Monday, January 31, 2011


The presence-driven church may encompass some or all of the above paradigms. However, God's presence precedes and permeates all other models of church growth. Without His presence, church growth is simply a menagerie of methodologies doomed to temporality. A method may work for the moment, but shouldn't our desire be to do only that which has eternal impact?
Radical? Absolutely! It's time we return to our roots. Church growth is rooted in what God does rather than what we devise. Too often we are so busy with good ideas on how to get people through the door that God's ideas get lost in the shuffle.
Going back to our roots in Scripture, being presence-driven literally derives from Ephesians 5:18, where Paul instructs us to "be filled with the Spirit" (NKJV). The filling referred to here projects the image of a sail being filled with the wind (the ruwach, or wind, of God). The breath of God's Spirit must fill the church, empowering it to move forward into God's destiny.
God's Spirit births every movement of the church. Without being Spirit- or presence-driven, the church sits listlessly in time, like a sailboat going nowhere in a calm sea. We can use our paradigm as paddles and row as hard as we like, but the forward progress is negligible. Or, we can hoist our sails of worship, catch the wind of His Spirit and move forward into His purpose, plans and productivity (fruit) in ministry.
Two concerns dominate our attention in considering what a presence-driven church looks like: (1) the process--by what birthing process does God's presence impregnate us with both the vision and power to bear lasting fruit for His glory? and (2) the proof--what does the DNA of a presence-driven church contain? What genes mark the church that any discerning believer can observe without a Th.D. or a lifetime of pastoral experience? What evidence can we see by which we know that a church's growth is rooted in God's presence?
God's presence always births. From the beginning, God's presence created something out of nothing. God is the only One who creates something from nothing.
His creative process begets that which is radically new (see Is. 43:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:17). As such, we can always expect God to be doing a new thing in our midst. Therefore, the irreducible constant of a presence-driven church is change.
Presence-driven churches are constantly having babies--literally and figuratively. God's presence shows up, and the impossible is birthed.
Remember the example of Abraham and Sarah? They were going to have a baby (see Gen. 16-17). Both laughed. Both tried to birth an Ishmael--their own idea and creation--instead of Isaac, who was God's answer to the future. How many human driven churches find that they are constantly birthing Ishmaels instead of Isaacs?
Let's take a closer look at the process that takes place in a presence-driven ministry.
1. Presence births purpose. Every purpose goes through a gestation process requiring time, trials, tests and tribulations. Birthing never happens immediately after conception.
Human-driven churches, however, are constantly trying to achieve a purpose too soon, and that always results in miscarriage. God's purpose is always for an appointed time (see Eccl. 3:1; John 12:27). Presence-birthed purpose cannot be thwarted or nullified (see Is. 14:27).
Some advocate that God just has one purpose, or one plan, for a church. Such a mind-set limits the limitless God. In a presence-driven church, the church flows in a river of the Spirit moving from one purpose into the next as God's Spirit directs. Each Spirit-breathed purpose builds on the previous one and leads to the next.
A prophetic word may come to a church, discerning a coming purpose. Leadership must be careful to discern the hour of the heralded purpose. To rush into it prematurely can wreak havoc in a church. To procrastinate may bring decay, or even death, to a body. God's given purpose for a particular time requires implementation at the right time, in the right way and with the right motivation.
2. Purpose births plans. The presence-birthed purpose implemented by a church in "the fullness of time" births a plethora of plans. Why? Because of the prodigality of God. God never creates just one star, one wildflower or one snowflake. The God with cattle on a thousand hills always births a purpose explosive with possibilities, potential and an abundance of plans.
Since we humans often defile, destroy or desecrate that which is holy, God has a built-in, fail-safe method of growth for us. We cannot fail because if we "kill" one plan, another immediately replaces it.
Whatever we touch, we can potentially mess up due to our flesh. However, God has such an abundance of plans (see Jer. 29:11; John 10:10) that we cannot fail for lack of plans. Our job is to be persistent in prayer, patient in planning and prepared to apply biblical principles at every turn. Tragically, some churches fail to grow because they give up on God's plans right before a breakthrough.
3. Plans birth productivity. The bottom line for every ministry is fruit (see John 15): people saved, healed and delivered. If a plan ceases to be productive, discard it. When a purpose ceases to birth plans, its season is past. Be still. Rest in God's presence as the new purpose is birthed.
To sum it up, the process in a presence-driven church is God's presence, which births purpose, which births plans, which births productivity.
What marks the presence-driven church? Should we examine the matrix of its DNA, what genes would we uncover as proof that, in fact, the Spirit of God is actually driving or propelling the church forward?
What the world and some liberal theologians deem extraordinary and singular or unrepeatable in history is quite the contrary. Acts 1-2 is both normative and indicative of what the presence-driven church looks like in the 21st century. While the various church-growth paradigms mentioned earlier are in operation all around us, they cannot become the foundations on which we build. While they may be the parts of the vehicle, they will never be the power or petrol that drives the vehicle.
So, what are the ingredients of the petrol? Or, what are the genes of the presence-driven church's DNA? The following proposed list is not exhaustive, but it is, at the least, a beginning point for assessing whether or not the church being grown is presence-birthed and on-purpose or simply an Ishmael posing ever so weakly as an Isaac.
These genes mark the church growing in the Spirit for our times. Each gene identified is evidenced in Acts 1-2. The 21 marks of the presence-driven church are:
1. Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Not just a touch, but total immersion in the Spirit.
2. Holy Spirit power. Not just any power, but authoritative power that works miracles.
3. Expectation of Jesus' return. Not just lip service about His presence, but an expectation of His return.
4. One-accord unity. Not just a superficial consensus, but an indivisible covenant.
5. Prayer and supplication. Not just vain repetitions, but intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered.
6. Apostolic leadership. Not just leadership within a local body, but bold leadership for the church in a city or region.
7. Filled with the Spirit. Not just led by the Spirit, but driven and empowered by the Spirit.
8. Tongues with Spirit utterance. Not just a loud cacophony, but a river of language flowing under the Spirit's guidance, accomplishing seemingly impossible spiritual breakthroughs and massive conversions.
9. Signs and wonders. Not just to impress the saved, but to witness to the lost.
10. Prophetic witness. Not ministering the prophetic to the saved, but releasing the prophetic to persuade the lost.
11. Bold proclamation and preaching. Not just preaching to the choir, but proclamation from the Word with boldness to please God, not to tickle human ears.
12. Exalting Jesus. Not just a motivational message, but an exaltation and passionate adoration of Jesus of Nazareth, the risen Lord.
13. Repentance with water baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not just transfer growth, but true conversion with spiritual babies being born frequently.
14. Many being saved daily. Not just rededications, but the lost daily being snatched from hell by the Good Shepherd through bold, unashamed witnessing. Not just adding to the church, but moving into multiplication (see Acts 6:7).
15. Sound doctrine. Not just teaching for knowledge, but for impartation and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry.
16. Fellowship. Not just meeting as strangers in a service, but body ministry one to another.
17. Breaking of bread. Not just a ritual of the Lord's Supper, but a deep communion partaking of the broken body and shed blood of Jesus.
18. Holy fear of God. Not just reverence and respect, but a holy fear akin to the fear that moved Noah to build an ark of salvation for his whole household.
19. Faith together. Not just faith trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord, but faith together to hear the incredible, see the invisible and do the impossible together as His body.
20. Sharing to meet needs. Not just a benevolence fund, but a substantial sharing that could meet the deepest physical needs of people.
21. Joyful gladness, simplicity, favor and praise. Not just a warm, fuzzy feeling generated by a great service, but a simple, heartfelt joy that praises God no matter what the circumstance.
Should you boldly dare to go where few churches have gone before, prepare yourself for stringent challenges posed not just by the world or the enemy (though their attacks will be furious). First, brace yourself for attacks from within your church. Those wedded to a human-driven model will fight hard to hold on to it. Those professing to be with you through thick and thin may be the first to take flight when the Spirit is given full liberty to change the church from organization to organism, from institution to instituting, and from internal revival to reconciling the world to Jesus.
Where do you start? The transformation from a human-driven to a presence-driven church begins with the pastor, pastoral team and congregational leadership. The presence-driven church emerges from the presence-driven life of a pastor and leadership team who are totally, radically, irrevocably surrendered to following Jesus. Such a presence-driven life says what Moses declared: " 'If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here'" (Ex. 33:15).

Larry Keefauver is a senior editorial advisor for Ministries Today and co-pastor of The Gathering Place Worship Center in Lake Mary, Florida. He is a best-selling author of many books, including The Holy Spirit Encounter Guides series, and general editor of The Holy Spirit Encounter Bible, both published by Charisma House (

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Participation in God's Mission

God’s mission: A phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the contemporary church. It gets tagged to church campaigns for fundraisers. It gets slapped on promotional items for a missionary support service. It gets thrown out in conversations on evangelism, discipleship, worship, and social justice. God’s mission is identified with so many things that it seems meaningless to most youth workers. All of this begs the question, What is God’s mission?

Before we answer that question, let’s lay out what God’s mission is not.

God’s mission is not...
● A missionary in a foreign country.
● A Super Bowl party outreach event.
● A small group ministry.
● A homeless shelter.
● Evangelism.
● The Great Commission.

What is God’s Mission?
First, God’s mission begins with God. The Triune God was, is, and will be a sending God. The confession that the Father sent the Son and the Father and Son sent the Spirit is the confession that God is a sending God.

The church is reawakening to the realization that we serve a sending God. The church is learning that the missionary orientation of the church does not have its origin in the church (i.e., Great Commission). No, the church is a missionary church because it serves a missionary God who has commissioned the church to go.

Second, God’s mission is revealed to humanity in God’s participation in the world. The ultimate revelation of this participation is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Messiah. God’s mission in Jesus to proclaim freedom to the prisoner, recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, and to preach good news to the poor reveals the way of God in the world. The ends that Jesus went to to accomplish the will of God reveal that the scope of God’s reconciling and redemptive work is to restore the world to its intended purpose or wholeness.

So What?
When we get to this point in our training, some people ask, “So what?” Well, the revelation and foundation of God’s story and our theological reflection implicate us in God’s mission. We are called to become participants in God’s mission through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Messiah. The implication is that we are identified as Christ followers, or Christians. The implication is also that the church is to be a missionary church. The youth are to be missionary youth. The youth ministry is to be focused on a missionary God.

Transformational youth ministry is oriented toward guiding youth into participation in God’s mission. That guiding could include practices like serving at a homeless shelter, evangelism, small group participation, or hosting a Super Bowl party for friends. As students practice these means of grace, they begin to lean into God’s mission and are transformed as they encounter the Triune God, who is working to restore the world to its intended wholeness.

By Paul Sheneman

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Crazy about the City, Silver Dollar City that is.


So its that time of year again to purchase Silver Dollar City season passes! We already got ours in the mail and I'm so excited I just can't hold it in any longer. This past week I was at the sister and brother in laws and was encouraging my sis to purchase passes (which she did last night =) so excited) and my brother in law asked if I worked for Silver Dollar City or something because I am always talking about it and every year trying to get them to go haha.

But then I thought about why I was like that... because he was right I was, and I came to the conclusion that it is a tradition for me. Growing up we didn't go to many family vaca spots, but what was certain is that every year during the summer ... the HOT part of the summer, normally at the end of July we would take a family vacation to Branson and Silver Dollar City. Those memories were the few of the good ones I had growing up.

So when I met Mark and we had Emma and moved over to Arkansas, being so close to Branson, seemed like the was no other place to visit! We have been there with some of our favorite people!

- In Aug 2007 Emma's first vaca was there with Grammie and PawPaw.

- In April 2009 Mark & Myself went to SDC with our Youth Group in Fayetteville and a dear friend Becky that leads that group now!

- In May 2009 we took Emma and Olivia (her first time) to SDC with Mama Euva and Uncle JonJon

- In June 2009 we took the girls and Nana and Poppie along with Aunt LaLa and Uncle Josh and Jenna... and it was SO much fun!

We weren't able to SDC in 2010 however we were in Branson, it was sad cause we wanted to go!
This next year we will hopefully have plenty of times at the City!


- In May 2011 we went with Aunt Sissy and Uncle Lance for Brooklynn's 2nd Bday. We had a great time. We also checked out Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampdee. The South won y'all! And we got to Ride the Ducks. I was surprised at how much I learned on that ride.

Happy Birthday Brooklynn!

Mark and Emma, Quack Quack! Ride the Ducks.
Olivia and me on the DUCK. It was cold that day.

Holland and Emma enjoying a ride at Silver Dollar City.
Mark at dinner @ Dixie Stampdee, yum!

- In July 2011 we went again with Nana from Alabama and Poppie. Mark, I and the girls got there alittle early on tuesdays and stayed till sat. It was a fun week in Branson. This was our first time to go to White Water as well. We loved it!

So get your tickets today and make some memories that will last forever!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Holiness... It's Everywhere

It is sad to say that growing up being a follower of Christ (yes fellow high school classmates who would strongly disagree with this statement... I was a follower of Christ before I married a pastor) I never understood holiness, let alone knew what it was. It wasn't until I came to discover Nazarenes that a term existed. Now I'm not saying that many people of other denominationss can't live lives of holiness, I know some, it's just that holiness is supposed to be what Nazarenes stand for, and that is why I'm apart of and love them! However Holiness isn't new, it's everywhere in the Bible!

This book I've been reading (not written by a Nazarene it my knowledge) is teaching everyday holiness. Letting normal everyday people understand the concept and open their eyes to the fact that God is calling us to so much more.

So insights into Chapter 2:

The logic is simple:
(1) God is holy
(2) God called us to be like him
(3) therefore we should be holy too.

Holiness is a life totally dedicated to God.

God expected each Israelite to fear, obey, and serve him wholeheartedly. Does he expect any less of us?

God is not satisfied with partial commitment.

Holiness is clearly God's will for each of his followers. It always has been it still is and always will be.

Monday, January 03, 2011

A Better Ashley

I have lost who I am over the past couple of years. Many things have gone on in our lives and I have seemed to set aside myself to comply with what was going on in our lives. Well I am on a quest to find out who I am again and make her shine. I want to find the girl that God made me to be. Learn what kind of wife Pastor Mark{ie} needs. Be the mother that E & O deserve. And live as the servant God fashioned. I want to be better and I'm going to find out how by seeking God more and searching myself.

Some steps:

1. Seek more, Be Christlike
2. Learn, grow, be me
3. Create often
4. Give mercy
5. Walk humbly
6. Be thankful
7. Act justly
8. Love always
9. Teach family & faith
10. Serve Lots

Sunday, January 02, 2011


Started reading Holiness: For Ordinary People by Keith Drury and so far its a great learning tool for an early or stagnant believer. Here are some good insights into the first chapter:

Sanctification Overview.

God calls us unto holiness and then helps us become holy.

God commands us to be holy. God does not give us impossible demands.

Gos works in our minds, soul, spirit, and body as he changes and renews our desires, thoughts, interests, attitudes, and behaviors. Sanctification is how God transforms us into Christ likeness. Given our cooperation, we can become all that God calls us to be.

We need more of Christ and God wants more of us.

He will cleanse and empower you through the Holy Spirit, enabling you to live a holy life. 

The point is that Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins.

Questions to ponder...
Can I examine my love for God?
Can I examine my love for others?
Have I totally consecrated my all to Jesus?
Am I experiencing power over sin?
Has the Holy Spirit witnessed to me-inside me- that He has performed this work?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

So this year will be different. This year will be full of love. This past year there hasn't been much love around here. That is going to change, there will be lots of love, and God's love at that! Because that is the only kind of love that will last. This year will be better... the best we have ever been... but not the best we will ever be, for our journey will be long, but will only be better, because we will be growing in love and in Christ. This year will be awesome!
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