City of Nations

Jesus was plainly speaking in Matthew 28 when he commanded us to make disciples of all nations, or ethnicities/cultures. We have a command from our loving, sacrificial, holy Master Jesus to be about every culture on planet earth, so they would know and love Jesus, becoming His disciples and part of His eternal family.  The revelation given to John also speaks of this ‘end game’ of our Lord- every tribe, tongue, nation…every ethnicity gathered around the throne of God to worship the Lamb.

So if it is commanded to make disciples among every nation, and if it is clearly evident that it is God’s end game to be worshiped and loved by every nation, then why is it so difficult to even develop a relationship with someone from another culture/ethnicity/? If the vision of God Himself is to have a new Jerusalem, a new city of nations, gathered for His glory, why do we seem to mostly avoid people who are not like ourselves, who dont live like us, go about their business like us, and simply are ‘different’?

Jesus Himself models a clear example of what it takes to make disciples of all ethnicities- He went into cities, offered the same mercy, love, and forgiveness—-relationship— to all those he came across. His simple mode he modeled to his disciples was to regularly, throughout your day Be in prayer to God your Father, Listen to someone’s story long enough to establish trust, Eat and drink with them on a common ground, Serve them in a very ordinary but powerful way (think spit and dirt), and Share with them the amazing news of how the Father is inviting everyone into His family through the blood of Jesus.  Our missional communities use this acronym B-L-E-S-S. Just last night we applied this teaching into our lives and talked about normal weekly times we could utilize these things with the people in our workplaces, neighborhoods, coffee shops, gyms, schools, etc.

Yesterday I had a lunch with a young Pakistani man named Ahmed. A wonderful man who has two kids and a wife and just came to America within the year. We set a plan for the summer to bring our kids to the water park together in downtown St Cloud and get our kids and wives together. He helped me get a tasty gyro at his restaurant- I helped him get better car insurance through my day job at State Farm. It is a wonderful mutual friendship and I have been praying that Jesus would show his grace and love to Ahmed and his family in wonderful ways. I really do like the guy! He has a great character and warm heart.

Anna and the kids model this every day to the families they spend time with. She is praying for multiple moms and dads, and spending time with several kids this summer at our home caring for them while their parents work. She is deeply involved with others in our city who are prayer waking and our monthly worship service to invite the presence of God into our city. She labors daily keeping the boys and our home a happy and healthy place, so her part of the ‘all nations’ plan has been to welcome all kinds of couples and families into our home with her delicious cooking skills. I dont mind! 🙂 Pray for our friendships with our friends from all nations here in St Cloud- Turks, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Somali, and yes good ole American white breads like us 🙂  We long to see people fall in love with Jesus, and for Him to wreck hearts with His strong mercy.

This summer we are going to Canada end of July to visit her moms old missionary stomping grounds in Cross Lake Manitoba- 17 hr road trip baby! It will be a blast to see everyone up there and help her mom reunite with old friends- and especially for us and our kids to honor that legacy of bringing the gospel to the Cree and other first nations peoples in northern Canada. Pray for His Spirit to lead us and keep us on the road.

Pray for the three new missional communities we are now mentoring to multiply out this fall, and for the training we are doing within Sanctus and within our city network- local churches are joining us in making disciples of all nations…truly we see the Spirit building us and leading us as a City of Nations!

Love and peace, The Pankratz’

 

Why More of the Same Thing Won’t Work

Seeing Pew Forum’s website (www.pewforum.org) this month, you’ll notice the most obvious headline if you’re head hasn’t been in the icebox. (that reference should date me a bit.)  The headline reads “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious”. Outside AND inside the church, there are quickly becoming tons of nones, and dones– folks no longer buying what the church is selling, or folks who simply dont want to play that game anymore.  Many see it as a sign of America going to hell in a hand-basket, while we in the optimistic camp see the most opportune moment in the American Church- to finally become what we were intended to be; The most joyfully adventuring, boldly risk-taking, creatively mission-centered people, in the trenches for good against evil, with Jesus as our Lord. Every category in Christian demographics has fallen the last 7 years, but instead of shouting proudly “Why, LORD!!??” Let’s ask humbly, “Why, Lord?”.

Anna and I would like to encourage any, all, or a few of our Alexandria area friends to join us for a special, hopeful Sunday morning at Catalyst Covenant Church this Sunday Dec 6th @ Woodland Elementary 1410 South McKay Avenue. Why? Because Jesus, that’s why! We are helping Catalyst Covenant, and been given a passion to help central MN believers dream that there could be more to be found in the way we live as God’s rescue people, rediscovering new forms of ecclesia in our 21st century world, anchored with God’s ancient truths in the new testament as our blueprint. We will worship, pray, talk, discuss, banter a bit, and give hugs if you know what kind of people we are- yes, huggers. Anna, the boys, and I would love to see you there and be a part of seeing Jesus, and His true Church rise up to joyfully engage our culture with the simple and powerful invitation to experience the Father’s love, and become His family of rescue and redemption to our broken and beaten world.

We will leave you with this simple graph from Pew Forum- it simply shows that more of the same thing simply will not do anymore.  The definition of organizational insanity is doing the same thing over and over will lead to vastly different results. Could it be that our church forms have been variations of the ‘same thing’ year after year, and caused us some of the cultural gap that we find ourselves in? Blasphemy!

Changing U.S. Religious Landscape

This Sunday we will be inviting His Spirit to put forth a vision, based out of Ephesians 4, how we could recover the simple, yet amazingly profound, plan of God for us His Church, and become united and mature together as a family on Jesus’ mission in our cities.

For those that need some scripture to hang this on, let me try. Could it be in John 21, that those disciples were avoiding the mission Jesus had for them, and instead chose to go back to their old job, fishing with one another, and avoiding the world around them that needed the gospel? Could it be Jesus showed up in verses 5-6 to invite them to do things differently, trusting Him for a different approach to fishing, something so simple (yet amazingly profound) as throwing their net to the other side? And the result? They weren’t able to haul it all in because there were so many fish!

We humbly and respectfully submit to you, this simple teaching of Jesus;

Let us trust Him that He still knows what He is doing today for His plans.

Let us trust Him that He still loves His Bride, the Church as His ‘Plan A’.

Let us trust Him to speak to us all, showing us the right way to fish.

Let’s trust Him together, to show us where we need to change and be willing to risk things for Jesus.

See you this Sunday 10AM at Catalyst Covenant! We would be so encouraged to see you, and I know Pastor Jim and the Catalyst family would love to have you participate with our Sunday together as well. People will be sharing, encouraging, edifying one another because we believe all people who share in His Spirit can build others up (1 Cor 14).

Grace and Peace to our hometown, Alexandria, this advent season!

-The Pankratz Family

 

Joy and Pain- Birthing New Missional Communities

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2 ESV)

Jesus always said it best. And He continues to say it best. The real purpose of being with our Father, being in a life-giving relationship of love and trust with Him, is that our lives would cause other people’s lives to come alive in Christ. Being a disciple of Jesus IS the only way to making disciples of Jesus. I realize you already know this perhaps, but my wife, kids, and myself are trying really hard to stay connected to Jesus, so that everything we do would be because of His life in us, not our own.

For too long we simply do Christian activity on our own strength, setting up meetings, groups, festivals, concerts, discipleship groups and programs, missional community meetings, city networks to develop leaders, regional partnerships to collaborate, etc. But at the end of the day what remains, and what only remains is the wonders and works the God Himself can only take credit for. Early Jesus-followers were not interested in anything less than God’s work through their own obedience to Him;

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:27-31 ESV)

So what are we trusting Jesus for today? Are we just spinning Christian plates on sticks and asking the Lord to keep everything going? Are we seriously seeking the Father’s will, and seeing Him move how He desires to move, and involve us?

We have been using October to pray as a family and as a Sanctus family. We know we need to multiply across our city to continue to reach out to the 200,000 in our metro area. We know we have great servant leaders to do that. We have even heard the Holy Spirit say send some out! So we will be obedient even though it is a mixture of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, excitement and reservedness. We are saying that some relationships, with our closest friends, will change to a certain degree as we send them out. We wont have a weekly time together to gather as a church family, because they will be sent to establish a new church family in a different part of the city, with a different sub-culture, and different weekly rhythms. They are our newly matured children heading out of the house to establish their own home and continue to mutliply Jesus’ Kingdom.

But in the midst of that pain and fear of change, we are overjoyed to see people sent on Jesus’ mission to bring hope, light, mercy, justice, and forgiveness to people who need it all around their lives. We can endure this momentary suffering of not being with our closest friends every week. We can endure it, because Jesus and His Gospel is better than all that. New friends being welcomed into the Father’s family through the blood of Jesus is far more worth it. The unspeakable joy, peace, and presence of our Gracious Father and King dwarfs any temporary loss I might feel. More churches on Jesus’ mission, means more disciples being made, which means more hearts worshiping and loving the God that has known and loved me for almost 20 yrs now.

In Jesus’ parable above note there are only two types of branches; those branches who do bear fruit, and those who do not. I really think that we all would want to be the branch that works to bear fruit, right? But I also think Jesus puts us back in our place if we think it is on our own shoulders to bear fruit;

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV)

Please pray that as we seek to be about Jesus’ mission in our city, that we would simply listen to His voice, be filled up and controlled daily by His Spirit, and speak clearly how we ought to. We want to be joyful about bearing fruit, but also accepting the pain of having our hearts sacrificing what we hold dear, to what we will hold even more dear-the Kingdom of Jesus multiplying and growing across our city to the nations!

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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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!