Category Archives: Models of Ministry

Being Christian is not a good thing anymore! KNOW THIS STUDY

Kinnamon’s ‘UnChristian’The Barna Group has just published a study that we all need to pay attention to.  I first heard about this research from Brian McLaren a year and a half ago and it helped me focus the shaping of Jacob’s Well.  This study of 16-29 year olds shows how this generation, more than any preceeding generation is not only uninvolved and uninterested in Christianity, but actually views Christianity and the church as a negative.  The subtleties are important, but the overall trend cannot be ignored.

A good question (and I’d like to see some conversation around this) is whether it is even worth trying to convince the “given up” (a Jacob’s Well term) generations that our language, structures and traditions need to be picked up, or is it time to invent new modes of being church and move on?  It is a little hard to ignore the comparison to the controversy among the Apostles (Acts 15) over whether Gentiles should have to be circumcised or not… whether nonChristians should have to learn to like organ music (an ironic comparison, sorry), whether new believers with new questions of God should have to confess faith in ancient creeds that were answers to ancient questions…

You can read a great summary of this in the Sept 24 The Barna ReportIf you are a church learner, subscribe to this!

Kinnaman’s book UnChristian is the full report of the study.  I’ll blog a review when I finish it.


Practicable Christianity

I’ve got to write this one down. I had a conversation with someone who is loving Jacob’s Well and, judging from her experience with church and religion in the past ,this is surprising. I asked her what she liked so much and among other things she said, “It’s like practical Christianity.”

That stopped me for a moment. My old instincts took over and made me think that ‘practical’ was mundane, maybe even “works righteousness” oriented. Then my mind started flooding with Bible verses,

“…teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you…”

“…faith without works is dead…”

“…take up your cross and follow me…”

“…hear the word, accept it and bear fruit. Thirty, sixty and a hundredfold…”

We started Jacob’s Well to help people have a relationship with God that made a difference in their lives, that gave them traction. We believe God isn’t just a good idea and faith isn’t just a set of doctrines but a mode of life – relevant and valuable to us everyday.

I have been criticized for keeping praxis lock stepped with doctrine, but that’s part of being precarious. C’est le vie. If the alternative to ‘practical Christianity’ is ‘impractical Christianity’ count me in on practical!


Vision setting

Jacob’s Well in the next 5 years…

…you asked, so here it is.  Let me say that this is at 35,000′ so it has little substance, just BHAGs.  Let me also say that it may sound smug and prideful to you, and it may be, but I want to believe that the only thing keeping God from using Jacob’s Well for great things is our lack of imagination and courage.

There are two sides to the Vision…

First, Jacob’s Well is our attempt to start a new congregation in an established community for the huge population that has given up on church. It is our intent to grow in depth and breadth. Rapidly!  Why not? (What if a church could do that in an urban setting?!?!)

Second, we are trying to develop new models for ministry that can be effective among the population that doesn’t like going to church. Models that are built on principles (biblically, theologically, sociologically sound) not on styles or personality, so that the models can be contextually applied in other locations.  (What if Jesus’ Church could grow with Acts-like speed in the U.S. today?!?!)

In brief:
Jacob’s Well

2006 Secure funding.  Gather launch team.  Rattle the neighborhood and launch a church for people who don’t like church.  Have new people from the community outnumber the launch team quickly.

2007 Launch second service, implement youth ministries, groups, discipleship process, ministry base of congregation, stewardship.

2008 Second venue for Sunday a.m. worship with its own campus pastor, but rotating speaker and band. Service will be the same as at the Field location. Continue to implement groups, strategic ministries. Develop service and mission through strategic alliances.  Achieve financial self-support.

2009 Launch 3rd (& 4th) venue. Same pattern as 2nd location. (What is really keeping us from launching at least 1 new community every year except our own inability to believe what God is up to around us?) Group life is the solid building block of the community. Special worship experience for youth. Major investment in the neighborhood by congregation.

2011 Association of congregations in the urban metro area (and beyond?), each self-supporting, but with shared office, sharing resources and using it to develop relevant, valuable, creative worship experiences that bring people into the presence of God and create participants into community.

Model of Ministry

2006 Apply to Jacob’s Well.

2007 Unlearn, unlearn, unlearn.  Learn, learn, learn.  Develop and experiment.  Learn from failure.

2008 More of the same.   Begin coaching group for church launchers in the upper midwest.

2009 Help launch congregations in other cities.  Offer first conference.

2011 Association has major role in developing other congregations in other cities as well as developing local venues.