a family excited about living for Jesus, blessing our cities, and welcoming other families to follow Jesus with us. Continue reading
“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 email@example.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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.