Tuesday, September 30, 2003

matrix revolutions...11.05 cool.

Monday, September 29, 2003

A Church with No Name

Written by Spencer Burke

Tuesday September 23, 2003

For years, I’ve tried to put my finger on it—the reasons why I left the professional pastorate. And you know, more than anything, I think it’s this: I lost my first love.

The reality is that much of what we call ministry today is really administration. It’s about adding things—programs and strategies and rules. In my 22 years as a pastor, I often administered more than I ministered, if that makes sense. I’ve come to see that I was an add-minister more than a minister.

Even worse, I now recognize much of what I did in those years was actually about me—what I needed to do to feel safe and secure. It was about my needs more than the needs of the community.

Nevertheless, it seems I’m a pastor again. My friend Matt, and his wife, Krista are pastors as well. And so is my wife and my five-year-old son, Alden. Yup, we’re all pastors at Church.

No, really. That’s what it’s called: Church. Not First Presbyterian. Not Solomon’s Porch or Scum of the Earth or some other cool postmodern name. It’s just called Church—and it meets well, whenever and wherever we decide to meet. Last week it was the park; next week, it might be the beach.

It’s pretty wild, isn’t it? I mean, who would have thought I’d be starting a church with just one other couple and no budget? Who does that? Who says, “Hey, wanna start a church on Thursday?” and believes God could be in it?

Former add-ministers trying to unpackage ministry, I guess. I really don’t know how else to explain it. All I can say is that Lisa and I feel like it’s time. Time to try again. Time to start living out some of the ideas we’ve been talking about for years. Time to move away from the institutional church and toward a new kind of kingdom community—one where the voice of a homeless man is just as valid as the guy with the seminary degree.

As far as program goes, we don’t have one and you know what? I’m okay with that—well, not really, but I’m trying. Although some would say we’re taking the easy way out—planting a church overnight with no set plan—I’m actually finding it extremely difficult. I mean, where I come from, planting a church means months—if not years—of planning, 50 families and at least $25,000 in start-up money. At the very least, it means filing a 501C3 and declaring yourself an official religious organization. And yet, we have none of those things. In fact, we’re breaking pretty much every conventional church-planting rule I know. Why? Because we want to be ministers of the gospel, not “add-ministers.” We want to be of service, not just a service (i.e. Sunday event). But I’d be lying if I said it was easy to let go of the program; it’s not.

It’s funny, the other night we talked about giving. Would we take up an offering? Would we have a church bank account? In the end, we decided against these things and instead, determined that we would all just give to people when we saw needs. So a few days ago my son was out playing and decided to give away the five coins that were rattling around in his pocket. He saw a need, I guess. He literally gave his offering to another kid. He didn’t make stewardship the responsibility of the church administrator or some committee; he just did it.

A week ago we got some food and headed over to a nearby park where a lot of homeless people hang out. Over the next few hours we just talked with people. It was an amazing time. We got to meet Joe, a 50-year-old man who is a jewelry designer by trade. He showed us a beautiful Celtic design he’d done using the letters of the word “Jesus.”

Did I know Joe was going to be there? Nope. Did I ask him to “give the sermon”? Nope. That’s what was so wonderful about it. We just enjoyed being with each other in this organic, earthy way.

Ironically, even though I love this new idea of church, there’s a part of me that still wants to reign it in and box it up in a manageable form. It’s really weird being a no-name church. “But how will people find us?” I asked. “Well, they’ll find us as God leads, I guess,” came the reply. Hmmm. You mean we don’t need a marketing plan? We don’t need a vision statement and a mission statement and a formal discipleship program? What about an events calendar and a regular day to meet—surely we need those things?

It’s funny the stuff I’ve worried about in making this switch. What, for instance, will my biography say when I do speaking engagements? Spencer Burke, Creator of TheOoze and co-founder of Church? No, wait, not Church Inc., just church—with a small c.

I’ve worried about my children. What will happen to them without the safety of an administered Sunday School program. And yet, time and again, they’re wowing me with their grasp of the gospel and their ability to understand the heart and soul of Jesus. Will they miss flannelgraphs? Maybe. Only time will tell I guess.

You know, I’m not sure where this is all leading. All I know is that my story has taken a new turn. I’ve joined the 90% of the church around the world that doesn’t have a paid pastor or a building, but instead, meets in homes, under trees and yes, on California’s beaches.

I’ll keep you posted,


Spencer has also written a book, Making Sense of Church, which is now shipping. Get your limited edition, signed copy sent to you today, and help support theOOZE. FIND OUT MORE

If you want to meet up with others in your area and continue the conversation, then join theOOZE's IndieAllies MeetUp groups. FIND OUT MORE

soulhouse..i've given up on programs and all this "stuff" i've tried to do for so long,
i'm praying we can just be Jesus to the world...i don't have all the answers yet..
but something in this article frees my spirit... :OD the beauty of simplicity..i truly
believe God is going to change what we think is "church" in the next few decades
in north america..i'm just praying hard for the revolution...set your church free
here Lord in America..oh God set us free...although I'm not advocating everything
in the above article, I do believe the concept of "simplicity" needs to be restored
to the church, but we must never compromise in our vision to bring the multitudes
into a relationship with Christ....

today i am at the end of myself. I tried an ALPHA "program" at the university i'm
ministering at and yeah..it didnt work. It's almost hilarious when I think about
all the "good ideas" we christians seem to have the Lord. We pray, fast, plan,
work hard to do something great for God and realize God was never in it from
the first place. God is pounding into my thick skull for the one millionth time, "Jaeson
all i want you to do is sit at my feet and listen to my words" but my flesh is always
telling me, "no no ..jaeson you gotta do something..you can't just sit on your butt
all day long and spend time in God's presence!" so i listen to my flesh and get
a grand idea for God and venture out to conquer the world for Jesus. When it
doesn't go as expected I come back to God complaining.."why didn't you bless
what I did for you?" God responds with something like.."Jaeson I never told you
to do that in the first place." Oh!

So what am i learning today? I'm learning church is more than a program, church
is more than me coming up w/ a grand vision and mission statement, church is
more than something i can get my identity from, where i can tell others "praise
the Lord 1000 new members were added to "my" church this month..good God
that is sick! Church is not some kind of platform for my success, for me to write a
best selling Christian book on my "method" of church, church is not about postmodernism,
modernism or any other isms...church is an organism, church is Jesus Christ, church
is people loving one another and loving God and loving people who need love, its not
a service, its not an alpha program, its not a model, its not a philosophy, its something
i don't know yet, but geez wiz..all i know is that the way i've been trying to do church
isn't quite "church" and frankly it gets frustrating. So guess what? Today Jaeson ma
gives up on his way of doing church. and i'm pretty much planning on planning to do
nothing but worshp Jesus today, maybe hang out w/ some other friends who love
Jesus and ask them, hrm..what do you think God might want us to do today? maybe
we should go hang out at the local high school and chill w/ those vietnamese gangs,
shoot some pool with them, hang out in their hood, love on em, befriend them, and
if Jesus comes up in our conversations then woohooooo! if He doesn't we'll just keep
loving on em anyways..or maybe God will tell me to get up on a soap box and preach
my little heart out on the corner by san jose state university, I don't know. That's pretty
much where I am at right now. I don't know. I just know church is made to be alot more simpler
and not as complex as we westerners make it out to be. But what about programs,
what about seminary, what about discipleship training, what about what about? geez..
can't we trust Jesus and don't we realize "discipleship happens in the most natural
of circumstances?" hehe..i know maybe i'll just drop the program were doing at the
university and tell my 15 guys and gals..lets just "hang" n' maybe God will show up
and teach us how to "love" ...i know i probably sound heretical our out of my mind,
but darn it this is truly how i feel right now. Jesus teach me and show me what is
the true meaning of church and teach me to follow You because i really do love You!

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Singapore....what a trip!!!!

What can I say but thank you Lord for bringing me across
the Pacific ocean to have a life changing experience!!!

How can I sum up this mission trip? It was "strategically divine"
and "for such a time as this." God pulled all the missing pieces
of the puzzle together and inspired me beyond words.

In summary, "I met MORPHEUS" of church planting. Haha..actually
I met w/ the main strategic coordinator who is currently overseeing
400 church planting movements all over the world. Each of these
"CPM" have a network of a quarter million to a few million believers
in each movement. The underground church is exploding worldwide
and I literally was able to see actual reports from missionaries in
the 10-40 window who are winning and discipling souls by the thousands
each month!!! God is so good, I mean He lays this conviction in me
that He is about to birth a new revolution of small group churches among
youth in America, just as I think I'm out of my mind, God brings me halfway
around the world to Singapore to meet w/ the top guru of church planting
in the world right now! We met for over 5 hours and he answered all
my hard questions and downloaded on me every book, training manual,
cd rom files, etc of everything I'll need as far as content in my endeavor
to start a CPM among young adults in Silicon Valley. Thank you Lord!
He believes it is aboslutely possible to start a rapid reproducing CPM
in North America among young people, but no one has yet to be successful.
All these CPM are exploding w/ "house churches" which are basically
"relationship based" churches & these kinds of churches will make total
sense for our relationship based "GEN X & Y" young adults in America!!!
With proper discipleship, equipping and releasing we'll see teenagers
and college students pastoring small congregations of punk rock, hip hop,
skater, nerd, exteme sports, engineer types..watever churches all over!!!

Most people won't understand it, but he told me the established church didn't understand
Hudson Taylor, William Carey, Bill Bright, Loren Cunningham, CT Studd neither!!
All these great church heroes started missionary movements in their 20's...
I pray to God He would birth another student volunteer missionary movement
that will surpass every movement of the pass to bring the final and greatest
harvest. The goal is "world evangelization in this generation!" This was the missing
key to the vision I had "missions" ...now the end goal of the vision must be
to start a relationship based church planting movement in the Bay Area that
will ultimately send out young missionaries to every unreached people group
left on earth till kingdom come!!! amen amen amen.

I can't write all the incredible people and revelations the Lord
gave me, but I can share a few things I saw and learned.
YOUTH CHURCH ON FIRE IS POSSIBLE!!!! I went the first night to a church
called "City Harvest" the place was "explosive" of the 15,000 member
church about 2/3 of the members are teenagers and young adults!
Literally, every person in the auditorium was "on fire" and passionate
for God. Can you believe..80% of the church tithes, 80% are active
in cell groups & ministry, and 2/3 of the church are first time converts?
There were 5,6,7 year olds praying and interceding in tongues!!!!
After going to this church I realized an MTV generation could be won
for Christ and set on fire for His purposes to reach the ends of the earth!!!
I got to meet w/ the youth pastors of the church and they shared w/
me the story of how their Pastor Kong Hee only started w/ like 15 teenagers
in their living room and how God grew them to be one of the "strongest"
churches in all of ASIA. I saw a church w/out walls where youth were
ministering to the disenfranchised and outcast of society (the blind, mute, elderly etc.)
Their principle "love God wholeheartedly, love people fervently." If you put
"soul winning" at the forefront and end goal of all you do, God will surely
bless all you put your hands to. My desire now is to see this same "DNA"
of "on fire" ~ passionate and equipped youth to rise up in North America
and be sent to save souls in every nation where there are unreached people groups.

Another note, Singaporeans are "systematic geniuses" ..it is an engineered society
(reminded me of Silicon Valley but w/ alot more Asian people)
and God led me to Pastor Hee Guan and Jeffey Lee from FCBC one of the largest
churches in Singapore. FCBC was one of the first pioneer churches to perfect the cell
based church in the world. They now are moving into the "G12" model and can you
believe they gave me a free 10 hour ministry consultation going over my 33 page
ministry plan in detail??? Dude..I was able to receive advice and sharpen the chruch
planting strategy I wrote to a new level of "efficiency and effectiveness." I'm telling
you these Singaporeans are absolutely "excellent" in all that they do. So much so,
its almost scary!!!!

I visited and met w/ so many churches and missions organizations I barely had time
to breathe and sleep! But it was totally worth it and did I mention how CRAZY HUMID
it is in Singapore??? Man, I thought I was going to melt and turn into a cup of sweat!
It is pretty darn clean, praise God English is the first language and GOOD GOD THE
FOOD IS OFF DA HOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!!!! I think I gained a few pounds & I must
have eaten like 5 times a day!!! Man, they had like these little cafeteria places on
every corner and there were like a million different kinds of "little dishes" for super
cheap and super filling. Eating in Singapore is like a straight up sport...hrmm...I
actually have a list of foods I tried....hehe...

Available : at most Hawker Centres/Food Courts/ HDB Coffee Shops:
1) Singapore Popian - the white skin type
2) Singapore Satay - Chicken, beef
3) Hainanese Chicken Rice
4) Desert: Tofu bean curb (pubbing)
5) Cold Desert: Chentol, Ice Kachang, Ice Jelly
6) Fried Kway Teow
7) Yong Tow Foo
8) Nasi Brayani
9) Rojak
10) Laksa - spicy but you can skip the additional chilly paste
11) Mushroom and minced meat noodles
12) Carrot Cake - there is 2 versions. Try the one with dark sauce too
13) Roti Pata
14) Killiney Kopitiam - Kaya French Toast, Nasi Lemak, Teh-si or
ask for lime juice -
15) Marche
16) Hi -Tea -
17) Steam boat -
18) Chilly Crab
19) "Carrot Cake WAS MY FAVORITE!!!!"

Places and people I visited: YWAM (Regina & Roland), New Creation (Pastor Lawrence)
Community of Praise Baptist Church (Pastor Mike and Mark), City Harvest (Pastor Zhuang, Robin, Aires)
Faith Community Baptist Church (Pastor Jeffrey Lee & Hee Guan), Full Gospel Business Men (Mr. Khoo Theam),
Trinity Christian Center (Pastor Dominic, Gerald, Dennis), Victory Family Center (Jeremy Seaward),
Joshua 21 Movement (Lai and Bee Ling), Hiding Place, Wesley Methodist (Sandy Wong), Cainhill Methodist
(Pastor Dennis and Kathleen), National University Singapore (Professor Robbie Goh), Prophet Jedidiah Tham,
International Missions Board Directors (Bill & Susan Smith), YFC Singapore, and a bunch of cool people like Orchid, Steve, Angela, Angie, Lawrence, Tahir, Shelly, geeez wiz...too many cool peeps!!!!!

Ok, so if I stated every revelation the Lord downloaded on me this would be an entire book!
But, I did get to hear Loren Cunningham the founder of YWAM speak twice, sat behind him,
and he even prayed for me!! Wow, if God could use me even a quarter of how He's used
Loren that would be AMAZING!!!! I got to speak at many different churches, cells and places.
One in particular was "Wesley Methodist Youth Service" there were hundreds of teenagers
and the Holy Spirit told me to challenge them to "take a risk" and "give up everything" to
follow Jesus and to GO to the mission field!!! In this rather conservative church...practically
3/4 of all the youth from every service came wholeheartedly to the altar in tears and surrender
to God's abosolute call on their lives!! PRAISE GOD!!!

The Lord challenged me to believe for another missionary methodist movement to be birthed
out of Singapore starting with them. I was stirred after the Lord had me stay up till 3am
watching this popular Singaporean movie "I NOT STUPID" which gave me insight on
the struggle and bondage Singaporean youth are facing. Actually, they are very similar
to "asian american youth" in the states. The parents put high performance expectations
on them to get good grades, compete for the best universities, get a secure and successful
job, conform to their wishes and basically "taking a risk" and "following your heart" is
taboo. Sad, very sad. I cried seriously like a baby when watching that movie. Watching 3
gifted and destined youth determined as stupid because they didn't fair well in math and english..
but were ignored of their true talents in art, creativity and leadership. My prayer is every
Singaporean and Asian American youth would be set free to follow their passion and dreams
for God. To dare to believe, not fear their parents or society, but obey the call of God on their life!

Interestingly, in Singapore the Lord showed me this technological, intellectual, lucrative resource,
city state was called to be the "ANTIOCH OF ASIA." Every nation is represented there, churches
are everywhere in abundance and the wealth of christian heritage has given maturity to the
believers there which I believe strongly these believers are to be sent out to all the UPG's of Asia.
Of course every believer is called to the nations, but Singapore is such a unique favored little country.
Its a small place, that will have a BIG impact! The Holy Spirit kept speaking to me every place
I visited my heart is missions missions missions for these young people!

The first night I visited City Harvest and I witnessed an auditorium electrified w/ 2000 something
young people worshipping with all their hearts, jumping and praying in the spirit w/ fervency!!!
But surprisingly as I worshipped the Holy Spirit stopped me, pained my heart and told me,
"My desire is not for this youth army to be worshipping in this house, but my desire is that they
would be worshipping in the nations!" I thought that was odd, but right after the guest speaker
Ulf Eckman gave an entire message on how City Harvest is to no longer be a faith church but a
MISSIONS CHURCH!!!! I had no clue he was going to give that message. That night the spirit
or repentance and destiny fell on the congregation and the lead pastor Kong Hee told the crowd..
tongiht is a historical moment, for finally God is changing us from a faith church, a growing church,
to a MISSIONS CHURCH HALELUJAH!!!! Everywhere else I went I saw God moving the hearts
of pastors and young people to focus on missions! The night before I left they had over 100
youth groups digitally synched on video conference at four locations for a movment they call
"JOSHUA 21" which is calling Singaporean youth to worldwide missions in all of ASIA! Can you
believe there were four different locations with thousands of youth taking up the call
to be sent out to be a part of 100 youth missionary teams in December to UPG's in Southeast
Asia? Truly, Singapore is stepping into its mission destiny at this "kairos" moment and what
a blessing I had to see the release of it.

Honestly, the bigger picture of why God brought me to Singapore will not be known until
time tells. I was not only encouraged, inspired, given strategic vision, but more so I've
come back feeling more at peace and in the will of God then ever before in my life. I know
God has not called me to build a great mega church like City Harvest or FCBC, but I did
pick up the "heart" of passion, excellence and faithfulness to bring back to the youth
movement in America. I mean just finally witnessing and experiencing "cell groups"
led by on fire youth with hands raised, testifiying of God's goodness, praying in tongues
w/ fervency for the lost and kneeling to God in submission in a "living room" brought
the intellectual systematic theories, practically down to my heart. I was awe struck and blessed.
If God can set youth on fire there (1st world MTV society), He can do it anywhere!

I am totally inspired and focused to develop an equipping and discipleship program to
train young people to plant churches starting in the Bay Area, the nation, and finally
the nations. They were so about "discipleship" in Singapore, not pizza parties, movie nights,
and beach outings. God didn't send His Son so we could have programs, He sent Christ
to die so disciples would be made to save a lost and dying world w/ the Gospel. I mean,
fun is proper at times, but it shouldn't be the majority of focus...its like in the US we have
so much "fellowship fellowship fellowship" but its like were not willing to do the hard
and necessary work of "discipleship" to be a neverending learner growing into the image
of Christ. This must no longer be the norm, God is raising up a new breed of radicals..
sold out and given to His purposes. Willing and passionate to suffer and do all it takes
to be equipped to love the lost. I must have spent like $500 US just buying all the sermon
tapes, discipleship materials etc..from City Harvest and other churches. Why?
Because you have to continually feed your spirit man, or else without receiving more revelation
you will not be able to release the necessary revelation to feed the hungry sheep. The more
you have, the more you will be able to give. Never stop being a learner!

okay...hmm..Wesley Methodist seriously asked me to consider coming to live in Singapore
for 2 years to work w/ their youth and train for my future call to be a missionary in China.
Geeez...... I don't know. I'll have to really pray about that one. But, hey I'm down to go
whereever God calls me to go. My home is in Him, not a place.

Oh yeah...I've never seen hundreds of young people line up or "Q" up to go to a church
service an hour b4 at a mall?? It was crazzzzzzzzzy..I can show you pictures!!! okok...
so i lied, this report is not short..but loooooooooooong as Jaeson usual...me talk way
too much. but all glory and praise to God for my small but BIG MOUTH! Hey..as long
as He can use these chipmunk cheeks for the Gospel..so let it be! Well see ya Singapore..
not really... I'm invited to go back to speak at a Dec camp and some other churches
this year and next...I hope i get to ride on SINGAPORE AIRLINES again :OP I'll put up
the link to all my 8 rolls of pictures l8ter sk8ter...GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL HIS GOODNESS!!!
now comes the next phase...implementing all i learned back home in good ol' Silicon Valley!!

ps..come out to San Jose State University this Monday night (9/15) at 5:30pm @ Pacifica Room
Student Union 3rd level. Soul House will be giving a 10 week course on

"What's the Meaning of Life"

a discussion on Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. Bring all your seeking friends and
get FREE DINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Or join our 24 hour prayer walk
of the campus this Sunday from 4pm till Monday 4pm...REVIVAL IS COMING! REVIVAL IS HERE!!!
yea yea yea baby bubba ;oP

Monday, September 08, 2003

back from singapore :OD jet laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag ;oP