dude, where’s my church?

UPDATE FIRST- (Scan below this first paragraph for the blog entry, “Dude, Where’s My Church?”

Sanctus Missional Communities is now an official non-profit church network with the Evangelical Free Church of America! We are excited to be one of the first bivocational-led (all of our leadership couples have other jobs) missional network in a metro area like St Cloud.  Our goal for this fall is to plant our SECOND missional community in another neighborhood- pray! We are developing a ‘seed account’ to be generous to families in crisis in our city, generous to families in our missional network, generous to regional efforts to send out other leaders and plant other missional communities, and generous to our bivocational teachers/preachers as they lead us in God’s Word. If you would like to contribute to our ‘seed account’ please email me at cmcmovement@gmail.com.

“Dude, Where’s My Church?”

Sometimes missional living can be vague and spotty if you don’t define church, disciple-making, and mission.

It sometimes feels like Ashton Kutcher walks up to you and says “Dude, where’s my church?”  Vagueness can set in.

Instead of ‘where’s’ my church, I would instead ask ‘Dude, WHO’S your church?”

We get the question a lot- “so if you guys meet Wednesday nights, where do you go to church?” The question is a wrong question on at least two levels. 1) As Jesus-followers together with other brothers and sisters, we were never meant to ‘go to church’. Church, in the new testament, is a family that is sent on Jesus’ mission in their given city.  They are a people, not a place.  As a family, we often correct others by replying. “We belong to a family sent by Jesus to bless the St Cloud metro”.  We call Wednesday nights our missional community gathering time, 5:30 a meal together, then worship/sharing/prayer/discussion. It is how some would define ‘church’, but we gather and scatter all through the week.

So here are the essentials of ‘church’ or ‘ecclesia’ in the new testament. Let me ask you ‘Dude, who’s your church?”

UP- Do you and your friends share a desire to worship, pray, commune, interact, listen to God your Father? to Jesus?

IN- Do you have friends who do life 24-7 together, sharing real joy/struggles/in-betweens, growing together to be like Jesus?

OUT- Do your friends love inviting people into your homes & lives, serving them and sharing with them the grace of Jesus?

Anna, the kids, and I picked up a new couch last week from a friend who needed to unload some items.  All I could do was think about how many more people, strangers, friends, newcomers and oldcomers would be sitting on the new leather pads and wearing out the couch.  We booted our old couch to the curb, kid food and barf stains and all.  But part of me was sad to see the old couch go- all the butts that sat on there to make those memories…why am I attached to the couch?

And then I put the new couch into place and thought that all of those butts will love this new couch and what it has to offer. It is something unique that they have not sat on before until we invite them to do so.  Much like this new couch, missional living and doing church as ‘family’ feels like a new thing most people aren’t quite used to and can sometimes feel awkward. Have we been so accustomed to the old couch that we simply need something new to make sure our priority is people, not couches?

I hope that our focus stays on making disciples of regular families like yours and mine.  Missional living helps us keep this focus. We don’t have much else to offer people, just our lives sold out for Jesus, His healing, power, and redemptive ‘rescue plan’ to save lives…and a good place to rest and enjoy the UP, IN, and OUT of a church family… And maybe its best that way?

Please keep us in your prayer!

The Pankratz family loves to have people praying for us- our three boys Justus, Jason, and Silas are all quite the handful for our amazing stay at home, teacher, cook, artist, nurturer, prophetic warrior, amazing bride Anna.  She does it all! And when Jeff gets home it is dad-time before I hop online to do some Bemidji State teacher graduate courses. ugh.  If you ever come through St Cloud, please let us know a couple days in advance and we will invite you in to meet our friends!  Thank you for praying that Jesus protects our hearts and lives with His grace, and pours out His wisdom for our life and ministry.

To connect with us, Facebook us or email cmcmovement@gmail.com

How did 6 months go by?

Yes, 6 months!  So now you know updating a blog isn’t our strong suit, but now it is time to grow in our weaknesses.  So let us give you the last 6 months in a creative way; FANCY bullet points.

  • Aug 2014- Moved from our Sauk Centre rental home, officially sent out from Harvest Community Church as church planters to St Cloud MN. Moved into our new home, 1225 13th Ave N, St Cloud!
  • Sep 2014- Sharing with St Cloud friends envisioning missional communtiy (church as family doing all of life together). http://youtu.be/kxviBBxbZqI. Started teaching at Sauk Rapids High School!
  • Oct 2014- Started ‘Disciple-Making Training’ with these core friends, who desired to grow as disciples of Jesus, so we could hold each other accountable to making disciples of Jesus.
  • Nov 2014- Hosted our first Sanctus Missional Community ‘Friendsgiving Dinner’, inviting others to taste and see what life as a family on Jesus’ mission looks like. 6 different nationalities present!
  • Dec 2014- Served in our city’s Christmas parade, finished training together, and commissioned 7 Sanctus ‘servant leaders’, learning to care for, nurture, and serve our family on mission together.
  • Jan 2015- Wednesday family meal & worship with our MC, weekly deeper discipleship, serving the city together.  Gospel art project “Seed” displayed at local coffee shop ‘Central Perk’ in St Cloud.

Whew!  Now you know how to pray- our team continues to trust Jesus for more disciples, as we share the gospel in our lives and with our lips.  We are building daily relationships in our city, in our jobs, and in our everyday normal activities….and it is exciting!  If you know any St Cloud folk who would be interested in being a part of our mission to bless our city and welcome neighbors to follow Jesus together, please contact us at cmcmovement@gmail.com. Check out  http://instagram.com/sanctuscommunities/ for pics.

We invite anyone to partner with us to reach this young-adult saturated metro of 200,000- be a part of our city church network that meets at Panera in St Cloud every Wed morning at 6am!  We would love to hear from you and your St Cloud friends who have a heart to bring God’s blessing to our neighbors.

Sincerely, Jeff, Anna, Justus, Jason and Silas Pankratz

Sanctus Missional Communities

1225 13th Ave N, St Cloud MN 56303

We’d love a few minutes to explain what were doing- share with friends!

“We need a new model of disciple making, a new model of doing church.” -Hugh Halter, Bivo

It is an awesome thing to see our family transition, all the while seeing our culture transition all around us.  The way we interact with each other (facebook, twitter, instagram, BLOGS), the way we parent our children in media-saturated lives, the way we earn our money in economically challenging times, even the way our world’s governments and politics are shifting soon in a post-Obama nation, and inaugurating a new president in 2016… Everything is changing!  However certain core things should never change.  Our family and our ministry- all families and ministries- will both need to adapt in this transitional phase our country is in- and it will need to return and hold true to certain ancient roots.  Here’s how our family is adapting, moving, creating, and building on Jesus’ mission together.  Email or facebook us with any questions!

Jesus’ Mission is Making Disciples- So Will Ours Be

There is an amazing freedom that Jesus’ first followers had, to simply live their ordinary lives (there were no clergy titles given out, or prestigious offices. Men and women would minister in their own giftedness and calling from the Holy Spirit).  These fishermen, doctors, accountants, tradesmen and tradeswomen were all deeply impacted by Jesus’ sincere grace and truth he poured into their lives, so they too gave their lives to be like Him, loving and caring for sinners to come to Jesus in repentance and faith- seeing lives transformed by Jesus through their own ordinary, Holy Spirit empowered and directed lives.  Why couldn’t that happen today?

Anna, our three boys (Justus- 6, Jason- 4, Silas- 1), and I are in no way ‘professional ministers’.  We simply know why God has brought our marriage together, and why He has given us three strong, talented, and sensitive little boys.  We have a bent towards looking out at the horizon for what is next for the church- or the family of God.  Our family has a passion to see God’s family cherish what we’ve been given in the Gospel, and flourish in helping others discover the joy of following Jesus. We hunger to see God transform lives by His grace, start new things in new communities, and leave fresh expressions of the church all around us.  This can be described in the new testament as an ‘apostolic’ calling, and this is why we have been sent out by our mother church in Alexandria (Lake Community) and Sauk Centre (Harvest Community).  People ask us to quickly describe what we do- so in a 1-minute elevator conversation, or 30 second dairy queen drive-thru we say, “We’re a family sent to serve our city, and welcome others to follow Jesus.”  We feel this communicates the trinitarian activity of God- the Father is building our family, so the Holy Spirit sends us to serve our city, so that others would follow Jesus with us.  This is what we will do in St Cloud and central MN alongside others.

The ‘New but Old’ Way of Jesus and His Apostles

Like we shared earlier, our family simply did a ‘gut check’ this year and started listing out what my wife and kids and I were called to as a single family on mission for Jesus.  The vision, teaching and leadership of Mike Breen (3dm), Alan Hirsch (Forge, Future Travelers) and Jeff VanderStelt (Soma Communities) have really shaped our thinking to reflect more of building into a people movement with Jesus our Founder.  We see Jesus parable in Matthew 13, the wheat and the weeds, as a primal cry for a multiplicational DNA to the mission of the church- followers of Jesus that are multiplying, followers belonging to churches that are multiplying, and churches sending leaders who are multiplying.  In Paul’s letters and especially the story in the book of Acts (as precisely recorded by Luke the doctor) we see the same three principles- Engaging new people with the Gospel, Establishing new people as followers of Jesus, and Entrusting new leaders with ministry.  Acts 14:21-23 clearly defines this in three verses.

As you can see in the family photo below, part of our journey has been to live, model, teach, and display with our own lives to a friend of ours that is hungry to join the mission God has us on.  Her name is Richell Sahm, a Portland area native, and just an awesome friend that is learning to follow Jesus along with us.  She is living with us, getting life-on-life Pankratz-styled discipleship, and has a passion to reach out to other young adults and internationals in St Cloud with us.  Anna and Richell have a special bond that is honest and mutually-challenging.  Richell and I met at a caribou through a mutual friend who knew Richell was longing for real relationships where church was more like a family than an institution.  We are excited for her as God leads her in her nannying career, being a blessing to other families, kids…especially Pankratz Nation!

Anna, our boys, and I are really excited to simply live out the Gospel in front of our neighbors, friends, and co-workers.  We are what many title ‘bivocational church planters’ which is kind of an unfortunate title.  It means one or more vocations alongside your ministry, but it is misleading because this is the role ALL of us are called to live out.  For instance, if you are reading this more than likely you have a job that provides you some salary or wage.  More than likely, since you are still reading, you are interested in using your life for God’s Kingdom purposes through you, to bless people around you with your gifts, talents, and resources.  We are in the same boat!  You will see a picture below of the Sauk Rapids/Rice school and a couple photos of our neighborhood we are moving into.  We will be loving our neighbors with intentional relationships, serving my co-workers as I teach math at Sauk Rapids, praying for the people we interact with, and inviting anyone to join us for a coffee, meal, or visit to share about Jesus and our heart to follow Him.  Arent we all bivocational church planters?  Shouldnt every Jesus-follower long to see people transformed, long to see people gather together, party, and interact around Jesus and His way of life?  Shouldnt we all long to see more leaders trained up to share their gifts and strengths to reach out to hurting kids, teens, men and women?  I love how my friend Alan Hirsch puts it “Like one seed can lead to a forest, or one spark lead to a fire, so too one Spirit-filled Christian can lead to a church movement in the heart of Jesus Himself.”

This is simply called in missiologist circles, ‘The Way of Jesus and His Apostles”. It is not complicated.  It is prayerful dependence on God to give us compassion to serve others.  We model and teach what it means to stay close to the heart of God our Father through the life and ministry of His Son Jesus, and we model and teach how to live out the Gospel in our marriages, parenting, church family, friendships, work places, and communities.  And we dont need large buildings and large budgets to do it.  Too often these things confuse, distract, and lead us away from keeping Jesus first, and His mission to personally make disciples our priority.  Jesus and His first followers were simply on mission 24-7, and rejected anything that wasn’t from the center of God’s will for them.  Led by His Spirit they would exponentially explode into a people movement all across Asia Minor of the first century.  Again, why not today?  Let’s pray, reach out, serve and love, and personally die to our selves to build into new followers of Jesus, together as families on mission!

Moving From Sauk Centre, Moving to Saint Cloud, Teaching in Sauk Rapids

This month we will be moving into our new home you can see below.  Our new address will be 1225 13th Avenue North, St Cloud MN 56303.  As you can see from the satellite image or the map image, we are located in the center of family life in St Cloud.  Known as “The Bell” of St Cloud, streets surrounding us shape a bell, and we are sounding out into the city the grace of God and the Father’s invitation to experience Jesus’ healing, forgiveness, and freedom.  Some of the features we love are Centennial Park only two house down from us, with a tennis court, outdoor pool, bball and soccer fields, hockey rink…let’s just say the boys will be busy.  Feel free to look up the address for more realty photos, but Anna is excited about the neighborhood, 4 bedrooms together upstairs, larger living space in the main level, and a nicer kitchen and dining room to do her thang (spelling intended).  We are excited to host parties, hangouts, and our family on mission to make Jesus followers.  One of the biggest surprises God has done is to give us a few close friends who are living within walking distance of our home!  One couple, Paul and Sue, are in their mid-50’s, looking to invest in young adults in missional discipleship.  After meeting together we knew we would be connected as close friends- what we didnt know was that the house we are moving into turned out to be only 4 houses down from theirs!  Unbelievable gift from the Lord!

As many of you know, my teaching stint with Sauk Centre High School was a one year gig as we were preparing for the move to St Cloud. I resigned from my teaching position in Sauk Centre in February without knowing what we would do for our bivocational role in the St Cloud metro.  After applying and interviewing at 6 different schools, I was really surprised again to get not ONE offer but TWO from St Cloud Apollo High School and Sauk Rapids/Rice High School.  After some time to talk with Anna, time to meet with the principals and superintendents, time in prayer and meditating on our goals in ministry, we decided that the Sauk Rapids/Rice position would be a better fit to build relationships and network with a greater swath of the St Cloud metro area (living in St Cloud and working in Sauk Rapids (north ‘suburb’ of St Cloud).  We are excited to build friendships in both St Cloud and Sauk Rapids!  I also was able to work at a machine shop in Sauk Centre over the summer- a huge thank you to Todd and the Trinity Tool team.

As we transition to St Cloud this month, please pray for the mortgage, title, etc to all come together in these next two weeks.  Pray for Justus and Jason as they both are so excited to get to St Cloud, set up their rooms, meet some pals and trust what the Lord will do through their own little hearts in the lives of their friends they will play with, have sleepovers with, on sports teams with, etc.  Pray for the lovely Anna, as she is looking to set up nest and as a mom of three boys (including 1 yr old) needs all the patience the Lord can give her and more.  Pray for our marriage that we would model and live out staying close to each other, and close to Jesus as we make this move, re-establish our marriage and family in St Cloud, and build into the first core team of 10-12 adults making disciples as a true family on mission- Anna is the momma of the mission and with her passion for cooking, entertaining, and just loving on people…she too needs breaks to get out by herself, reflect and recharge on her own with the Lord, and recalibrate life in St Cloud.  Pray for my new role at Sauk Rapids/Rice High school as their newest math teacher- to simply serve the people around me, and love the kids and parents in my classes…and oh yeah, to engage them with solid math principles and skills.

Come Visit our Family on Mission!

We have two primary goals as we move- First, our heart is to begin ‘Disciple-making Training’ with our core group of 10-12 adults at the end of this summer.  This will be the beginnings of our ‘family on Jesus’ mission, eating, singing, laughing, praying, and reaching out together in the metro of St Cloud.  We will more than likely continue our rhythm of bringing our family together on Sunday afternoons at 4:30, with a dinner together at 6 so kids can get down for bed by 8pm.  Join our ‘family on mission’ anytime!  Facebook, email, call, or just stop in! We would love to visit with you if you would like that. Its always best to have some personal time on our back deck, laughing at the kids making idiots of themselves.🙂

Our second primary goal is to be a part of the greater network that the Lord is putting together between other missional and multiplicational ministry leaders in the St Cloud metro.  We’ve already met some great people who are also sensing God’s Spirit leading them to new expressions of making-disciples and new expressions of being Jesus’ church, or the family of Jesus.  We are seeing God has a big family all across central MN, and raising the same ideas, concerns, and passions so people can come together and be a part of a true ‘people movement’ with Jesus the Founder leading the way (much like the first century phenomenon of the exponential growth of Jesus’ Kingdom).  We already have other leaders who want to build friendships with each other, connect as marriages and families, learn and grow together the principles of missional discipleship, and pray and work together to bless the St Cloud metro to see a true multiplicational movement in central MN. Pray that the Lord would continue to bring us together and accomplish His will for these next years to come!

Please let us know if you would like to visit with us, or if you would like us to come share with your group, church, or family. Email us at cmcmovement@gmail.com or facebook Anna or I.  We also have a twitter account you can follow @cmcmovement.

We love any opportunity to share hearts for Jesus’ mission, and have the freedom to drop the phony masks and be real.  Even watching you tube videos late at night counts!

Thank you for reading, praying, and investing in to our family and friendship we share with you!

For the King and His Kingdom,

The Pankratz Family- Silas (1), Jason (4), Justus (6), Richell Sahm (young adult resident), Anna and Jeff

PHOTOS: Top to Bottom (new house from street, new house satellite view, new house map, Sauk Rapids/Rice Schools graphic, Pankratz nation: Clockwise from bottom left; Silas- 1, Anna, Richell Sahm, Justus- 6, Jeff, Jason- 4.)

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familyphoto2014

Mission, Discipleship, and the Gospel

Thing are being stirred up in central MN, and multiple conversations are revolving around three categories: mission, discipleship, and the gospel. We hear people concerned about things like; What really IS the mission of the church? What SHOULD be our mission? Where do we go to get the basic mission that Jesus gave His church? How can we see the church become the people of God that He designed it to be?

Being a math teacher with an degree and emphasis in statistics, I love looking at the objectivity of current church demographics. By most major studies and research, the contemporary church growth model, that is now being called into question in the west, can only reach a maximum of 40 percent of the American population.

“This is a problem because 95 percent of American churches are using a model that, even if successful, will reach less than half the population,” said Alan Hirsch, an internationally recognized missiologist and founding director of Forge Mission Training Network.

Most churches target the 40 percent of the population that’s within the cultural distance of the church- these ‘attractional’ churches that have more of an external focus and cultural relevance will, again, only work for 40 percent of the American population. And after a few years of coming to Christ, most people are socialized out of their context and into the context of the church, removing them from influencing unbelievers.

That leaves 60 percent of the population that the church is not reaching.

This leaves a large gap for the majority of our population who is now largely identified as ‘nones’- people who claim no religious affiliation in their census polls. This is both a problem and wonderful opportunity for us today. It is a problem because if we are simply attractional churches (evangelism primarily relying on worship services or events) we have, as Alan Hirsch put it, “called all our eggs are in one basket,” said Hirsch. “At any given point and time to resolve the missional challenges in which we face we only have a variation of one model.”

Hirsch cited Einstein’s famous quote, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them,” and called on church leaders to use their imagination.

“Many in our population are increasingly in isolation from us and we have to take the message to them,” said the missiologist, born in South Africa to a Jewish family.

To illustrate his point about the 40 and 60 percent, he used the business strategies of Red Ocean and Blue Ocean. The Red Ocean is highly competitive space where competitors have to compete for the same market. On the other hand, the Blue Ocean Strategy is one where you innovate and create new demand in an uncontested market space.

American churches are overwhelmingly going after the same market, the 40 percent, leaving the larger 60 percent and increasing unreached, he said. But American churches are capable of being both attractional churches and missional churches. Church can exist inside of a large worship service, and church can exist inside of a smaller expression of believers living life together.

Church, he stressed, comes out of mission, not the other way around. “We need to plant the Gospel and let church come out of that.”

Our passion in central MN to do just that. Instead of church-planting, we are gospel-planting. Instead of inviting people to a service, we are inviting people first into discipleship. Instead of gathering people to consume religious goods and services offered up on a sunday morning bulletin buffet, we are gathering people to a community of friends offering real relationships of care and challenge to grow.

So what practically does that look like in a central MN city like Sauk Centre, Albany, or even the metro of St Cloud? Again we look for ways to simply show and share the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are willing to listen. In coffee shops, ballgames, working out at the gym, working and playing…we have opportunities to be loving and bold in the power of the Holy Spirit. The creation, fall, redemption, and restoration of God’s Gospel story needs to be always on our hearts, minds and lips so we can overflow that in natural and practical ways to others. As people respond with interest and some are wanting to discover more about following Jesus, we invite them into our Missional Community.

A Missional Community is a group of 20 to 50 people who exist, in Christian community, to reach either a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. With a strong value on life together, the group has the expressed intention of seeing those they are in relationship with choose to start following Jesus through this more flexible and locally incarnated expression of the church. They exist to bring heaven to the particular slice of earth they believe God has given them to bless. The result is usually the growth and multiplication of more Missional Communities. These MCs are networked within a larger church community allowing for both a scattered and gathered church. These mid-sized communities, led by laity, are lightweight and low maintenance and most often meet regularly in their missional context. Each MC and its shepherding leaders attend to the three dimensions of life that Jesus himself attended to: Time with God (worship, prayer, scripture, teaching, giving thanks, etc), time with the body of believers building a vibrant and caring community, and time with those who dont know Jesus yet.

If you have an interest to hear more about our passion for a network of church families on mission together, please click here to see our vision prezi for our ‘good seed collective’. If you have a heart to learn from some of the leaders we are learning from, we recommend Mike Breen, Alan Hirsch, Jeff Vanderstelt, and a passed-on saint Roland Allen.

If youd like to connect with us to hear more about our apostolic team forming for the city of St Cloud, email cmcmovement@gmail.com or call Jeff at 320-760-5286. Thank you for praying these next two months as we look for Philippian partners who want to team up to plant the gospel, and bring discipleship back into the heart of missional church.

Rediscover the simple spontaneity of joyful churches- “Acts” course starts Feb 11!

REGISTER HERE FOR ANTIOCH COURSES BY SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2ND SO WE CAN ORDER BOOKS!

COURSE DESCRIPTION BELOW

We are so excited when churches and ministry leaders can come together for the purpose of building up Jesus’ Kingdom in our midst.  Thats why we did a little jig when Pastor Joe Williquette and his church in Albany MN agreed to host our next Antioch School course…and we think the school’s best course….the “Acts Course” walking men and women through the book of Acts and rediscovering the mission of the church and power of the gospel.   We will meet together every other Tue night, 6:30-8pm beginning Tue Feb 11th and ending the course Tue May 20th.  You can also join us via google hangouts online!

It is an exciting time to see a regional collective of churches and ministry leaders come together.  Hosting the course in Albany, MN will be a great location to see people come from all over Stearns County and central MN.  Please pray for our regional collective of churches and ministry leaders, for unity in the gospel, and passion to advance His mission further into communities still in need of gospel-centered churches.

If you have any questions about this incredible opportunity in our region, call me (Jeff) at 320-760-5286.

We would love for you, or anyone else wanting this training, to join us in person or online!

COURSE DESCRIPTION- “Acts: Keys to the Establishment and Expansion of the First Century Church”

Course Objective:

This class will help you identify the fundamental biblical principles that are to guide the mission of the church and its role in missions as observed in Acts, with a view to thinking through their implications for missions today. Specifically, this means that each person is this class will:

  • Gain an understanding of the establishment and expansion of the first-century church and the timeless supra-cultrual biblical principles for continuing this work in the twenty-first century;
  • Determine a biblical definition of “missionary” and “missionary work”;
  • Identify the core elements of Paul’s missionary strategy and think through their implications for making disciples and multiplying churches today;
  • Understand and begin to personally pursue the kind of qualifications necessary for those who sense God’s call to assist Him in building His church including the needed training to develop those qualities.

Course Units:

Date           Discussion

Feb 11/Feb 25      Unit 1:   Keys from Acts
Mar 11/Mar 25    Unit 2:   The Role of the Local Church in Fulfilling the Great Commission
Apr 8/Apr 22       Unit 3:   The Core Model: The Pauline Strategy
May 6/May 20    Unit 4:   Networking, Organizations, and the Local Church
Final Party TBA  Unit 5:   Designing a Missions Strategy for a Local Church

christ-centered community, christ-less community

Thanks for reading our fall update!  A real quick word about us- we hope to be moving down the freeway to Sauk Centre this December and the first month of being bivocational church planters is in the bag!  Anna and I have been convicted to be in prayer on Wednesday nights 9pm-9:30pm, so if you’d like to pray with us for His Spirit to direct, lead and empower His mission please facebook me, Jeff Pankratz, or email me at cmcmovement@gmail.com.  The math teaching job at Sauk Centre High School is going marvelous, and the Lord is building some great relationships.  One of our teachers friends is now in my mens discipleship group on Monday mornings, and Anna has been invited into a womens fellowship group…all is good!

We have made some great initial contacts with friends from Osakis and Sauk Centre to gather to make disciples, and also groups in Fargo, Carlos/Miltona, and some new contacts in Brandon who are interested in gathering together to make followers of Jesus in their own cities.  Thursdays Jeff plans on traveling down to St Cloud to continue connections there, as there are some great friendships forming around the gospel there in the city, and beginning to merge into a network that would want to see simple gospel ministry and churches formed.  Pray for Jeff’s friend he will speak with this Thursday, that Jeff would just listen and love on this man with Jesus’ heart.

The title of this post eludes to an article and video on ABC.com I just watched titled “A Godless Service coming to a church near you” http://abcnews.go.com/US/sunday-assembly-godless-service-coming-church/story?id=20421596

I would encourage you to watch it, and learn from it.  Learn and listen from their story of why they do what they do.  What turned off this couple to typical church and Christianity as a system?  Why did they have a ‘crisis of faith’ and empathize with people like this.  Why?  When we listen to people’s stories, without judging things too quickly, we enter their own world as Jesus did, and meaningfully can love and address the core things of the heart.  The gospel begins with GO, so let’s go to all of our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, listening to their own stories before being too quick to share ours and Jesus’ story.

As we intentionally enter the lives of the people around us, as Jesus did, we are seeing so many opportunities to listen, pray, serve and even share the awesome Gospel message we have been entrusted with.  As we invite people into true community with us and our Jesus-centered gatherings, people see the true essence of what church is- Jesus-followers that actually care for one another and show the Gospel!

Thank you for praying that those living lives without Jesus Christ, would be won to Jesus by His grace and truth poured out through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.  It is the Fathers immense love for sinners like me, and His intense hatred for sin, that compelled Him to crush His only Son in our place.  Lets be filled by His Spirt with joy and amazement at How amazing our Father God is, and how awesome our coming King Jesus will be in the clouds one day soon!

 

Why do we think we can do counseling, without the True Counselor?

Could we gather together, and sharpen others who have a heart to truly care for people’s souls in biblical counseling?

Read the post and scroll to the bottom for course information this fall-

“Were going to counseling.”  Those words sometimes strike shame in peoples hearts, who admit they need help.  In our culture and age, those words are often seen as negative because of what ‘counseling’ is.  No one truly wants to ‘go to counseling’ but we all would admit we need help in this life to sort ourselves out…all of us would admit we need ‘counselors’.  The Scriptures called Jesus a ‘Wonderful Counselor’ (Isaiah 9:6).  We should not feel shame for wanting a Counselor, or His wonderful counseling…instead, dont we all need this kind of counseling every day? Every hour?  The early church was committed to the Way of Jesus in sherpherding, caring, and counseling people. They were committed to the way Jesus did things, and they didn’t need any other way.  They had the Holy Spirit as their ‘counselor’ or ‘comforter’ or ‘helper’ (John 14:26), and they ministered in His power as they waited on the Lord in prayer for themselves and others.  Counseling was done in the community of the churches, not by paid professionals, but people gifted to shepherd and care for people needing help through life’s challenges.

Pastor, author and speaker Paul David Tripp has a great little video on the topic, and the important of the centrality of the gospel in counseling others.  vimeo.com/24837839

Register here to Join us for a course offering this fall, hosted by Antioch School and Central MN Church Movement, called “Shepherding, Counseling and the Early Church”.  We will gather with other developing and current ministry leaders from various walks of life, Tue nights 7-8:45pm beginning September 24th and going through Dec 17th.  Registration deadline next Tuesday!

 

our life in the apostolic

we are living life as ‘sent ones’ from Lake Community Church, in Alexandria MN, our home church of 14+ years. This is our first week of our journey into the life of apostolic ministry, regionally networking and planting the gospel in Stearns County and central Minnesota. Last Sunday, we were commissioned by LCC elders and this week begins my (Jeff) part time math teaching job at Sauk Centre High School in Sauk Centre, MN as well as our time to begin ministry with Harvest Community Church. HCC will be our new church base which is closer to our goal of the St Cloud metro, the largest unreached city in MN which we hope to bring the gospel to.

As we glance through the Acts of the apostles, or what I like to refer as Acts of the Holy Spirit, carried out by the apostles, we see some patterns. These ministry teams, of Paul and others, usually are 1) bringing the gospel into their daily relationships, challenging people with the claims and identity of Jesus, 2) helping new believers become strong followers of Jesus, and 3) raising up servant leaders who will both care for these believers and keep them pursuing the mission of Jesus in their communities. Will you please pray that we would enter this apostolic calling, and lean on the foundation that Jesus and His Apostles laid out for us in Ephesians 2:20?

GOALS FOR THS FALL
1) Great meetings and personal visits to explain the gospel and God’s Word to those that need hope in Christ.
2) Great gatherings to bring new believers together and do worship, community, and mission in our cities.
3) Great relationships with other servant leaders who want to provide Antioch classes and training ops.

As soon as our fall schedule is set a little more, and the school year is in operation, we will be posting more details as to our family plans in life and ministry. We are still hoping to sell our home in Alexandria soon so we can move into Sauk Centre or a community close by.

Pray that this ‘apostolic’ life that the Lord has called us into, would be balanced and nourishing for our marriage and family. We want to minister the gospel through a healthy life and family.

For a Eph 2:20 foundation,
Jeff

Desire church-based training? Our inaugural ‘Movement Roundtable’ in 3 weeks!

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.  My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:11-14

Are you a current or potential ministry leader?  Would you like to grow together with others doing ‘theology in community’? Like the ‘preacher’ in Ecclesiastes, we long to study and discuss the right things, the things that help us glorify God and help others follow Jesus.   The Antioch School (www.antiochschool.edu) is offering church-based theological training right here in central MN this fall- We are offering our first Central MN ‘Movement Roundtable‘ Tuesday Nights this September!  We are excited to offer “Shepherding, Counseling, and the Early Church”.  This is Antioch School’s comprehensive course to tackle the issues surrounding the care, protection, and nurturing that goes into leading families and churches well.  It will help develop a strategy your leader can use, consistent with the scriptures and life of the early church.  To register, go to http://bit.ly/1a8xxPs or call Jeff at 320-760-5286.

Movement Roundtables are courses that gather cohorts of current and potential gospel ministers, across denominations and groups among the cities of central MN, to deeply investigate God’s Word, deeply discuss principles of life and ministry, and deeply integrate learning outcomes into your families and churches.  Our conviction is we all benefit one another as parts of His Body!

ROUNDTABLE DESCRIPTION:

Shepherding, Counseling, and the Early Church-  Tuesday Nights, September 17- December 17  7pm-9pm.   Location-  Osakis, MN (place TBA).

Course Objective

This study will help you build a comprehensive shepherding strategy for a church that is rooted in the traditional pastoral care paradigm drawn from the Scriptures in  contrast to the secular psychological care paradigm of contemporary culture. Specifically, this means that each person in this study will:

· Develop an understanding of the pastoral care practiced in the early church;
· Formulate a clear perspective of the gospel and the work of the Spirit in our lives;
· Examine the contemporary practice of integrating psychology and theology and assess its legitimacy;
· Lay necessary foundations for skillfully handling the Scriptures in counseling;
· Critique the contemporary emergence of a new Christian profession—Christian psychologists and psychiatrists
· Design a contemporary pastoral care strategy consistent with the Scriptures.

Course Units

Unit 1: Rethinking the Goal: Counseling as an Establishing Process
Unit 2: Establishing in the Gospel: The Foundation of all Counseling
Unit 3: The Integration of Psychology and Theology: Another Gospel?
Unit 4: Christian Psychologists and Psychiatrists: Another Authority?
Unit 5: Designing a Pastoral Care Strategy

Thank you for sharing this information with people in your church or ministry.

To register, go to http://bit.ly/1a8xxPs or call Jeff at 320-760-5286.

Sincerely,

Jeff Pankratz

Central MN Church Movement

Cell: 320-760-5286

www.antiochschool.edu