading, study, memorization, preaching, meditation are all pivotal ingredients.For concrete ideas on discipling people check out Key Elements of a Discipleship Model below.

We also recognize biblical stages of faith and expect leaders to develop a fluency in identifying a disciple’s level of maturity. 1 John seems to indicate that people progress from being “little children” to “young men” and finally “grown men”.

Multiplication FLUENCY

As leaders, multiplication must be at the core of everything we do; discipleship, apprenticeship, microchurch, macrochurch, teaching, family life, etc. The entire movement stops if our leaders do not understand, fully embrace, and live out this call to multiply themselves at every level. We are not spiritual mules; we take seriously the call to be fruitful and multiply and expect our leaders to give themselves to this endeavor.

Part of multiplication is the result of simply being. Like reproduces like. Fire will not produce ice, and distracted Christians will not produce focused disciples. Thus we need to live a life that is truly worth following since so much of what we reproduce will be done accidentally. God will not be mocked, a man will reap what he sows. If we sow seeds in prayer and generosity, for example, we will reap a harvest of prayer and generosity.

Once we live a life worth following, we must embrace the with-factor. People must be invited to be WITH us to varying degrees. Much of our discipleship is the result of people being consistently exposed to the intangibles of our lives. Herein lies the fluency challenge. Most Christian ministry seems to expect multiplication to be the result of good, solid Bible teaching. Indeed the apostle Paul included this in his approach with Timothy: “You, however, have followed my teaching…” But notice that he did not stop there: and also “my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me…” (2 Timothy 3:10-11) Timothy got to see how Paul responded to victory, or defeat, or infirmity. He was able to observe what would thrill the soul of Paul. He got to hear him pray and watch him wait.

Sages have pointed out that we can teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are. Yet this only happens if we become intentional. Thus, we must invite people into our lives and cast a vision of multiplication. Multiplication is the result of an intentional pursuit to reproduce yourself as a leader, even desiring your apprentice to do greater works than you. Sounds like Jesus.

In microchurches this starts from Day 1. If there is not a vision for multiplication from the very beginning, then it will not happen. Leaders need to have 2 Timothy 2:2 eyes to see spiritual giftings, leadership potential, and disciple-making ability in everyone around him/her. We do not want one-generation leaders; we want exponential disciple-makers who are looking to leave lasting discipleship legacies that continue from generation to generation.

Leaders need to own discipleship and see it in others. But it cannot stop with the person in front of you; exponential leaders look and see multiple generations of disciples coming from a single person and do what it takes to make that a reality.

Microchurch FLUENCY

Taking our cue from the early church, we embrace a both/and approach to Church. In the book of Acts we encounter a community of disciples who met together in boththe large group gathering (e.g. “in the temple”) andin the small group gathering (“from house to house”). “Church” was both organized and scheduled as well as fluid and spontaneous. It was not limited to weekends in a building. Discipleship was not limited to once a week in a home. These happened every time believers came together in the name and power of Jesus. It is vital to recognize that these first believers gathered constantly and made use of any and every environment to do so.

While we have been heavily influenced by the house church and organic church movements, we do not share their disregard for the large-group gathering. Thus, we utilize large groups to bring the apostle’s teaching, clarify vision, stir faith, build culture, worship passionately, tell our stories, etc. Yet we recognize that there are so many parts of discipleship that will never occur within the macrochurch alone. We need the microchurch expression.

Microchurches are where we gather intimately and equip more specifically to do the work of the ministry and “be” Church. Microchurches are where people are personally pastored. There are many gifts that do not have as much place in a macrochurch gathering, but are vital and essential for the church to be fully expressed in a microchurch setting. There are many prayers to be prayed, specific needs to be met, burdens to be carried, questions to be asked, and homes to be opened – all of which require the microchurch expression.

One of the stunning teachings of the New Testament is found in Ephesians four. Paul claims that the Church will build itself up in love when every part contributes. The context is explicit (and subversive to modern readers) as it specifically refers to five gifts or roles to be played: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. It is our experience that when a microchurch has each of these roles represented, that becomes a healthy group. Greenhouse leaders need to be fluent and competent in looking for, identifying, and releasing for ministry each of these gifts.

From a leadership standpoint, we have to be honest: not everyone is called to lead to 50, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 people. But there are many followers of Jesus who are called to lead smaller expressions of 5, 10, or 30. Our brothers and sisters in the Chinese and South Korean churches have tapped into this truth, as they have seen hundreds of thousands of microchurch expressions multiply and flourish in the past century.

We do not consider our “Church” to simply be a gathering of individuals. Greenhouse is a family of microchurches.

Evangelism FLUENCY

Taking our cue from the early church, we embrace a both/and approach to Church. In the book of Acts we encounter a community of disciples who met together in boththe large group gathering (e.g. “in the temple”) andin the small group gathering (“from house to house”). “Church” was both organized and scheduled as well as fluid and spontaneous. It was not limited to weekends in a building. Discipleship was not limited to once a week in a home. These happened every time believers came together in the name and power of Jesus. It is vital to recognize that these first believers gathered constantly and made use of any and every environment to do so.

While we have been heavily influenced by the house church and organic church movements, we do not share their disregard for the large-group gathering. Thus, we utilize large groups to bring the apostle’s teaching, clarify vision, stir faith, build culture, worship passionately, tell our stories, etc. Yet we recognize that there are so many parts of discipleship that will never occur within the macrochurch alone. We need the microchurch expression.

Microchurches are where we gather intimately and equip more specifically to do the work of the ministry and “be” Church. Microchurches are where people are personally pastored. There are many gifts that do not have as much place in a macrochurch gathering, but are vital and essential for the church to be fully expressed in a microchurch setting. There are many prayers to be prayed, specific needs to be met, burdens to be carried, questions to be asked, and homes to be opened – all of which require the microchurch expression.

One of the stunning teachings of the New Testament is found in Ephesians four. Paul claims that the Church will build itself up in love when every part contributes. The context is explicit (and subversive to modern readers) as it specifically refers to five gifts or roles to be played: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. It is our experience that when a microchurch has each of these roles represented, that becomes a healthy group. Greenhouse leaders need to be fluent and competent in looking for, identifying, and releasing for ministry each of these gifts.

From a leadership standpoint, we have to be honest: not everyone is called to lead to 50, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 people. But there are many followers of Jesus who are called to lead smaller expressions of 5, 10, or 30. Our brothers and sisters in the Chinese and South Korean churches have tapped into this truth, as they have seen hundreds of thousands of microchurch expressions multiply and flourish in the past century.

We do not consider our “Church” to simply be a gathering of individuals. Greenhouse is a family of microchurches.

Diversity FLUENCY

Leaders must become fluent in working toward the vision of a diverse, integrated and interdependent church. Jesus’ mandate goes like this: on earth as it is in heaven. What is it like in heaven? “Worthy are You … for You were slain, by Your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign…” (Rev. 5:9-10) Different tribes. Varied languages. Diverse peoples.

Diversity is not easy. It is not natural. But it is absolutely glorious when it occurs. Jesus goes so far as to pray, “that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” (John 17:21) There is a direct correlation between our fluency in unity and our mission to this world.

Here is the fluency challenge: Part of “the world” system is a gravitational pull toward homogeneity(sameness). While we are in the world, we are not of the world. Social scientists tell us that we tend to like people who are like us. We are naturally attracted to people with similar attitudes, customs, backgrounds, and preferences. Churches are particularly prone to becoming gatherings of people who do little more than reinforce our personal status quo. And yet the Church is God’s challenge the status quo.

Because we have been given the ministry of reconciliation, we are to regularly communicate the call to build churches and microchurches of unity in diversity. We recognize and verbalize the truth that the “kingdom” presented in Scripture is made up of a very diverse group. Multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-generational. The greater the diversity, the greater the ability to manifest this kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It is like a sign and a wonder in the hands of God. It is also a tool through which God reveals parts of His kingdom that do not manifest through one culture or perspective by itself.

We acknowledge that there is a 100% chance that we will be offensive, and we will be offended. We expect it, and choose this path anyway.

This fluency requires great wisdom. We do not call people to cease being who they are. We do not command people to give up their culture to be like another earthly culture; we call them to submit their culture to the kingdom of Jesus. We resist the temptation to lean politically left or right, understanding that each perspective comes with both insights and blind spots. We admit the temptation to believe that “they” are all the same, but “we” are unique. We recognize that all dark people, light people, eastern people, western people, old people, young people do not think the same. We cannot approximate their viewpoint. There is a diversity and fullness even among culturally similar people. We think through preferences (like music). We think carefully about the sensitivity of our language. And we prepare to repent regularly.

Ultimately we realize the temptation to exaggerate our differences and ignore our commonalities. And here is our supreme commonality: Jesus. We adore and seek and experience Jesus. Together.

Humility & Leadership FLUENCY

It’s not enough to be good; we need to be wise. It’s not enough to seek God; we need to mobilize people to seek God. It’s not enough to do the works of the ministry; we need to equip the saints to do the work of ministry. This requires leadership.

Max DePree describes it well. The first job of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. And in between the two the leader becomes a servant.

Defining reality requires vision. What is vision? Bill Hybels describes it as a picture of the future that produces passion. Martin Luther King described a future where children of different races would run around and play together as equals. JFK spoke of a future when humans would walk on the moon. While leaders come in many shapes, sizes, and personalities, what the great ones have in common is this: they define reality.

For the Greenhouse leader, vision is not just about what couldbe; it is a matter of what shouldbe. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” This is huge, because without direction, people lose heart. But not just any direction will do. We recognize the “prophetic” nature of the vision required. We take our cues from God. What has He said in His Word? What is He sayingthrough His Spirit?

Once the vision is clear, it must be communicated. And then re-communicated. Because we are all like sheep; we go astray. Vision leaks. Our leaders are to set priorities, clarify direction, and hold us accountable to live up to our vision, purpose, and values, as they are also accountable. As the vision becomes reality, it is then the job of a leader to speak like Jesus: Well done. “Thank you.” The leader is to encourage, inspire, and connect the dots back to the church’s efforts and the vision presented.

This is a serious call. Leaders and teachers will receive a stricter judgment, which is why we are very committed to “knowing those who labor among us.”

“Leadership, as understood in modern western popular culture, is not reflected with any real definition in the New Testament; it is not a New Testament word. There are clearly leaders who function as prophets, apostles, teachers, deacons, elders, etc., but none who fit the present-day secular model marked by a combination of individualism, self-dependence, task-orientation, supposed objectivity and personal ambition. We have therefore a significant problem. How can we develop leaders who are going to be rooted in biblical revelation unphased by the requirements of popular western culture?” (Viv Thomas) It’s all about following the example of the servant King Himself. Humility.

We are not running a business; we are servants – toilet cleaners – in the Lord’s church. We are tired of watching people enter church leadership full of passion and humility, only to come out standardized and prideful. Jesus was so different. Oh, He had power, but He only used it to serve. Never to strut. Never to boast. Never for personal gain. If you are considering leadership in Greenhouse you are not being invited to a place of power, you are being invited to be crucified with Christ and serve. What an honor.

Missions-Generosity FLUENCY

We are a movement of generosity.

Therefore every microchurch and local church should adopt an open-handed extravagance approach from day one. We recognize the subversive nature of extravagant generosity in a culture of greed. The average American church member gives 2.58% of their income. Once it makes it into the hands of churches, only about 2% makes it to missions and poor. That means Christians are only giving about two percent of two percent.

Our goal is for 50% of our funds to go to missions and the poor. This requires faith.

But we are also a movement of wisdom. We give first, save second, and spend third. We avoid debt, and do not spend the money we do not have. We are willing to wait for the provision of the Lord, and lead our churches to learn how to function in times of plenty or times of less.

When choosing how to give and where to partner, good intentions are not enough. We recognize that it is possible to have good intentions about helping people, relieving the afflicted, sending out missionaries – but if it is not done in wisdom – we harm the very people we want to help. What does this missional wisdom look like?

We begin by praying through and identifying the actual needs of an individual or community before moving into the realm of helping. A misdiagnosis of the problems related to poverty or brokenness results in remedies that are ineffectual and sometimes even harmful.

Next, we strive to partner withpeople, and notdo for them what they are capable of doing for themselves. This avoids the danger of creating dependence and exacerbating feelings of inadequacy and shame to those in need.

Finally, we embrace a holistic approach to missions. Justice without Jesus is never true liberation. We desire to reach out to the whole person, meeting both spiritual and physical needs, and then connect that person to the local church so they can continue to grow as a disciple.

Here are the questions we ask in identifying the ministry we undertake and with whom we partner (each of these is explained with more detail in the appendix):

· Does this “remember the poor”?
· Does this reach the lesser reached and unreached?
· Does this include indigenous partnership?
· Is this work sustainable and reproducible?
· Is this ministry prayer saturated?

Wholeness FLUENCY

We long for people to be whole, in spirit, soul, and body.

Central to wholeness is a passion for integrity. We are to recognize the pitfalls of spiritual leadership. Leaders are particularly vulnerable to pride. This is why we are reminded not to place people into leadership too quickly. It is extremely possible to be more gifted than godly – and this is a dangerous reality. We are to remember the long list of gifted men and women who possessed great ability with faulty character. Their ministries came tumbling down.

Hence, we call for leaders who are greater on the inside than on the outside. We take our cue from the apostle Paul: “Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Because a leader’s strengths will automatically be on public display, it requires intentionality to honestly communicate weakness and vulnerability. This demands courage and inner strength to help foster a culture where people can come just as they are, without being judged.

Authenticity, however, is not enough. Jesus did not come to make us real; He came to save His people from their sin.

Wholeness also demands holiness. We must be fluent in dealing with darkness in biblically effective ways. We will not gloss over the seriousness of sin or the constant temptation to religious pride. This means we deal with both legalistic self-righteousness and lawless unrighteousness. This means we look at fruits, but we deal with roots. We follow the fruit trail to the bottom of a pile where we find our idols. We ask questions about our sin: Why are we lying? Why are we giving into sexual immorality? Why do we overwork for money? We recognize that all sin problems are worship problems, as we set up some functional lord and savior instead of the true Lord and Savior Jesus.

Wholeness also demands freedom. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Scripture presents a description of our problems that go beyond mere sin struggles. There are bondages to overcome. The Lord’s prayer teaches us to pray for deliverance from the evil one. Demons cannot “possess” a child of God, but a child of God can surely have demonic problems in need of freedom. And the Gospel is good news for those in need of liberty. Disciples are to recognize the sobering reality that, until the Lord returns, we have a spiritual battle on our hands. Demons are like rats; sin and soul darkness are like trash. Thus, disciples must be alert and competent to regularly “take out the trash” as well as “dealing with the rats.”

Thus, leaders must live lives of wholeness, and then be able to effectively lead others to do the same. Ongoing wholeness will ultimately be the result of beholding and abiding in Jesus (see Morphin the appendix).